Israel's situation in the international arena is like that of the warrior who found himself in the middle of a maddening crowd. For lack of any other option, he decided to encircle the entire crowd.
On Sharon's very first trip to Europe as prime minister, it was difficult to know whether to laugh or cry when he called on the leaders of France and Italy to isolate Arafat - while himself carefully bypassing Brussels to avoid possible arrest, indictment or trial. Isolate Arafat? The man who once seized Beirut now bears being seized by Belgian officers.
As if that wasn't enough European irony, along comes the affair of Carmi Gillon - he who is appointed ambassador non grata to Denmark. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't," as Polonius said of Hamlet at Danish Elsinore.
Every closure we impose on the Palestinians seems only to tighten the grip around our own necks. All past and present leaders of Israel's establishments - defense, government and legal - now fear they may be jailed if they set foot in the Low Countries and be accused of Milosevicism, torture, terror curbing, or other activities deemed politically incorrect in present-day Europe.
But then, what can we do that will be politically correct when even Palestinian terrorism is being counted as an Israeli war crime? It seems that at this point in time something about Israel's very essence is not politically correct in Western eyes, regardless of how much it shows restraint or withdraws.
How did we come to this? The glib answer would be anti-Semitism. But there could be another reason - internal dissonance. It may be that our Sisyphean labors to be accepted as part of Europe, and the painstaking effort we make to don a Western guise share the blame for our fall from grace.
After all, were we a fully-fledged Third World country like Syria or Saudi Arabia, no one in Europe would concern themselves with how much physical pressure we apply in our prisons, or our policy on torture, or the humanitarian grants that we do or do not grant to head-and-shoulderless convicts. On the other hand, had our cities been fully integrated into the comfortable and well-fed European fabric, like Genoa or Brussels, no one would have issued arrest warrants against our prime ministers or ambassadors for shooting, running over, and bashing the heads of protesters.
Maybe "there's the rub." The bad `hood in which we live calls us interlopers and wants to banish us, while the good neighborhood where we feel we belong frowns at the mere thought of having some guy from that `hood join their club.
But this should not deter us. There is still room for counter-measures and interventions. The Knesset Education Committee proved it, at the 11th hour, just as Europe was about to declare all Israel a state non grata. Daniel Barenboim, one of Europe's greatest musical performers, dared to play Wagner in the Jewish homeland, and for it was proclaimed persona non grata.
That's the way to do it! Teach those Europeans a lesson. Yes, expulsions and closures work both ways!
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