(...) Not just anti-Israelism but outright anti-Semitism is on the rise. For European Jews in general, the encircling atmosphere of hostility, often instigated by Muslims but tolerated or excused by elites, seems to worsen year by year. Jacques Canet, the president of La Victoire synagogue in Paris, reports that the France’s Jewish community—still the third largest in the world, though rapidly diminishing—feels threatened to the point where “Jews in Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse, Sarcelles feel they can’t safely wear a kippah outside their homes or send their children to public schools.” The number of French Jews emigrating annually to Israel has steadily risen from 1,900 in 2011 to nearly 8,000 in 2015, with no end in sight; additional thousands are making their way elsewhere. No less grim is the picture in the United Kingdom, where the Labor party, in Douglas Murray’s words—“the party of Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, and Tony Blair”—has been taken over by “forces aligned with naked anti-Semitism.”
The examples multiply. All in all, then, we may grant that in many quarters, an anti-Israel—and anti-Jewish—mindset remains a palpable presence on the political and social scene. But there is also good news: elsewhere, and not in obscure corners but in world capitals, a transformation of attitudes is under way. Far from being the pariah of the Middle East, Israel is fast becoming the region’s golden child, courted and caressed even by some of its most important and once-implacably hostile neighbors. The change has certainly registered in Israel itself, but so far has been largely ignored by Western media.More than three years ago, in a column entitled “Why Israel Will Rule the New Middle East,” I wrote these sentences:Israel . . . is set to dominate the region like never before. . . . Indeed, instead of plotting Israel’s destruction, its Arab neighbors could find themselves courting Tel Aviv’s favor the way the United States and Europe courted OPEC in the 1970s and 1980s.At the time, I was thinking primarily about the game-changing implications of Israel’s recently discovered offshore energy resources (about which more below). And indeed those resources, one of the most massive discoveries of the past several decades, do play an important role in the new view of Israel, especially on the part of its neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean.But that is hardly all. Perhaps most strikingly, the change in attitude has little or nothing to do with any shifts in Israeli policy regarding the one issue that’s assumed to be paramount in the world’s judgment of the Jewish state: namely, its relations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” Israeli settlements in the territories, Palestinian statehood, and Gaza, not to mention his outspoken criticisms of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, might have seemed geared precisely to inflame rather than placate international opinion. Yet it is under his adroit tenure in office that the shift in his country’s favor has accelerated.The fact is that this shift has little or nothing to do with particular Israeli policies. It is much more a function of how other states now calculate the utility, if not the positive value, of good relations with Israel, whether an Israel dominated by Likud or by any other party. Those other states include not only regional neighbors but also countries as distant as China, Japan, and the nations of Eastern Europe. In no small measure, their attitudes are based on a major re-evaluation of what Israel as a nation represents, and what its existence and survival signify for the future prospects of other nations and regions.
(...) Today, with the imminent departure of President Obama from office, there may be an opportunity for a fresh reappraisal of U.S.-Israeli relations, one that looks beyond the moribund Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” and the stale rhetoric of “solutions,” and that’s not infected by the poisonous stereotypes dominating elite discourse here and in Europe.read more
Arthur Herman is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the author of, among other books, Gandhi and Churchill, Freedom’s Forge, and How the Scots Invented the Modern World.