September 10th, 2011
08:05 PM ET

Israel's 'Diplomatic Tsunami' has arrived

By Tony Karon, TIME

As a raucous mob of protestors on Friday stormed past passive Egyptian policemen, breaching the wall around Israel's Cairo embassy and sacking the unsecured parts of the building, Israel turned for help to the Obama Administration. Looking to the U.S. to shield it from international opprobrium has become a familiar pattern for Israel in recent years, but the result was telling: President Obama got on the phone with the Egyptians and ensured a restoration of order that allowed the safe and orderly evacuation of the Israeli embassy.

But nobody expects the ambassador, who flew home late Friday on an emergency flight, to return to Cairo any time soon. The best Washington was able to was to ameliorate the damage - just as it had tried (but failed) to do amid mounting tensions between Israel and Turkey that led Ankara to expel Israel's ambassador last week. And, of course, the U.S. has also failed to bully or bribe the Palestinians into stopping their bid for recognition of statehood at the U.N. later this month in what would be an international vote of no-confidence in the U.S.-led peace process.

Read: Hamas and Fatah can't even agree what time it is.

The wave of people-power rebellion that has swept across the Middle East over the past year has left Israel increasingly isolated as newly empowered Arab publics reject the passive tolerance of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and acceptance of U.S. regional authority that had been hallmarks of the regimes like that of President Hosni Mubarak. Even before the Arab rebellion, Turkey - its own government more responsive to public opinion than any in modern Turkish history - had taken a lead in breaking with the Oslo-era consensus, under which European and Arab nations tacitly accepted that the Israeli-Palestinian file was the exclusive preserve of the United States. Ankara had challenged Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza, to the point of backing a flotilla to defy the blockade of the territory, which culminated in the Israeli raid on the Maavi Marmara in which nine Turks and a Turkish-American were killed. Israel's refusal to apologize for those deaths prompted Turkey to downgrade diplomatic ties last week.

Read: The failed state that keeps failing: Quake-ravaged Haiti still without a government.

Turkey's move, and its promise to mount an aggressive diplomatic campaign in support of the Palestinians' U.N. bid for statehood in September had seemed to signal the arrival of the "diplomatic tsunami" that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had warned was bearing down on Israel in September. (Barak, of course, had been trying - in vain - to warn the Netanyahu government that forestalling the deluge required urgent and dramatic concessions on Israel's part to restart the peace process.)

It had been widely predicted that Egypt - whose interim military junta is under pressure from mounting public anger over the pace and content of the post-Mubarak transition, and which has sought to relieve that pressure through symbolic concessions such as putting Mubarak on trial - would find it difficult to resist popular demands that it follow the Turkish lead. While the Egyptian military is likely to resist any pressure to repudiate the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel, it looks increasingly unlikely to maintain Mubarak's tactical alliance with the Israelis. But even before the generals could decide whether a diplomatic downgrade was another of the symbolic concessions it could make to its ever-restive public, the crowd that gathered outside Israel's embassy - outraged by Israel's recent killing of Egyptian five border guards during a hot-pursuit action against militants who had staged a terror attack across the Egypt-Israel border, and by what they saw as the generals' feckless response - decided to force the junta's hand.

Read: Ahmed Shah Massoud: A decade after his murder, would Afghanistan be different were he alive?

The U.S. by virtue of its annual stipend to the Egyptian military can ensure that they keep the peace, but it can't persuade Middle Eastern governments responsive to the will of their own citizens to follow the U.S. diplomatic line on Israel. Still, Egypt's interim rulers can't afford the spectacle of chaos and the violation of international law and diplomatic norms on display in Friday's embassy storming, and the "state of alert" declared by the generals on Saturday may portend a wider crackdown on protest action.

But for Israel, it's a harsh reminder of Washington's diminishing ability to protect it from the diplomatic consequences of its own domestic political surge to the right over the past decade. An eleventh-hour Obama Administration effort to prevent the breakdown with Turkey by brokering an agreement that would involve an Israeli apology for the deaths aboard the Maavi Marmara was scuppered when Netanyahu was dissuaded from apologizing by his right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. And Netanyahu has given Washington and the Europeans precious little to work with in their efforts to forestall a diplomatic confrontation at the U.N. later this month. That's why many Israelis worry, with good reason, that the departure of their ambassadors to Cairo and Ankara in the space of a single week are a grim portent of things to come - and the fact that the U.S. may not be able to much more for them diplomatically than FEMA had done for the residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Read more at TIME's Global Spin blog.

Post by:
Topics: Egypt • Foreign Policy • Israel • Turkey • United Nations • United States

soundoff (77 Responses)

    Abest affilliate business offeres speedy commissionspaid directly to you daily

    January 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  2. gps navigator

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  3. Sucess With Anthony

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read through articles from other writers and practice something from other websites.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  4. Empower Network Review

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    March 13, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  5. Empower Network Review

    Hello! I just want to give you a big thumbs up for your great info you have on this site. I will be coming back to your for more information regularly.

    March 13, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  6. Empower Network Review

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

    March 13, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  7. Homes for sale in Valencia

    I really like reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

    April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  8. homes in valencia

    Good day! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you have got here on this post. I will be returning to your website for more soon.

    April 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  9. petplan pet insurance

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  10. The Global Party 2013

    It’s hard to come by educated people in this particular subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    August 13, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  11. The Global Party 2013

    I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I came across this during my search for something concerning this.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:37 am |
  12. Maryellen Purdie

    That is the awesome wonderful search engine in the planet

    April 17, 2017 at 8:33 am |
  13. local plumber near me navigate to this site

    Keep functioning ,impressive job!

    November 27, 2020 at 10:32 am |
  14. read here electric repair

    I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you've hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; the problem is something that not sufficient persons are talking intelligently about. I'm very comfortable that I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

    November 27, 2020 at 8:20 pm |
  15. plumber Visit This Link

    I get pleasure from, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be looking for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

    November 28, 2020 at 6:40 pm |
  16. click for source electrician free estimate

    I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Great work!

    November 30, 2020 at 12:17 pm |
  17. Gus Starcevic

    Como soy una ingenua y una boba volvi a insitir en el hecho de tener un sony vaio, en enero de 2011 comrpe otro portatil, a la hora de hacer el pedido insisti en la rotura anormal de la pantalla anterior la señorita del departamento de ventas, me dijo que eso no volveria pasar, ademas los ordenadores tiene garantia. Es una verguenza, es una verguenza, para determianr que le paso a un portatil se necesita como poco que un perito vea ese portatil fisicamente, a caso disponen de técnicos con poderes paranormales. Yo el problema lo tengo con un ereader 75 dias lleva en el servicio tecnico, a ver quien lo supera.

    November 30, 2020 at 7:26 pm |
  18. why not check here electric repair

    magnificent points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What would you suggest about your post that you made a few days ago? Any positive?

    December 3, 2020 at 6:25 am |
  19. read here san diego electrician

    Fantastic items from you, man. I have be aware your stuff previous to and you are just too magnificent. I really like what you've got here, certainly like what you're stating and the best way through which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to care for to keep it sensible. I can't wait to read far more from you. This is actually a tremendous site.

    December 5, 2020 at 1:57 am |
  20. zortilo nrel

    Thank you for another informative web site. Where else could I get that kind of information written in such an ideal way? I have a project that I'm just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

    December 15, 2020 at 3:45 am |
  21. zortilo nrel

    Absolutely indited subject matter, Really enjoyed reading through.

    December 15, 2020 at 3:55 am |
  22. Dorsey Nam

    El procedimiento para dejarnos el aviso es muy sencillo: llámenos al 424 9 77, amablemente le atenderemos y le asesoraremos desde el primer segundo, después le pondremos en contacto con el técnico especializado en su electrodomésticos de su zona para concertar una cita a la hora que le venga bien a usted, acudiremos al domicilio a subsanar la avería con precios muy competentes, sin cobrar ni visita ni desplazamiento y le dejaremos una garantía de nuestro trabajo por escrito firmada.

    December 20, 2020 at 12:18 pm |
  23. Thai Casino

    Interesting take on the topic. I agree with you completely

    December 23, 2020 at 1:05 am |
  24. emergency plumber hop over to this site

    I have been examinating out some of your articles and i can state pretty nice stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your blog.

    December 31, 2020 at 5:45 am |
  25. Vina Vanderhoof

    Is there any sites which offer unpublished articles free for copyright?Free to print and publish in our name?

    January 4, 2021 at 11:19 pm |
  26. Adriana Mcredmond

    How can I best copyright protect stories and articles on my writing website? I know you can insert a copyright symbol, but can this COMPLETELY protect against somebody copying and pasting your stuff and claiming that it is theirs?.

    January 9, 2021 at 9:07 am |
  27. vreyrolinomit

    Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

    January 9, 2021 at 7:31 pm |
1 2

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.