I recently met with a group of high-level Australian journalists, including editors of some of the leading dailies.
They impressed me as a fair and open-minded group. In the course of discussions, one elegantly phrased question, not intended to offend, was put to me which I have been mulling over: Did I ever take into account that if virtually the entire world has concluded that we are the principal cause for the Middle East impasse, perhaps they are right? In other words, have we blinded ourselves to the extent that we are like the inmate in a lunatic asylum who insists that everybody other than himself is insane?
The question is particularly valid in relation to Europe, which has turned so dramatically against us. When analyzing the changed attitudes of many European countries, one must take into account their redefinition of themselves as “enlightened” post-modernist secular societies which shun all manifestations of nationalism. In this configuration Israel is no longer considered a revival of Jewish nationhood, but as a colonial implant which many would be happy to see somehow disappear as a national entity.
And of course, there is the new anti-Semitism in which demonization of Israel has become the surrogate for traditional Jew-hatred. Just as the Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of all the ills of mankind, so today the Jewish state is increasingly being held responsible for the principal woes facing humanity.
In this environment, the Left and many liberals now focus their revolutionary fervor and rage against Israel, and have succeeded in hijacking human rights groups to serve as vehicles to undermine us.
IN THE international arena, the automatic majority of Islamic and other radical states guarantees the passage of all anti-Israeli resolutions initiated at international organizations such as the United Nations, no matter how absurd. The so-called United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which includes the worst tyrannies and rogue states among its leading members, is just one example. People throughout the world unfamiliar with the intricacies of the UN or the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict are bombarded with constant reports of resolutions from a supposedly reputable body condemning Israel as a rogue state. Thus, the false narrative of the Islamic majority, automatically endorsed by compromised international agencies, becomes embedded in the public consciousness.
Simultaneously, there are realpolitik considerations resulting from the ascendancy of the Islamic world and the increased clout of oil-producing countries at a time when securing energy has become the national priority for most nations. This, together with the growing empowerment of radical Islamic immigrant groups throughout Europe, has resulted in many countries siding against Israel rather than confronting the rage and violence of the jihadists within their own borders.
It is in this context that Israel remains the only country in the world whose very right to exist is challenged.
It also highlights the dilemma we face. The more concessions we made over the past decade in order to reach an accommodation with our neighbors, the greater has been the terror unleashed against us and the more our international standing has eroded.
Ironically, despite the rising tide of hatred against us, on objective grounds we should be more entitled to receive the support of people of goodwill and genuine liberals today than ever in the past.
Israel remains the only democracy in the region; 20 percent of its inhabitants are Arab citizens who enjoy equal rights and freedom of expression, and elect their representatives to the Knesset.
In contrast, our despotic neighbors are autocracies or dictatorships that deny freedom of religion and many other basic human rights. They also include the only countries in the world which deny Jews the right of domicile. And yet, we are the ones depicted as a racist apartheid state.
Even under a right-wing government, a broad consensus in Israel supports a two-state solution and is desperate not to rule over the Palestinians. Two Israeli prime ministers offered to cede virtually all the territories gained in wars initiated by enemies seeking to destroy us. The offers were rejected by both Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas.
The Sharon government unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and dismantled long-standing settlements. Thousands of Israelis who had transformed deserts into gardens were forcibly evacuated and forced to forfeit their livelihoods and homes. Yet the moment the settlements were evacuated, they were converted by the Palestinians into launching pads for intensified missile attacks and terrorism that culminated in the Gaza conflict.
WE ARE confronted by two Palestinian entities. Hamas, the terrorist group ruling over Gaza, unequivocally demands the total destruction of the Jewish state and unashamedly calls for the physical extermination of Jews. The other is the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who we are told represents a moderate partner for peace. Yet Abbas speaks with a forked tongue, and to this day still sanctifies suicide bombers as martyrs and provides their families with state pensions. The PA-controlled media, education system and mosques continue to promote anti-Semitism and demand the dissolution of the Jewish state.
Fully aware of these realities, most European states nevertheless apply double standards against the Jewish state. Many either applauded or stood by while the Arabs and their allies accused us of committing war crimes. This, despite the fact that the conflict against Hamas was only launched after thousands of missiles had been directed at Israeli civilians for years.
The IDF’s unprecedented steps of telephoning civilians and distributing pamphlets warning of impending attacks in order to minimize civilian casualties were ignored, as was the submission to the UNHRC by the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, who stated that “the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any army in the history of warfare.”
In such a climate, it is almost inevitable that “enlightened” global public opinion regards us as a rogue state and an even greater threat to world peace than North Korea or Iran.
It is frequently alleged that we are responsible for the world turning against us. We are told that Israel’s military superiority (in the absence of which it would not exist) has created sympathy for the Arab underdog. There is no disputing Palestinian misery and suffering, but it is rarely pointed out that this is a direct byproduct of the policies adopted by their leaders. We are frequently admonished to cease killing terrorists and negotiate with Hamas. Would anyone seriously suggest that the United States negotiate with al-Qaida or cease efforts to kill terrorists planning attacks against its civilians?
I am confident that any objective evaluation would undoubtedly morally validate our broad efforts to achieve peace in the face of Palestinian intransigence. It would also demonstrate that the constant portrayal of Israel as a rogue state by purportedly reputable international organizations such as the United Nations dominated by our enemies, have now become embedded in the public consciousness. This has been facilitated by the opportunism, bias and cowardice of much of the “enlightened” world.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post