In a recent interview, Blue and White Party deputy leader Yair Lapid claimed that world leaders want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go.
Lapid was specifically referring to Israel’s strained relations with the European Union, liberal American Jews and much of the American Democrat Party. However, in a genuine democracy, its citizens and not foreign leaders decide the political direction of the country. The growing global leftist hostility towards Israel is ultimately not about specific Israeli policies, but about the very existence of a nation-state for the Jewish people.
Being the prime minister of Israel has often been described as one of the toughest jobs in the world. There is a good reason for that. Widespread and strong international pressures on Israel frequently undermine the very security and viability of the Jewish state. The mandate of an elected Israeli prime minister is not to appease a hostile international audience, but to secure a prosperous and viable future for the State of Israel.
Yair Lapid’s populist election fever message is clear: Vote Netanyahu out of office, and Israel’s relations with Western liberals will blossom. However, this Orwellian statement is detached from reality. Western leftist opposition towards Israel did not start with Netanyahu and will certainly not end in a post-Netanyahu era. Given the ongoing radicalization among European and American leftists, left-wing hostility towards Israel is likely going to increase even more in the future. There are two main sources behind this anti-Israel platform, both of which are mainly beyond Israel’s control.
One main source of hostility is the growing global leftist alliance with radical Islamists. It feeds a widespread deep hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people. By disingenuously presenting itself as “anti-racism,” this anti-Zionist focused Jew-hatred has successfully moved from the fringes to the political mainstream under the pretentiously false flag of “human rights.” It requires a suspension of disbelief to suggest that Israel can somehow improve its relations with implacable anti-Israel radicals like Democrat Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in America or Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallström and the European Union’s foreign-policy czar Federica Mogherini.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar recently presented herself as a two-state solution champion while once again blaming Israel for the lack of Arab-Israeli peace. However, Omar has repeatedly embraced anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and attacked Israel’s very existence as a Jewish nation-state by comparing it to the Iranian Islamist regime. Anti-Israel extremists in America and in Europe conveniently ignore that it is Israel’s enemies that have systematically rejected a peaceful two-state solution. The Arab-Israeli conflict was never about specific borders; it is rooted in an anti-Semitic opposition to the very existence of a Jewish homeland within any borders.
A second source of anti-Israel hostility is the wide and growing gulf between Western leftist ideological positions and Israel’s fundamental interests. European and American liberals overwhelmingly opposed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s capital Jerusalem. U.S. Democratic representatives overwhelmingly skipped the opening ceremony of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. In the past, there was a solid bipartisan support to move the American embassy to Israel’s capital. Western self-appointed liberals also opposed Trump’s recent decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Unsurprisingly, Western liberals also overwhelmingly support the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal that emboldened the ayatollah regime to increase its aggression against Israel and the Sunni Arab world.
There is therefore preciously little that any Israeli government can do reduce this unbridgeable leftist anti-Israel hostility. With the exception of the vocal Israeli leftist minority, the Israeli public overwhelmingly opposes the anti-Israel positions of the global left. Most Israelis expect their government to advance Israel’s fundamental interests, no matter how unpopular they might be among Western leftists.
Critics have frequently accused Netanyahu of leading Israel towards political isolation. However, reality tells a very different story. Under his leadership, Israel has dramatically improved and deepened its relations with giants like China, India, Russia and Brazil. Relations between the American and Israeli governments are stronger than ever. Netanyahu recently met with Trump in Washington and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Netanyahu also hosted the pro-Israel Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during his recent visit to the Jewish state. Israel’s relations have also improved with much of Latin America, Africa, and Central and Eastern European states. Even the Sunni Arab world is increasingly embracing a pragmatic cooperation with Israel.
In a transparent move to seek to influence the Israeli election, French President Emmanuel Macron recently invited Blue and White Party deputy leader Yair Lapid to Paris. Western liberals like Macron oppose Netanyahu because he refuses to subordinate Israel’s fundamental interests to their anti-Israel positions. It would be politically naïve to think that Brussels, Paris or anti-Israel U.S. Democrats would suddenly embrace Israel if it was led by the politically inexperienced duo of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.
Decades ago, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously summarized Israel’s considerable challenges: “I prefer to stay alive and be criticized than be sympathized.”
While Israel is incomparably more powerful today, it still faces widespread hostile double standards. Against tremendous odds, the Jewish people re-established its political and national sovereignty in its ancestral homeland. The goal of any Israeli government is to advance an Israeli victory that paves the path for a prosperous and secure Jewish homeland.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst and a Fellow at the Haym Salomon Center. You can find more in-depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il.
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