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On the path to being a pariah State

"Israel's way of dealing with the Palestinians and Lebanon in the last few decades has led to a long-term process in which the Western world is beginning to see Israel as a pariah state that has no true affinity to Western values. Hence, it is not on the 'right' side of the clash of civilizations, as was reflected in the French ambassador to Britain calling Israel "that shitty little country" not long ago.

This development is consistently disregarded by Israeli decision makers. Short-term political bickering is on their minds more than the survival of Israel, which in theory is their main goal. Any criticism of Israel's policies is dismissed as an expression of the New Anti-Semitism. The proof often provided is that we are not judged by the same standard as our neighbors: "Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia can get away with inhuman behavior a lot worse than ours," the argument runs.

My point is simple: the day we are no longer judged by the standards of the West is the beginning of Israel's end, because it means that the West has decided we are no longer part of it, and hence will not be committed to Israel's existence. The day may come when Israel will, as W&M suggest, be seen as just another troublesome country that destabilizes the world.

Behaving in a manner befitting the standards of the Western world is far more important for Israel's long-term survival than gaining a few square miles here and there, by building the security wall through Palestinian territories, tearing apart villages, homes and schools, and expanding settlements. Every such act is not just a moral outrage; it pushes Israel one step closer to being disqualified from belonging to the West."

Some sort of hysterical outburst by someone said to be anti-Zionist? No! - written by a professor of Psychology at Tel Aviv University, and a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists, and published as an op-ed piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Meanwhile, maybe, just maybe, more sane and sensible voices are beginning to be heard in Israel - as this piece in The Independent reports:

"A group of Israel's most influential writers – including David Grossman, Amos Oz and A B Yehoshua – have called on the government to open talks with Hamas on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Yehoshua, one of Israel's most revered novelists, underpinned the call yesterday by pointing out that Israel had "many times" negotiated in the past with its sworn enemies.

The 11 writers have signed a petition urging Ehud Olmert's government to negotiate to end both the militant rocket attacks on Israel and the frequent air strikes and military incursions into Gaza by the Israeli military. The conflict has repeatedly cost Palestinian –including civilian – lives in recent weeks as well as bringing misery to the western Negev border town of Sderot because of persistent Qassam attacks.

The Israeli cabinet – which has rejected the call – last week declared the Gaza Strip a "hostile territory" and decided in principle to start cutting off its fuel and power in a move which has provoked serious public concern by both the EU and the UN.

Yesterday in a further response to last week's cabinet decision, the Israeli bank Hapoalim announced it was severing connections with Palestinian banks in Gaza.

Yehoshua declared from his home in Haifa that he and his colleagues had made the call to end "the very disturbing, very terrible situation for the inhabitants of Gaza and for Israelis who live along the border".

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