Sunday, September 11, 2011

Israel Has No Choice

An Israeli Air Force plane had to fly to Cairo to evacuate the Israeli ambassador along with his family and staff. This came after angry Egyptians attacked the embassy in Giza and were even able to break in. The embassy has been the scene of large protests in the past month but this one by far is the most violent and the real game-changer.

A week earlier, another humiliating diplomatic blunder hit Israel when Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador over last year’s Gaza-bound flotilla attack in which 9 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli forces. Turkey has made it clear it will not accept anything short of a full apology; Israel finds it a sign of weakness to apologize so it refused to say the magic word, “Sorry.” Now the ties between the two countries are sour creating a further destabilizing factor in a region already going through a historic reshuffling of major proportions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems unable or unwilling to read the writing on the wall that the old Middle East no longer exists and a new Middle East is emerging. Today, it requires tact and genuine diplomacy rather than the old bullying methods to be successful in keeping the status quo and building on it instead of destroying every shred of relations (we will not call it peace at this point) that ever existed between Israel and any country in the region.

Another adjustment Mr. Netanyahu needs to make immediately is to start acting nice with his neighbors because Israel needs more friends and less regional enemies to lift itself from alienation so dangerously obvious even the blind can see it. Right now with a serious political standoff with Turkey and an embarrassing exit out of Egypt, Israel is left with nothing but fierce enemies that will spare no effort to attack it and hurt it with any possible mean at any given time.

In an interesting development during the Israeli embassy row with Egypt, Mister Netanyahu urged President Obama to protect the Israeli embassy in Cairo. While it is believed President Obama ensured the safe exit of the Israeli embassy staff, it was obvious that the U.S. does not have the same old pull in the region and could not come to the rescue of its friend. This is one of many cases where the U.S. ‘s “unwavering support for Israel” worked totally against both the United States and Israel. Judging by the reaction on Arab streets, it is only the beginning; the U.S. has a long road ahead to gain the trust and respect of many Arabs who consider it as an unjust arbitrator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The new reality on the ground dictates that Israel plays nice not rough. No, Netanyahu should not listen to radical voices and side with Kurdish rebels or befriend Greece and other Balkan nations to “teach Turkey a lesson.” On the contrary, Israel should just act decently: Apologize where an apology is due; treat the Palestinians justly while protecting its interests and insisting on its security. Israel should provide the other side, be it Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey or others the right to exist in peace as well. Israel can be more secure by being a just player in the region rather than bullying the region.

Israel has no choice but to be a good neighbor if it wants to thrive as a democracy and be a part of the new Middle East. The longer it takes to realize this, the harder it will be to achieve peace as the voices of hatred towards Israel will only get louder and bloodier and Israel will be isolated further to the point where it can’t function anymore.

If Benjamin Netanyahu can’t read the writing on the wall, many other Israelis can. Maybe it’s time for him to step down and make room for the kind of Israeli diplomacy that can see eye to eye with Arabs and Muslims instead of the decades-old eye for an eye that has plagued the two sides for far too long.

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Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Jack said...

9 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli forces This ignores the question of why they were killed and the truth is very different from the line that the Islamists in the Turkish government are trying to portray.

September 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM  

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