Israel Isn’t Isolated, but It Is Alone

Last week’s cover story of the Economist, titled “Israel Alone,” is filled with dire predictions about the country being “locked in the bleakest trajectory of its 75-year existence,” about it facing growing “isolation,” and about Israelis being “in denial” about their situation. These predictions were, of course, accompanied by little understanding of Israeli society, the Middle East, or the situation in Gaza. Jeff Jacoby observes that the Jewish state is far from being without allies. Yet for all the article’s flaws, Jacoby suggests there is some truth to its central thesis:

The pioneers of modern Zionism were convinced that only in a country of their own could Jews finally achieve the normality denied them for so long—the normality other peoples take for granted.

But they were wrong. Israel has never been regarded as a “normal” country.

What the Economist proclaims on its cover, the Biblical prophet Balaam, a non-Jew, proclaimed in the book of Numbers. Attempting to execrate the Israelites, he intoned: “Lo, it is a people that dwells alone/ And shall not be reckoned among the nations.” In that singular description—a people that dwells alone—is encapsulated an essential reality of the long, long history of the Jews. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, the Jewish people—and the reborn Jewish state—are fundamentally alone, unlike the “normal” peoples and nations with whom they share the planet. Israel can never be just another country, like Belgium or Thailand. The Jewish state is alone; and that is both its blessing and its curse.

Read more at Pundicity

More about: Economist, Numbers


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy