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Where are all those analysts and experts who, purely out of exceptional tact, held back and did not say explicitly that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States had actually been "good for the Jews?" That the collapse of the Twin Towers had also brought Arafat down, for good, in a thick cloud of dust; had done away with the idea of a Palestinian state; had caused the members of Hamas and the Tanzim militias to shake in their boots; had highlighted Israel's righteousness; and had lifted the country's moral restrictions when it comes to dealing with the various Barghouti's?

Over the course of the three-and-a-half weeks since the attacks, and before a single shot has been fired in the "war against terrorism," Israel's standing in the world has undergone such ironic and pathetic changes that it looks like something of a nightmarish mirage (at least from the point of view of those optimists): Who would have believed, on September 11, that at the beginning of October, the White House spokesmen would heatedly attack Israel and its prime minister, with the "president raving mad" following Sharon's comments about Czechoslovakia - as if another bin Laden had just popped up in the world?

Who would have believed that following the attacks on the United States, Israel would be presented in the foreign media - systematically and with ever-increasing consistency - almost like the central culprit in the story, after the Taliban - "a hindrance," to quote reporters, if not a terrorist entity in its own right?

Who would have believed that Syria and Iran would be included in a coalition against terrorism, while Israel would be kept at bay as an international pariah - blatantly boycotted by the American administration and ostracized by the airlines, international artists and soccer teams?

Who would have believed that three weeks after the declaration of "war on terrorism," members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the territories would emerge from their temporary hideouts and once more parade at the head of mobs, with photographs of bin Laden and with songs praising terrorism, while in the background, models of bloody massacres of Jews or the blowing up of women and children at a pizzeria would be set up?

Who would have believed that following the attacks in New York and Washington, Israel would be called on to "contribute its share to the coalition against terrorism" by coming to terms with a rise in the intensity of Palestinian terrorism ("what Israel calls terrorism," as they say on the BBC), while the blood quota asked of its citizens stands at two or three dead per day? Who would have believed that every Israeli response to terrorism would be presented as a act of terror in itself, worse than the actual attacks themselves?

True, the situation is not so simple; it is very complex. Nevertheless, it does not justify a show of paranoia and clumsy mini-historical comparisons of the sort adopted by Ariel Sharon. It is also true that there has always been a dormant element of hysteria and paranoia among the Israeli leadership that breaks out at the slightest irritation. It is also true that the history books of the Likud and the right wing have always retained a single page torn from the history of humanity - Chamberlain's appeasement.

It is also true that Ariel Sharon's facade of "the responsible and rational leader" that is made up merely of a "spin" of silence, begins to crumble the moment he opens his mouth... but still... nonetheless... with lots of reservations... is there no iota of truth in this call of the wild that slipped out of Sharon's mouth?

Does this cry not suggest real, legitimate distress - perhaps even some justifiable distress? Even if the sense of exclusion and ever-tightening besiegement is exaggerated; even if it is going a bit far to describe the world as being of double standards and hostile, as particularly indifferent to the troubles of Israel and, gradually, to its existence - even then: So what? Can't a Jew cry "gewalt" anymore?