Wed 28 Feb 2024 6:55 pm - Jerusalem Time

Thomas Friedman: Anger is intensifying and Israel is losing the world

American writer Thomas Friedman says that Israel's status, level of acceptance, and legitimacy that has been painstakingly built for it over decades are eroding at an increasing speed among friendly countries. If US President Joe Biden is not careful, Washington's global standing will decline along with Israel's standing.

Friedman explained - in an article in the New York Times - that after a long tour from India to the Emirates and Jordan, he wants to deliver an urgent message to Biden and the Israelis, which is that he believes they do not fully appreciate the anger that is rising around the world, and which is fueled by social media and television footage, due to the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians, especially children, with weapons provided by the United States in the war on Gaza.

The anger intensifies

The writer added that it is clear that such anger is intensifying in the Arab world, but he heard it repeatedly in conversations in India over the past week with friends, business leaders, officials, and journalists, young and old.

He pointed out that what he heard in India is more significant because the Hindu-dominated government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only major force in the global south that has supported Israel and has constantly blamed the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

He said: With so many civilians being killed in a retaliatory invasion launched by an Israeli government with no political horizon for the next day, and with its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a plan that tells the world that Israel intends to occupy both the West Bank and Gaza indefinitely, it is not surprising that Israel's friends will move away and the Biden team will start to look bad.

Israel is doing everything to facilitate its isolation

The writer indicated the erosion of Israel's position in the world with the calls that occur every day to ban Israel from international academic, artistic and sporting competitions or events, saying that the current Israeli government is doing things that make this very easy.

He claimed that many of Israel's friends are now praying for a ceasefire so that their citizens or voters do not ask them not to be indifferent to this large and rising number of civilian casualties in Gaza.

He added that many Arab leaders who secretly want to see Hamas destroyed are being pressured from the streets to the elites to publicly distance themselves from Israel, which is unwilling to consider any political horizon for Palestinian independence on any borders.

He went on to say that he felt that the world was initially prepared, after the October 7 attack, to accept that there would be significant civilian casualties if Israel were to uproot Hamas and take back its hostages, but now it could not accept this toxic combination of thousands of civilian casualties and a peace plan. For Netanyahu, it only promises endless occupation.

Israel's war is a human grinder

He described the entire Israeli war in Gaza as beginning to appear to more and more people like a human meat grinder whose only goal is to reduce the population so that Israel can control it more easily.

The writer believes that Netanyahu's refusal to even think about trying to strengthen a new relationship with Palestinians other than Hamas is because this threatens his position as prime minister, which depends on the support of extreme right-wing Jewish parties that will never give up a single inch of the West Bank.

He stressed that this was difficult to believe, but the writer reiterated that Netanyahu is ready to sacrifice Israel's hard-won international legitimacy for his personal political needs, and will not hesitate to bring Biden down with him.

The writer expressed his belief that the Israelis, whom he described as still deeply shocked by the October 7 attack, had failed to see that making an effort, at least to move slowly towards a Palestinian state led by a changing Palestinian authority and conditional on disarmament and the achievement of certain goals of institutional governance It is not a gift to the Palestinians or a reward to Hamas.

Israel is losing on 3 fronts

He said that Israel is currently losing on three fronts simultaneously. It loses to the global narrative that it is fighting a just war, it loses because it has no plan to exit Gaza, and it loses regionally to Iran and its anti-Israel proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, who are putting pressure on Israel’s northern, southern, and eastern borders.

The writer concluded that there is one solution that would help on all three fronts: an Israeli government ready to begin the process of building two national states for two peoples, with a Palestinian authority that is truly ready and willing to change itself, saying that this gives cover for Israel’s Arab allies to partner with it in rebuilding Gaza. It provides the target for the regional alliance that Israel needs to confront Iran and its proxies.

He concluded, "Failing to see this jeopardizes decades of diplomacy to get the world to recognize the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination and self-defense. It also puts the Biden administration in an increasingly untenable position that would make Iran happy."

Source: New York Times


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Thomas Friedman: Anger is intensifying and Israel is losing the world