by Iqbal Jassat
Israel’s calculated method of dismissing criticism of its policies is continuously displayed in the actions and conduct of its leaders. Arrogance and contempt are unmistakably some of the defining characteristics of a leadership foolishly believing that the protection it enjoys from the United States of America to perpetuate violations of human rights and war crimes will last forever.
If it harboured any notion that the American life-line will not only protect it from international censure but also prevent any actualization of policies it regards as detrimental to its survival as a Zionist state, Judge Richard Goldstone – himself Jewish and a lover of Israel – has served notice that the era of protectionism is not on.
This rude shock from Goldstone has been followed-up by another: Turkey abruptly withdrew Israel’s participation in a NATO aerial exercise. That it was planned months ago and notwithstanding the threat from the United States not to take part without Israel, the Turkish military remained adamant and cancelled the drill. Between Goldstone and Turkey – all in a matter of weeks – Israel must be pinching itself to test whether the nightmare is real. And even if its loyal band of soothsayers ascribe this misfortune to a petty “glitch”, political analysts are warning that the evidence of a new shift in global opinion cannot be ignored, either by Israel or its die-hard supporters around the world. The sound of Goldstone’s bombshell has reverberated across all Jewish communities. By and large the reaction has been one of shock, horror and disbelief. How could one of their own turn on his beloved Israel and render it vulnerable to prosecution for war crimes? It is unthinkable that such an eminent jurist with an impeccable record of devotion to Israel would behave like Cain, is amongst the charges of betrayal being leveled against Goldstone. As regards Turkey, the severity of its blow in the way Israel has been snubbed is best understood in the comment by Nachum Barnea in Yediot Ahronoth: “Israel expects the American administration to intervene and restrain the Erdogan government. Israel is paying a heavy price for processes it has no connection to: The European Union, acting on French pressure, rejected Turkey’s requests to integrate into the EU; meanwhile, the US Administration showed weakness; under such circumstances, Turkey chose to move closer to Syria and Iran.” The Israel-Turkey rift marks their lowest point in relations ever and according to Time magazine, Israeli tourism to Turkey is down 47 percent since January 2009 when compared to the same period the previous year. Clearly what both Goldstone and Erdogan symbolize is that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza has come to haunt Israel. The arrogance and conceit of its leaders has propelled Israel to a record level of vulnerability. Five days before Israel unleashed its weapons of mass destruction, the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan hosted Ehud Olmert to discuss efforts to launch direct Israel-Syria peace talks. “On that night, we were very close to reaching an agreement between the two parties [to begin direct talks]. It was agreed that they were going to talk until the end of the week to come to a [positive] outcome,” Erdogan later told the Washington Post in a January 31 interview. “Olmert’s last sentence [as he left] was, ‘As soon as I get back I will consult with my colleagues and get back to you.’ As I waited for his response…on December 27, bombs started falling on Gaza.” Never before has the Zionist regime had to contend with such serious external challenges in the aftermath of a failed military adventure which aroused global sympathy for its besieged victims in Gaza. Numerous independent investigations and probes of Israel’s gruesome conduct led to unanimous findings of war crimes. Perhaps the debacle by the American-backed Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas over its unprincipled yielding to Israeli blackmail and US pressure over the Goldstone report at the UN and the reluctant about-turn due to mounting criticism from Palestinians who felt betrayed, best illustrates that protectionism has evaporated.
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