Israel's Silent Supporters


THE MIDEAST TURMOIL-2 Israel's Silent Supporters BY MIHAJLO MIHAJLOV Novi Sad Since Eastern Europeans know that dissent from the official line is quickly punished, it is impossible to determine...

...THE MIDEAST TURMOIL-2 Israel's Silent Supporters BY MIHAJLO MIHAJLOV Novi Sad Since Eastern Europeans know that dissent from the official line is quickly punished, it is impossible to determine precisely how many of them approve of the stand taken by their governments in the latest Mideast war If my impressions of Yugoslav public opinion are an accurate measure, however, the populations within the Soviet sphere do not feel any enthusiasm for the Arab cause The reason for this is simple Despite the media's one-sided treatment of the Middle East, an attentive reader can still piece together a picture of events that is different from the one the government wants its citizens to have For example, from reports about the meeting of the Socialist International last January one learned that the participants included not only Willy Brandt and other leaders of European laborite and Social Democratic parties, but also Premier Golda Meir Thus a seasoned reader could infer that Israel's ruling party was either laborite or Socialist This conclusion obviously raised questions about "dominance of the military" in Israel that is incessantly claimed by the controlled press here In this roundabout way the people in Eastern Europe have managed to learn a great deal over the years Everyone here knows that Israel is a democratic country where opposition parties (two of which are Communist) freely exist, while a majority of the Arab nations are run by one-party dictatorships In Egypt, even some Communists are in prison It is likewise common knowledge that Israel is a lawful country, whereas the Arab nations are not This point was forcefully brought home during the clashes between Palestinian organizations and the state of Jordan, when it was reported that the Palestinians, in order to save their lives, sought to be taken prisoner by their "mortal enemies," the Israelis, rather than by their Arab brethren Moreover, though official propaganda never mentions Israel without the apposition "imperialist aggressor," people are aware that the Arab countries do not want to recognize Israel's existence We know, too, that the Arab nations, whose combined population is 30 times that of the Jewish state, provoked the 1967 military conflict, and that Egypt and Syria started the latest war The fact that the Arabs are supported politically and militarily by Eastern Europe's Communist patties--whose monopoly of power is more or less consciously seen as the main hindrance to progress and freedom--constitutes another element influencing public opinion There is no doubt whatsoever that people here, because of their own deplorable social conditions, favor the social system of Israel Many individuals may recognize the necessity of solving the Palestinian problem, but one thing is clear to everybody The liquidation of Israel would mean the liquidation of a little island of democracy in the Middle East, which would, m turn, boost the power of world totalitarianism and lead to greater oppression within the Communist bloc Yet no one in Eastern Europe, including Yugoslavia, can express this opinion And every day the press, radio and television carry Party statements proclaiming the "ardent support of all the people to the endeavor of the Arab liberators," along with messages of protest against Israel and appeals to give blood to the wounded Arabs Were Russia, Yugoslavia and the satellite countries democratic societies, the will of the majority would decide whether military aid should be sent to the Mideast, and, as a result, the threat of global war unquestionably would decrease sharply At present, though, millions and millions of citizens have no influence on the policy of their governments Merely to express their predicament aloud is to risk being arrested For this reason, the Middle East situation points up, more clearly than anything else, the mistake even such great statesmen as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Senator William Fulbright are 'making when they assert that the denial of civil liberties in the Communist world is purely an internal matter All of mankind is involved in this issue on the democratization of the so-called Socialist countries hangs the future of not only Eastern Europe but the entire planet If the latest Arab-Israeli conflict helps people in the West to understand this, then the suffering and death brought about by this war will not have been totally senseless Mihajlo Mihajlov, the Yugoslav dissident, is a frequent contributor...

Vol. 56 • November 1973 • No. 23

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