Israel’s international status in free fall

The special relationship with the USA, which is the cornerstone of our national security, has been rapidly deteriorating since the formation of our extreme right-wing government. Today, there are two Jewish heads of state: of the two, President Biden chose to visit President Zelensky, who is fighting for the freedom of Ukraine, and not invite Prime Minister Netanyahu who harms the democracy of the State of Israel and its moral stature. This clearly illustrates the rapid deterioration of Israel’s international status due to the judicial coup and annexation plans.

While ministers in the government accuse the opposition of encouraging the BDS, those same ministers are shattering the remnants of Israel’s dignity. It’s no surprise that the BDS recently circulated a clip posted by the Minister of Information Galit Distel Atbarian, in which her show of hatred and racism endorses the BDS’ call for an international boycott of Israel. That same week, the Minister of the Diaspora took the license to reprimand America and demand that it minds its own business, without understanding how bold and brazen that is, and what would happen to Israel if the US removes its shield of defense. Outdoing them all is the Minister of Finance and Minister in the Ministry of Defense, Bezalel Smotrich, who poured oil on the fire of Israel’s international relations by stating that Israel must “erase Hawara”, setting of a blaze that a thousand explanations and excuses will not dampen.  It is hard to recall when the utterance of a senior minister last received such harsh condemnation and disgust from the American administration, and it seems that the last word on this matter has not yet been said.

In the two months since its establishment, this government has succeeded in setting the streets on fire, seriously fracturing the social fabric in Israel, and exacerbating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by orders of magnitude. Moreover, the government has succeeded in causing unprecedented peripheral damage to Israel’s status and international relations. The signs are piling up daily: note the postponement of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, following Minister Ben Gvir’s provoking visit to the Temple Mount. Note that after two months in office, Netanyahu has yet to receive the traditional invitation to the White House, apparently a deliberate move to clarify the administration’s attitude toward Netanyahu and his government.

In addition, the American administration is boycotting Finance Minister Smotrich, who was not invited to meet with government officials during his visit to Washington. Furthermore, a succession of senior administration officials have met with the Israeli government to voice their criticism in no uncertain terms, and ensure Israelis and the world understand the message.

The grounded Netanyahu is desperate for flight opportunities. First to French President Macron in an almost forced visit, which, apart from a weekend in Paris for the Netanyahu family, resulted mostly in public reprimands. He then arranged for a weekend with the neo-fascist Italian Prime Minister Giorgio Maloney, and is going to hear criticism in Berlin and London. It can be assumed that visits will soon be scheduled to Comrade Orban in Budapest, and perhaps to Warsaw – two capitals that offer inspiration to Netanyahu in his quest to harm Israeli democracy.

Political isolation is apparent not only in the reduced number of flight destinations for the Netanyahu family, but also in the numerous public reprimands towards the Israeli government voiced by the European Union and countries around the world. Even Poland and Italy joined European countries in voicing their condemnation of the violence “coming from both sides”, a sign that immunity is not assured, even from those whom Netanyahu considers to be his partners.

Since Netanyahu has allowed the extremists in his government to fulfill their dreams, which are a nightmare for those who support democracy and morality, Israel is becoming more and more isolated. So long as Ben Gvir fulfills his ambition to turn the police into a political tool aimed at harming minorities, Smotrich annexes the West Bank and perpetuates his inflammatory words, and members of the coalition continue cheering on Jewish terrorists in Hawara and elsewhere, the State of Israel will be ostracized.

Israel is not China nor Turkey. It depends on its relations with the countries of the free world, as we depend on air to breath. If Israel tries to imitate regimes in authoritarian countries, we will end up in an outcast, under international punishment, together with Viktor Orbán who has succeeded during his time in office in destroying the Hungarian economy and bringing about a mass immigration of those who seek their future outside their homeland. This foreseeable blacklisting, and in the absence of American backing, has moral, political, economic and security implications that cannot be exaggerated.

Those who undermine the international status of the State of Israel harm its security in every possible aspect. Right now, the Coalition of Extremists is surpassing the best efforts of our worst enemies.

About the Author
Nadav Tamir is the executive director of J Street Israel, a member of the board of the Mitvim think-tank, adviser for international affairs at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and member of the steering committee of the Geneva Initiative. He was an adviser of President Shimon Peres and served in the Israel embassy in Washington and as consul general to New England.