This post just went up at the Telegraph, where they gave it a sensationalist title to attract readers. As the editor said, “Now let the s*** storm begin.” Sort of like Max and The Wild Things… not (check the comments – wow!)
Israel has rarely been so isolated.
- Bordered north and south by Jihadi entities – Hizbullah and Hamas – that have armed with missiles, itching for the moment when, behind their own civilian populations, it can rain down death upon Israeli civilians, forcing Israeli retaliation that inevitably causes Palestinian civilian casualties.
- An Arab Spring that has unleashed waves of anti-Zionism and empowered the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the first and most constant enemies of the Zionists.
- Its closest “allies” in the Muslim world now turned or turning against it – Turkey, Egypt following in the lead of Turkey: the closing of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, followed soon after by the takeover of the embassy in Cairo, illustrating how both bottom-up and top-down forces in the Muslim world militate for confrontation.
- The Muslim world filled with hatred of Israel thanks to its own predilections and a newly empowered media that spreads lethal narratives at lightening speed around the globe.
- The “progressive” West, especially the global tribe of the “Left,” and the “human rights” NGOs saturated with anti-Zionist diatribes, about to hold Durban III, commemorating one of the ugliest incidents in its depressing, demopathic career of betraying the very humanitarian causes they were created to protect.
- A news media and academia, enamored of post-modern, post-colonial paradigms that present Israel as the Goliath victimizing the Palestinians, Israel the paragon of an imperial and racist colonialism for which the West is trying to repent, and with whose sacrifice it might atone.
- A diplomatic elite that has long preferred to side with the oil-rich Arabs over a tiny, troublesome state.
- And now, a internationally weak American president who, for reasons ideological, psychological, and practical, considers making friends with the Muslim world a far greater priority than protecting Israel.
- And now, in a few days, a Palestinian authority about to use the UN – currently a bastion of anti-Zionism – as a means to further isolate Israel diplomatically and legally.
Rumors are, that it’s so bad, that that stiff-necked right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is under heavy pressure to be more placating, to calm the storm.
Of course, in so doing, Israel would be playing the role of sacrificial offering on the altar of Jihadi warfare. Contrary to the exceptionally naïve expectations of the proponents of such a conciliatory stance, a reasonable, apologetic, concessionary Israel will not appease Muslim hatred, nor calm the roiling waters of Arab anger. On the contrary, it will play directly into the hands of the Jihadis who aim at the, to us, ludicrous, goal of world domination.
And any Western country that thinks sacrificing Israel in this manner will improve the situation, rather than weakening itself profoundly in a global battle it should be winning hands down, is deluding itself. Instead of pouring water on the fires of religious war – something virtually every thoughtful Westerner considers the most dangerous and destructive of forces – they would be pouring oil on the Jihadi apocalyptic forest fire that grows with every passing year. If you’re worried about global climate warming, shouldn’t you also be worried about global Jihad warming?
Drawing by Ellen Horowitz, 2006
Israel, paradoxically, is also in a particularly strong position. Few alliances last long in this part of the world, and no sooner are reconciliations announced than they begin to fray. The very countries that, in their move to Islamism, have turned against her, have, at the same time, gutted their armies of their military professionals. Even as they strut on the international stage, making threats and demanding abject apologies, their military ability to confront Israel wanes. And of course, the Israel he’d meet would not be the wounded, defensive one with which he shadow-boxes daily. Israelis have always had more heart for fighting real wars than for constant low-grade battles with terrorists who hide behind civilians in order to gain a propaganda victory.
Indeed, the situation of the Turks is so perilous, that one (typical) conspiracy theory circulating in among them now is that Obama has been encouraging Erdogan’s intransigence so that Turkey will enter into a disastrous war with Israel and end up losing not only to them, but to their troublesome neighbors, the Kurds. Have Egyptians really believed their fantastic narrative about defeating Israel in 1973, a victory snatched from them (rather than from the Israelis) by meddlesome Westerners? Is the mob mentality in the street and in the media, so much in evidence in 1967, still capable of driving them to a war with Israel?
Behind the military weakness lies economic weaknesses. High wheat prices from drought-stricken China played a major role in both sparking the “Arab Spring” and the weakness of Arab economies (with and without oil) pose major threats to the largely dispossessed people. With problems like this, only fools and tyrants would resort to scapegoating one of the most economically successful and productive nations in the neighborhood, as a way to move forward. If the Turks continue their belligerence, their Jewish population will leave Turkey, and the unemployment rate will, according to some estimates, almost double.
Israel should, if anything, hold fast and let the Arabs and Muslims vent their impotent furor; even to challenge them. Israel should call Turkey’s morally repugnant bluff about concern for Palestinians even as it crushes its own minorities. Western human rights activists would do everyone a favor by spotlighting Turkey’s troubling record, for more than just the purpose of keeping them out of the EU. I’m quite sure the Kurds and the Greek Cypriots would much prefer Israel as a neighbor than Turkey – indeed, honest Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem, like those who would say they would move out any parts of Jerusalem given to the PA, would admit the same.
Of course such pushback might lead to war. No one in Israel wishes for war. Every soldier’s death and every dead civilian on both sides, is experienced as a national tragedy. Unfortunately, even impotent venting can lead Muslim leaders down dark tunnels that they can’t escape. The extremist street can and has propelled them into following through on their rhetorical flourishes and drum rolls. Foolish Arab leaders, fueled by false pride, will lie to each other about their capabilities, as Nasser did to the Jordanians in 1967, forcing themselves into confrontations that will cost them, the West and Israel dearly.
Of course, Israel needs help. It will need sound and sane nations and peoples who, looking at the global situation, can distinguish between firemen and arsonists, between those who show concern for both their own citizens and those of their foes, and those who willingly sacrifice their own children in order to target those of their foes. It needs outsiders who can understand that turning on one’s friends and supporting one’s enemies, reveals to any many an observer not courage, but weakness. Israel needs outsiders who understand that they are the targets of Jihad just as much as the Israelis. It does not need ideologues who can’t learn from catastrophic past mistakes.
In other words, Israel needs allies who love life, freedom, and critical intelligence. It needs them the way the Dutch needed the English as they tried to survive 80 years of vicious warfare that went on around them, and the assaults of the imperial neighbor, Spain. It needs them as the Czechs needed the Western democracies to protect them from the Nazis’ insatiable appetite. Israel needs people with discernment and a lively instinct for self-preservation.
If the West had the courage of its democratic convictions, it would make it clear to the representatives of the “Arab Spring” that the barrel of the gun only makes it possible to build democracies, but that sustaining them demands far more. It would tell the Palestinians – not just the leaders, but the people – to start doing the kinds of things that will lead to peace rather than conduct a war of ethnic cleansing masquerading a peace. It would explain to the Egyptians that scapegoating a neighbor when your own government continues to fail its people only makes the problem worse. NATO would tell the Turks to keep their ships out of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Of course that would mean that we in the democratic West begin to understand our own political history, and appreciate that democracy is not merely giving the people the vote, that military alliances don’t give a free hand to hostile partners. Without a democratic culture of fairness, tolerance, ability to self-criticize, and respect for the “other,” and can, therefore, enter into positive-sum relations with the other… all attitudes for which there is little evidence (and much counter-evidence) in current Arab political culture, one can expect those newly empowered voters to fall prey to the first demagogue who sounds the right notes.
A Westerner can say to me, “Forget it. They’ll never change. And if we criticize them, we’ll just alienate them, even provoke them. Israel is lost.” Of course, that also means we Westerners are lost, that we just delay our place on the crocodiles menu.
We have the choice between genteel suicide and mental battle.
For the Soldier who fights for Truth, calls his enemy his brother:
They fight & contend for life, & not for eternal death!
But here the Soldier strikes, & a dead corse falls at his feet,
William Blake, Jerusalem, II.41-43.
Do we have the resources for mental and moral strife, and the courage to think and act clearly?