This time they get it
One of the most striking elements of the current crisis in Gaza is the relative lack of diplomatic and political pressure on Israel. In 2009, there was intense criticism of the supposedly ‘disproportionate’ Cast Lead, just as there was in 2012 over Pillar of Fire. This time round, there have certainly been many calls for restraint, whatever that is in the context of Hamas’s terror. But diplomatically, the most remarkable feature of the reaction to Protective Edge has been a widespread understanding of Israel’s position and an acceptance that, faced with Hamas’ rockets, Israel had no choice but to act. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has accused Israel of war crimes. But she is of little consequence. Such is her animus that if Israel were to offer every Palestinian an olive branch Ms Pillay would accuse it of a plot to undermine the Palestinian olive industry. Israel’s main diplomatic foe has turned out to be the US Secretary of State.
Yet it is a sign of how far the US’s standing has plunged under President Obama that Mr Kerry is now almost as irrelevant in the current crisis as Ms Pillay. Israel — and the PA, which now holds him in equal contempt — have been able simply to ignore him. There is, of course, a difference between the diplomatic reaction and that on the streets. There the usual suspects are doing their usual thing — attacking Israel. But whatever anger that might prompt from those who understand that Israel has every right, and every need, to defend itself, in a democracy they have the right to protest. The protests have, however, been accompanied by open antisemitism — a deeply worrying trend. Worse, there have been over 130 antisemitic incidents reported to the CST. Attacks on Jews simply for being Jews, both physical and verbal, are increasing. We may not yet be in the same straits as France, but that is hardly a cause for comfort.