A new memoir shows why Israel is struggling to make its caseby Bronwen Maddox / July 16, 2015 / Leave a comment
Now read Bronwen Maddox’s interview with Silvan Shalom
If you stand on the Golan Heights and look down into Syria, listening to the sporadic crump of shellfire, you are looking at a crossroads in the jihadist battlefield. Coming up from the south is al Nusra Front, a group loosely affiliated with al Qaeda; in the hills towards Damascus (only half an hour’s drive away) are the forces of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and beyond them, a flank of Islamic State. In the farming villages below are scraps of the Free Syrian Army rebels (the ones that Britain and the United States sorely hoped at one point would dislodge Assad, but have rarely been on the ascendant). Round the corner to the west sits Hezbollah, keeping out of this fight for now. If you ask the question “Whose side are we on?” there is no palatable answer in the vista below; in search of anything that could contain Syria’s chaos, Britain and the US have performed almost a 180-degree turn in the past two years on the groups they hope might prevail. The only conceivable and clear answer is that we are on Israel’s side, though—a democracy whose essentially western values spring from deep ties in the US and Europe.
Then consider the way that the Islamist government of Hamas has chosen to run Gaza: not only supporting repeated rocket attacks against Israel, but attempting to impose conservative Islamic customs and declaring that homosexuality is punishable by death. Again, this is no repository of western values.
So why, the call from Israeli politicians and diplomats goes up, does so much of the western world criticise us, and champion the Palestinian cause instead? And why does even America not seem to understand us? Why, in Barack Obama, did it pick a President who has made the fixation of his second term the…