Op-Ed: Star Wars in the Middle East
Josh HastenThe writer is President of the Bar-Am Public Relations Firm, and author of the recently released children’s book, “Itamar Makes Friends: A Children’s Story of Jewish Brotherhood.”
Growing up in America’s suburbia in the late 1970’s/early 80’s, I along with thousands of other boys around my age had only one thing on my mind, “Star Wars”. There were Star Wars movies, action figures, spaceships, memorabilia, and a slew of other Star Wars gear available to help a youngster imagine that he lived “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.”
The Star War phenomenon was reborn in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s when the final three installments were introduced as a prequel to fill in the cliffhangers left unresolved by the first trilogy. The main question answered in these films involved how the intergalactic war started between the good guys, known as the Jedi Knights, and the bad guys, the evil Sith Lords, led by The Emperor and Darth Vader.
While the final three films in no way compare to the original movies, there are aspects of these chapters which unfortunately have the potential of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies in regard to the current situation between Israel and the so-called Palestinians. Sound outlandish? Let me explain.
First a little background. In the latest movies we are introduced to a group known as the Separatists who raise an army of robot droids to help them fight against the ruling Republic and the Jedi. To combat the droid threat, the Jedi through their advanced medical technology, generate an army of human clones. While at first the clones are loyal and fight alongside the Jedi, they are influenced by the power wielded by the two-faced Emperor, who while pretending to be a Senator of the Republic is in reality an evil Sith Lord. In the end, the clones turn their weapons on their former masters the Jedi, and side with the forces of evil, nearly extinguishing everything good in the universe.
So how does this relate to the current situation here in Israel? While things are relatively quiet between Israel and the Palestinians, following nearly a decade of terror attacks, I fear that a “clone” army comprised of members of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction is being trained by the United States and deployed throughout cities in Judea and Samaria.
While on paper, their purpose is to fight the “Hamas Separatists,” history has taught us a painful lesson of what happens when the PA leadership orders its forces to instead turn their guns on their partners, the soldiers and civilians of the State of Israel.
When this happened in 2000 under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, the PA forces were a ragtag group of terror gunmen, and gangsters trying to outdo one another by causing Israeli casualties. While they were successful in their reign of terror, Israel eventually cracked down through various means and for the most part extinguished the threat.
Now however, we are talking about an entire army consisting of thousands of well trained soldiers who take orders from a body yet to prove that it’s willing to live in peace with Israel.
Not only has the current PA leadership failed to prove it’s a reliable partner, but anti-Israel incitement continues to run rampant in official PA media outlets, town squares are named in memory of terrorists, and the PA continues to condemn Israeli self-defense measures as “war crimes” over and over again throughout the various world bodies. Shouldn’t we be worried that one day these “clones” will turn to the dark-side?
While Israel has pulled back its security forces and uprooted checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria turning swaths of areas over to the PA security personnel as gestures of goodwill, isn’t it premature to rely on Arab soldiers to safeguard our lives?
While I hate to be pessimistic since that’s probably not the way of the Jedi heroes of my childhood, I fear that we are now facing the calm before storm and this time around it’s going to be a lot more powerful.