Josef Olmert

Despite Paris, Kerry and Resolution 2334-Israel Is Not So Isolated

Jews like to feel isolated, as the Am levadad yishkon[we are a people to ourselves]is so much part of our national ethos, in fact of our history, and how it can be otherwise with our long history of persecution. So, these days may seem to be the wrong time to try and portray a more optimistic picture of our standing in the international community. Paris conference, the rift with the great ally, US and the Security Council resolution no .2334 are all leading in the direction of Israel being a pariah state. The latest show of hatred in the Security Council clearly enhances this impression, but Israel is not as isolated , and it is our utmost national interest to emphasize it.

It is not the interest of anyone in Israel , surely not of the National Camp to play to the hands of our haters , the BDS’ERS of the world, by lamenting our ”total isolation”, which is perceived by them as a prelude to a total boycott of Israel, then to its complete delegitimisation. Some will argue, that it is sheer naivete on my part, as after all, our haters do not need any particular reason in order to wish Israel to disappear from the face of earth, but naivete notwithstanding [and I am not…],it is simply not true to define us as the isolated Israel. It serves the Right Wing to say that , as the typical public reaction in Israel when the country is faced with these string of international resentment, is exactly to close ranks behind the government and to dismiss it all by arguing that ”who cares, they are Antisemites”, and many are . This is usually an integral part of the political culture of Israel, but in the final analysis it is self-defeating. Needless to mention, that the Left Wing is just happy to say that, as it serves the agenda of forcing Israel to make ever more concessions. Yes, the world obsession with Israel is endemic, but there are loopholes, even wide ones, through which we can conduct a constructive , useful and beneficial foreign policy. That said, it should be the Right Wing most fundamental interest to tell the full story of successes which the current Likud Government have. Being cynical, and this is politics which we discuss here, the Right Wing can speak from both sides of their mouth and still score points. They can call attention to the impression of isolation as a means of mobilizing the instinctive national reaction of ”who cares”, but also to pinpoint to the other side ,that of success, showing that the Likud coalition can function on the international scene, and there are successes which can serve that purpose.

Let us start with Congress condemning the UNSC resolution, with a majority of even Democrats join with the Republicans. Not a light affair in view of the deep, irreconcilable differences between the two parties in Capitol Hill when dealing with nearly any other issue. Another example is the British repudiation of the Paris Declaration, an unprecedented display of out of usual protocol of diplomacy.Then came some of the Balkan member states of the EU , which also objected to the adoption of the Paris Declaration by the EU. How many of us realize, that Netanyahu adopted and pursued a Balkan Strategy which is paying dividends .Greece of the Extreme Leftist Alexis Tzipras is an indication of the success of this strategy. Closer to home,Egypt provides a striking example of an Israeli success. Arguably, the level of actual cooperation between Israel and Egypt in a variety of crucial issues by far outweighs the bitter pill which we have to swallow when Egypt joins anti Israel UN resolutions. Add up friendly and VERY useful relations with Asian and Muslim countries such as Azerbeijan and Kazakhstan, the full extent of which cannot open to the public, but of immense importance. We can go on with more known examples of the expanding Israeli network in Africa, Russia, China and India, not exactly miniature countries, and we can say that NO, there is no isolation, despite the vast effort to have us in this position, and even more so, to have us believe that this is indeed the reality.

That said, here is where it is important to understand, that there are built-in problems which work and will continue to work against us in the international community; 57 Muslim member states of the UN, double standards and anti-Semitism,
economic interests such as oil as well as other factors. We need therefore to be able to live with Resolutions which reflect sentiments which we do not like, but to build interests which will enable us to cooperate with states along the basis of mutual need and benefit, rather than emotions. Netanyahu, for example, erred when cancelling his meeting with Theresa May, but not when rebuffing New Zealand, as Britain is not NZ ,and sometimes swallowing our pride is not a bad idea. But beyond the need to be less vulnerable to diplomatic offense aimed at us, it is a question of priorities-of picking the issues over which to fight with those that we can still have on our side. Jerusalem is one of them, Amona is not, and this is just an example. These are difficult and challenging times for us, but it is not a lost cause for Israel’s international standing, which Could and should be better, but still is not as bad as seems to be.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina