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Why Israel ignores global criticism of Gaza flotilla raid

Israel's growing isolation – including the global outcry over the May 31 Gaza flotilla raid – strengthens a pessimistic world view, say analysts. Israelis see international criticism as hyperbole linked to centuries of anti-Jewish persecution – and something that can be ignored.

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The Israeli response to the global outcry over the flotilla raid may also be shaped by US public opinion. A Ramussen poll shows that 49 percent of likely US voters blamed the flotilla clash on pro-Palestinian activists. Only 19 percent blamed it on Israel.

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History of UN resentment

Israeli resentment is most acute toward the United Nations. The UN Human Rights Council has already commissioned an inquiry into the flotilla violence. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this week balked at an offer by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to form an international committee to investigate the raid. Instead, Netanyahu is reportedly coordinating the establishment of an Israeli commission of inquiry with the US.

"We will be prepared to appear and give all the facts," Netanyahu said in a speech Wednesday. He said that he would be willing to testify, as would Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli military's chief of staff.

Last year, a UN Human Rights inquiry headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel of war crimes during its Gaza offensive, which left about 1,400 Palestinians dead. Israel's government sees the Goldstone report as an effort to limit its ability to fight militant groups on its borders.

"There has been a structural problem in the UN for many years which leads to situations where Israel is put in the chair of the accused for alleged crimes which it never committed, while countries which are involved in massive human rights abuses are never cited," says Dore Gold, a Israeli UN Ambassador during Netanyahu's first term in office

"I don't think one has to be exasperated about what the international community says. Israel has to make its case," he says.

Israel made its greatest strides toward breaking its isolation during the Oslo peace process with the Palestinians in the 1990s – a period in which Israel established diplomatic ties with dozens of countries. It was also a period in which the Jewish state was willing to take the greatest risks for a peace, argues Klein Halevi.

"This idea either that we don't care about being pariahs or we revel in it is a misreading of the Israeli psyche… it goes against a key Zionist motif which is restoring the Jewish people to the community of nations," he says.

"The more Israelis sense they are being unfairly judged, and being held to a standard no country is being held to, the more Israelis freeze up."

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IN PICTURES: The Gaza flotilla and the aftermath of the Israeli naval raid