A View From Israel: Israel - An isolated nation?

Those with skewed logic lament that if only Israel would behave, peace would be just around the corner and the nations of the world would come running, begging to be our friend.

Obama and Netanyahu prior to UN meeting_311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Obama and Netanyahu prior to UN meeting_311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
For months now, all I’ve been hearing about is how isolated Israel is becoming – and by its own fault. “They” say it’s because of the settlements.
They say it’s the government policies and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s intransigence – his reluctance to give in to more Palestinian demands. If only Israel would behave, they say, peace is just around the corner and the nations of the world would come running, begging to be our friend.
And numerous people have bought into this skewed way of thinking.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni has said that “Israel’s isolation is affecting its security and its economy.” She also said Netanyahu is leading Israel into an “abyss.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently called for a special cabinet session over concerns of Israel’s growing isolation.
Former US secretary of defense Robert M. Gates remarked that Netanyahu is an “ungrateful ally” whose policies are worsening Israel’s international isolation.
And now US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on his first trip to Israel as Pentagon chief, said on Sunday that “it’s pretty clear that at this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated – and that’s what’s happening.”
SO WHAT exactly is happening? For starters, Israel is not “becoming” isolated. Many nations are actively isolating Israel in favor of strengthened ties with the Arab world – especially now when new potential alliances are quickly forming in the Arab Spring wake. Should Israel take it as face value? Or is it, as the mafia puts it, “just business – not personal”? It is outrageous that so many believe Israel is isolating itself. It is quite the opposite. Israel seeks the building of ties with as many countries as possible. The fact that Israel has diplomatic ties with “only” approximately 157 countries is not for lack of effort. We recognize that the future of this country is interwoven with that of other nations. And we also recognize that this can be accomplished through friendly, bilateral relations, with each country satisfying its differing needs.
Unlike philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who wrote that “covenants without the sword are but words,” colonial isolationists in the 18th century believed that America could pursue the cause of freedom and democracy by means other than war. To them, American isolationism did not mean disengagement from the global arena.
George Washington, in his farewell address in 1796, shunned political alliances with Europe because “Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation.”
But circumstances change over the course of two centuries.
Former US president George W. Bush, in his farewell address in 2009, said “We must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.”
Israel, too, recognizes it must forge diplomatic and economic ties with as many countries as possible to ensure support and stability.
TWO HUNDRED YEARS ago, isolationism referred to a nation’s reluctance to enter into politics or war with other nations. But the world has changed. Today, isolationism has assumed a different meaning.
Since World War II, international bodies have been created to maintain peace and security for all nations.
The majority of nations today seek to enter into peace agreements and friendly alliances with one another.
Granted, every nation is guided by self-interest but this does not prevent normal ties.
In effect, isolationism today should refer to those states that refuse to enter into a peace treaty with other nations.
And in my view, the Palestinians, among other misguided Arab parties, fall into this category. They have repeatedly rejected the creation of normal and friendly bilateral ties with Israel.
For this reason, Israel is not becoming isolated.
Rather, there are many enlightened nations that seek to maintain ties with Israel. Unfortunately, there are those, individuals and nations alike, who are isolating themselves from the beacon of clarity and sanity to take the side of evil. They believe, unquestioningly, what they are told by morally corrupt institutions and listen wide-eyed to skewed and biased news reports.
Militant Islam, with which many of the aforementioned identify, has the ability to gain even further traction now as the Middle East undergoes significant change. This could prove exceedingly detrimental as it would hamper, if not completely prevent, Israel’s efforts to forge ties with nations with which it previously had none or strengthen ties where they already exist.
In Modern Diplomacy, R.P. Barston wrote: “Most states in the course of their political history undergo some periods of extreme hostility or abnormal relations with other states or organizations. In general, while many of these are resolved, a growing number persist and are only imperfectly resolved.”
Those misguided individuals and nations who still believe Israel is on the path to isolation will long remain blind to the fact that it is they who are barricading themselves from the truth and isolating themselves from an ever-progressive world.