Home News Isolated and defiant Israel vows ‘independence’ in war against Hamas

Isolated and defiant Israel vows ‘independence’ in war against Hamas

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Türkiye has suspended trade with Israel. The world’s highest court is considering whether Israeli leaders are guilty of genocide. Protests have swept cities and campuses around the world. Ireland and Spain say they will recognize Palestine as a state by the end of this month.

Even the United States, Israel’s longtime closest ally and donor, has threatened to seize certain weapons for the first time since the war began.

Seven months after much of the world pledged support for Israel in the wake of Hamas-led terror attacks, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. The war has left more than 34,000 Palestinians dead, the Gaza Strip is on the verge of famine, and the international goodwill that Israel accumulated on October 7 has all but disappeared.

Israel’s biggest concern: a breakdown in relations with the United States. President Biden was once silent on Israel’s efforts to limit civilian deaths and increase access to humanitarian aid, but he has become more outspoken under pressure from partisan politics in an election year.This week, Mr. Biden said that the U.S. withhold Delivered 3,500 high payload bombs.

He warned on Wednesday that the suspension could be expanded to include more weapons, his biggest break yet with the Israeli government. It suggested that the anger spreading across the capital and on campuses would continue to spread, and it did.In a largely symbolic gesture, the United Nations General Assembly on Friday supported Thousands of demonstrators in Sweden protested against Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, as Palestine applied to join the United Nations.

“If we need to be alone, we will be alone,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday. He acknowledged and sought to resist Israel’s growing isolation.

The backlash also spread to Israeli athletes and Academics facing resistance and protests, leaving Israelis shocked and confused, still reeling from Hamas’ October attacks and most believing the war was justified. Many blame Israel’s isolation on unchecked anti-Semitism and American party politics. Others strive to parse legitimate criticism from selective virtue signaling. They ask why there is not more attention paid to Israeli victims and why there are no protests against China’s persecution of Uyghurs or Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“The demonstrations on American campuses are not calling for peace, nor are they calling for an independent Palestinian state or a two-state solution,” said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations. “They are calling for the annihilation of Israel.”

“This is the slow creation of a pariah state,” said Alon Pincus, a former Israeli diplomat.

But the complex, multi-layered condemnation from around the world cannot be dismissed as the whim of anti-Israel activists. Israel is facing real consequences, from security to economics.

While this isolation is partly a byproduct of the way Israel has waged the war, analysts and former officials say it also reflects international frustration with government restrictions on food aid and shifts in global politics that have pushed Israel further down the priority list decline, the Israeli public’s narrow focus on its own suffering.

Israel has endured the world’s attention before, shrugging off frequent criticism from the United Nations and a decades-long Arab boycott. Although Israel rules a land no larger than the state of Maryland, it has always had a centripetal force that places its war at the emotional center of global politics. But this is not 1948, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 or 2014 – there have been conflicts before.

Before October 7, most of Israel’s allies in the West were focused on Ukraine’s struggle with Russia and the challenge of a more assertive China. The Middle East has largely fallen off the radar. Climate change is causing a decline in oil. Even as Israel’s democracy becomes more polarized and insular, Israel and Saudi Arabia continue to openly discuss normalizing relations.

That’s when Hamas launched an attack and Israel retaliated.

Biden’s first reaction was one of total unity: “My administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering,” he said on the day of the attack. Other world leaders have followed suit. The Israeli flag and its colors were projected on the Brandenburg Gate, 10 Downing Street and the Sydney Opera House.

Yet despite the nightmares stoked by the horrific details of Hamas murders and mutilations, there are still signs of concern about Netanyahu’s government and its authoritarian approach.

Many military strategists believe Netanyahu’s pledge to “destroy Hamas” is too broad to be effective. Support for Israel waned when the Israeli army began attacking Gaza’s crowded cities with huge bombs, knocking down buildings and crushing families and militants.

Washington has long warned Israel to better protect civilians. Israel continues its bombing. The United States and other countries have urged Israel to establish aid corridors. They demanded a plan to govern Gaza after the war. Israel has stepped up attacks on an area about the size of Philadelphia densely populated with 2 million people, many of them children, while shutting out most independent journalists and leaving the sharing of images to those under attack.

The results were horrific: By the end of November, people in Gaza were being killed at an even faster rate, According to expertsWorse than even the deadliest moments of U.S.-led attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, which have been widely criticized by human rights groups.

In less than two months, Israel had lost support in Europe and the United States — before student protests escalated into clashes with police, before calls for defunding and before polls showed the war’s unpopularity hurt Biden’s reelection chances.

On April 1, seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen, many of them foreigners, were killed, Gaza children die of hungerSince then, words like “genocide” and “evil” have become more commonly used in a campaign that Israel insists is simply self-defense.

“The poor and impoverished people of Palestine are sentenced to death by Israeli bombs,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, when he announced that Turkey, once Israel’s closest Muslim partner, would Trade suspended.

Nimrod Novick, a former senior Israeli official and an analyst at the Israel Policy Forum, said it was undeniable that the government was taking a “stingy approach” to aid and developing war plans without a vision for peace, ignoring morality and politics. necessity.

“Our government’s policies fail to deliver on its claim that our war is against Hamas, not the Palestinian people,” Mr. Novick said.

The military said progress on aid has been slowed by security measures aimed at limiting arms smuggling. On Sunday, Hamas attacked one of the few crossings allowing aid in, killing four Israeli soldiers.

For many, it was a reminder that the context of life in Israel is still shaped by the country’s own suffering. The Israelis discussed at dinner a friend who had been drafted into the war. They saw towns and cities dotted with effigies of unreturned hostages, apps sounding alerts for regular rocket attacks by Hezbollah along the northern border, and graffiti in Tel Aviv reading “Hamas = Islamic State.”

“There’s a complete disconnect between how Israelis view the situation and how the world sees it,” Mr. Novick said. “Psychologically, we’re not in the seventh month since October 7th. Psychologically, we’re now on October 8th.”

Many Israelis believe the international community is deliberately ignoring their plight, with soldiers dying and groups widely seen as terrorists opening fire on the country. In northern Israel, more than 100,000 people have been displaced by regular rocket attacks. The children are not in school. Deep inside Israel’s borders, air raid sirens punctured daily life.

Genine Barel, a New Yorker who moved to Israel in the 1990s and now lives in Safed, the home of Kabbalah, or mystical Judaism, said the loss of international sympathy is heartbreaking.

“It would be bad enough if we were just going through this war and loss and heartbreak,” she said, sitting in the empty dining room of the hotel she owns with her husband, where business has completely dried up. “But we’re also being slandered.”

“It’s like you’re being bullied,” she added, “and being accused of being a bully at the same time.”

Nathalie Rozens, 37, an actress and writer who grew up in Europe, said discussions about the war in Israel have evolved to include more criticism. (A poll released on friday Trust in Israel’s military leadership has been declining since March. ) But abroad, she says, Israelis are reduced to caricatures.

In her view, critics of Israel, in a place where many loathe Mr. Netanyahu and lament the killing of innocents in Gaza, but where their brothers and sisters are fighting from afar, fail to understand the nuances. The massacre attempted to destroy Israel in just two generations. Global Jewry.

Banning Israeli artists from music festivals, protesting singers at the Eurovision Song Contest, refusing to fund Israeli films — “in a way, this pressure hits the wrong people,” she said.

“I feel at odds with this government, and I’m Israeli,” she said. “There is no space for my voice in China, and there is no space abroad either.”

No matter how dangerous Hamas or Hezbollah may be, many believe that reduced U.S. support for Israel would be catastrophic for the country. Nehum Bania, a senior columnist for the Israeli daily newspaper Yehovah, said Israel needs the United States as a patron and that this government has “no patience, no consideration and no understanding of Israel’s place in the world.” “So they choose to ignore it.”

Full isolation still seems a long way off. Israel is not North Korea. Biden has said he will continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, and Republicans have become more steadfast in their support for Israel. However, many international analysts believe that as unease grows in Israel, the tremors that Israelis hope to see could become fault lines.

“They’re losing young people,” said Ian Bremer, an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm. “They were not present and did not know about the Holocaust. What they saw was an extremely powerful Israel that was fighting a seven-month war and was indifferent to the suffering of the Palestinians.”

Jonathan Rice Contributed reporting.

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