All by Myself: Israel in the new Middle East

Published December 6th, 2012 - 18:35 GMT

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Ongoing Israeli construction: settlement building
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Image 1 of 11: Israel recently thumbed its nose at the international community who urged it to halt building illegal housing settlements in the wake of Palestine's UN upgrade. Some felt Israel would win more friends if it stuck to building a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Instead, it looks to be sticking to its guns, unilateral and isolationist-style.

The UK's ambassador to Israel will be on a fast-track to Whitehall after being summoned
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Image 1 of 11: The EU has summoned its envoy as members pulled out their diplomats, over Israel's West Bank settlement démarche. From France, and the UK, Sweden and others followed suit. By the time the UK's summoned ambassador was en route to Whitehall, even the US had chimed in with its objection to the stubborn settler mentality of the Jewish state.

IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency calls out Israel for nuclear inspections
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Image 1 of 11: Losing its impunity? The UN also this week showed cruel love to Israel about nuclear inspections.The resolution, passed with an easy majority, calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “without further delay.”Israel did not cooperate, pleading the need for 'peace' before they could discuss their nuclear status. Chicken, egg?

The US has its own oil and can depend less on the Middle East
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Image 1 of 11: The US gives Israel a wide berth: Friends may need space, but Israel might not appreciate going it alone in the event of war. With the US shifting its foreign policy away from the oil-rich region, it seems to be washing its hands of the region, oil n all. Israel is alone vis-a-vis the Iran threat. Vocal support is there, but action, less likely.

Pacific Islands are Israel-friendly: Micronesia and the Marshall Islands
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Image 1 of 11: Israel's friends, few & far between: The usual suspects stood by them this week as they were twice rebuffed at the UN (with the Palestinian status upgrade & the nuclear non-proliferation inspection resolution). The West Pacific, Panama, Canada and the Czechs. Even the last bastion of neutrality Switzerland gave a yes vote for Palestine's upgrade.

Westbank barrier
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Image 1 of 11: Israel going wall-crazy? Israel could be walling itself off from the world: In an era where walls are being brought down, Israel is erecting barriers and fences. Concrete walls served to seal off the West Bank and now a fence is barricading the Sinai. How more isolated can a small country bordered by four hostile fronts get?

Golan Heights: the Syria/ Israel border protests 2011
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Image 1 of 11: Better the devil they knew: The coveted and occupied Golan panoramic vantage has largely gone without squabble for the last 30 years under the Assad clan. As 'axis of evil' as Assad's regime may be, the Syrians were all quiet on the Israel front, which suited Israel down to the ground. What follows a soon-to-fall-Assad may not be so docile.

Global pro-Palestine protests spread: BDS Melbourne, Australia
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Image 1 of 11: The Israelis versus world opinion: Apparently, the globe is growing increasingly less 'au fait' with the activity of the region's original "only democracy." Is the era of blind allegiance to Israel coming to an end? Even long-time ally, the US, was cheer leading in a muted manner for Israel's anti-Palestine UN campaign this time round.

Cairo Israeli embassy
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Image 1 of 11: Neighbors from hell! From the Arab-Israeli wars, again adrift in a sea of enemies, Israel now faces the new Arab ferment on its borders. Israel's worst fears came to pass when a Cairo mob attacked their embassy after the revolution set in. With the Egyptian street is in charge, Jordan's Palestinian sympathizers are also chomping at the bit.

Jabotinsky's Iron Wall essay foresaw Israel's wall mentality
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Image 1 of 11: Old habits die hard: "Behind an Iron Wall" suggests the Jewish penchant for walls in the holyland is nothing new. Jabotinsky, the Zionist visionary, in 1923 saw- with remarkable prescience - the walling frenzy that is upon Israel today. The Zionist dream would not survive without a gated community mentality and outside friends to en-'force' it.

Jews for Palestine: Will more Jewish people abandon Israel?
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Image 1 of 11: What about Israel's friends at home? Jews for peace aside, Israel has already been facing its own internal dissent: Politicians considering invasions and wars need to consider the unrest stemming from economic troubles. Infatuation with fighting militants in Gaza may be losing them friends at home.

Israel has a unique story and history – yet even as a fledgling state when its birth came about, it knew it depended on others’ support or 'stewardship' to conceive of its Zionist ambition. The forefathers said this, and now it has come to pass. Israel would not have gotten by without a little help from its friends. Whether colonial Britain or superpower US would be the one to nurse and nurture their dream, the Jewish state has always found itself in need of support. But today more than ever, the people of the promised land have been burning bridges with countries - when not bombing bridges in Gaza or Lebanon.

While it used to complain of being the only democracy in the region, Israel now realizes that sometimes you're at your loneliest when surrounded by 'friends' in democracy. Democratically elected Arabs, as suspected, wear their animmosity, or hostility toward Israel, on their sleeves.

In the past, the US has waded in to fix and patch things up. Americans have always arbitrated or diplomatically 'shuttled' them back into line with their neighbors, who have agreed to a cool to lukewarm tolerance. But now, enter empowered Egypt, playing messenger, maybe Hamas is no longer the pariah. As for the US - still there to talk the talk - it is likely shifting its foreign policy concerns away from the Middle, and to the 'further' East. 

Given that the world, as seen at the UN recently, did not cosy up to Israel to outlaw the Palestinian status upgrade from passing, it seemed the Jewish state's popularity was starting to flag. And while old Arab dictators may have displayed a good bit of anti-Israel 'show', they usually kept their threats to words, at a polite distance. Today the Muslim Brotherhood with its big Palestinian heart, flanking Israel from Egypt's halls of power and the Jordan street, may be prepared to challenge Israel's actions vis-a-vis its Arab populations more.

It's hard to carry Israel as a friend when it's actions might harm your interests. The state of Israel recently, in the international limelight at the UN, has displayed a recalcitrant stance, digging its heels in as it constructs more settlements and less of a constructive future with old allies and future partners in peace.

As we revisit the region after Arab revolutions and Palestine's second successful bid for enhanced access to the UN, we see Israel growing more and more isolated in the international arena. Hamas could stand a chance of re-entering the international fold, if it plays its cards right, while Israel is being left out in the cold. Traditional cheer-leaders to the Jewish state may have just started to dis-band and consider defecting to the other side.

 

Do you think Israel on a path of alienating the world with its obstinate approach to settlement building and evident contempt for world public opinion? Does the Jewish state have allies that will stand by it in time of war? Give us your thoughts on the new Middle East landscape of today.

 

 

 

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