Iv wrote:You know, the day you will reach for goodwill outside Israel in order to help you live peacefully, you will find a lot of goodwill. Everyone agrees that one should be able to relax in a garden on a summer afternoon without fearing rocket shots. And criticizing what you seem to do wrong is really something we think is helpful. Don't dismiss criticism as basic racism. Here is an interesting (French, sorry, don't know about other countries) stat : there are less than 15% of people who declare themselves as antisemitic, but there are more that 80% of people who disapprove Israel's foreign policies. And there is in fact more intolerance against muslim people here than there is against jews.
Just give our arguments a chance. Just consider a bit our point of view. We think, honestly, friendly, as a population that has more interest being in your side than in the other, that you are doing wrong. Isn't it a bit harsh to dismiss these without consideration ?
I'm going to start at the bottom of your post because I'd rather start on a positive note than a negative. I agree that most of the criticism directed at Israel is not anti-semitic, and I even think a lot of it is understandable. I'm also glad to hear that, current policy aside, the critics of Israel would like to see a peaceful, friendly relationship with the country.
Iv wrote:I don't get the "you pick on Israel because it is easy" argument. It is not easy ! You are a rich country, you are indeed one of the sole democracy in the region, you have the Shoah as a moral high ground, you have US support... It would be easier to pick on the Palestinians : poor and less educated, a lot of fanatics, violent rhetorics, a taste for martyrdom. If we wanted a bully, we would pick the one without assault tanks and patriot missiles ! Most of "us" are neither jewish (in the sense of "of jewish faith") nor muslims. Most of "us" find bearded fanatics to be despicable, whatever book they read from. Most of "us" however would like a world where there is no "us" vs "you" vs "them".
The goal that most diplomats worked toward during the second part of the 20th century was to replace armed conflicts by legal process as a mean of solving international disputes. That is a long idealistic work. It takes time, it takes many pieces to be put together. The picture is really bigger than the minuscule state of Israel and the land of Palestine. These diplomats are only interested by this conflict in order to make it end. And they point at where international law is not obeyed. It is not obeyed when the Hamas launches rockets to Israel. It is not obeyed when Israel starves civilians in a blockade. Hamas as a result as been added on the list of terrorist organizations (don't forget that the next time you say that some country has sympathy for these terrorists) and Israel is being criticized and a bit pressured. Yeah, obviously the world is biased against Israel.
I'm going to tell you something that I don't think critics of Israel understand. I think it's something that only Israelis understand - Israel is afraid. Yes, Israel is rich, is supported by America, and has patriot missiles while the Palestinians have rocks, but Israel is afraid. Why? Because it isn't a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It is a conflict between Israel and those who wish Israel didn't exist, which is a large part of the Arab and Muslim world. And compared to Israel, the Arab world is far richer, has far more diplomatic power, has a larger army, and has more people. You see the conflict and see Big Israel beating up on little palestine, and it is so easy to sympathize with the underdog. Israelis see little israel and Big Arab World, and they are afraid.
And Israel should be afraid, because although you say that the 20th century was a time of replacing armed conflicts with legal process, how often did that actually happen? Where was the League of Nations when Italy invaded Ethiopia, or when Japan conquered East Asia? Where was the UN when China invaded Tibet? When Iraq invaded Iran and used chemical weapons
on them, the world threw their support behind Iraq. Why? Politics, power, national interest, indifference. No government wanted to risk war with Italy to save some distant, impoverished African country. Nobody wanted to risk their political ties to the most populous country on Earth (China) to protect the self-determination of a sparse mountainous tribe (Tibet). Nobody wanted to stand up for what was right in the face of what was profitable. The Jews know this best, just look at their history for the past 2,000 years and you can how little justice there is in this world. There is only justice when it is in your interest, and Israel, a country of 7 million people with no oil, just doesn't have enough to make it worth anyone's interest compared to 1 billion people and a whole lot of oil. These aren't distant memories either. Just look at all the atrocities happening across the globe today that the world turns a blind eye to.
So Israel sees this, and it thinks - will we become one of these atrocities that the world turns a blind eye to? If the armies of the Arab world coming marching through our borders 50 years from now, as they've done multiple
times already, will the UN condemn us again and watch Tel-Aviv burn? In Israel's view, the only safety it can rely on is the safety it can give itself. That's why it holds onto the territories still - because it is afraid to let go. If you lived in a country 15 kilometers wide, where a sniper across the border could shoot anyone walking around the streets of the capital (and where quite a few Palestinians would happily try to), where your neighbors sing songs about how they will conquer your land, and where they've actually tried to several times in the recent past, you'd be scared too. Many on the far right in Israel see this whole conflict as one long war that started in 1948, and handing over the territories as the equivalent of a retreat.
And there's a lot of evidence to suggest they might be right. What guarantees does Israel have of peace and security? Israel withdrew from Lebanon, certified by the UN, and in 2006 Hezbollah attacked. Israel withdrew from Gaza, and in return the Gazans vote for an Islamist government that states quite clearly there will be no peace until Israel is under Islamist control, and (surprise surprise) they start launching rockets at Israel. Any Muslim leader looking for a boost in popularity need only attack Israel and they'll be cheered. And anyone who thinks this is because of the occupation is naive. It is because of Israel itself, a Jewish state where Muslims once had control.
And when the UN constantly condemns Israel, it just makes Israel feel more isolated, it just proves the point that Europe would sell Israel for a barrel of oil, and it just reinforces the belief that Israel can't trust its security to international law. Look at UN Resolution 3379 passed in 1975 which equates zionism with racism, and wasn't revoked until 1991. Look at the global condemnation of Israel when it fought a defensive war against Hezbollah just to try to stop them from launching rockets at Israeli cities. Look at the calls for boycott and divestment. Who condemned the activists who tried to stab, beat, and shoot
That is the difference between the European view and the Israeli view. Today, the Europeans live in a post-conflict world. There is no threat of an army marching on Paris. You will never be exiled and your family will never be killed. But in Israel these are possibilities. Slim, but quite real.
I don't want to make the situation sound so bleak. I'm merely highlighting the difference in views. The majority of Israelis understand that regardless of the danger, they need to put their faith in peace. The alternative, isolation, would lead to certain doom. But they look across the aisle and see Palestinians who want them dead. These are the people they should lift a blockade on? The ones who just a couple years ago launched thousands of rockets at us, and have said they will do it again? That's an uncomfortable thought, especially when the world gives Israel no support or guarantees. And honestly the Palestinians are more than happy to stall while world anger at Israel grows.
If you want to see progress toward peace, start giving Israel the guarantee of security that it needs in order to make the tough decisions that will lead to peace. Stop the calls for boycott and divestment. Stop threatening to prosecute its leaders as war criminals. Legitimate criticism is reasonable, and I assure you that Israeli leaders get quite a bit of it domestically, but be fair about. But above all, the world needs to make it clear that they will stand by Israel when it is attacked. The world did nothing in 2006 when Hezbollah attacked. That was the perfect time to demonstrate support for the Jewish state, so they know that if they gave up more territory, they could rely on the world for security.
I'm going to close on an anecdote that I think is representative of the right-wing Israeli view. Last time I was on a tour in Israel, our guard was a right-wing religious nationalist war veteran. He was probably the most right-wing guy I'd met in Israel, and he would talk about how the whole peace process is nonsense and there will always be war until eventually one side is driven out or the other is. I then asked him, hypothetically, would he support Israel in leaving all the territories if he knew for a fact that Israel would never be attacked again? "Of course," he said.