Israel is paying for Gaza war with Turkey and Egypt crises

During that fateful Hanukkah, the Israel Defense Forces attacked failing to see that war on their televisions as people saw it in Istanbul and Cairo.

| by Gideon Levy

(September 15, Jerusalem, Sri Lanka Guardian) During Hanukkah 2008, Israel attacked Gaza in Operation Cast Lead. Now it is eating the bitter fruit of that operation, which was the turning point in the attitude of the world and the region toward Israel and its belligerent and violent policies. The shock waves take time to arrive, but now they are coming, and they are big. Every day has new dangers. Some are the result of Israel's actions, its aggression, its euphoria, its arrogance and carelessness. The outcome: The only two countries that ever accepted it in the region, Turkey and Egypt, are burning their relations with Israel. The first was via a government decision, the second that of an angry mob.

Reuters Pictures 
A Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin helicopter (C) with Israel Defense Forces markings is filmed from another helicopter during the shooting of the film "World War Z" as it flies over Valletta's Grand Harbour July 7, 2011. The film, directed by Swiss director Marc Forster and starring U.S. actor Brad Pitt, is based on the Max Brooks novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" and is set to be released in 2012. Filming continues in Malta till July 9 before the production moves to Scotland, according to local media.
During that fateful Hanukkah, the Israel Defense Forces attacked Gaza and its defenseless population. Israelis did not see that war on their televisions as people saw it in Istanbul and Cairo. Here they made do with an army of pundits who reported fighting in Gaza when there was almost none. Here they hid from us most of the horrific pictures that were broadcast elsewhere in the world - including, of course, Istanbul and Cairo. At the time, they only counted the numbers of the (many) Palestinian dead and the numbers of the (few) Israelis, and therefore the operation was seen as a colossal military, diplomatic and even moral success.

But it was a resounding failure. What is happening now in Egypt and Turkey must be added to the balance of Operation Cast Lead. Not that it's all because of Cast Lead. Hatred for Israel flared before it, but Cast Lead was the turning point when a good deal of the world reversed its attitude toward Israel.

Not that everything was Israel's fault, but its governments - both former and current - have done too little to lower the flames and a great deal to raise them. Yes to settlements and no to peace arrangements; no to apologies and yes to a light trigger finger for Sinai and the Mavi Marmara. As British journalist Robert Fisk put it so well on Saturday: "Israel thinks too little and shoots too much."

The decline in relations with Turkey doubtless began following Operation Cast Lead. The attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo came at first following the killing of the five Egyptian soldiers by Israel last month, but was spurred by Israel's deteriorating ties with Turkey. Last week it was clear that if Turkey is all but cutting its relations with Israel, Egypt cannot stand by and do nothing.

In the new Egypt the street speaks, and the street had its violent and unequivocal say over the weekend. This is the street that had practically nothing against Israel during the Tahrir uprising in the spring, but after the killing of the five soldiers, Israel's lack of apology for doing so and the Turkish fiasco, it is coming out against Israel now.

The street saw the brutal scenes from Operation Cast Lead not shown in Israel, and they became enemies, more than ever. Then came the attack on the Mavi Marmara, a miniature version of Operation Cast Lead.

The former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, the current defense minister, Ehud Barak, and the former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, should be held accountable for the diplomatic destruction they brought on Israel.

A very dangerous fire broke out in the shabby office building where, until Friday, Israel had its embassy. That is black news. The original sin: Operation Cast Lead.

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