Bal­anc­ing dan­gers and op­por­tu­ni­ties

Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES - • By ISI LEIBLER

The speed of change – both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive – in this re­gion over the past two months has been breath­tak­ing. On the neg­a­tive side, the on­go­ing es­ca­la­tion of an­tisemitism, es­pe­cially in Europe (and in the UK, which could elect an an­ti­semitic prime min­is­ter), detri­men­tally af­fects the qual­ity of life for most Jews. Chil­dren and teens are par­tic­u­larly ex­posed to the vicious, bla­tant Jew-ha­tred they en­counter at school and on the cam­pus.

De­spite oc­ca­sional lip ser­vice to the con­trary, most Euro­pean gov­ern­ments do not con­ceal their con­tempt for Is­rael and their for­eign poli­cies and vot­ing records at the United Na­tions high­light the ab­sence of any mod­icum of mo­ral com­pass or ethics.

Noth­ing il­lus­trates this bet­ter than the re­ac­tion of most of the world (with the ex­cep­tion of the US and Aus­tralia) to Is­rael’s mea­sures to de­fend its bor­ders from in­cur­sions by Ha­mas ter­ror­ists and rocket at­tacks. To de­pict Is­rael’s ef­forts to de­fend it­self as dis­pro­por­tion­ate – to de­scribe mobs in­cited to pen­e­trate Is­rael (of­ten em­ploy­ing chil­dren as hu­man shields) and seek­ing to mur­der in­dis­crim­i­nately as “peace­ful demonstrators” – can only be called ob­scene, es­pe­cially as the ev­i­dence of their at­tacks are on the pub­lic record. Not a sin­gle coun­try in the world would have re­sponded with the re­straint dis­played by Is­rael.

The be­hav­ior of the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity has de­te­ri­o­rated from bad to worse with the ail­ing President Mah­moud Abbas and his acolytes de­scend­ing to lev­els of an­tisemitism that would have made the Nazis proud.

In ad­di­tion to th­ese neg­a­tive fac­tors, we have sub­stan­tial sec­tions of Amer­i­can Jewry, es­pe­cially from the Re­form and Con­ser­va­tive move­ments, whose ra­bid ha­tred of their president has led them to dis­tance them­selves from – or even con­demn – Is­rael. In fact, polls showed that 42% of Amer­i­can Jews even op­posed mov­ing the US Em­bassy to Jerusalem.

Fur­ther ev­i­dence of this distress­ing trend was the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the Re­form move­ment’s He­brew Union College, which in­vited as its guest speaker Michael Chabon, a vi­ciously anti-Is­rael Pulitzer prize win­ner who con­cen­trated on two is­sues: ex­co­ri­at­ing Is­rael, which he ac­cused of com­mit­ting the most griev­ous in­jus­tices he had ever en­coun­tered, and urg­ing his au­di­ence to pro­mote in­ter­mar­riage rather than union be­tween Jews.

Th­ese trends are also re­flected on the broader Jewish po­lit­i­cal level where the Anti-Defama­tion League, the once re­spected apo­lit­i­cal body whose man­date was to com­bat an­tisemitism, to­day ag­gres­sively seeks to slan­der US President Donald Trump and fre­quently crit­i­cizes Is­rael.

The Demo­cratic Party has be­come rad­i­cal­ized with the emer­gence of anti-Is­raeli ag­i­ta­tors á la Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders, whose in­flu­ence is steadily in­creas­ing. The pri­mary elec­tion de­feat of Rep. Joe Crow­ley, the Demo­cratic cau­cus chair­man and a firm sup­porter of the Jewish state, was a sig­nif­i­cant blow to pro-Is­rael forces. Jewish vot­ers were not dis­suaded from supporting his op­po­nent, the rel­a­tively un­known can­di­date, 28-year-old Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, who has made no se­cret of the fact that she is hos­tile to Is­rael. She is af­fil­i­ated with the Demo­cratic So­cial­ists of Amer­ica, which en­dorsed her and which sup­ports the anti-Is­rael boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanctions move­ment.

The si­t­u­a­tion for Jews on college cam­puses has wors­ened and many of the anti-Jewish and pro-BDS ag­i­ta­tors are led by fringe Jews, of­ten in con­junc­tion with rad­i­cal Arabs and far-left ex­trem­ists.

The above sum­mary is night­mar­ish. But in this gloom, there is also sun­light. Is­rael has never been as suc­cess­ful as it is to­day. Although Is­raelis are ex­as­per­ated with cor­rup­tion and the mul­ti­ple al­le­ga­tions against the Ne­tanyahus, polls show that were an elec­tion to take place now, Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu would be re-elected as head of a strong coali­tion gov­ern­ment. Sup­port for his Likud party has es­ca­lated to heights not seen by any party in decades.

De­spite the fren­zied in­ter­nal de­bates, the peo­ple of Is­rael to­day are more united than ever since the mas­sive chasm cre­ated by the adop­tion of the ill-fated Oslo Ac­cords. Most rec­og­nize that un­der the pre­sent Pales­tinian lead­er­ship, a two-state pol­icy would cre­ate a ter­ror­ist state and pro­vide a po­ten­tial launch­ing pad against Is­rael for Iran. There is an over­whelm­ing de­sire not to be an oc­cu­pier (even though most Pales­tini­ans live un­der their own au­ton­omy), but most Is­raelis agree that sep­a­ra­tion must ad­dress the overriding con­di­tion of guar­an­teed se­cu­rity.

In the wider US pop­u­la­tion, there is stronger sup­port for Is­rael than there has ever been, with the evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians en­thu­si­as­ti­cally supporting Is­rael.

FOR THE first time in US his­tory, the ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der Trump has made it clear that Is­rael and the US are true al­lies that can count on each other’s sup­port at all lev­els. The de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate the US Em­bassy to Jerusalem was of enor­mous sym­bolic im­por­tance, as has been Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley’s stri­dent lam­bast­ing of the hyp­ocrites at the UN who vi­ciously em­ploy dou­ble stan­dards against Is­rael. In ad­di­tion, un­like his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, Donald Trump does not re­fer to the an­ti­semitic PA leader Abbas as a mod­er­ate. He has made it clear that an in­sti­tu­tion which gives over $4 mil­lion per an­num from its for­eign aid grants to fi­nance, pay stipends to and in­cen­tivize ter­ror­ists can­not be con­sid­ered a part­ner for peace.

The Trump peace plan soon to be an­nounced will prob­a­bly fail be­cause the con­flict is not about real es­tate. The core is­sue is that the PA and Ha­mas are ut­terly de­ter­mined to bring an end to Jewish sovereignty in the re­gion.

In this con­text, the US de­ci­sion to re­in­state sanctions on Iran – which Trump con­sid­ered on the brink of be­com­ing a nu­clear thresh­old state – was ex­tremely pos­i­tive. It may, in time, bring about regime change as the Ira­nian econ­omy could im­plode.

Ne­tanyahu’s re­la­tion­ship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, a for­mer KGB of­fi­cer, is ex­tra­or­di­nary. Based on his child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences, Putin has a lik­ing for Jews. Con­sid­er­ing the long his­tory of So­viet and Rus­sian anti-Semitism, his warm re­la­tion­ship with Ne­tanyahu and Is­rael is re­mark­able and un­prece­dented.

With­out Rus­sian co­or­di­na­tion, the IDF could not have ef­fec­tively de­stroyed key Ira­nian tar­gets in Syria. Putin has also sup­ported Is­rael’s de­mand that the Ira­ni­ans keep their dis­tance from the Is­raeli bor­der.

In ad­di­tion, Is­rael has de­vel­oped an im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship with In­dia and is heav­ily en­gaged in trade with China. Ne­tanyahu has also estab­lished re­la­tions with many African, Latin Amer­i­can and South­east Asian coun­tries. While the Western Euro­peans still dis­play bias and are in­creas­ingly sus­cep­ti­ble to pres­sure from their vastly ex­panded Mus­lim con­stituen­cies, the re­la­tion­ship with the East Euro­pean coun­tries is strength­en­ing.

Although there is lit­tle pub­lic­ity, Is­rael is now en­joy­ing un­of­fi­cial li­aisons with the Saudis and Gulf states and al­legedly ex­chang­ing in­tel­li­gence.

This is a truly in­cred­i­ble re­ver­sal of the iso­lated Is­rael of a decade ago.

Is­rael is a mini-mil­i­tary su­per­power, suc­cess­fully de­ter­ring the Ira­ni­ans and their sur­ro­gates from em­bark­ing on a war in which they could be de­feated by Is­rael’s mil­i­tary prow­ess.

Is­rael is also an eco­nomic pow­er­house with con­sis­tently amaz­ing in­no­va­tions in the high-tech and med­i­cal fields which at­tract en­trepreneurs from all over the world.

In ad­di­tion, Is­rael is a world leader in wa­ter re­cy­cling, suc­cess­fully over­com­ing its own drought con­di­tions and pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to other coun­tries.

And fi­nally, Is­rael has dis­cov­ered gas and will be­come an ex­porter of en­ergy which will fur­ther strengthen its global links.

Th­ese pos­i­tive fac­tors more than off­set the neg­a­tive el­e­ments re­ferred to above. It is there­fore not sur­pris­ing that, de­spite their inces­sant grum­bling, Is­raelis are a very happy and proud peo­ple.

We should look at Is­rael to­day and, with­out be­com­ing com­pla­cent, rem­i­nisce about our po­si­tion of only 10 years ago, and give thanks to our lead­ers and the Almighty for our achieve­ments.

The au­thor, now res­i­dent in Jerusalem, is a vet­eran Di­as­pora Jewish leader and pro­lific com­men­ta­tor on Jewish and Is­raeli af­fairs. His web­site can be viewed at www.word­from­ He may be con­tacted at


FOR THE first time in US his­tory, the ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der Trump has made it clear that Is­rael and the US are true al­lies that can count on each other’s sup­port at all lev­els.

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