By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Though it’s still true that Israel’s neighbours are – to use an understatement – less than cordial in their relationship to the Jewish state, things may not be as grim as they seem and as they used to be. Some of the neighbours have acquired external and internal enemies of their own, often sponsored by Iran. As a result, many of them seem to have developed working relationships with Israel.
Thus the Iranian threat has made Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States engage in clandestine dealings with Israel. In addition, the current regime in Egypt has just announced that it’s upgrading its (cool) peace with Israel and after a long hiatus is returning an ambassador to Tel Aviv. Jordan has always been dependent on Israel; nowadays it may be more ready to acknowledge it than in the past.
And now we read of a “secret” meeting in Rome between the directors general of the foreign ministries of Turkey and Israel. The result of the recent elections in Turkey that clipped the wings of its seemingly rabid president seems to have induced the Turks to seek to re-establish closer ties with the Jewish state. They’ve many reasons for wanting to live well with Israel; tourism is one of them, military cooperation is another.
We can only speculate about Israel’s relations with Hamas, but we hear hints about some kind of understanding, not out of love but because of a common adversary: the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians’ attempt to form a “unity government” between Mahmoud Abass’ Fatah party and Hamas failed once again. This may mean that Hamas, despite its rhetoric about throwing the Jews into the sea and rule over the entire realm, will settle for being in charge of Gaza only and leave the West Bank to its own devices. Israel has good reason to want to punish the Palestinian Authority for using diplomacy in the United Nations and its various offshoots, the International Criminal Court as well as in a growing number of European countries in the hope of achieving more than terrorism/the Intifada has been able to accomplish.
Though, perhaps with the exception of Germany and a few of its neighbours, Israel is losing ground in Europe and, with the help of Netanyahu and his past and present ambassadors in Washington, it’s also alienating the American administration, the Jewish state is making new friends, notably in India and China. I hear people who understand these things that the ever growing investment of the Chinese in Israeli companies may be good news now, but its long-term implications are less certain and more worrying.
Yet, as things stand at the moment, despite the just published unfavourable UN report about last year’s Gaza War, the growing BDS movement in many countries and many other notable irritants, Israel seems to be doing reasonably well.
And that despite a government that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going and a cabinet that at times looks dysfunctional. Thus, for example, the other day the prime minister was reported to have walked out during a cabinet meeting, perhaps to sulk, because he couldn’t call his colleagues to order and prevent them from using their mobile devices during the meeting and popping in and out to get refreshments.
If the above is sufficiently confusing and puzzling, it’s a fair reflection of what’s going on in and around this wonderful country.