With Each Passing Day, Israel Is Losing Support In The West
Taking the U.S. and France as leading indicators, with different histories and relationships inside the Middle East, Israel should be very worried about maintaining the support of its Western allies. The criticism of Israel and calls for immediate ceasefires are coming not only from the streets, but also inside the halls of power.
PARIS — In the U.S., public support for Israel is falling, even though it remains one of the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. At the same time, there is also a serious revolt underway inside the Biden administration against the policy it has pursued since October 7.
More than 500 senior career civil servants and political appointees from past and current administrations have written to President Joe Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A similar initiative has been launched within the State Department itself, invoking an internal procedure introduced at the time of the Vietnam War, which allows dissent to be expressed within the diplomatic corps without incurring sanctions. A third initiative received more than 1,000 signatures from the international aid agency USAID.
All such cases, which have been leaked to the press, denounce the Hamas attack of October 7, but consider the humanitarian consequences of the Israeli response indefensible. They called for action to protect Palestinian civilians.
Two-thirds of Americans want ceasefire
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has written to all his department's employees to show that he is listening, and reminded them that he had personally asked Israel to spare civilian lives. But Washington has so far refused to call for a ceasefire, preferring talk of "humanitarian pauses."
The administration's position is less and less comprehended by the public. A new poll shows that more than two-thirds of Americans want a ceasefire. The proportion of respondents who believe that the United States should support Israel has fallen from 41% at the start of the crisis to 32% this week.
Studies show that there is a generational break at play: younger people, including young Jews, are more sensitive to the Palestinian cause; they see in it an extension of the themes that have occupied American campuses for years, such as Black Lives Matter, or the de-colonization debate. With less than a year to go before the U.S. presidential election, there is rising concern that Biden's Democrat party may be taking the wrong track.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris earlier this year
Dissent in Paris
In France, dissent is not on the same scale, though as daily Le Figaro reported this week, a dozen former French ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries wrote a letter to express regret at what they see as Paris' initial alignment with Israeli policy. In their view, this stance fails to take into account the full complexity of the region — and above all breaks with the French position, which traditionally finds a more healthy middle ground between Israelis and Palestinians.
The conflict is creating new fault lines.
These former ambassadors reflect a growing discomfort within the Quai d'Orsay foreign ministry. When President Emmanuel Macron, during his recent visit to Israel, floated the idea of an anti-Hamas coalition, his government had not been informed, and the initiative eventually flopped.
Since then, Macron has rebalanced his position by supporting a ceasefire and criticizing the fate of civilians under the bombs in Gaza. He has just sent the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, to the Middle East to explain the French position.
In both Paris and Washington, it is clear that this brutal conflict, which has taken everyone by surprise, is creating new fault lines. Governments are wise not to ignore them.
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