Israel Reflects

September 12, 2011 by J-Wire
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This week memorials and tributes to those who perished on the morning of September 11 2001 have dominated the Israeli media…writes Raffe Gold.

Raffe Gold

Turning on the television or flicking onto any mainstream media website, one cannot help but be confronted by different analyses of the events of that tragic day and the years that followed. Supporters and critics of America adorn newspapers side by side and give their opinions of how the world has changed for the better or worse because of the Bush Administrations reaction to the attacks; going from a President who criticized Bill Clinton for making the US military the ‘world’s policeman’ to a President who sent troops to numerous countries in the hope of staving off the next attack. But here in Israel the media has been drawing attention to the similarities between our two nations on that day. They harken to the days of the Palestinian’s bloody intifada and remind us that we too have experienced terror and death on our streets and in our homes. Yet the media does not seem to have a critical sense of awareness. The media is not aware that Israel’s 9/11 did not occur in 2000, 2001 or 2002. Israel’s 9/11 is occurring right now. Our current isolationism has shifted our country further than we could possibly imagine from a course our forefathers once charted, and which will have as many, if not more, ramifications than any one terror attack.

The isolation that Israel is currently experiencing can be traced back many years. We have seen it in a variety of forms since before the creation of the world’s only Jewish state. From the ‘nay’ votes during the resolution to partition Palestine to the French boycott of Israeli weapons which lasted 42 years; ending just a few short weeks ago. Yet none of these tactics, not even the infamous Arab boycott of all Israeli products which they secretly break at their own convenience, could prepare Israel for the isolationism that she feels at this very moment.

Currently the list of Israel’s allies has grown so thin they can be counted on a single hand. Her relations with Europe have grown chilly and the alliance with the American government is positively frosty since President Obama came to power. Her allies within the Arab world have all but vanished, despite treaties with Jordan and Egypt. And the recent assaults on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo indicates how much the Egyptian street want rapprochement with us. Ex-President Mubarak awaits his trial and Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan, increasingly fundamentalist Islamic, has taken the baton from Ahmadinejad and is gleefully conducting an orchestra of of anti-Israel propaganda.

Iranian backed terrorists in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah, have regained their strength and are newly equipped with increasingly sophisticated weaponry. A recent salvo of rockets against Southern Israeli towns reminded us all that despite a lull in hostilities, these groups remain incredibly violent and despite Hezbollah’s apparent quiescence they have successfully rearmed and regrouped with rockets and tactics that present a danger to Israelis and the IDF units who will inevitably be sent in to stop them attacking Israeli territory.

It is indicative of the way Israel is reviled in Arabia that when, on Friday night, thousands of Egyptians stormed the Israeli Embassy, the new military rulers did little to stop them. Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz, tweeted the next day “Last night was the end of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, even if it takes a few more months until it actually happens”. With the Egyptians gone we are left only with Jordan as an Arab ally and it is not hard to imagine the kingdom tearing up the peace treaty to ensure its own survival.

Which is why I believe that these past few years have been Israel’s 9/11. We have been attacked, unjustly and immorally from an enemy that knows no love for humankind, and we have attempted to respond to those attacks with military force; Defensive Shield in 2002, the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Cast Lead in 2008 and finally the flotilla boarding in 2010. Our response has also been diplomatic. We have made overtures to Arab countries and have withdrawn thousands upon thousands of people from their homes by disengaging from Gaza at the same time as easing life-saving checkpoints.

Yet each attempt we make to live according to the demands made on us by the rest of the world seems to lead us deeper and deeper into the abyss of loneliness. Our 9/11 is one where we have seen a transition between the old guard and the new. We have seen hawks become doves. Sharon, previously the champion of the settlements, almost ignited a civil war when he knew that our continued presence in Gaza was untenable. Netanyahu, a firm believer of never negotiating with terrorists, is, according to rumors, increasingly relaxing the number of prisoners that Israel intends to release in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

This is the result of our 9/11. As Bush saw his strategy degenerate in the face of massive world-wide opposition he too began to shift his gaze to the future. Even he denied Israel the right of self-defence by striking Iranian nuclear reactors, in an effort to repair the damage he had caused with the Arabs over the 8 years of his administration. Successive Israeli governments over the last decade have attempted to reverse the trend of settlement building with the disengagement from Gaza and moratoria in the West Bank but there was nothing but rebuffs from the Palestinians.

 

Much like George Bush on 9/11Israel is unsure of what is happening and how to proceed. She has responded both with a display of force and with attempts at peace and the international community has responded with silence. As the Arab Spring unfolded we Israelis looked forward with optimism to something life-altering. But as Egyptians attempted to capture our embassy we are reminded of the shocking truth that a people raised on a diet of anti-Zionism will continually see us as their enemy regardless of the dictates of their leadership. We see Turkey’s posturing by threatening to send warships to break a legally established blockade and we see the PA’s foolish declaration of independence; something that appears to be inevitable.

 

We are experiencing the confusion of 9/11 and the future appears bleak.

 

Raffe Gold is a recent immigrant to Israel from Australia. He can be contacted at twitter.com/raffeg


 

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