Israel’s determination unshaken by rifts with allies
Israel has always bet its survival on a few key friendships amid a world of enemies. But lately even its oldest alliances are looking frayed.
An Egyptian mob stormed Israel’s Embassy in Cairo on Friday night, forcing the ambassador to flee a country that had reached a landmark peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Turkey is threatening to dispatch warships off Israel’s Mediterranean coast in the latest sign of deteriorating ties with the former Muslim ally.
Even American patience may be running thin, as seen in a comment leaked last week by former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an “ungrateful ally” whose policies are worsening Israel’s international isolation.
Yet rather than spur anxiety or bolster public calls for Israel to change course, the external pressure appears to be only hardening many Israelis’ resolve to do what they say they’ve always done: Go it alone.
“I’m not making light of the situation,” said computer technician Dan Levine, sipping coffee at a cafe west of Jerusalem. “But we’ve been through this movie before and we’ll probably go through it again. Israel’s top priority is securing its interests, even if it makes other countries unhappy with us.”
Despite critics’ warnings that Israel is underestimating the growing threat created by the so-called Arab Spring, Netanyahu has made it clear that he too believes the country should stay the course in the face of growing regional uncertainty, rather than bend to outside pressure.
“In our region, peace is not made with the weak and obsequious,” he said last week. “Peace is made with a strong and proud Israel.”