Isolated Israel
Isolated Israel
Friday, March 20,2009 16:38
By TimeTurk

"We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits," Arye Mekel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry"s deputy director general for cultural affairs, told The New York Times on Thursday, March 19.

"This way you show Israel"s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war."

The Foreign Ministry has allocated an extra $2 million to improve Israel"s image following the Gaza war, which killed more than 1,350 people and wounded 4,540.

Israel has been increasingly isolated since its 22-day deadly offensive on Gaza, a coastal enclave of 1.6 million Palestinians.

The onslaught has strained Israel"s relations with its major ally Turkey and forced Mauritania, the third Arab countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel, to close the Israeli embassy.

The war also triggered a wave of demonstrations, marches and rallies across the globe in support of Palestinians.

Israeli sports teams were booed in several international competitions, including in Sweden, Spain and Turkey.

International bodies, rights groups, jurists, judges, investigators have also demanded in impartial investigation into Israel"s war crimes in Gaza.

"We need to do much more to educate the world about our situation," says Eytan Gilboa, a professor of politics and international communication at Bar Ilan University.

"We need 50 million. We need 100 million."

Critics blame Israeli policies, not image, for its isolation, citing the four-decade occupation of Palestine, settlement building and the crippling Gaza blockade.

Mussolini

Adding to Israel"s isolation is the expected inauguration of a right-wing government under hawkish Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We here in America are waiting as of this writing for a government to emerge in Jerusalem, and most of us keep on hoping that its shape will not preclude the peace process, will not doom a two-state solution, will not destroy the hope that our new president brings to the table," wrote Anne Roiphe, an American Jew.

Premier-designate Netanyahu inked a coalition deal with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman on Monday.

Lieberman, a controversial firebrand labeled a racist by critics, is due to become the foreign minister in the new government.

Roiphe said seeing the popularity of Lieberman in Israel made her feel "as if my spouse had cheated on me with Mussolini."

The far-right leader is notorious for calls to expel Israeli Arabs, who make one-fifth of Israel"s population.

His nomination has already sent shockwaves among Israel"s allies in the US and Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has threatened to reconsider relations with Israel if it did not remain committed to establishing a Palestinian state.

Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Rida has threatened to boycott the ceremony marking 30 years of relations between the two countries as a protest against Lieberman"s appointment.

A senior Israeli government official said Egyptians are clearly dissatisfied with Lieberman, who once threatened to bomb their Aswan Dam, and want to show that it is no longer "business as usual."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit spoke out publicly about Lieberman"s appointment during a visit to the European Union in Brussels on Monday.

He said Lieberman might harm the peace process.

The Source

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