Israel Can't Ignore the World’s Opinion

The Levy Report Could Isolate Israel at a Critical Moment

Thumbing Its Nose: Why should Israel care what the world thinks about the occupied territories? Because it may just need the world’s help in dealing with other issues, like the threat from Iran.
getty images
Thumbing Its Nose: Why should Israel care what the world thinks about the occupied territories? Because it may just need the world’s help in dealing with other issues, like the threat from Iran.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published July 19, 2012, issue of July 27, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Can Israel pull it off? French President Francois Hollande told the Israeli daily Maariv on July 13 that Israel has the capacity to “humiliate” Iran militarily. He worries, however, about the regional and even global instability that would follow.

Here’s where Levy and the West Bank come in. If sanctions and diplomacy don’t work, things could get messy. That’s when Israel will need friends.

The fallout could go in two directions. In the best case, America will hit Iran’s nuclear installations in a quick, surgical attack, terrifying the mullahs into backing down and accepting highly intrusive inspections. Arad, who was Netanyahu’s closest security adviser for two decades until last year, thinks this will work as long as Tehran knows that restarting the centrifuges means another attack.

What’s required, he says, is that America stay committed. “The American role is absolutely essential for the long haul, in the months and years after an American strike,” he said. “American brawn is indispensable, and Israel should take that into account. Israel’s strategic position should be taken in close consultation and in concert with its major allies,” especially America, but also Britain and France, “which see eye to eye” with Washington.

What worries Arad is that Israel isn’t acting like an ally. On the contrary: “We spent a year trying to score points in speeches, instead of focusing on what was urgent.”

“If we Israelis believe our first priority, our highest existential urgency, is blunting Iran, and America is our ally in this effort, and the American president comes and says, ‘Look, it’s in my interest — mine, not the Palestinians’ — that you freeze settlement activity for a year,’ then why not do that in order to forge a closer relationship?”

Talking to Washington officials, says Arad, who handled the prime minister’s Iran portfolio until last year, “there was a sense that scoring points was uncalled for at a time when what was needed was to stand shoulder to shoulder, if it is indeed an existential issue.”

That’s the optimistic scenario. The pessimistic one — the one the heads of Israel’s armed services are quietly discussing among themselves — sees Israel attacking, Iran hitting back, oil prices doubling and bombs exploding on six continents. At that point, Israel will need more than just a friendly White House. It will need friends around the world who won’t blame Israel for oil shortages and terror attacks. It will need Europe, still Israel’s biggest trading partner, to keep the lines open despite inevitably fierce domestic pressures. It will need airlines to keep landing, credit to keep flowing, reliable oil supplies.

In a word, it will need legitimacy. The way to achieve that — the only way, say Sneh and his allies in the General Command and Shin Bet — is to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Close the deal that Ehud Olmert nearly completed with Mahmoud Abbas. Talk to the Saudis about their Arab Peace Initiative, which begins with an Israeli-Palestinian deal and ends with Saudi and other embassies in Tel Aviv. It’s essential, the Saudis and Gulf states make clear, if they’re to weather street protests after the bombs fly. Obviously it’s more complicated than it was a year ago, but it’s still possible — and infinitely more urgent. The last thing that’s needed is a Levy-style poke in the eye.

Arad, the inveterate hawk, isn’t convinced a deal is possible. But forward movement is necessary. “The point is to do something — don’t just stand there.”

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.