Labor MK Nachman Shai on Friday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called on the European countries to stop their hypocritical approach to new construction in East Jerusalem and the Jewish settlements.
In a conversation with reporters in Jerusalem, Netanyahu asked: “When was the last time Palestinian Authority representatives were called in for clarification meetings over their hate speech calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel?” he asked, adding, “this lack of balance is not bringing peace closer – it’s pushing it further away.”
Netanyahu was referring to the invitations Israel’s ambassadors to the U.K., Spain, Italy and France had received to come in and be rapped on their fingers with a ruler by each country’s local foreign office officials, on account of the 1400 housing units scheduled to go up east of the “green line.”
All four European countries expressed concern that the new construction would have a negative influence on the future of the peace talks.
MK Shai told Israel Radio he saw no connection between Palestinian antisemitism and hate calls and the construction plans. He warned that under Netanyahu Israel is isolating itself, sacrificing its future for settlement construction that would end up being dismantled anyway.
He also expressed doubt that Washington had been informed in advance about the construction announcement, noting that the Americans have opposed any new construction for decades.
Never mind the logical loop the honorable MK stepped into with that last comment—if Washington has opposed construction since 1967, and yet hundreds of thousands of units have gone up in that time, how much opposing has there been, really?
But the fact is that the campaign by both the EU and the U.S. to force Israel into dangerous concessions is hitting new heights, and targeting specific fears in the Israeli psyche, most notably the fear of being isolated from the West.
There’s only a limited reality to this warning about isolation, which have been intensified in Israel both in the left-leaning press and in the state run and semi-independent radio and TV. Leftist spokespersons on all these media have been pushing two main points:
1. Israel’s isolation would mean being cut off from advanced, U.S.-made military equipment.
2. A cultural and scientific isolation would have a negative influence on the quality of life in Israel.
Those warnings are not trivial. They’re also not all that real. The U.S. has been systematically keeping to itself military technology which Israel has been seeking—regardless of how many porches in East Jerusalem get a permit to be closed off. And the U.S. $3 billion annual aid package, committed to by the White House in return to Israel’s retreating from every last inch of the Sinai—that one has long since been an American jobs program. Israel can easily afford to ditch it, but then hundreds, maybe even thousands of American jobs would be lost.
Also, Israel has been kept from developing and selling (most notably to China) its own military hi tech, because the U.S. has been selling Israel most of what it’s been asking for. Isolate Israel from that end, and watch it growing to become a dangerous competitor in this area. Already most of the equipment Israel receives from the U.S. is being upgraded here, taking out the kinks and the bugs and fitting it for local needs.
In the science and culture area, Israelis, especially on the left, are more vulnerable than many may imagine. that’s why these threats of isolation have been so effective.
To secular Israelis, growing up in this country is a little like growing up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Just like the proverbial hick town girl yearning to make it on Broadway or in Hollywood, secular Israelis grow up feeling closed in by short borders, frustrated by their country’s existential issues – when out there the world is ice-skating carefree in Rockefeller Center and drinking hot chocolate in the Village. They yearn to be part of the Western world. Our Australian readers would understand.
You threaten to take away that nostalgic notion that they belong in Europe: the Israeli singer in the Eurovision, the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team’s victories in the European league – and you’re seriously impeding their way of life.
Secular Israelis, much like that girl from Oshkosh, perpetually feel that they should be someplace else. That’s why there are so many Israelis where you live: they’re someplace else.
Stop any Israeli and ask them which they’d rather give up, participation in the Eurovision or East Jerusalem – I expect the results will be surprisingly even. If not worse.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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