Monday, March 09, 2009

Winds of Change

There are times when one feels rather small, watching on as huge currents swirl around us, feeling rather powerless as the contours of the world we have come to know, alter and shift before our very eyes. These are such times.

One example of this is the economic crisis which, as it unfolds, becomes more and more incredible. Huge companies collapsing, shares in freefall, people losing their jobs, a world economy that has lost its confidence. One wonders where this is going and whether anyone understands how and when we will see an upturn, and an end to the fear, the panic.

Here at home, I feel that things are similarly out if kilter, with the unsuspected taking us by surprise.

We had to vote for Bibi or Tzippi. OK fine. But we got Leiberman! Currently it seems that we face the prospect of Leiberman as Foreign Minister. See this Haaretz article (link). Even if it is exaggerated... after all, it IS Haaretz, nonetheless, Leiberman as certainly the "anti-diplomat" espousing belligerent attitudes and an "anti", provocative political culture. I certainly have no desire to see Leiberman as the face of Israel around the world. But whether "Bibi" or "Tzippi" became PM, it seems that Leiberman would be the key politician.

And then there is the question of the world changing its attitudes towards Israel. Britain recognised Hezbollah this week, and they are establishing diplomatic ties. Britain see no problem with one of our most formidable of enemies. Heart-warming!

America with Obama is certainly striking a very different path than Bush. Whether they are sending diplomats and invitations to Syria, or expressing a willingness to talk to Iran, the mood has certainly shifted. Moreover, it isn't just the mood but the substance too. See this VERY important and excellent article (link) that shows that America is in the process of a significant move AWAY from Israel. Whereas Bush and Condoleeza backed Israel whatever they did, Obama and Clinton intend to tread a very different path. Clinton's criticism of Israel this week (link) is just the beginning. The US government is going to be calling for settlement construction to be halted. There will be condemnations of Human Rights abuses and what have you. The wind is blowing in a different direction. We better get used to it.

Add to that, the increased anti-Israel mood worldwide, post-Gaza. Campuses have become battlegrounds. So have sports fields, whether in Sweden with the Davis Cup, or Shahar Peer being banned from Dubai, these are not good days for Israel internationally. The pressure is on Israel, and increasing. We are being delegitimised with increasing frequency and intensity.

So what does this mean? How are we to respond to this world shift? Should we capitulate to the world view? - after all, we cannot stand totally alone. Or should we stoically hold our ground?

(Last year, in a Knesset debate, Leiberman publically denounced Mubarrak for not visiting Israel, ever. This blatant critique sent Peres and Olmert groveling to Mubarak with apologies. But on the radio many talk-show hosts were praising Leiberman's courage to say the truth, which is that if Egypt are truly a friend then why can Mubarak not visit.

On second thought, if the world is turning increasingly towards the arabs and calling on Israel to alter its course and political views, maybe it will take a Leiberman to represent us!

But maybe not. The guy still scares me.)

New realities abound as we sit still. The world is changing, and it is a huge challenge to know how to respond.


Jesse said...

What do you think we should do?

Anonymous said...

Since Israel is being de-legitimized, maybe we should call the worlds bluff. Say OK, we are ready to leave. Who will take us in and allow is to live freely and practice our religion and customs.

I'll bet, no takers!