June 10, 2016
Phil Johnson, Ph.D.
Global Next Leadership Institute
On June 8th, two Palestinian terrorists opened fire on civilians at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv killing four people and wounding at least five others. Both gunmen are in custody.
According to the Israeli Security Agency, September 2015 saw the start of a new wave of violence that’s part of the popular uprising of Palestinians against Israelis. The violent trend is described by Hamas and Fatah as “heroic” and “the natural response to Israel’s crimes.” Regardless as to one’s view of Israel’s government and military – it’s hard to make any justification as to the “crimes” of innocent citizens murdered who were enjoying an evening out at a popular Tel-Aviv shopping and dining venue.
After the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, there were reports of rejoicing and fireworks in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. For Palestinians, it’s all part of the resistance to get rid of Israel as the illegal occupier of their land. Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran called it, “the first prophecy of Ramadan.”
In contrast, the United Nations Security Council, the US and Europe all denounced the violence. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying that he rejected all violence that targets civilians. Even the Saudi official media denounced the violence, but evoked all kinds of critical reaction on social media by referring to the murdered and wounded Israelis as “victims” and not as “settlers” (which is usually how Israelis are referred to in the Arab media).
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s new, and controversial, defense minister is going to have to decide how to respond to this event. So far, 83,000 travel permits have been canceled – these were permits that allowed Palestinians from the West Bank to travel to Jerusalem and Israel proper to visit family during the holy month of Ramadan. More than 600 Israeli troops have been added to those already stationed in the West Bank. You can be sure that the homes of these two terrorists and their families have been raided to identify any additional terror plots. Probably the homes of the terrorists will be destroyed. And yes, this will continue the cycle of animosity and violence between Israel and Palestine.
I was in Israel this past April conducting a conference – and even with the reported increase in violence since last September, unless you were an unlucky person in an unlucky location, you would not have noticed any difference. Israel’s security is good. Tourism is still booming and people want to see the Holy places of Israel.
What I notice is different, however, is how Israel is being globally perceived and its continued isolation from the global community. This recent attack will provide a temporary outpouring of sympathy for Israel, but in general Israel seems to be losing more and more support, even from those who have traditionally supported the Jewish State.
According to author Dov Waxman (Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict Over Israel) even American Jews, who have been the backbone of international support for Israel (financially, politically and emotionally) are becoming more vocal in their questions and criticisms about Israeli policies, occupation and settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – actions that make it more and more difficult to create peace and a two-state solution for the Palestinians. According to Maxman, this does not necessarily indicate a lack of support for Israel – but it does indicate a willingness not to see Israel as flawless, and that it’s acceptable to voice your disapproval of Israel’s policies – even as a Jew. If American Jews are starting to disconnect, what does that indicated about the rest of the U.S. and the rest of the world?
For Israel, they’ve probably just had enough. They’ve endured wars they didn’t start, they’ve offered the return of territory for peace and recognition – all of which has been refused by most other Arab states. The Jewish alternative is to hunker down, increase security and deal directly (translated by others as “harshly”), with anyone connected to terrorism and violence against Israel.
My guess is that the future holds increased international isolation of Israel. And I think Israel knows they are mostly (but not entirely) going it alone these days. This means there is the increased likelihood of flashpoints – even a tipping point in geopolitics. When you factor in Iran’s proxies – Hamas and Hezbollah – and their potential to pose threats to Israel, trigger points may be just around the corner. (Just consider the 100,000 + rockets pointed towards Israel from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.)
Israel is more than capable of securing her borders – and to be sure this attack in Tel Aviv was rare – but something tells me that in general we’re in the midst another turning point in the world. National alliances are adjusting, deals are being made, geopolitical friendships are changing and we are witnessing diminishing global support for Israel.