Israel is the winner of Eurovision Song Contest 2018. Although it collected 212 points from country votes and ranked third among performers from 26 countries, it surprisingly came to win thanks to the electronic public votes. Israel interestingly received the highest level of votes from the European public which enabled Israel to catch up with and pass through Germany and Austria’s favorite songs. It seems that the European countries have decided to privilege Israel in the cultural sphere like this song contest as well as in politics. This sensational and unexpected decision came as a gift from the European countries to Israel in the 70th anniversary of its establishment.
Israel is an important actor in what is called the West camp led by the United States (US) and strongly supported by European Union (EU). The role and impact of Israel in making Western politics is critically important. Also the impact of the Israel lobby in the US politics, especially in the Congress, is a fact for decades.
The most famous books in this field are written by such authors as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. The book titled as ‘Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ shows how Israel lobby orients US policy decisions in favor of Israel in MENA area and beyond.
After its creation as a state, Israel has had many disagreements with the Western world at different times. Israel has a different vision from the Western countries regarding the issues in the Middle East, especially in the Palestinian case. Although the Jewish history in Europe was a tragedy, Israel was able to neutralize its negative image in the West, and even came to orient the Western politics. Israel has achieved these targets through such channels and means as its lobby, economic threads, making opposite countries politically isolated, creating civil chaos as in the Eastern European countries and forcefully changing governments through some manipulative actions.
Yet Israel was able to create a loyal political and cultural elite both in the EU and the US to defend its aggressive, cruel and unlawful policies against humanity.
Israel was able to survive and coordinate its politics in the West during and after the Cold War period. The unfortunate event of 9/11 has also created a convenient condition for Israel to continue its self-centered policies. In this period, Israel’s behaviors in most of the situations have been legitimized by the West with strong support.
However, after the so-called Arab Spring, the situation has been changing. The conjuncture for Israeli politics in international relations after 9/11 was to change with the Arap Spring in 2011. At the same time, the rise in the Chinese economy and the increasing activity of Russian politics have created new conditions and challenges both for the US and the EU.
Due to Russia’s growing impact and Chinese economic boom, worry and fear in Europe have gradually been rising. The EU has been seeking to become more independent from Russia’s energy products. For these reasons, the European countries see Iran as an important alternative market for their energy needs.
On the other hand, Israel has been promoting isolation policies against Iran, and for this reason, it is now lobbying in Trump administration for the cause of a possible military attack against Iran’s proxies in Syria in particular, and in MENA region in general.
On May 9, Trump administration has announced the US withdrawal from The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known as Iran’s nuclear deal P5+1, which was signed by the Obama administration in Vienna. In this agreement, while the members of United Nations Security Council (the US, the UK, France, China, Russia) constituted one side, Germany and Iran were another side.
From the beginning of the diplomatic initiative, Israel has condemned and called for not signing an agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear activities. After long lobbying activities in the Trump administration, Israel finally achieved its aim by making the US withdraw from the agreement.
But the problem is that the rest of the Trans-Atlantic countries are not happy and even so angry against the US and its mentor, Israel. One week before Trump’s decision to withdraw from the P5+1 deal, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France President Emmanuel Macron made trips to the White House to prevent any avail decision. But both Macron and Merkel, as well as the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have failed to save the deal despite their efforts. And at the end of the day, Israel succeeded vis-a-vis the EU countries and England.
Not just European countries like France, England, and Germany have opposed the US decision, but also Japan, Turkey, the UN Secretary-General, and the US ex-president Obama and ex-state secretary John Kerry have opposed Trump’s abrupt decision.
After Trump’s hell-raising move, the EU gave a statement on Tuesday night condemning the decision, telling the US president he does not have the power to unilaterally scrap the international agreement. France president Macron has declared in an interview that ‘Europe needed to reaffirm its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in an effort to preserve stability in the region’ while calling the US decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal a “mistake".
In contrast to the EU and the rest of the Western alliance, Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted the US President for his ‘courage’ by saying “Israel has opposed the nuclear deal from the start because we said that rather than blocking Iran's path to a bomb, the deal actually paves Iran's path to an actual arsenal of nuclear bombs and this within a few years time.”
Other than Iran’s nuclear deal disagreement, the case for the Palestinian holy city of al-Quds is another reason that widened the gap in the West camp as a consequence of Israel’s campaigns. Israel’s insistence on recognizing al-Quds as the Jewish capital has created a huge problem in the West camp as well, as seen last year in the United Nations which the European countries and the rest of the West allies voted against Israel and the US.
Trump's decision on December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has created big anger in the European side and in the rest of the West allies. Trump’s decision and relocation the embassy to al-Quds divided the city itself as well as dividing the West camp ever than before.
No doubt that Israel lobby is orienting the US foreign policy especially in MENA area more than ever. And this situation has resulted in the increasing antagonisms towards the US from the countries in the region and also disintegration in the Western camp.
The US will put new rules for global trade and economy. Trump’s decisions mean that the US does not trust its Western partners and allies. Especially the US moves regarding Iran’s nuclear deal, the embassy in al-Quds, and changing the rules of global trade have ended up with a crack between the US and the European public and have damaged the US image in Europe.
On the other side, Europe’s struggle to diversify its energy supply and decrease its dependence on Russia, for now, have failed. What is more, Israel’s moves to create more crises have succeeded in dividing the West. Israel’s vision is most probably to trigger disagreements and ‘cold’ conflicts in the Western camp more than ever. And another consequence is that this vision will lead to a rapprochement between the European countries and China. And even more, this will turn a new page between Europe and Russia relations.
All in all, Israel remains in the center of all these events. Israel’s determinative role in all the aforementioned cases will make the European countries and public question Israel in the near future by reawakening the historical suspicions and mistrust towards the Jews.
In US sensitivity to and understanding of Turkish society, nothing has changed over the past 5 years
Rachael M. Rudolph joins Bryant Zhuhai as an Assistant Professor of Social Science in the fall term. Her research focuses on Sino-American relations, US-North Korean relations, strategic security in the Asia Pacific region, and transnational crime. She can be reached at: [email protected] M. Rudolph
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