Gershon Baskin
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion)
September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

This morning, I heard a conversation on the radio between Israeli journalist Yaron Dekel and Israeli lyricist Yoram Taharlev, who in the 1970’s wrote the song “Ha’olam kulo negdeinu” – “The whole world is against us.”

"The whole world is against us
it’s a very old refrain,
that our fathers taught us,
both to sing and to dance...

The whole world is against us,
never mind, we’ll cope.
They don’t care for us...
and we don’t care for them..."

Dekel and Taharlev concluded that “nothing has changed,” or in the words of Meir Ariel, another songwriter, “we overcame Pharaoh, we’ll overcome this too.”

Nice attitude I suppose. A bit too much of denial and definitely too much shaking off responsibility, but I guess in a complicated world we need good survival strategies. How nice to think that we have nothing to do with our own predicament. How nice to really believe (as our prime minister said) that if the General Assembly of the United Nations wanted to pass a resolution that the world was flat, it could do so. Oh, how easy it is in Israel to eliminate even the thought that the United Nations is really an important body. Of course there are double standards and yes, it is true, and indeed absurd, that more attention is paid to human rights violations by Israel than by Syria, but the United Nations is not just an anti-Israel political caucus, it is a political institution which embodies international law and reflects international opinion, whether we like it or not.

I reject the notion that the whole world is against us. Most of the world is very much interested in having contact and relations with Israel. Some countries think the road to Washington passes through Jerusalem, while others see Israel’s virtues, ingenuity and strong economy, and want to gain from it and be a part of it. Most of the world does not reject Israel’s right to exist; in fact, most of the world doesn’t even consider the question of our right to exist. Countries exist. Period. Most countries are not busy 24/7 trying to prove to everyone that they have a right to exist. Our excuse has always been “no countries in the world face continuous existential threats like Israel does.” Well, Israel today faces no such threat, at least not in the short term, and likely won’t ever again, until Iran succeeds in having a nuclear arsenal, and probably not even then.

I believe that this notion of “the whole world is against us” is one of the most cynical acts of small politicians that exist in our Israeli political culture. Our historical collective memory is constantly provoked by our politicians and populist media to recall the atrocities committed against our people over two thousand years in order to serve a political agenda which dodges taking any responsibility for why the whole world is against us. It’s the Arabs. It’s the Muslims. They’re anti-Semites. The reject our right to exist. They condone terrorism. There are no partners for peace.

If Turkey disagrees with our siege policy and supports sending a flotilla to provoke the issue and to break the blockade, then the Turkish prime minister is a radical Muslim. It doesn’t matter if he just this week called on the Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution like Turkey’s. If Egyptians are angry because their soldiers were killed in Sinai by the Israeli army while chasing terrorists and Israel refuses to acknowledge any responsibility or apology for killing the wrong people, then the angry mob that attacked the Israeli Embassy can be blamed on Muslim fundamentalists led by the Muslim Brotherhood. It doesn’t matter that there is no truth in that at all.

The “experts on Arab affairs” who appear on our TVs tell us that the whole region is becoming led by Muslim fundamentalists.

Ari Shavit, writing in Haaretz and speaking on Channel 1’s Friday news magazine, has already decided that it isn’t the “Arab Spring,” but the “Muslim winter.” He has already decided that the democratic revolutions in the region will end up with the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran at the helm. He and his colleagues have already determined that the countries surrounding us, led by these Muslim fundamentalists, have only one issue on their agenda – the destruction of Israel.

We have so many Arab affairs experts in Israel who never speak to real Arabs and who don’t travel around the Arab world and meet real people. The media in the Arab world is certainly filled with a lot of anti-Israel propaganda and there’s no shortage of hatred of Israel there; it’s very easy to find enough material to back up the assertion that they all want to destroy us. But does this really reflect what’s happening in the neighborhood? I don’t think so.

The Palestinian move to the United Nations is not about the destruction of Israel, or even about the de-legitimization of Israel. The Palestinian leadership has been saying this over and over again, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in Arabic on Palestinian television in front of a Palestinian audience in Ramallah. There was no Arab “double take” – one version for the West and a different one in Arabic. He said his goal was peace with Israel, not the destruction or the de-legitimation of Israel.

The Palestinians are going to the United Nations because they have lost faith (just as Israel has) in the ability to create their state and reach independence through negotiations with Israel without clear terms of reference for an agreement.

The Palestinians are going to the UN because they have learned from Israel’s own experience. Israel’s birth certificate was issued in the United Nations (just as the same resolution issued the Palestinian’s certificate of birth). In May 1948 David Ben Gurion unilaterally declared independence. This was an act of defiance not only against the Arab states that rejected it militarily, but also against many friendly states, including the United States which advised against it. Even though Israel was allocated only 55 percent of the territory by the United Nations, at the end of the 1948 war it held onto 78% of the land. Today the Palestinians are struggling to hold on to the remaining 22%. They are going to the United Nations in order to preserve what might be the very last chance to have a two states for two peoples solution to this conflict.

Yes, the world is on their side. Even if the United States uses its veto in the Security Council, this will not change the reality that almost the entire world supports the Palestinian right and desire to have a state of their own on 22% of the land between the river and the sea.

Wow! That means that almost the entire world also supports the State of Israel existing on 78% of the land between the river and sea. Imagine that! Maybe the whole world isn’t really against us?


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