Sweden and Israel

I don’t know what the deal with Sweden is. It’s a wonderful country that cares about its people. It has an open, tolerant society. But it’s history in foreign affairs has always been strange. Despite the intense rivalries, it is closest with Denmark, Norway, and Finland—the latter two of which gladly saw it go as an imperial power. To an outsider, all three countries seem the same.

Yet the latest feint by the Swedes as the head of the EU right now was so politically tone deaf as to be disastrous, which is on par with its history in foreign affairs: ham-handed Just as the Obama administration wrastled the wily Netanyahu into a building moratorium in the West Bank (only Nixon can go to China), the EU responds by declaring that “East Jerusalem” should be the capital of a Palestinian state. Nitro, meet glycerine. Meanwhile, international negotiators have not even succeeded in talking the laconic Abbas out of packing up his toys and retiring, let alone coming back to the negotiating table.

It seems that the international community thinks setting these conditions for further negotiations is what it’s going to take to get Abbas back to the table. But all this will do is undermine Netanyahu, perhaps even forcing an election in Israel which would only delay things further. It will also leave the US in the position of backing Israel against the EU further undermining our already diminished role as an honest broker.

This is just stupid diplomacy. Neither side—no matter what they say—is married to the idea of peace. They both have their bottom lines, and, at the moment, I don’t see any overlap. The only way to get them together will be lots of pressure and appeals to the egos of the respective leaders to be the ones to do something historic. But drafting a deal whose major terms are already fixed for the Palestinians and leaving the other sides issues for “negotiations” only disincentivizes negotiations.

I tend to believe that European anti-Israelism is a proxy for anti-Americanism. I think they see Israel, especially when helmed by Likud, as a fellow traveler of American neoconservatism. This isn’t incorrect. But I don’t think the way to reduce Israeli militarism is to poke at them while supporting the other guy just to spite Bill Kristol and George Bush, in the same way that doing things in Palestine to radicalize the population there only empowers Hamas.

Oy.

One thought on “Sweden and Israel”

  1. I would argue that American neo-conservatism is a fellow traveller for Likud, rather than the other way around … which party’s interests are truly being served by this “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel?

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