No doubt, if Bashar al-Assad in Syria bites the dust, as seems likely, a leading figure hostile to Israel will vanish. But the history of Syria offers not a shred of reason to believe that a new Sunni nationalist regime in Damascus, bolstered by elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, will view Israel with any greater indulgence than Mr. Assad. In fact, the emergence of popular forces in almost any Arab state guarantees tougher policies toward Israel in opposing its preservation of the Palestinian status quo – the preeminent symbol of injustice in the eyes of all Muslims.
This is not to say that the slow spread of democracies might not in some distant future be good for Israel. But it can be good only for an Israel that moves sharply away from its extreme right-wing and apartheid policies and toward a more generous and open political and social order that liberates the Palestinians. Such an event does not remotely appear on the Israeli political horizon right now.
The second-biggest loser is the United States. The reasons are simple: It is becoming ever more difficult for Washington to call the shots as Arab populations grow empowered to elect their own leaders. And for now, popular views reflect the anger and frustration of decades – even centuries – against Western imperial control, now topped off by a decade of American wars on Muslim soil in a quixotic search for a military solution to anti-Western terrorism.