Saturday, April 11, 2009

The rapidly vanishing world-wide sympathy for Israel: The tide is turning

The unthinkable has happened, at last. What was unthinkable only four months ago, is now a universally acknowledged fact. Within a week after Israel ended the war in Gaza, it noticed that behind the fortress like wall that it built on the Palestinian ancestral land, which it had encroached, it was now standing alone without its coterie of friends – European leaders and national heads of many governments around the world.

The Gaza War – code named Operation Cast Lead – has backfired. World leaders such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, et al, who, before the Gaza War, routinely sang in chorus praises of the “lone democracy in the Middle East”, were now suddenly critical of Israel’s assault on the Palestinians. They boldly said that several of IDF’s (Israel’s Defense Forces’) actions amounted to war crimes and they demanded that IDF’s use of phosphorus bombs on Palestinians, and eye witness accounts of the shooting of unarmed, white flag-waving women and children, the bombing of schools, and the burning of UN warehouses, and attacks on police stations and hospitals must be thoroughly investigated by the United Nations.

If the effect of the Gaza war on the Palestinians has been tragic, its effect on Israel’s image abroad has been devastating. Many of Israel’s ardent defenders around the world were shell shocked at the wanton killing of Palestinian women and children, and the destruction of Palestinians’ properties. In the live coverage of the war on Aljazeera, the world witnessed the horrors inflicted on the unarmed civilians. And the heart rending images people saw on the BBC have prompted many world leaders to condemn IDF’s atrocities.

And now Israel stands almost alone.

The Gaza War did not accomplish any of Israel’s stated goals; but it did accomplish a startling, completely unexpected thing: it gave a devastating blow to Israel’s image in the world as a moral, civil society. The war has left Israel’s image totally tarnished for ever.

In response to the calls from Amnesty International and many world leaders, leaders such as Nobel Laureates President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, former President of Ireland Ms. Mary Robinson, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Mr. Ralph Zacklin of United Kingdom (United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs (1998-2005), and dozens of other eminent people, the United Nations has finally set up an enquiry into alleged abuses of International Laws by Israel in Gaza, and has appointed Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa, an eminent jurist and a man of unquestionable integrity, to head the investigation.

Several human rights organizations in Israel, organizations such as B’Tselem, have been gathering evidence of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

This is indeed a major development regarding the unending Israel-Palestine conflict. The pro-Israel tide has turned. The result of the UN investigation will have major consequences not only for Israel but also for its ally, the USA.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

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