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The settlement of Ofra with the outskirts of Ramal.(Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Rattling the Cage: Why we're so unpopular
By LARRY DERFNER
07/15/2010
We’ve gone from being a Jewish state to being a Jewish mini-empire.
Given the way Israel behaves now, it’s pretty sad to remember that it was envisioned as a country where the Jews ran their own national affairs – but nobody else’s.

Now it’s not enough for Israel to have its own coast, its own territorial waters, its own airspace – no, we’ve got to control Gaza’s coast, Gaza’s territorial waters, Gaza’s airspace, too. The Gaza Strip is part of our sphere of influence. Let any Turkish ship, Libyan ship or any other ship we don’t like try to sail into Gaza, and they’ll get a taste of gunboat diplomacy, Israeli-style. Let anyone try to fly a plane in or out of Gaza and they’ll be at the mercy of the Israel Air Force.

Is this what any decent, fair-minded, peace-loving Zionist ever had in mind?

We’ve gone from being a Jewish state to being a Jewish mini-empire. A Jewish hegemon.

We fly spy planes over Lebanon on a daily basis. We blew up the beginnings of a nuclear reactor in Syria. We run the lives of two million Palestinians in the West Bank and take their land piece by piece.

Why? Because might makes right. If anybody tried to blockade our coast and our airspace, if anybody flew spy planes over us, if anybody blew up one of our nuclear installations, if anybody ruled our lives at gunpoint and built foreign settlements on our land, we’d kill whoever we had to kill to stop it.

But the Arabs are weak and we’re strong, so we get away with it.

And we wonder why we’re not so popular in the world?

The Arabs want to destroy us, we say, that’s why we have to blockade this and bomb that and put up a new row of houses over there.

BUT WHAT we don’t see, what we are absolutely unwilling to see, is that while the Arabs may want to destroy us, or certainly to dismantle the Jewish state, they can’t do it – and they know they can’t. They’ve known it since the end of the Six Day War. That’s why they’ve stopped fighting us, all but the Palestinians, who, coincidentally, are the only Muslims whose lives we’re ruling at gunpoint.

All the Islamic countries are afraid of Israel, and for good reason – because this country is much stronger than all of them put together. We do things to the Palestinians, to Syria, to Lebanon and, reportedly, to Iran that we would never let anyone do to us in a million years – and they can’t stop us. They are extremely reluctant to even try; our military power deters them.

So what more do we want from our enemies before we’ll stop screwing with them? Love? Recognition of the justice of the Zionist cause? An admission that they were wrong all these years and we were right?

If that’s what we’re waiting for, we came to the wrong neighborhood. If we’re going to go on intercepting ships until their sponsors accept our right to keep Gaza under lock and key, we’re going to be engaged in gunboat diplomacy for a long time. If we think we can rule the West Bank Palestinians until they give up even nonviolent resistance, fly spy planes over Lebanon until Hizbullah agrees that we have the right to bear arms but it doesn’t, and bomb enemy nuclear sites until the whole Middle East acknowledges Israel as its sole, rightful nuclear power, then our future here is untenable.

Maybe the United States and Russia can hold sway over their regions, maybe they can have spheres of influence, but a little Jewish state surrounded by 57 Muslim states cannot. Neither our enemies nor our friends will allow us to be a mini-empire, a hegemon, for long. That’s a recipe for escalating, never-ending conflict.

The new cry of gevalt around here is that Israel’s legitimacy is under worldwide attack – but the truth is that the West has accepted the legitimacy of the Jewish state since 1947, and nothing’s changed. As for the Muslim world, it never has and never will accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state – but it has accepted the hard fact of it since the Six Day War.

Between Israel’s legitimacy in the West and deterrent power in the Middle East, we have what we need to survive as a Jewish state within our rightful, democratic borders. But we can’t survive as the neighborhood bully.
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