By Alex Kane
The Reut Institute, an Israeli government-linked think tank, had it exactly right when it recently stated that Israel needs “to harness the support of liberal and progressive circles.” The problem for the institute, and the Israeli government, though, is that the reverse is happening. Israel’s image is tanking, slow as the process is. Israel’s tanking image in “liberal and progressive circles” is freaking the likes of Jeffrey Goldberg out, who has been hard at work recently policing the discourse on Israel.
Two items today highlight this important change.
First, an important Salon article written by Jordan Michael Smith, a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post, who rightly explains how the “media consensus on Israel is collapsing”:
There is reason to believe, however, that more flexible, productive positions will be expressed in the U.S. media. Slowly but unmistakably, space is opening up among the commentariat for new, critical ideas about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
Smith is right, and he points to the New York Times‘ Roger Cohen and Thomas Friedman as being on the front lines of this push (as well as this site, among others).
Secondly, the U.S. has once again been sidelined in international efforts to bring a solution to Israel/Palestine. An important statement by European members of the UN Security Council blasted recent announcements of illegal settlements in the West Bank. From Ha’aretz:
In the statement by EU UNSC members released on Tuesday, the ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany and Portugal issued a joint statement branding the Israeli settlements in Palestinian occupied territories and East Jerusalem as illegal under international law.
“We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps,” the statement said. “The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel’s long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements.”
The statement, issued following the 15-country Security Council’s closed-door discussion on the situation in the Middle East, condemned Israeli settlers’ violence against the Palestinians, including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in West Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank.
The statement is proof that Western support of Israel is slowly eroding. Europe is frustrated, and that frustration will only be amplified by the dismissive Israeli response.
It’s true, as the Salon article states, that “official U.S. foreign policy has changed little.” And with an election year approaching, U.S. policy on Israel will continue to be even more out of step with Europe and the rest of the world. The only question, though, is how long that will last.
Alex Kane is a staff reporter for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.