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."
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.
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?"
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?
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.
Don't worry, Turkey will suddenly become our "friend" again when it serves their interests, and not one second before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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