Benjamin Netanyahu once gave a speech in which he pointed at a map of the Middle East. He rattled off many of the countries in the region, and the relative size of those nations to Israel. Jordan is four times the size of Israel, Iraq 20, Egypt 46; Saudi Arabia is nearly 90 times the size of Israel.
“Big countries,” he said. “But small accomplishments.”
He then went on to describe Israel, which is just slightly bigger than one of America’s smallest states, New Jersey.
“Little country,” he concluded. “But big accomplishments.”
And there you have it, in one perfectly formulated binary.
Today, Arabs are at a crossroads. The “Arab Spring” is an opportunity like none the region has ever seen. The people who live there are no more or less capable than the people of Israel or the United States.
But it is up to them to build functioning democracies, and a culture that breeds and rewards hard work and success. It is up to Arabs themselves to take advantage of their newfound freedom, and unleash the productive capacities of their people.
Countries aren’t built on spite and hate, but on love, trust, shared sacrifice, and hard work. Maybe, just maybe, Arabs in the Middle East will be so busy working, yearning, and striving to make their own lives better that they will have little time left to burnish old grievances.
Maybe, over time, Arabs will build governments worthy of their people, as Israel and America have done.
Maybe, Arabs will come to see Jews not as their enemies, but as their neighbors, and as their trading partners.
And maybe, just maybe, as their friends.
Here is one Arab praying that will happen.
— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt. He lives in Oxford, Miss., with his wife, Valerie, and daughter Reagan.