Dangers and Opportunities
By Isi Leibler
July 11, 2018
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
anti-Semitism, especially in Europe (and in the U.K. which could elect an
anti-Semitic 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 U.S. 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 Mahmoud Abbas and his acolytes descending to
levels of anti-Semitism 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 U.S. 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 anti-Semitism, today aggressively seeks to
slander U.S. 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 U.S. population, there is stronger support for
Israel than there has ever been, with the evangelical Christians
enthusiastically supporting Israel.
For the first time in U.S. history, the administration
under Trump has made it clear that Israel and the U.S. are true allies that can
count on each other’s support at all levels. The decision to relocate the U.S.
Embassy to Jerusalem was of enormous symbolic importance, as has been Ambassador
Nikki Haley’s strident lambasting of the hypocrites at the U.N. who viciously
employ double standards against Israel. In addition, unlike his predecessor,
Barack Obama, Donald Trump does not refer to the anti-Semitic 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
In this context, the U.S. 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
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
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.