This morning, I heard a conversation on the radio between Israeli journalist
Yaron Dekel and Israeli lyricist Yoram Taharlev, who in the 1970’s wrote the
song “Ha’olam kulo negdeinu”
– “The whole world is against us.”The whole
world is against us it’s a very old refrain, that our fathers taught us, both to
sing and to dance...The whole world is against us, never mind, we’ll
cope.They don’t care for us...and we don’t care for
Dekel and Taharlev concluded that “nothing has changed,” or in
the words of Meir Ariel, another songwriter, “we overcame Pharaoh, we’ll
overcome this too.”
Nice attitude I suppose. A bit too much of denial and
definitely too much shaking off responsibility, but I guess in a complicated
world we need good survival strategies. How nice to think that we have nothing
to do with our own predicament. How nice to really believe (as our prime
minister said) that if the General Assembly of the United Nations wanted to pass
a resolution that the world was flat, it could do so. Oh, how easy it is in
Israel to eliminate even the thought that the United Nations is really an
important body. Of course there are double standards and yes, it is true, and
indeed absurd, that more attention is paid to human rights violations by Israel
than by Syria, but the United Nations is not just an anti-Israel political
caucus, it is a political institution which embodies international law and
reflects international opinion, whether we like it or not.
I reject the
notion that the whole world is against us. Most of the world is very much
interested in having contact and relations with Israel. Some countries think the
road to Washington passes through Jerusalem, while others see Israel’s virtues,
ingenuity and strong economy, and want to gain from it and be a part of it. Most
of the world does not reject Israel’s right to exist; in fact, most of the world
doesn’t even consider the question of our right to exist. Countries exist.
Period. Most countries are not busy 24/7 trying to prove to everyone that they
have a right to exist. Our excuse has always been “no countries in the world
face continuous existential threats like Israel does.” Well, Israel today faces
no such threat, at least not in the short term, and likely won’t ever again,
until Iran succeeds in having a nuclear arsenal, and probably not even
I believe that this notion of “the whole world is against us” is
one of the most cynical acts of small politicians that exist in our Israeli
political culture. Our historical collective memory is constantly provoked by
our politicians and populist media to recall the atrocities committed against
our people over two thousand years in order to serve a political agenda which
dodges taking any responsibility for why the whole world is against us. It’s the
Arabs. It’s the Muslims. They’re anti-Semites. The reject our right to exist.
They condone terrorism. There are no partners for peace.
disagrees with our siege policy and supports sending a flotilla to provoke the
issue and to break the blockade, then the Turkish prime minister is a radical
Muslim. It doesn’t matter if he just this week called on the Egyptians to adopt
a secular constitution like Turkey’s. If Egyptians are angry because their
soldiers were killed in Sinai by the Israeli army while chasing terrorists and
Israel refuses to acknowledge any responsibility or apology for killing the
wrong people, then the angry mob that attacked the Israeli Embassy can be blamed
on Muslim fundamentalists led by the Muslim Brotherhood. It doesn’t matter that
there is no truth in that at all.
The “experts on Arab affairs” who
appear on our TVs tell us that the whole region is becoming led by Muslim
Ari Shavit, writing in Haaretz
and speaking on Channel
1’s Friday news magazine, has already decided that it isn’t the “Arab Spring,”
but the “Muslim winter.” He has already decided that the democratic revolutions
in the region will end up with the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran at the helm. He
and his colleagues have already determined that the countries surrounding us,
led by these Muslim fundamentalists, have only one issue on their agenda – the
destruction of Israel.
We have so many Arab affairs experts in Israel who
never speak to real Arabs and who don’t travel around the Arab world and meet
real people. The media in the Arab world is certainly filled with a lot of
anti-Israel propaganda and there’s no shortage of hatred of Israel there; it’s
very easy to find enough material to back up the assertion that they all want to
destroy us. But does this really reflect what’s happening in the neighborhood? I
don’t think so.
The Palestinian move to the United Nations is not about
the destruction of Israel, or even about the de-legitimization of Israel. The
Palestinian leadership has been saying this over and over again, including
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in Arabic on Palestinian
television in front of a Palestinian audience in Ramallah. There was no Arab
“double take” – one version for the West and a different one in
Arabic. He said his goal was peace with Israel, not the destruction or
the de-legitimation of Israel.
The Palestinians are going to the United
Nations because they have lost faith (just as Israel has) in the ability to
create their state and reach independence through negotiations with Israel
without clear terms of reference for an agreement.
The Palestinians are
going to the UN because they have learned from Israel’s own experience. Israel’s
birth certificate was issued in the United Nations (just as the same resolution
issued the Palestinian’s certificate of birth). In May 1948 David Ben Gurion
unilaterally declared independence. This was an act of defiance not only against
the Arab states that rejected it militarily, but also against many friendly
states, including the United States which advised against it. Even though Israel
was allocated only 55 percent of the territory by the United Nations, at the end
of the 1948 war it held onto 78% of the land. Today the Palestinians are
struggling to hold on to the remaining 22%. They are going to the United Nations
in order to preserve what might be the very last chance to have a two states for
two peoples solution to this conflict.
Yes, the world is on their side.
Even if the United States uses its veto in the Security Council, this will not
change the reality that almost the entire world supports the Palestinian right
and desire to have a state of their own on 22% of the land between the river and
Wow! That means that almost the entire world also supports the
State of Israel existing on 78% of the land between the river and sea. Imagine
that! Maybe the whole world isn’t really against us?
The writer is the founder
and co-director of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and
Information, and hosts a weekly radio show in Hebrew on All for Peace radio.