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Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's better to be alone than in bad company

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, says that it's better to be alone than in bad company. Nevertheless, he denies recent claims on the New York Times' editorial page that Israel is alone.
Israel, in fact, is significantly less isolated than at many times in its history. Before the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel faced a belligerent Egypt and Jordan and a hostile Soviet bloc, Greece, India and China — all without strategic ties with the United States. Today, Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan; excellent relations with the nations of Eastern Europe as well as Greece, India and China; and an unbreakable alliance with America. Many democracies, including Canada, Italy and the Czech Republic, stand staunchly with us. Israel has more legations abroad than ever before and recently joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which comprises the most globally integrated countries. Indeed, Egypt and Germany mediated the upcoming release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for five years.

Israel is not responsible for the upheavals in the Arab world or for the lack of freedom that triggered them. Israelis did not elect Turkey’s Islamic-minded government or urge Syria’s army to fire on its citizens. Conversely, no change in Israeli policies can alter the historic processes transforming the region. Still, some commentators claim that, by refusing to freeze settlement construction on the West Bank and insisting on defensible borders and security guarantees, Israel isolates itself.

The settlements are not the core of the conflict. Arabs attacked us for 50 years before the first settlements were built. Netanyahu froze new construction in the settlements for an unprecedented 10 months, and still the Palestinians refused to negotiate. Settlements are not the reason that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a unity pact with Hamas in May, or why, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Abbas denied the Jews’ 4,000-year connection to our homeland. As Abbas wrote in the New York Times in May, the Palestinian attempt to declare a state without making peace with Israel was about “internationalization of the conflict . . . to pursue claims against Israel” in the United Nations, not about settlements.

As for borders and security, Israel’s position reflects the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. After uprooting all our settlements, we received not peace but thousands of Hamas rockets fired at our civilians. In Lebanon, a U.N. peace force watched while Hezbollah amassed an arsenal of 50,000 missiles. Israel’s need for defensible borders and for a long-term Israeli army presence to prevent arms smuggling into any Palestinian state is, for us, a life-and-death issue. Moreover, in a rapidly changing Middle East, we need assurances of our ability to defend ourselves if the Palestinians who support peace are overthrown by those opposed to it.
Well, yeah.

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At 7:03 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Fabulous headline. Israel has your problems and the diaspora has problems of our own. I wonder if Michael Oren could do a similar analysis re the situation that huge swaths of U.S. Jews are finding themselves in. Actually, maybe the headline, "It's better to be alone than in bad company," is Carl's, not Michael Oren's. Hard to know what to do...


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