The Jews and their state, Israel, have always sported a pro-colonial predilection, relying on "Big Powers" (Britain, France, then the United States of America) to sort out the Middle-Eastern quagmire in Israel's favor. This default policy may no longer prove possible.
A consensus is now emerging in Europe - including Britain - that the "road map" for peace in the Middle East would be a futile exercise without some anti-Israeli "teeth". Recognising the nascent Palestinian state in September 2011 may be just the start. Economic sanctions are on the cards as well. With Obama in the White House - a President the Israelis largely consider to be hostile - and with the Arab world turning palpably more democratic, the Europeans feel unshackled. Striving towards an Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation may prove to be the glue that reunites the fractious Euro-Atlantic structures.
But while the United State is reluctant to impose a settlement on the Israelis, the specter of sanctions against the Jewish state has re-emerged in the Old Continent's corridors of power. A committee of the European parliament is said to be laboring away at various scenarios of escalating measures against Israel and its leaders. The European Commission may be readying its own proposals.
Not all Americans are Obamatons. The views of Conservative Americans are summed up by David Pryce-Jones, Senior Editor of National Review: “Israelis and Palestinians face each other across the new ideological divide in a dilemma that bears comparison to Germany's in the Cold War…Israel must share territory with Palestinians, a growing number of whom are proven Islamic terrorists, and who identify with bin Laden's cause, as he identifies with theirs…The Oslo peace process is to the Middle East what Ostpolitik was to Germany and central Europe. Proposals to separate the two peoples physically on the ground spookily evoke the Berlin Wall."
Still, such sentiments aside, in the long-run, Muslims are the natural allies of the United States in its role as a budding Asian power, largely supplanting the former Soviet Union. Thus, the threat of militant - and even nuclear - Islam is unlikely to cement a long term American-Israeli confluence of interests. Moreover, with the prospect of representative regimes in several Arab states more tangible, Israel is losing its long-held title as the "Middle East's only democracy."
Rather, the aforementioned menace of armed fundamentalism may yet create a new geopolitical formation of the U.S. and moderate Muslim countries, equally threatened by virulent Muslim religiosity. Later, Russia, China and India - all destabilised by growing and vociferous Muslim minorities - may join in. Israel will be sacrificed to this New World Order.
The writing is on the wall, though obscured by the fog of war and, as The Guardian revealed in April 2003, by American reliance during the conflict in Iraq on Israeli intelligence, advanced armaments and lessons in urban warfare. The "road map" announced by President George Bush as a sop to his politically besieged ally, Tony Blair, and much contested by the extreme right-wing government of Ariel Sharon, called for the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005. The temporal goalposts may have shifted but not the ineluctable outcome: The State of Palestine is upon us, embedded in an Arab world far less amenable to Israel's economic charms (witness the cessation of Egyptian gas supplies to Israel under the new military "transition" dictatorship).
Israel has witnessed and survived through many convulsions in the Arab street. In 1953, Nasser's youthful and reform-inclined pan-Arabism swept the Arab world. The long-term fruit of this hopeful tumult, though, was Mubarak. The revolutionary Baa'th parties in Syria and Iraq gave us Saddam Hussein and the murderous Assad dynasty. Israel is very skeptical when it comes to yet another Arab Spring. It tends to support reactionary regimes because they are predictable and easy to do business with. Israel is a natural foe of progress and democracy in the region because it would like to maintain its monopoly on these important political currencies.
The prospect of sanctions against Israel
Israel was always expected to promptly withdraw from all the territories it re-seized during the 30 months of second intifada. Blair had openly called on it to revert to the pre-Six Day War borders of 1967. In a startlingly frank and impatient speech, so did Obama in May 2011. In a symbolic gesture, the British government decided to crack down on food products imported from Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and mislabeled "Made in Israel" or "Produce of Israel". The European Union pegs the total value of such goods at $22 million.
Wariness of Israel in both Europe and the Arab world was heightened in April 2003, when then National Infrastructure Minister, Yosef Paritzky, saw fit to inform the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, about a plan to revive a long defunct oil pipeline running from Mosul to Haifa, a northern seaport. This American-blessed joint venture will reduce Israel's dependence on Russian crude and the cost of its energy imports. It would also require a regime change in Syria, whose territory the pipeline crosses.
Partly to prevent further Israeli provocations of an extremely agitated and radicalised anti-Western Arab street, European leaders revived the idea of economic sanctions, floated - and flouted - in 2002. The E.U. accounts for one third of Israel's exports and two fifths of its imports. It accords Israeli goods preferential treatment.