The world is sick of Israel

A commentary in Haaretz by Akiva Eldar opts for a Biblical theme with the headline: “The plague of darkness has struck modern Israelites.” But the observation in my headline comes directly from the text as Eldar bemoans the fact that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu “simply refuses to see that the world is sick of us.”

A report from the BBC says US officials indicate the Obama administration would “seriously consider abstaining” if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote in the UN Security Council.

This is one of the few threats Obama can make without needing Congressional support. And although this administration has not hesitated in making demands on the Israelis, it has thus far refrained from issuing threats. This could be a significant shift.

Eldar writes:

[T]he myopic Jewish state … has gone and collided head-on with the ally that offers existential support. Israel has become an environmental hazard and its own greatest threat. For 43 years, Israel has been ruled by people who have refused to see reality. They speak of “united Jerusalem,” knowing that no other country has recognized the annexation of the eastern part of the city. They sent 300,000 people to settle land they know does not belong to them. As early as September 1967, Theodor Meron, then the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, said there was a categorical prohibition against civilian settlement in occupied territories, under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Meron – who would become the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and is now a member of the Appeals Chamber for both that court and a similar one for Rwanda – wrote to prime minister Levi Eshkol in a top-secret memorandum: “I fear there is great sensitivity in the world today about the whole question of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, and any legal arguments that we try to find will not remove the heavy international pressure, from friendly states as well.”

It is true that for many years, we have managed to grope our way through the dark and keep the pressure at bay. We did so with the assistance of our neighbors, who were afflicted with the same shortsightedness.

On Sunday, however, the Arab League marked the eighth anniversary of its peace proposals, which offer Israel normalization in exchange for an end to the occupation and an agreed solution to the refugee problem, in accordance with UN Resolution 194. But Israel behaves as if it had never heard of this historic initiative. For the last year, it was too busy realizing its dubious right to establish an illegal settlement in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, turning a blind eye to reality, has tried to persuade the world that what applies to Tel Aviv also applies to Sheikh Jarrah. He simply refuses to see that the world is sick of us. It’s easier for him to focus on his similarly nearsighted followers in AIPAC. Tonight they’ll all swear “Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem” – including the construction in Ramat Shlomo, of course.

Hillary Clinton is not Jewish, but it was she who had to remind the AIPAC Jews what demography will do to their favorite Jewish democracy in the Middle East. A few days earlier, she had come back from Moscow, where she took part in one of the Quartet’s most important meetings. Israeli politicians and media were too busy with the cold reception awaiting Netanyahu at the White House. They never gave any thought to the decision by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations to turn Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s state-building plan from a unilateral initiative into an international project.

The Quartet declared that it was backing the plan, proposed in August 2009, to establish a Palestinian state within 24 months. This was an expression of the Palestinians’ serious commitment that the state have a just and proper government and be a responsible neighbor. This means Israel has less than a year and a half to come to an agreement with the Palestinians on the permanent borders, Jerusalem and the refugees. If the Palestinians stick to Fayyad’s path, in August 2011, the international community, led by the United States, can be expected to recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem as an independent country occupied by a foreign power. Will Netanyahu still be trying to explain that Jerusalem isn’t a settlement?

For 43 years, the Israeli public – schoolchildren, TV viewers, Knesset members and Supreme Court judges – have been living in the darkness of the occupation, which some call liberation. The school system and its textbooks, the army and its maps, the language and the “heritage” have all been mobilized to help keep Israelis blind to the truth. Luckily, the Gentiles clearly see the connection between the menace of Iranian control spreading across the Middle East and the curse of Israeli control over Islamic holy places.

Monday night, when we read the Passover Haggadah, we should note the plague that follows darkness. That may open our eyes.

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  1. The world is sick and tired of Israel, true. It is also sick and tired of the USA which has protected Israel at every turn, effectively negating international humanitarian law since 1967 by its use of its UN SC veto to protect Israel. Many have been waiting for the FIRST SHOE TO DROP. President Obama has hinted. He has suggested. But he has not yet acted. NO SHOE HAS DROPPED. He has not yet learned that, with Israel, words are not enough. If he is smart, he will implement a no-fly zone on all of Iran’s southern border prepared to shoot doen Israeli planes sent to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities, because all the world will (properly) hold the USA responsible if Israel attacks, and an attack is exectly the sort of thing Netanyahu might do to ease his current and accelerating frustration.

    The world waits for a UN SC resolution on settlements. A poor resolution would merely say “no more building and no more people.” A good resolution would say that all the settlements and all the settlers and the wall present in occupied territories are present there illegally and must be removed on a short time-table.

    We look forward to developments with interest. Never underestimate the power of AIPAC acting through a captive Congress. But never underestimate this canny new president.

  2. DICKERSON3870 says

    RE: “an attack [on Iran] is exactly the sort of thing Netanyahu might do to ease his current and accelerating frustration” – pabelmont
    MY COMMENT: I agree. The potential for something like this happening really scares me.

  3. Norman Morley says

    Ever since W.W. II, The World has been fed the horror story of what the Nazi’s did to the Jew’s. Even before then, they lived in large ghettos, with deplorable conditions. So, here in the 21st Century, in all its glory, History appears to have gone full circle. Only this time, it’s the Jews playing the roll of the Nazi’s & the Palestinians playing the Jews. Of course, the gas chambers haven’t made the scene as yet, but that hasn’t stopped the loss of life for them.
    Whether or not the U.S.A. opens its eyes, remains to be seen. This isn’t meant to be construed as Anti-Jewish, as it’s not, because I believe that the vast Majority of the Jewish population, The Palestinians, as well as the Americans, are fed up with the War Hawks, War Mongers, and would really rather cut the crap & proceed with the business of living Free, educating, working building a better future.
    I believe that it’s time for all the people, the common people, to throw off the yokes that the neocon-warhawks in every country have saddled the people with. That also includes all of the Religious sects too.

  4. @DICKERSON3870: I’m afraid you’re right. But: There are about 3700 Russian scientists and engineers around Bushehr, along with their families. What would Bibi expect as an appropriate reaction after an attack? Tel Aviv glowing?

  5. A wag once said: If the law is on your side argue the law. If the facts favor your position, then argue the facts. If neither the law or the facts support your position then bang oin the table and yell like the dickens. Akiva Eldar – and most of the voices being raised in the international community against Israel of late are mistaken on the law and the facts. The Israeli government did not send 300,000 people to live over the s0-called “Green Line.” Folks moved there of their own volition. No Israeli government accepted Theodore Meron’s legal assessment concerning the East Jerusalem, Judae and Samaria because it is, quite simply, wrong. The late Eugene Rostow, who was dean of the Yale law school and one of the drafters of UNSC 242 provides a much more compelling source for international law than Meron. – And his assessment was quite different. See his article reprodiced at:

    Mr. Obama, who attended Harvard Law, should certainly know better than to re-make the law in his own image. He has unilaterally abrogated promises made by the U.S. to Israel which were the basis for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Those now screaming at Israel – and advocating the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria should think again – because they, too, are squarely in the wrong – on the law and the facts.