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Why is Israel "Isolated"?

The answer is simple.

12:42 PM, Jun 8, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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You can't read the papers these days without being reminded that Israel is isolated. Of course, Israel has had few friends in Europe and the Middle East for some time. So, what's new?

Why is Israel "Isolated"?

Two things. Israel is losing a former ally, as Turkey continues its Islamist slide. But the most important factor behind Israel's diplomatic isolation, it seems to me, is the current American administration. Imagine that Dubya or John McCain were president. Would the flotilla incident have occurred? I doubt it. When Bush was president, Israel's enemies knew with certainty that the White House would support Israel's right to defend herself against provocation. American strength not only guaranteed Israeli freedom of action, it deterred a lot of devious behavior.

But that guarantee no longer exists. The animosity between the administration and Netanyahu's government is no secret. This provides anti-Israel forces an opportunity. Middle East policy in the first year of the Obama administration was spent obsessing over a superfluous freeze in all settlement activity. The Palestinians used the settlement issue to avoid direct talks. In March 2010, the Obama White House seized on a bureaucratic snafu to manufacture a crisis in bilateral relations between the United States and Israel. With Washington temporarily resembling European capitals, pro-Hamas riots broke out in Jerusalem and a policeman was shot in the hand.

It took months to repair ties between the two countries. But the damage was done. Just as Netanyahu prepared to visit Obama, Turkey allowed the "peace flotilla" to attempt to run the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of Gaza. The protesters' masks, pipes, and knives show that the action was obviously intended to end in violence. And while the administration's response to the incident, in my view, was better than one may have feared, nonetheless the White House missed several important opportunities to demonstrate solidary with an American ally.

Obama's foreign policy goals in the Greater Middle East are to leave Iraq (and, beginning in 2011, Afghanistan), peacefully convince Iran to give up hope for nuclear weaponry and regional dominance, resolve an Israeli-Palestinian conflict that even the most ardent peace processors recognize as insolvable, and forge an entente with "the Muslim world." Is it any wonder that Israel is isolated, when her most powerful ally seeks peace and comfort and "normality" at any price?

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