On a recent trip to Israel, one question in particular came up over and over again: how can Israel improve its image to the rest of the world? Israeli diplomats, politicians, and academics all complained that Israel is unfairly singled out as a ‘perpetrator’ in the region, especially at a time when there are far worse atrocities being committed by other countries in the Middle East. While this is certainly true, the turmoil in the rest of the Middle East can not give Israel the excuse to ignore its own conflict, especially as it promises to serve as a major irritant in the relationship between Israel and the newly emerging Arab populist regimes. Hence, the biggest service that Israel could do to its own image would be to re-engage in the peace process with the Palestinians regardless of what happens in the rest of the Middle East.
Instead, many Israeli diplomats, including Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, seem to feel a need to explain to the International community that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be prioritized; that the situation in Gaza is not as bad as it seems; that settlements should continue (as if they strengthen the peace process); and that Israel does not need to make an efforts toward peace until all Arabs and Palestinians (including the refugees) have recognized Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
For the whole text of this Blog post see my article in the Times of Israel