Ethan Bronner reports in After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation.
But in the weeks since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades.
Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel's embassy.
Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel's actions in Gaza. "Israel Apartheid Week" drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.
Bronner, of course, provides some reasons:
Of course, for Israel's critics, including those who firmly support the existence of a Jewish state, the problem is not one of image but of policy. They point to four decades of occupation, the settling of half a million Israeli Jews on land captured in 1967, the economic strangling of Gaza for the past few years and the society's growing indifference toward the creation of a Palestinian state as reasons Israel has lost favor abroad, and they say that no amount of image buffing will change that.
Israel's use of enormous force in the Gaza war in January crystallized much of this criticism.
The issue of a Palestinian state is central to Israel's reputation abroad, because so many governments and international organizations favor its establishment in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. And while the departing government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert negotiated for such a state, the incoming one of Benjamin Netanyahu says that item is not on its immediate agenda.
This is a phony argument. Israel has ceded land to the Palestinians and has done more to create a Palestinian state than any Arab government and is still faulted for the failure to create such a state. Arafat, who never gave up terror, led the Palestinians for 11 years after Oslo was signed never was interested in creating a state. And now Israel has a mini state on its border that's ruled by Hamas. This, in fact has been a consistent result of Israeli withdrawals and giving land over to terrorists: whether it was Tulkarm, Bethlehem, Kalkilyeh, Nablus, Ramallah and Jenin in 1995; southern Lebanon in 2000; or Gaza in 2005, Israeli withdrawals have strengthened terrorists not made peace more likely.
Fatah has made it clear that it doesn't really accept Israel's right to exist. And yet much of the world is appalled that Avigdor Lieberman - who believes in a two state solution - will be joining the Israeli government.
It is not the Israeli failure to create a Palestinian state that is behind Israel's isolation. It is the uncritical acceptance of the Palestinian (and Arab) grievance against Israel. The more it is tolerated, the less effort the Arabs must expend in seeking coexistence.
And Bronner fails to mention many of the factors involved. While he can cite the anti-Israel activities in Europe he assumes that they're a reaction to Israel, not based in antisemitism. But as Muslims in Europe flex their political muscles the antisemitism comes into the open. They use the pretext that it's a reaction Israeli actions and Bronner doesn't question their motives.
And there's the selective applicability of international law, the advocacy of NGO's for the Palestinians and a media that is all too willing to distort the news to Israel's detriment. These are many of the forces arrayed against Israel, seeking to undermine its legitimacy, but Bronner doesn't really illuminate these forces.
Another complicating factor is that eight years ago, under similar circumstances, Israel had a strong advocate in the American government. The current administration is not as likely to defend Israel as its predecessor. So yes, after Israel has spent fifteen years making concessions and being rewarded with terror, it's now being isolated. But to pin it on Israel's defense of its southern population is to miss the big picture.
Anti-Zionism (and antisemitism) is gaining even more acceptability - it's the elephant in the room of international relations - and the paper of record looks the other way.
Please also see Israel Matzav's take.
UPDATE: Barry Rubin has a different perspective, but is also critical of the Times.
Again, I am not arguing there is nothing to deal with or nothing to worry about. Yet a firm distinction should always be made between government policies and anti-Israel protests. The Turkish and Spanish governments are more anti-Israel. The American, Australian, British, Canadian, French, German, Italian, all the Central European, and many other governments are friendlier than they have often been. Compare the level of Israeli relations with China, India, and Russia in the past.
But why were there all those big and sometimes violent demonstrations in Europe? Could they have something to do with the fact that there are all those large Muslim and often Arab emigrant communities who have brought their hatred of Israel with them? No, that's a story the Times fears to tell.
As for American Jews, if the Times stopped promoting tiny anti-Israel groups posing as liberal pro-Israel groups that have no serious base of their own, perhaps it wouldn't be under such illusions.
If Israel faces threats, they are real ones stemming from Iran and its nuclear weapons' drive, Hamas, and Hizballah. They may arise from Western policies--which the Times favors--of ending any attempt to isolate Iran and Syria.
Crossposted on Yourish.Posted by SoccerDad at March 19, 2009 6:11 AM