OT: Israel Is Losing Its Greatest Asset: Acceptance

Thomas Friedman writes in NYT:
I’ve spent the past few days traveling from New Delhi to Dubai and Amman, and I have an urgent message to deliver to President Biden and the Israeli people: I am seeing the increasingly rapid erosion of Israel’s standing among friendly nations — a level of acceptance and legitimacy that was painstakingly built up over decades. And if Biden is not careful, America’s global standing will plummet right along with Israel’s.

I don’t think Israelis or the Biden administration fully appreciate the rage that is bubbling up around the world, fueled by social media and TV footage, over the deaths of so many thousands of Palestinian civilians, particularly children, with U.S.-supplied weapons in Israel’s war in Gaza. Hamas has much to answer for in triggering this human tragedy, but Israel and the U.S. are seen as driving events now and getting most of the blame.

That such anger is boiling over in the Arab world is obvious, but I heard it over and over again in conversations in India during the past week — from friends, business leaders, an official and journalists both young and old. That is even more telling because the Hindu-dominated government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only major power in the global south that has supported Israel and consistently blamed Hamas for inviting the massive Israeli retaliation and the deaths of an estimated 30,000 people, according to Gazan health officials, the majority of them civilians.

That many civilian deaths in a relatively short war would be problematic in any context. But when so many civilians die in a retaliatory invasion that was launched by an Israeli government without any political horizon for the morning after — and then, when the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, finally offers a morning-after plan that essentially says to the world that Israel now intends to occupy both the West Bank and Gaza indefinitely — it is no surprise that Israel’s friends will edge away and the Biden team will start to look hapless.

But now we have a toxic combination of thousands of civilian casualties and a Netanyahu peace plan that promises only endless occupation, no matter if the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank transforms itself into a legitimate, effective, broad-based governing body that can take control of both the West Bank and Gaza and be a partner one day for peace.

So the whole Israel-Gaza operation is starting to look to more and more people like a human meat grinder whose only goal is to reduce the population so that Israel can control it more easily.

Netanyahu refuses to even consider trying to nurture a new relationship with non-Hamas Palestinians, because to do so would risk his prime minister’s chair, which depends on backing by hard-right Jewish supremacist parties who will never cede an inch of the West Bank. Hard to believe, but Netanyahu is ready to sacrifice Israel’s hard-won international legitimacy for his personal political needs. He will not hesitate to take Biden down with him.

But the broader point is that a unique opportunity to permanently diminish Hamas, not only as an army but also as a political movement, is being squandered because Netanyahu refuses to encourage any prospect, however long term, of building toward a two-state solution.


It’s comforting for Friedman to attribute this to Netanyahu, and the hard-right political parties to support him. But that ignores how significantly Israeli opinion - across the country - has turned against the idea of a two-state solution. Before October 7, belief in a two-state solution had declined precipitously among Israelis (including Arab Israelis). As you might expect, after October 7 that support collapsed even further:

One in four Israeli adults currently support the existence of an independent Palestinian state, while most (65%) oppose it. This is almost a complete reversal of where they stood on the issue a decade ago, when twice as many Israeli adults supported an independent Palestinian state (61%) as opposed one (30%).

So current Israeli policy is almost certainly reflective of the majority opinion of the electorate - not just an artifact of the Likud plus Far Right coalition government. If Israel were to hold elections tomorrow and turn out Netanyahu, whoever took over would also avoid taking steps towards creating an independent Palestinian state. Because that’s where Israeli public opinion is right now.


The entire issue is Arab governance and Muslim governance in many of their countries. This is not isolated to Israel.

There needs to be free open elections in every Arab nation. Power sharing and legal rights. Not just cheapened paper.

There are no other solutions.

Most of the violence is Muslim on Muslim. But the world including the Muslims are not facing any of this.

You can get children to think bad Israel. Until they understand the US Bill of Rights and our traditions.

If you care about Palestinians lives seek a change of governance in Gaza that will respect Gazans.

Start with freedom of religion.