An isolated state - Israel losing friends it badly needs

JUST as the international community, almost with a single voice, angrily condemned the murder of nine peace protestors – or Hamas sleepers as Israel would like us to believe – Israel shrugged off the condemnation with indignation and considerable arrogance.

All around the world Israeli spokesmen and supporters held the line, insisting that they are entitled to do more or less anything they wish, legal or criminal, to prevent Gaza being used as a base for attacks on their country. As they have shown, as late as yesterday, this includes killing innocent Palestinians, mostly women and children. Because Israel used weapons banned by international convention to do this, it has been suggested that they should be charged with war crimes.

As late as yesterday afternoon this policy continued with air raids on Gaza. It is believed that at least three people were killed in the attacks.

It is true that Israel is a country under attack but like any society in such a situation it might try to understand if it bares some responsibility for the situation.

Had Britain responded to the murderous attacks by the Provos and the INLA a few decades ago as Israel has responded to Hamas missiles it is certain that this island would still be violently divided. It is unlikely we would have avoided civil war; we certainly would not enjoy even the reduced prosperity of today. Our difficulties, in that situation, would make our current economic crisis seem little more than a minor, passing frippery.

Had the Soviet Union responded to the demands for democracy and independence from its satellite states after the collapse of communism as Israel responds to Palestinians’ legitimate hopes, we probably would still be recovering, if we could, from the third world war.

The parallels do not end there. Just as corrupt, hard-line policies that supported those who denied the North’s nationalist minority democratic parity pushed thousands of people towards paramilitary terror, Israeli aggression will only strengthen Hamas. It will just swell the ranks of their opponents, peaceful or violent.

Aggressive suppression is not the only reason Israel is attacked. Their policy of establishing illegal settlements sustains cross-generational hatreds and we should call it what it is – ethnic cleansing followed by land theft.

The Zionist/Israeli conflict is not even a century old and we, on this small, once bitterly divided island brought, as we often like to boast, 700 years of conflict to an end by talking honestly. Enemies sat down together and softened the hatreds that were destroying them because, at the end of the day, they had to accept that the price of not changing was just too high.

Israel is at that point and is in danger of alienating even those who wish that young country well. Now it needs friends far more than ever but it seems determined to plough a lonely, dangerous furrow.

After the 9/11 attacks President Bush was emphatic: he said that you’re either with us or against us. It may be time for President Barack Obama, the European Union, Russia, China and India to ask that question of Israel. If they are with us they will stop behaving in a way that will end in disaster for Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East and very many more of us. If not the support that allows it to behave in this criminal way must be withdrawn. There is still time for sanity and decency to prevail but not much.

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