Monday, September 26, 2011

The "isolation" canard

Todd Warnick • Sep 26, 2011 at 8:34 am
Cross-posted from Middle East Clarity

Abbas came home empty-handed

We all know the "big lie" technique: you say something enough times and everyone begins to believe it, whether anything close to approximating the truth or not.
Nowhere is that perhaps more successful these days than in Palestinian politics: "Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth"; "there are 4 (5? 6?) million Palestinian refugees"; "the number of Palestinians between the Mediterranean and the Jordan is equal to the number of Jews", and so forth and so on. Palestinians and the Arab countries make statements and an ignorant - or hostile world - accepts them at face value.

The latest canard Israel is now facing - internally and externally - is the country's supposed "diplomatic isolation." AP writes: "Israel isolated ahead of UN vote"; "Israel's alliances looking frayed," says the LA Times; "Israel isolated," says this Russia Today TV report; and of course, Israel's internal media headlines, whether television or many of its newspapers, constantly scream out as to Israel's "isolation" on the world stage. f course, this is nothing new, whether 2009; 2002, or today; and one could probably take any point in time during Israel's 63-year history and point to its "isolation" on the world stage. But a canard is a canard is a canard, and in this case, the big lie "isolation" technique is being used as yet another tool to force Israel into concessions that would threaten its security, its economy and ultimately its existence, i.e. "if you don't want to be so isolated, then you better give in to what we want" - whether it's the UN, the Europeans, Turkey or even the United States. I suspect also that there is another reason for this latest canard: pure jealousy, for Israel has never been more successful militarily, economically and yes, diplomatically, than it is today.

Let's look at the recent events: the media might think that Mahmoud Abbas strengthened his standing among the Palestinian people and across the Arab world, but the facts are that he came away from last week's United Nations meetings with absolutely nothing: not only no declaration in the General Assembly, but he couldn't even gather together enough votes to bring the matter to the Security Council and embarrass the U.S. into a veto; Durban III was an utter failure; the Spanish foreign minister, Trinidad Jiminez - from the country that in every poll imaginable is shown to be among the most (if not the most) inherently anti-Semitic in Europe - declared yesterday that Spain recognizes Israel as the Jewish homeland; President Obama made an unprecedented pro-Israel statement in his UN speech; congressional bi-partisan support for Israel is stronger than ever - and the list goes on.

Prime Minister Nertanyahu has also begun pressing home the point: asked yesterday by David Gregory on Meet the Press about Israel's isolation ("Israel is arguably as isolated as it's ever been in the midst of Arab Spring"), Netanyahu said he took issue with that assumption: "Well, we're not isolated in this country (the U.S.), which happens to be the strongest country on earth. Number two, you should come with me. You should come with me to Greece or to Bulgaria or to Poland. Or you should see the talks we have with the Dutch, with the Cypriots, and with others."

Netanyahu didn't expand on these remarks, but just to take Turkey as one example: as it reduced its cooperation with Israel, including cancellation of join military maneuvers and preventing the Israeli air force from training over Turkish air space, the prime minister and much to the chagrin of many, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, developed alternatives with (a traditionally hostile) Greece, Cyprus and the entire Balkan region, including Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and in addition, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and others. This is not something that happened overnight, but these diplomatic developments are a result of a decade or more of Israel's economic and military standing in the region - and certainly belie the "isolation canard."

As Middle East expert Martin Kramer also just wrote: "I'm unmoved by the hand-wringing over Israel's "isolation." When I came to the country 30 years ago, Israel had no relations with the USSR (and Eastern Europe), China, and India. There was no foreign investment and a UN General Assembly resolution still stood, condemning Zionism as racism. It will take more than a Cairo mob, a truculent Turk, and another UN resolution to make me feel "isolated."

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