To read this article, click here.
"But the sense of siege among Israelis isn’t only a result of tangible threats. A growing movement, in the Muslim world and also in the West, is seeking to turn Israel into a pariah — the Jew of the states, as some Israelis bitterly put it. Holocaust commemorations were recently cancelled in Spain and Sweden to protest the "holocaust" in Gaza; in England and even in the United States, there are calls among academics to boycott Israeli universities. Palestinian claims of Israeli atrocities are reported in the foreign media at face value, even though those claims are often deliberately exaggerated — like the assertion, later refuted by The Globe and Mail, that Israel had shelled a UN school in Gaza, killing dozens of civilians seeking shelter inside. Though the UN humanitarian co-ordinator eventually issued a clarification, the symbol of Israel’s conduct of the war remains that school. Not surprisingly, the very legitimacy of Israel is being called into question. Alone among nations, criticism directed against Israel isn’t restricted to what it does, but to what it is. Increasingly, among parts of world opinion, the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty is being rescinded. For Israelis, the war in Gaza was a test case for whether the Jewish state will be allowed to defend itself against terrorism under any conditions. Israel, after all, withdrew from Gaza in 2005, uprooting all its settlements from the area. Yet the rockets continued to fall across the international border — long before Israel imposed a siege against Gaza’s Hamas government. When Israel finally moved against Hamas, much of the international community accused Israel of overreacting, in effect absolving the Palestinian leadership of responsibility. The disproportionate criticism of Israel has implications for the future of the West Bank. In principle, most Israelis support a two-state solution — 70 per cent, according to a recent poll. But what will happen, Israelis ask themselves, if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, which borders the country’s main population centres, and then rockets fall on Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion International Airport? Given the Gaza precedent, the answer is clear: Any Israeli attempt to defend itself against terrorists embedded among Palestinian civilians will result in international ostracism. And if so, why bother withdrawing in the first place?"