Palestinians’ recent attacks on Israelis are, at first blush, not an existential threat to Israel. Horrific as the losses are, the future of the state is not in question.
Or so it seems. But in a closer look, it appears that this round of violence is costing Israel more than the human toll. As the Palestinians clearly intend, the renewed conflict is doing serious damage to Israel’s international standing.
One of the first indications of this swing in public opinion was a comment by Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, who laid part of the blame for November’s terrorist attacks in Paris on Israel. “To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is no future: We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” she said not particularly coherently on Swedish television.
A tongue-lashing from Sweden was not terribly surprising. Relations between Israel and Sweden have been rather icy since Sweden decided, in October 2014, to recognize Palestine as a state. In response to that declaration, Israel snubbed Wallstrom, who responded bycanceling a scheduled trip to Israel. Yet despite the cool relations, blaming Islamic State attacks on Israel seemed a new low for a Swedish official. Israeli officials rebuked Wallstrom, but the public was keenly aware that relations between the Jewish state and parts of Europe had hit a new low.
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