Israel has endured and survived many rounds of international condemnation in the past, most notably the United Nations’ infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution of 1975, and the outrage expressed by the Reagan White House and leaders across the globe when Jerusalem bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, 29 years ago this week.
Over time, the UN resolution was repealed, and the world came to see that the attack on the Osirak reactor was a blessing, sparing untold violence from Saddam Hussein. Similarly, charges of a “massacre” in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002, during the height of the intifada, were muted months later when the facts revealed Israel’s army acted with extraordinary caution to avoid harming civilians. The IDF endangered the lives of its own foot soldiers, 23 of whom were killed in the battle, rather than use air power to root out terrorists operating in the dense civilian enclave.
Based on the past, then, our inclination might have been to invoke the words attributed to King Solomon: “And this, too, shall come to pass.”
But the latest example of fury over an Israeli military action, in this case the botched effort to thwart without bloodshed a “humanitarian” flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza, seems different somehow, and deeply foreboding.
The immediacy, intense anger and scope of the outcry against Israel have been chilling, as if much of the world was simply waiting for an opportunity to pounce. And the goal for growing numbers of anti-Israel activists seems not simply to chastise and punish Israel for its actions, but to press home the point that the Jewish state is immoral, evil, inauthentic and undeserving of its status as a member in the brotherhood of nations.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rebuffed in a national effort for membership in the European Union, has turned instead in recent years toward Iran and the Islamic world, where he is being heralded for his angry statements about Israel. The rupture of a key strategic alliance for Israel with a Muslim ally in the region is disheartening, further isolating Jerusalem.
The growing danger to the Israeli psyche, though perfectly understandable, is to assume that the whole world has lost all sense of reason and cannot be accommodated, no matter what effort Israel makes to resolve the impasse.
Pulling out of Lebanon a decade ago and Gaza four years ago brought neither kudos from the world nor a day’s peace. Rather, those unilateral moves were perceived by the Palestinians as a sign of Israeli weakness, and the result was a war from Hezbollah in the north and thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas in the south.
How galling that Hamas is now the darling of “peace activists.” This is a group whose charter calls for the death of all Jews (not just Israelis), which waged war with fellow Palestinians of the PLO and has designs on the West Bank.
While the world has questioned the morality of Israel’s blockade of Gaza (ignoring the fact that Egypt has done the same), “this focus is misplaced,” notes an analysis by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Israel’s embargo is a consequence, not the cause, of the situation in Gaza.” The report advises, wisely, that the U.S., Israel and other countries deal with the flow of weapons into Gaza and the ongoing rule there of the terror group, which has imposed Islamic restrictions on the population.
In the meantime, Israelis must resist the temptation to go it alone, since that approach will only deepen the “us versus them” mentality that can further isolate the country and lead to more limiting and radical options.
Of the highest priority is improving relations with Washington, Israel’s vital ally, and continuing to work with U.S. leaders to find a solution to the grave Iranian nuclear threat. Just as leaders in Washington must be more sensitive to Israel’s very real security concerns, the Israeli leadership must be more responsive to U.S. strategic needs in an increasingly complex, dangerous world.
As Jews, our role is to continue to be a source of support and strength, as any friend or relative at a time of crisis, and help ensure that this, too, shall come to pass.
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