Do you ever get that left-out feeling?

Where is Israel's flag?

Where is Israel’s flag at the YMCA?

Israel certainly does in so many international forums, ranging from regional groupings in FIFA (soccer to the colonials amongst us) where Israel is considered in Europe as opposed to the geographically correct Asia, to the UN where Israel is similarly excluded from its natural region and is instead part of “Western Europe and Others Group“.  Similarly Israel is part of TV’s Eurovision (although I’m not sure an Asiavision actually exists).

All these instances – and there are more – of Israel’s geographical revisionism – are due to one simple fact: the Arab states and their cohorts will not accept Israel’s presence in either physical or political terms.

These cases are all bad enough, but at least Israel does get a look-in, albeit in the wrong regional grouping. However in recent weeks Israel has been outrageously excluded from several important events.

In May, Israel was excluded from a NATO summit at the behest of Turkey. (From the Jewish Press)

While Pakistan has been invited to the NATO summit in Chicago next week, Israel has been left out, at the request of Turkey, according to Reuters.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has not yet responded to the invitation.

Israel, NATO’s most dependable Middle East ally in the war against terrorism, did not even an invitation to the summit, because, as a NATO officials stated, Israel does not partake in primary NATO missions.

Other reports suggest that Israel was not invited because NATO member Turkey’s objection.

This week we learn (Yisrael Hayom) that Israel has been left out of a similar global summit dealing with terrorism. One would think that if anyone knows anything about dealing successfully with terrorism, it’s Israel. And again, it’s our old “friends” Turkey who are the instigators.

Israel was excluded from the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), a group of 29 nations that met this week in Spain, following pressure from Turkey, the New York Post claimed this weekend. In a scathing editorial, the Post lambasted President Barack Obama and his administration for allowing Israel to be excluded from one of the administration’s “pet projects.”

“If there’s one nation on Earth that knows what it is to be a victim of terrorism — and how best to combat it — it’d be Israel. So you’d think. Unless you’re the Obama administration,” according to the editorial.

The editorial went on to emphasize that not only was Israel not invited to participate — due to Turkish opposition — it was completely ignored at the conference.

“Once again, Israel was excluded from one of Team Obama’s pet projects,” the editors of the Post charged, pointing out that “in remarks to the [GCTF], Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Maria Otero didn’t include Israel in a list of terror victims.”

And yesterday we come to the final insult added to the injuries above: The YMCA’s summer camp  in Jerusalem is refusing to fly the Israeli flag. Yes, that’s the flag of the country which hosts them. Yes, they explain it all away by saying they wish not to offend Arab parents. But offending Jewish parents is apparently OK.

A summer camp at the Jerusalem International YMCA has provoked outrage after organizers refused to include an Israeli flag with a collection of national flags from around the world currently adorning the building.

[...]

Parents of children currently attending the “Magical World Voyage” summer camps at the YMCA have voiced outrage over the absence of the Israeli flag from the collection of world flags decorating the building. Members of the YMCA sports facilities are also angered by the decision not to display the Israeli flag.

“The flag of Israel is a supremely important symbol, and suddenly our flag is not on display at the YMCA, which is supposed to bring Jews, Christians and Muslims together,” said a father of one of the campers. “Our camp includes Jews and Arabs. We were told by the management that the Israeli flag wasn’t hung to avoid offending the Arab children and parents. That is a very grave [decision].”

Jerusalem councilman Meir Turgeman, …. wrote, “it is a disgrace that there are those who are trying to distance themselves from their Israeli identity. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and of everyone who lives here. The decision not to wave the flag was deliberate and systematic. In light of this decision, there is talk of revoking the YMCA’s city funding.”

Another city councilman, Yair Gabbai, also condemned the decision, telling Channel 1 news that “in no other country, would the YMCA organization allow itself to behave the way it behaves in Israel. It is unbelievably insolent to be a guest in a country, sit in its capital, and spit on its institutions.”

[...]

In a statement, Jerusalem International YMCA CEO Forsan Hussein said that “there was a misunderstanding. I understand that the issue is sensitive, but the fact that I avoided hanging an Israeli flag or a Palestinian flag doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize Israel’s existence. We wanted to give the children an international experience.”

Uh-huh. An “international experience” without the State of Israel. That seems to be the hallmark of the UN, NATO, the White House, and now YMCA.

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7 Responses to Do you ever get that left-out feeling?

  1. reality says:

    as far as not being invited to the GCTF conference -as we say here ma ichpat li? (who gives a damn?) let all these “scared to offend muslims “countries deal with (muslim) terrorism on their own -we never learn from them only the othr way around. As for the YMCA their camps /funding /whatever else they do should be stopped & possibly their building repossessed. They have rescinded their right to have a place to host their activities in our capitol & holiest city. Its time we took a strong stand. Part of the problem is that no government has ever insisted that all countries move their embassies to Jerusalem the capitol of Israel & if they would refuse then we would insist on returning their & our ambassadors. Why has this move never been taken? No other country suffers like this

    • anneinpt says:

      I partly agree with you about the GCTF conference, but I also take it as both an insult and a sign of the continued delegitimization of Israel in the international community.

      Re the YMCA I quite agree both with how they should be treated, and also about Israel’s self-abasing attitude towards itself and its own capital especially. It’s time we took back our self-respect.

  2. annediamond1 says:

    Reblogged this on Annediamond1's Blog and commented:
    We are left out (Israel) because of the prospect of something happening like today. or they feel we should feel as though Israel does not exsist in the eyes of some. How wrong they are

  3. Andrea says:

    I regret the fact I did not comment incipit of this post before – I hope topic of Israel geographical and cultural location is not time barred now! If not I would express my personal view on Israel’s location

    Some early supporters of Israel did not hesitate to represent this Nation as outpost of Europe in the Middle East. It was quite natural over the years I attended my school to add Israel and Cyprus ( with no Turkish portion at the time ) to the list of European countries. Israelis were supposed to be almost all of European origin ( yes Sephardis are still complaining with reason against this false conviction ) and their music and literature perceived as a further development of an European Jewish culture violently eradicated from Old Continent.
    Then all limits of this representation came up ( not excluding a slightly racist and Eurocentrist approach ) and Israeli ‘s North African and Middle Eastern legacy emerged as a sort of double identity. Non-Israelis discovered a new kind of Israeli music completely different from Eurpean mainstream of pop music and Israel location in Middle east seemed the proper one.
    My personal feeling is that starting from late seventies Israeli society experienced a sort of Middle Eastern cultural wave in terms of way of living – Camp David and Sephardim contribution to social life maybe played an influence here-
    The nineteens seemed to confirmed what I thought to be the right placement of Israel. Yam Tikhoniut – if I am not wrong – was the name for describing Israel’s accomodation in the Mediterranean sea both culturally and politically. Oslo agreement looked like the seal for this process..

    Now all is different. Whilst I am reading Jerulsalem Post international edition I am tempted to say that Israel is now strongly influenced by North America, at least under a cultural point of view.
    Yet I should consider that International edition is surely different from the local one – with strong contribution of American Jewish – and right wing newspaper tend to import American tastes and perspectives but also Haaretz on opposite side of the river seems copletely out of any links with surrounding geographical enviroment.
    Refusal from Arab countries prevented of course Irael from taking place in the Mediterranean but still there is an Israeli self perception which deserves to be analyzed.
    To make this simple: which countries Israeli people think to be close to ? Which sounds are in their music ? ( to the extent music reflects one people’s soul….

    • anneinpt says:

      Andrea, your comments are always welcome here – of course there’s no time limit on replies!

      It’s interesting that you were taught (or simply had the personal opinion) that Israel was a European “outpost”. It certainly wasn’t intended to be such, and the Israeli population has always been split fairly evenly along Ashkenazi-Sephardi lines. The country was intended to be a homeland for the Jews, from whatever country they came. In fact the earliest settlers, in the 19th century, came from both Ottoman countries and Europe. But the early founders did intend for the country to be run according to European, i.e. democratic, norms and not according to corrupt Ottoman norm, which is how the Arab world came to perceive Israel to be a European outpost.

      Certainly the Mizrachim (the Israeli Jews from Arab countries) felt culturally and politically deprived in the first decades of Israel’s existence – and they had due cause to feel that way since the ruling politicians of the day almost all came from the Ashkenazi establishment. This came to an end in the mid-70s, as you note, after the repercussions of the Yom Kippur War led to the fall of the Labour government and the rise of Likud under Menachem Begin, which enabled the empowerment of the Mizrachim. Nowadays Israel’s politics are dominated more or less equally (in my opinion anyway) between Ashkenazim and Mizrachim.

      Yam Tikhoniut – if I am not wrong – was the name for describing Israel’s accomodation in the Mediterranean sea both culturally and politically. Oslo agreement looked like the seal for this process..

      Yam Tikhoniut translates as “Mediterraneanism”, and indeed this would be Israel’s ideal political place. However there are many Mediterranean countries, along the eastern and southern coasts, who object to Israel’s presence (and even its existence), as you yourself pointed out, so while the Oslo process hoped this would come about, as we now see, the Oslo process is defunct, kaput.

      Whilst I am reading Jerulsalem Post international edition I am tempted to say that Israel is now strongly influenced by North America, at least under a cultural point of view.
      Yet I should consider that International edition is surely different from the local one – with strong contribution of American Jewish – and right wing newspaper tend to import American tastes and perspectives but also Haaretz on opposite side of the river seems copletely out of any links with surrounding geographical enviroment.

      This is all very true. I think Israelis in general like to think of themselves as Western in ideals and political outlook, i.e. democratic, liberal, tolerant, as opposed to many of our Arab neighbor countries.

      I don’t think the Israeli right is influenced by the American right. Orthodox Jewish values have more influence than American values on the Israeli right. But the American Right certainly supports Israel very strongly. This leads to a mutual admiration and support in both directions.

      As you say, Haaretz sometimes seems completely detached from the geographic and political reality on the ground, but that is typical of much of the Left today. And yet there is still a sizable portion of the Israeli population who hold leftist views, and they are no less Zionist than us on the right. They simply have another opinion of how to arrive at an accomodation with the Palestinians. We on the right think that their views are dangerously naive and simplistic, but that’s politics.

      To make this simple: which countries Israeli people think to be close to ? Which sounds are in their music ? ( to the extent music reflects one people’s soul….

      Ah, the $64,000 question. I can’t speak for the entire Israeli people, but I’ll give you my opinion (as my blog is called Anne’s Opinions. :-) )

      As I said above, I think Israelis in general like to think of themselves as Western in ideals and political outlook, and therefore closer to American ideals. Europe is perceived as anti-Israel and therefore politically it is not considered in good light. However, in many ways, Israel is closer to Europe: on health care specifically, and other welfare state positions e.g. unemployment benefit, maternity leave, child care etc.

      As for music, Israeli society is divided into different communities – religous-secular; Ashkenazi-Mizrachi (Sephardi); and there are cross-overs in both, i.e. religous Ashkenazi and religous Sephardi, same for the seculars etc. Also young-old. Where there are 2 Jews there are 3 opinions and about 5 tastes in music! :-D As the years go by, the difference between Ashkenazi and Mizrachi is getting smaller because the youngsters marry each other. For example my daughter (we are of German European background) is marrying a boy of a Moroccan family. Their children (please G-d, one day) will not be Ashkenazi or Sephardi. Simply Jewish Israelis. Even the religious-secular divide, besides the Ultra-Orthodox, is not as deep as people outside think. There is a lot of traditional Jewish music which has become popular amongst all Israelis, and it is not unusual to hear popular Israeli songs even at modern religious weddings.

      So in short, Israelis are closer to American politics but European welfare societies, and as for the music – I hope I didn’t confuse you more than I enlightened you with my complicated answer!

  4. Andrea says:

    Oh No,your answer is very clear indeed. My question in fact arose from very practical and less sophisticated question : whilst organizing convention among employees of multinational group spread in all Middle East area we were wondering how to split attendants among different group in order to have geographical area better focused. No problem in having clear the “extended middle east area ” from Maghreb to Iraq included ( Iran is banned due to OFAC sanctions ) but where we put our Israeli guys ? Attending same conference with Egyptians , Iraqis and Syrian colleagues ?
    As a matter of fact regular contacts between Israelis and Arabs occurred everyday and personal relations as well but official conference is another thing…
    In my office in France I had not problem in let Algerians heritage French and Jewish French working together but after all both of them were French ( and not religious incidentally) but with “real” Arabs and Israeli thinghs sound quite different.
    Idea of a common convention would be really challenging – high skilled Israeli guys always complaning about the fact they are prevented fom having access to rich Arab energy market “as Israelis “( indeed they have with not-Israeli passport and double citzenship some times ) could have their chance to attend convention with their relatively less skilled but eager of knowledge colleagues . ….
    On the other side asking Israeli to attend South Europe convention does not look like very “diplomatic ”
    After all a very interesting way to deal with Arab-Israeli issue :-)

    • anneinpt says:

      What an interesting life you lead! I can fully understand the challenge you faced in organizing the conference. As you say, Arabs and Israelis have no problems in connecting on a personal level, but as soon as it becomes official there’s a problem – not from the Israeli side but from the Arabs, who reject any contact with Israelis, even between those countries that have a peace treaty, like Egypt and Jordan. Those countries only want to have a cold peace, with no “normalization”. It is infuriating.

      It’s been a problem in so many conferences and organizations how to get Israelis and Egyptians or Jordanians together. They always object to Israel’s presence.

      Yes, it would be technically undiplomatic to put Israel together with Southern European countries, but that is the only other option in these circumstances, and that is what happens in practice. That is how Israel came to be a member of EUFAfand Eurovision, even though they are not geographically in Europe.

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