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As Syria strike looms, Israeli embassy plays up 'threats facing Israel'

New and old media has gone abuzz with news that a U.S. strike on Syria could come as early as Thursday. And just as Israel’s cabinet ordered a “limited” call up of reservist soldiers, a map outlining all the threats Israel faces suddenly popped up in my social media feed, courtesy of the Israeli embassy in the U.S., and published on BuzzFeed.

Screenshot, Buzzfeed

The timing of this alarmist map couldn’t be more strategic. As the U.S. mulls some kind of strike in Syria (with absolutely no convincing arguments about how it will improve the situation for Syrian civilians) Israel is playing up the victim card, emphasizing that it is in a rough neighborhood surrounded by entities that want it destroyed.

Obviously there are real threats of violence: from Hezbollah, extremists in Sinai, and it ain’t easy sharing a border with a country at war – just ask Jordan, which is receiving the most refugees from Syria. I’m sure it can tell you how hard it is. But to say that the West Bank poses a threat to Israel?

According to the Israeli embassy text:

In the West Bank, radical forces opposing the Palestinian Authority and a culture of conflict generate strong anti-Israel incitement and hatred.

First of all, it is ludicrous for Israel to call the West Bank a threat since it controls and occupies it, and it is especially infuriating considering it just shot at unarmed protesters, killing three Palestinian men and wounding over a dozen others in Qalandiya on Monday. Secondly, saying the West Bank is a breeding ground for “a culture of conflict” is incendiary and essentially racist, implying all Palestinians are violent by nature.

The text also mentions “radical forces opposing the Palestinian Authority” and insists Israel is “ever more committed to reaching an historic peace agreement based on the principle of two states for two peoples.” Considering everything Israel has done to undermine the Palestinian Authority over the years, and considering so many members of Netanyahu’s ruling cabinet openly reject the Palestinian Authority and the establishment of two states, the biggest radical force opposing the PA that I can think of is Israel itself.

At a time when civilians in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon are being killed off indiscriminately, when Palestinians are as ever subject to military dictatorship, the almost half-century-old Israeli occupation is one of the most stable elements in the region. So what could be better for Israeli PR right now than to play up its victimhood in the region, so that it can continue to do as it pleases with impunity? That way it has every excuse it needs to avoid, postpone and thwart progress on a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.

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    1. may

      US potential strike on Syria is not about “how it will improve the situation for Syrian civilians”, it has to do with the “red line” and credibility. If the US “allows” this behavior it opens the door for other coutries to commit similar atrocities knowing the US (and the world) will not do anything. US and others strike on Syria should be a clear message that using chemical weapons is not acceptable and carries consequences.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Mairav Zonszein

      What does it matter that Assad used chemical weapons? He’s been killing people for two years without it will likely continue to do so. Besides if we are already talking U.S. and red lines, how about the one Israel has been crossing in direct disregard of U.S. policy for nearly half a century?

      Reply to Comment
      • may

        Agreed regarding lack of US backbone in regard to Israel – still not the same as using chemical weapons, not the same.

        Reply to Comment
        • Engelbert Luitsz

          The USA supported Saddam Hussein with “similar atrocities” against the Kurds and Iran.
          And then there is the Nukes, napalm, agent orange, depleted uranium, cluster bombs etc.
          And they are very likely behind these last attacks as well. They are more than able to open any door.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Vadim

      You really don’t make any sense at all.

      Are you claiming there is no anti Israel incitement? Do you deny that Hamas and probably other organization attempt to get a foothold in PA’s territory?

      Don’t you think that one of the main reasons there is any IDF presence in there is *because* there’s a threat?

      Those “unarmed protesters” tried to lynch the soldiers.

      The map didn’t even use the term breeding ground (as far as I see), and even if it did – it would be extremely far fetched to call this racist. Let’s test this idea – is saying that settlements are breeding grounds for spray wielding terrorists racist?

      There’s no victimhood going on, only an attempt to explain the tough region we live in.

      Reply to Comment
    4. I should say Vadim is suffering from a severe case of the “villa in the jungle” syndrome, which is racist on a surface, reactive level, but the underlying personality syndrome, in my opinion, is passive-aggressive. I often feel that there is a generic (not genetic) Jewish passive-aggressive personality syndrome, but other people don’t seem to see the passive-aggressive dimension. Gilad Atzmon calls it “pre-traumatic stress syndrome.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Vadim

      I should say it’s more constructive to address what I say instead of writing pseudo-psychological analysis of my character. I often feel that people who resort to personal attacks (or 3rd grade level analysis) simply cannot handle facts that do not match their agenda.

      Out of interest, have you ever been in Israel? Do you live here?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Gideon (not Levy)

      Also major media outlets join the BS “reporting”

      That is why I sent this comment to the NYTimes
      ( The Nytimes published this today
      nytimes.com/2013/08/30/us/politics/obama-syria.html )

      (Before launching an attack on Syria, the U.S. launches an attack on the English LANGUAGE.)

      Resorting to ORWELLIAN “NEWSPEAK” is not new. “Patriotic Writers” in popular media (and in some Influential Papers) always used it before sending their soldiers to war.

      *** “President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria”
      which would be in OLDSPEAK
      President Obama is prepared to move BACKWARDS with a limited military strike on Syria

      *** “The negative vote in Britain’s Parliament”
      would be in OLDSPEAK
      The POSITIVE vote in Britain’s Parliament

      *** “PM David Cameron, who had … pledged his support to Mr. Obama and called on lawmakers to endorse Britain’s involvement in a brief operation to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad”
      translates into OLDSPEAK as:
      PM David Cameron, who had pledged his support to WAR, and called on lawmakers to endorse
      Britain’s ILLEGAL involvement in a “brief operation” to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad…

      *** “top officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence agencies asserted that the evidence was clear that…”
      and in OLD-TRUE-SPEAK
      We have no clear evidence… (except that which we got from Israel)

      Read George Orwell’s “1984” before you go on to support war.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Shmuel

      ” saying the West Bank is a breeding ground for “a culture of conflict” is incendiary and essentially racist, implying all Palestinians are violent by nature.”

      It isn’t saying that ALL Palestinians are violent by nature. It is saying that many are and they are so because of the incitement that they have been exposed to by their elites and leaders for generations.

      All of the above is undeniably true and is therefore NOT racist.

      Reply to Comment
      • Noevil9

        You need to read Bienart expose in the New York Book review,of a couple of days ago, before you give your self the liberty to generalize and criticize what the Palestinians are exposed to by looking at what most Israelis and American Jewery are not exposed to and have their heads taken out of the sand.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          “You need to read Bienart expose in the New York Book review,of a couple of days ago, before you give your self the liberty to generalize”

          I generalised? Read again what I said. I corrected Mairav’s assertion about racism in that sentence that she quoted.

          As for what we are or are not exposed to, that’s an entirely different argument. I can argue that one with you if you want.

          Reply to Comment