How Israel Should Avoid International Isolation
by Dovid Efune
As the political climate heats up in Israel, the oft chimed argument of choice for the withered and depleted concessions camp, charges that various actions taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the current sitting government are leading to international isolation of the Jewish state.
Last month, Tzipi Livni, leader of the newly formed ‘Hatnuah’ party opposed the announcement of new West Bank settlement building on the grounds that the move “isolates Israel [and] encourages international pressure,” according to the Guardian.
The front page of the Israel edition of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper on Tuesday carried a damning condemnation of the Prime Minister from someone whose own association with the attribute of courage, was best indicated by his decision not to disclose his name.
“If Netanyahu refuses to return to the negotiation table after the January elections, Israel will ‘lose the world,'” wrote the paper, citing the source which it described as a ‘top official.’
Also on Tuesday, former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin “called for a proposal for the establishment of a Palestinian state ‘otherwise we will lose international support,'” according to Ynet.
Earlier this month, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has been particularly vocal since recently being cleared of corruption charges, and was only found guilty of breach of trust, told Israel’s Channel 2 that “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is isolating the State of Israel from (the) entire world in an unprecedented way, and we are going to pay a difficult price for this in every aspect of our lives.”
It is of course troubling that for some Israeli leaders the opinions of foreigners are such a primal motivating factor. Their point however, can’t easily be dismissed; Israel’s international relationships and standing are vital to its ongoing security.
The big problem however, which is also the reason why no country conducts its internal affairs on the basis of world opinion, is that it carries no guarantees to represent the interests of the country’s populace, and opens the door to allowing all manner of undesirables leverage over citizens without their consent. Also, there are no limitations to how far it might go. Today world leaders may be calling for a halt to construction in Jerusalem, tomorrow they might insist that Israel cede control of parts of Jerusalem, and soon after they could call on Israel to accede to the PA demand for an Arab ‘right of return,’ effectively bringing an end to Israel as a Jewish state.
If the EU, UK, US, UN, Russia, Australia, South Africa and others are motivated in their demands of Israel by their willingness to maintain positive ties with the big business, oil producing Arab states, then what exactly is holding back the steady increase in these impositions from the ‘international community.’
If you by chance still think they are motivated by supposed humanitarian concerns, take a peek at Syria, recall the genocides of Darfur and Rwanda for which the United Nations barely lifted a finger, and float back into that pink fluffy cloud from whence you have emerged.
Netanyahu’s critics are flatly wrong. For Israel, the antidote to international isolation is not to apologize on demand or cave to global arrogation, but for the country to focus on building attributes of indispensability.
Israel’s role as a leader of innovation, pioneer in military technology, energy and medicine must be harnessed not only in private industry but in the field of public diplomacy as well. Israel’s soon to be role as an energy exporter following the discovery of natural gas and oil reserves, can be leveraged as well.
Perhaps Israel’s most irresistible diplomatic attraction; serving as an anchor state, is only growing more compelling. As other regional players descend further into turmoil, Israel stands out as reliable, robust and steady.
In this regard, for Israel, maintaining that stability by placing security first is an absolute must if it is to ensure its diplomatic bankability.
In this light it emerges just how deeply misguided Netanyahu’s critics are. In the long run, it is precisely his security inspired moves that will actually decrease Israel’s isolation by guaranteeing Israel’s global indispensability.