Tags: Israel | isolation | increasing | US

Israel Facing Increasing Isolation

Tuesday, 22 Jun 2010 07:08 AM

JERUSALEM - An Elton John concert ordinarily isn't front-page news. But in Israel, where many feel more shunned than they have in decades, the legendary pop icon's decision to perform in Tel Aviv last Thursday was cause for celebration.

After weeks of dreary reports about artists caving to calls to boycott Israel, Israeli diplomats being expelled by friendly allies, and even pressure from the United States to change course in Gaza, John allowed Israel an opportunity "for three hours," as one music reviewer put it, "to be a normal country."

Israel is no stranger to feelings of isolation. It weathered years of Cold War-era Arab and Soviet hostility. Books have been written about the United Nations' perceived antagonism toward the Jewish state. A well-known decades-old song, "The Whole World Is Against Us," is invoked today by Israelis who argue that no matter what the country does, it will be shunned.

The feeling has become more pronounced in recent weeks. With the peace process stalled, the international community turning a skeptical eye toward Israeli shows of force and pro-Palestinian groups eager to jump on the nation's missteps, the stage was set for a furious reaction when commandos killed nine activists aboard a Turkish aid ship heading for Gaza on May 31. Since then, Israelis have engaged in a heated national conversation about how and why the country has become so isolated.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's subsequent decision to ease a blockade of the Gaza Strip, a concession to the United States and European allies, revealed the extent to which Israel lacks international support, analysts say.

"This is something Israelis know: that they very, very much depend on both America and Germany, or in the larger sense, Europe. And there's nothing they fear more than being alone in the world," said Tom Segev, an Israeli historian.

No matter how alone Israelis have felt in the past, they have routinely found comfort in unconditional U.S. support. While polls still show strong public support for Israel in the United States, American activists helped organize the Gaza aid flotillas. On Sunday, 500 demonstrators gathered at a port in Oakland, Calif., to prevent the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship.

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JERUSALEM - An Elton John concert ordinarily isn't front-page news. But in Israel, where many feel more shunned than they have in decades, the legendary pop icon's decision to perform in Tel Aviv last Thursday was cause for celebration.
Israel,isolation,increasing,US
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2010-08-22
Tuesday, 22 Jun 2010 07:08 AM
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