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Israel's Isolation Problem

Aryeh Golan, the morning news anchor for Israeli public radio, summed up the feelings of Israelis on Sunday when he said, "In Turkey the government is against us, in Egypt the mob is against us, and at the UN the majority is against us."

Relevant Links
Bracing for the Siege  Ethan Bronner, New York Times. Initial Israeli fears about the Arab Spring uprisings have begun to materialize in concrete ways.
The America Connection  Lee Smith, Weekly Standard. Israel’s growing isolation is a function of America’s decreasing regional power.
The Delegitimization Industry  Barak Ravid, Haaretz. A worldwide network of individuals and organizations has worked tirelessly to isolate Israel.

Israel's international isolation is ever more palpable.  Turkey, led by its Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has frozen diplomatic relations.  On the Palestinian front, it is hard to imagine that the UN General Assembly will fail to rubber-stamp Mahmoud Abbas's unilateral declaration of statehood.  In an increasingly anarchic Egypt, a bad situation turned dramatically worse over the weekend when six besieged Israeli Embassy security guards had to be rescued from a Cairo lynch mob.

Censorious voices—a habitually unsympathetic global press, wobbly American and European friends, and opposing Israeli pundits and politicians—continue to fault Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for Israel's increasing isolation.  Though the sources of the current Arab uprisings were unrelated to Israel, the roiling unrest intensifies the critics' tone.  

Why, they ask, doesn't Israel take "bold" and "conciliatory" steps towards the Palestinians?  Why does it continue to demand that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state?  Why won't Jerusalem apologize to Ankara and lift the Gaza blockade (never mind that doing so would guarantee Hamas control of the Strip)?  Why must Jerusalem carp so persistently about a nuclear Iran when so many European countries, not to mention China, Russia, and India, enjoy a robust commerce with the mullahs?

In other words, Israel needs to stop being such a nuisance—such an ingrate, as former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it.

The cascading crises with Turkey, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority have indeed increased Jerusalem's diplomatic dependency on Washington, an awkward situation in light of Netanyahu's "tense relationship" with President Barack Obama.  And for some Euro-left critics, the situation is more than awkward: They view Israel as irredeemable.  One of them, David Hearst of Britain's anti-Zionist Guardian, has implied that Israel is "a supremacist state" and that the Jews may deserve to lose their country.

But the critical voices heard most incessantly by Israelis themselves belong to Netanyahu's domestic critics, who uniformly agree that Israel's diplomatic isolation is not caused by Muslim governments or crowds (after all, the Arab street needs to express its frustration) and that the real culprit is the absence of "momentum" on the Palestinian issue.  What they mean is not genuine progress toward a sustainable peace but the heretofore-ubiquitous illusion of momentum generated by the "peace process."  In the critics' view, it is Netanyahu's failure to maintain the latter type of "momentum," at any cost, that has caused Israel's isolation.

Among Israeli journalists, Shimon Shiffer, a columnist at Yediot Aharanot, was oddly forbearing towards the Egyptian lynch mob—noting that, after all, Menachem Begin's pledge of Palestinian autonomy never led to Palestinian statehood.  (Never mind that the PLO continually torpedoed Begin's autonomy efforts and that statehood wasn't the goal).  Ben Caspit of Maariv thinks Israel's EU and American friends have a point when they say Netanyahu is leading the country toward an "abyss."  At Haaretz, Gideon Levy nobly acknowledges that while "not everything was Israel's fault," Israeli "arrogance" ultimately underlies the deteriorated relations with Turkey and Egypt.  Yoel Marcus of Haaretz harrumphs that Netanyahu is "getting on the nerves of the entire world."

On Saturday night, diplomatic reporter Udi Segal, having interviewed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Israel's Channel 2 just minutes before, not so obliquely blamed him for the siege at the Cairo embassy, citing "lack of momentum" on the Palestinian track.

Among Israeli politicians, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the new elder statesman of the Labor Party, recently declared, "If I were Bibi Netanyahu, I would recognize a Palestinian state"—along the vulnerable 1949 armistice lines—and "then negotiate borders and security."  Kadima Leader Tzipi Livni said that if she were in charge, Israel would be enjoying fruitful negotiations with the Palestinians—because she would not require that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  Yet half the Knesset members of Livni's own party, catalyzed by former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, have backed Netanyahu's stance on Israel as a Jewish state.

Nor does this view of Netanyahu reflect the sentiments of the Israeli public.  A survey conducted for Israel Radio's Reshet Bet, broadcast on September 1, indicated that in any new elections, Netanyahu's Likud Party would trump Livni's Kadima by 27 Knesset seats to 18. The critics' view may not reflect Palestinian opinion, either: A recent poll of Palestinian Arabs suggests an element of ambivalence over Abbas's unilateralist UN approach, with 59.3% wanting to see a resumption of negotiations with Israel.   

On the merits, the critics' policy prescriptions are strikingly half-baked. Netanyahu's insistence on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is not just a matter of semantics; it recognizes that only an acknowledgment of Israel's legitimacy would mark a true end to the conflict.  

It is no wonder that the critics' counsel—"don't just stand there, do something"—strikes many Israelis as reckless.   Contrary to the critics, Netanyahu's Israel is not "isolating itself."  Its current predicament is largely the product of an unremitting, decades-long campaign by the Arab camp and its amen corner to divide, isolate, and ultimately wipe out the Zionist enterprise.  That makes the job of overcoming the current isolation a moral imperative for all those who consider Israel the legitimate expression of the Jewish right to self-determination.

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Allen Z. Hertz on September 15, 2011 at 8:32 am (Reply)
Is Israel now more isolated? Perhaps. But suicide is certainly worse than isolation. Tough times are coming for sure. The Israel government must refrain from reckless and risky experiments that may end even worse than the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. As the "Pax Americana" weakens, a number of countries there will have to adjust to a degraded security environment. The "Pax Americana" was the broader context in which it was once possible to hope for a solution to the dispute caused by Muslim and Arab unwillingness to accept the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as "the" Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a "small part" of its larger aboriginal homeland (Eretz Israel = the Holy Land), where Jews always managed to live in each year since antiquity. This crumbling of the "Pax Americana" certainly means that there is now less chance of reaching agreement on a full-and-final settlement with the Palestinians. There can be no satisfactory solution outside the broader context of the regional power relationships. With the "Pax Americana" disintegrating, what will take its place? The Palestinians are also asking themselves this pressing question. Therefore now they are the more likely to refuse to accept the terms that Israel absolutely needs as the homeland of the Jewish People. Tough situation! But here's the upside -- knowing the bitter truth can sometimes help us get started to figure out next steps.
American on September 15, 2011 at 11:18 am (Reply)
Israel helped Turkey to become a powerfull state and armed them. Turks have returned the favor by declaring a holy war against Israel and putting a knife in her back ,supporting all her enemies, and trying to destroy her. Israel should break up Turkey, like Yugoslavia (by supporting the Kurds in getting their state), and recognize the Armenian Genocide. This will make the Erdogan's life more difficult for the years to come.
Madel on September 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm (Reply)
Israel was, is, and always will be, a nation apart from the "other" nations. Once we accept that Torah dogma, we will be able to concentrate on how to turn the last two millennia's HESTER PANIM and TOCHAICHA into Divine blessings and world recognition that the Israelites' original monotheism (not Christianity nor Islam) was, is, and always will be the ONLY true path to God. When that happens, the Palestinians will gladly recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Rodney Wilkinson, Perth Australia on September 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm (Reply)
Dearly Beloved Israel, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord raises up a standard against him. The Almighty has done it before, He will do it again. You are the apple of His eye. He will never forsake you or break His covenant. God Bless Israel.
Charli2535 on September 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm (Reply)
We still have our collective heads in the sand. A "moderate" Arab still doesnt believe in the legitimacy of the Jewish state, is still rabidly anti-semitic, still wants the borders to be from the "river to the sea" and still supports suicide bombings; but the "moderate" Islamist doesn't INSIST on the total extermination of the jews IMMEDIATELY but is willing to wait a few months, or at most a few years if necessary, and is willing to put "total extermination" on the " back burner" for now,
while the world "encourages" us to give in on all the "less decisive" issues right away. Don't forget--Abbas has already declared that any future Palestine will be "Judenrein." Have we all forgotten what rabid anti-semitism looks like? Exactly what type of reminder would the world like us to consider? By the way, exactly how does everyone expect this entire discussion to change once Iran declares itself "nuclear - enabled?"
Rachel Golem on September 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm (Reply)
Israel is not nearly as isolated as it may seem. Egypt will soon be unable to pay for its wheat imports and turn into Somalia.
Everybody knows that Israel doesn't want this confrontation with Turkey, and it only reflects badly on Turkey. Nobody in Europe wants any trouble from the region that supplies their oil, and the Turks know if they make trouble they will get thrown out of NATO. And who ever cared about what the UN says, anyway?

Brandon on September 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm (Reply)
A refusal to recognize Israel's sovereignty means that a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians is a declaration of war against Israel.
Martin H. Chopp on September 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm (Reply)
The Palestinians should be happy with what they now have. Remember, there were no "Palestinians" until Arafat formed the PLO. Then, suddenly, all the Arabs in the area became "Palestinians". The "Palestinians" never had a country of their own, whereas history proves that we were there for over two millenia. The least the Arabs could do is to recognize the State of Israel, which would "end the war" so that negotiations can take place between two "recognized" entities. It's too bad that Great Britain and Churchill stabbed us in the back, reneging on the Balfour Declaration by giving a big chunk of Israeli territory to "Trans-Jordan." In any event, three cheers for Binyamin Netanyahu for his stance.
Jerry Blaz on September 16, 2011 at 2:29 am (Reply)
I have been watching Israel's leaders taking the Jewish state where I lived, for which I fought, and which I still love -- and where are they taking it?

Leaders have to learn that no state can act with the impunity that Israel has been acting without repercussions. The photo op of Danny Ayalon and the Turkish ambassador, showing the ambassador seated on a lower level than Ayalon with the Israeli flag betwen them, was a childish insult. Then the bellicosity of the statements by Avigdor Lieberman in his capacity as the foremost diplomat of Israel -- a walking travesty. And then the chutzpah of Netanyahu lecturing the American president about the '67 borders -- what borders does he have in mind? The original 1947 UN proposal? The 1920 border, which would include Jordan? Or the 1921 border, from the sea to the river? A reasonable solution to the Turkish/Israeli debacle is still possible, but not with the current personae of the current Israeli leadership. And now the Palestinian/UN statehood matter: I think that Israel should be supporting them, and many responsible people in Israel agree with me.

My heart goes out to the Israeli people who have to spend their summer in tents on Rothchild boulevard, but these are the leaders they elected. The political class in Israel has managed to keep the people of Israel diverted by fear and more fear, thus they can neglect the needs of the people. Poor Israel.

I just hope that it doesn't result in Israel having to pay for their misgovernance with the blood of its youth again.
Edwin Svigals on September 16, 2011 at 10:24 am (Reply)
Everybody is against us? That means things are back to normal. . . .
Brandon on September 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm (Reply)
Talk of appeasement shows a lack of understanding of basic human nature. Jews believed for 2,000 years that we could make the world like us, and no matter how many rules we followed and societies we helped to make better, eventually every single one turned on us. The reason is that nobody is happy to have to share resources with other peoples and other nations; we all just tolerate each other for the sake of self-preservation. That's why nations have armies and borders. Expecting anything more than tolerance will be an exercise in disappointment.

Don't worry, Turkey will suddenly become our "friend" again when it serves their interests, and not one second before.
CHARLI2535 on September 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm (Reply)
Ahmadinejad will soon be in New York to tell the world again of his plans for total extermination of Israel, and soon enough, he will come to have nuclear armaments under his control. Why is it that nobody takes him seriously? He is the reincarnation of Hitler. How long can we keep our heads in the sand? Hamas continues to launch missles at us with no restraint at all, as we don't want to upset the world by actually defending ourselves or, better, returning missile fire according to the Colin Powell doctrine: "Give back TEN TIMES the strength of what you recieved." And Hezbollah is itching to attack, like a rabid dog on a leash. It hardly pays to get very excited about the "Palestinian" quest for statehood. That's currently our quietest border.
Brandon on September 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm (Reply)
I'm sure Ahmadinejad will be more than happy to send in Iranian troops to defend the new Palestinian homeland.
American on September 18, 2011 at 12:49 am (Reply)
CHARLI2535 I absolutely agree with you. Ahmadinejad and Erdogan are the reincarnations of Hitler & Goefbels. It's very weird that since Obama took office, these two Islamopaths are more and more agresive towards Israel; and nobody in United States is even mentioning the threat they pose.
charli2535 on September 19, 2011 at 2:17 am (Reply)
I wish the eight Republicans, who only tell us how they would create jobs for the 9.1% of us without them, would spend equal time on their concepts of American exceptionalism, America's place in world politics, and Israel--specifically in light of the nuclear holocaust awaiting us all after the next Durban meeting and after the Hitler of our time, Ahmadinejad, gets the last few details correct on his nuclear weapon. What will there be left to retaliate with, when the remaining six million jews in israel are all killed in a nuclear first strike by Iran? Also, with Islamopath (thank you American 9.18.2011) Erdogan convincing the Egyptians that the re-establishment of the greater Ottoman empire is just around the corner and provoking Israel by sending naval warships within 12 miles of israel's shoreline, I'm amazed that Obama had the chutzpa to deny him the completion of his order of drones so he can massacre the few Turks remaining. There is an economic bloodbath coming to Turkey, but Erdogan is doing a marvelous job of making his countrymen forget it. Why the Turkish military--the only counterweight to rabid Islamofacism--all got up and resigned is beyond me. If you read the current issue of Middle East Quarterly, you will have the answers to all these questions. The world (Arab and otherwise) is , always was, and probably always will be affected by rabid antisemitism. This is the simple cause of all the problems in the Middle East, and negotiations about capitals, borders, apartment complexes, or anything else, will do nothing to change this elementary problem. Our problem is that we insist on "selling the rope to the man who wants to hang us". Happy and healthy Rosh Hashanah to all of us.
Esser Agaroth on September 25, 2011 at 11:44 am (Reply)
The Torah is all about isolation and separation. We must separate from Yishmael and Esau. To do otherwise is to go down the path of the Erev Rav assimilationists, globalists, etc. We must stand on our own two feet, stop taking bribes, and do what must be done--protect the Jewish identity of Israel.
Jedi on September 26, 2011 at 12:51 am (Reply)
Israel is not isolated. The United States is an unabashed ally, and that isn't due only to politics. Islam is not compatible with our society, and Judaism is.

We have over three million troops, 5,300 military bases located all over the world (including two in Israel), 11 carrier battle groups, 3,300 fighter aircraft, and 71 nuclear subs carrying 2000 nuclear missiles that are capable of surviving a full-scale nuclear war and remaining submerged for 15 years. We can bring that entire force to bear all at once.

Terrorism is designed to make us afraid. It is human nature to react out of fear, and in desperate times we are going to fall back on our ability to wage war. The Muslims erroneously believe they have a military advantage because there are one billion of them. Wrong. We are simply better at warfare, and it's not just our technological superiority. A worldwide jihad could not be organized enough to defeat us. We have a unified command structure and people trained very well in all areas of war-fighting. We have huge production capacity. We are at the top of the food chain as a consequence of our vast natural resources and manpower. Not only would they have to destroy our infrastructure, they would have to prevent us from rebuilding it. However, they could succeed in making us afraid. Americans become violent when we are afraid. That would be very bad for them.

Israel is our friend; and when it comes down to it, we can destroy every nation in the Middle East simultaneously. Sure, Israel wants more friends, but it really doesn't need them.
charli2535 on September 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm (Reply)
Jedi leaves out only one factor. Our military is commanded by a non-military person, the commander-in-chief, the president. His willingness to engage our enemies militarily can vary tremendously in each four-year period and swings according to public whims, public relations, the mood of the moment, and the nerve of the president at the time.

The recent strong U.S. support for Israel at the UN comes after two years of the coldest relations in 60 years and is due only to the realization that the recent House race lost in New York could indeed be a harbinger of the next important race, in 2012.
Jedi on September 27, 2011 at 12:27 am (Reply)
You are absolutely correct. I am not Jewish, so I do not understand why the vast majority of Jews voted for a man who is not pro-Israel. I saw it coming, but I guess a lot of people didn't realize it until too late. I chalk that up to human error. If I were Israeli, though, I would not be happy with American Jews. Personally, I would never vote for someone who isn't pro-Israel, and it's not even my country--I just know who is our friend and who isn't.
Rodney Wilkinson, Perth Australia on September 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm (Reply)
An interesting note on Israel's isolation: Ezekiel, 35:5, prophesied against the Edomites as follows: "The sovereign Lord says . . . because you have maintained an ancient or eternal hatred against Israel, I am going to make you desolate." The Lord will do this (verses 10-13) "because you said: These two nations and two lands will be mine, and we will possess them--even though the Lord is there." Therefore, "I will treat you according to the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them [Israel]. I will make Myself known among them when I judge you. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have heard all your blasphemies you uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying: They are desolate. They are given to us to devour! You boasted against Me with your mouth, and spoke many words against Me, I heard it Myself!" Surely, this is exactly what is going on now with the nations that surround Israel. As I see it, and I am not a Jew, God Himself is consistent. As I read Scripture, it is plain to me that God has an eternal love for the people and the land of Israel. He states in Joel 3:16-17 that after a soon-to-come event, the restoration of the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, He will enter into judgment of the nations that came against His people, Israel, on the Mount of Slaughter at the Valley of Jehoshaphat: "The Lord will roar from Zion and raise His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, My holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy, and foreigners will never overrun it again."
In conclusion, I think the surrounding nations are in for an exceedingly hard time. The Palestinians, Ahmadinejad, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and others--all their posturing and appeals to the UN are fruitless and empty. God bless Israel and Jerusalem, where He has chosen to place His Name, Amen. Israel, you are the people of promise.
charli2535 on September 28, 2011 at 1:01 am (Reply)
Do you realize that it is illegal to even carry a Bible in Saudi Arabia? The religious police will have you arrested, and you will probably never again see the light of day. Do you have any concept of what rabid hatred is--hatred that is instilled into children at birth, with six-year-olds taught to assemble and disassemble a machine gun in summer camp, and mothers having six children so that four of them can be suicide martyrs and leave two behind to take care of them in their old age?

Keep in mind that if all the Arabs in the surrounding countries laid down their arms at the same time, there would be an outbreak of peace; if all the Israelis laid down their arms, there would be the extermination of the israelis.

A happy and healthy New Year to all of Israels supporters. God bless you all.
Madel on September 28, 2011 at 10:05 am (Reply)

Read the new novel Haazinu (Listen Up) by Yerachmiel ben-Yishye, and you'll see what today's Israelites need to do to bring about what the prophets foretold.

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