Predictions and Gaza

Background: When the disengagement from Gaza was first mooted, I wasn’t in favor. However, at the time I wasn’t yet an Israeli citizen, and as part of my general principal of not wanting to be an armchair Zionist who criticized Israel from the safety of the Diaspora, I said nothing.

Smart cookie that I am (cough, cough), when the proposal became a plan that was going to be implemented, I thought I could see the vision. I thought there might be an advantage: the disengagement would give the Palestinians a chance for self government. And if they were daft enough to try any silly business, the IDF would flatten them, and nobody can say they didn’t deserve it. That was my prediction. Wrong!

It doesn’t matter what Hamas does; Israel will always be condemned for its military response. (I think that’s a prediction, too. Oh dear.) If that’s correct, what conclusions might reasonably be drawn? Tricky.

Perhaps we should consider the disengagement a mistake, own up, and accept it. Perhaps.

For now, I am going to finish here with a simple hope that the carnage stops sooner rather than later without further bloodshed. My heart goes out to the communities riven by loss and dreadful disruption – they are living in a war zone – who have learned what we all truly knew: Bibi’s deterrent does not exist. The emperor has no clothes.


Never again, or always the same?

It’s Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Israel. Always a difficult day.

Here’s one perspective:

Israel HaYom, May 2, 2019

The article (from Israel HaYom ) connected to the pictures is entitled:

“Europe was anti-Semitic and will remain anti-Semitic – the answer is a strong State of Israel”

The text then goes on to add:

“The Europeans like to put the responsibility for the Holocaust on the Germans alone, and to [conveniently] forget how the rest of the “enlightened” continent cooperated enthusiastically with the Nazi extermination machine. They did not give up hatred of the Jews, but instead camouflage it as hatred of the State of Israel”

Or, to put it another way, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

The bottom article reports on President Rivlin’s speech last night. He commented about how Europe was haunted by the ghosts of the past.

And of course Bibi’s speech got a mention, too. He said that contrary to what happened in the Holocaust, this time around Israel is building alliances against a dangerous regime (Iran).

(In Bibi and Rivlin’s speeches, there were undercurrents and some give and take about Israel’s ties with some less than pleasant regimes, but that’s for another time.)

Bibi’s speech underlines why some (emphasis is on “some”) people see him as the only one who can defend Israel. The not so small irony is that the violence around Gaza escalated last night. First the peace loving residents of Gaza launched friendly firebombs into Israel (at least one destructive brush fire was started). The IDF responded with air attacks. Then the pacifists of Gaza upped the ante by launching a couple of rockets. It certainly doesn’t look like Bibi deserves his reputation on that score.

While we remember the victims of the Holocaust, contemporary events force us to look into the future and wonder if “never again” is a certainty, or a possibility. Has Europe got over its anti-Semitism? Will it ever?

Israel is strong, but the struggle is never-ending.


A world of ifs

According to the State Department, Israeli TV reports of John Kerry coming to the Middle East to stick his oar in float a new peace initiative (to be followed by intense pressure on Israel so that a solution is imposed) are untrue. However, perhaps Bibi might consider what would happen if such a state of affairs actually unfolded: Israel would be caught between the proverbial hard place and a rock, and in my opinion, Bibi would be to blame.

My guess is that Bibi does not want to put together a peace initiative, because doing so would fracture the coalition. He loves being in power too much. So, he would prefer it be somebody else’s initiative. But surely by now he realizes that Obama (and probably Clinton, too) are no friends of his; nor do they care about Israeli mainstream thinking on the Palestinians, security, and peace. Verily, they – somewhat ironically – want to play the part of an old style colonial power.

Bibi is to blame because he should be the one promoting a peace plan; getting Obama and his successor and the Europeans lined up behind it, and actively trying to make it work. His failure to be proactive is bad news for Israel.


Following up the own goal

By way of follow up to Bibi’s own goal is in a class of its own, note the following:

  • At My Right Word, there was an attempt to push back against the USA with Netanyahu to Kerry: First Fire The Official Who Called Me Chickenshit. Doubtless a point worth making. However, there is a universal truth that two wrongs do not make a right, and it applies here, for sure. The gross offense caused by the USA official does not give Israel’s officials the right to engage in that ridiculous name calling. By all means, highlight the hypocrisy, but do try and remember the relative bargaining positions. Standing firm, so to speak, is only going to make things worse.
  • At PreOccupied Territory, they are on firmer (albeit satirical) ground with: Baratz Retracts: ‘OK, Kerry DOESN’T Have Brains Of 12-Year-Old’ and “I apologize to twelve-year-olds everywhere for my insensitivity.” Ouch!
  • Finally, the ever reliable Times of Israel has David Horovitz to thank for the usual dose of common sense, entitled: Netanyahu, Obama and an offensive media adviser who must be dropped now. And the strapline doesn’t spare Bibi: “Op-ed: There is no acceptable explanation for the PM’s failure to immediately cancel the appointment of a senior official who branded the US president anti-Semitic.” Spot on.

Bibi’s own goal is in a class of its own

Judging by the front end of the Times of Israel, Bibi’s appointment of Ran Baratz as a media adviser, ranks as one of the worst political own goals of all time.


Let us see what this is about, shall we:

  1. Baratz did not disclose his past problematic social media posts. He should have. He wouldn’t have got the job, but that’s right. (See point number 6, below.)
  2. It appears nobody checked Baratz’s social media. (How unprofessional is that?)
  3. Baratz called Obama an anti-Semite. He’s not the only one holding that opinion, and while there is much to say about Obama that is valid and critical, Obama doesn’t deserve that particular label.
  4. Baratz said John “Kerry can look forward to a flourishing career in one of the comedy clubs in Kansas City.” I’m with him on that one. It’s not a smart thing to say if you are in the media field, but it’s fair comment about that man.
  5. Baratz criticized his future boss last year for not giving interviews or holding press conferences with Israeli media for more than a year. The criticism seems valid. However, I do not have access to the actual wording. So, for example, it may be a matter of interpretation. He might have written something like he did not agree with the media strategy at that time, and that – since he is in that field – must be perfectly legitimate and acceptable. But if the criticism were unprofessional – abusive, personal, overstated, sniping, or similar – that would be unacceptable conduct.
  6. Baratz has apologized. In my opinion, that is not good enough. If a professional media adviser is so exposed by his own social media actions, how can he be suitable for the post?
  7. Given the USA has taken up the issue, this is unlikely to go away. Until Baratz ‘goes away.’
  8. The last point highlights the unfortunate timing. It exacerbates the damage and makes it worth Bibi and company considering that they never make a new appointment immediately before such a diplomatic trip. It could have waited. There would still have been damage, but it would have been less, and more easily stopped. (Of course, while waiting they could have done something radical, like do a better job of checking the appointee’s background!)

Baratz should go. Those responsible for the nitty-gritty of appointing him are culpable and should, at the very least, be reprimanded with sanctions.


Media matters

Israel’s Channel 10 Television outfit has had its end predicted dead on more than one occasion, burdened by high debt and costs, and labelled as a resolute foe of Bibi. But, despite the predictions, it has lasted. Until now.

It needs money. It needs a new owner. The ostensible public ownership it presently has, is administered by the government in – by some – in a cack-handed fashion.

The last dirty deed by the government was to set the price for the sale of Channel 10. And, so far as I can tell, the assessment of debt (and so, the price) as fixed by the relevant ministry, was NIS 5 million. This would clear the accounts.

Then, in one of the last acts of the previous administration, Bibi stepped in and set the price at NIS 16.8 million.

At this point, you take sides. Either Bibi is trying to kill off Channel 10 by frightening away buyers, or Bibi better understands the price (and so the value) of such media, thus enriching the public purse.

The state of affairs has now generated some legal activity, as reported on here by Globes.

This close to the action, I doubt the picture (ahem) will be clear unless Moshe Kahlon indeed steps in and sorts things out. For sure he would not hesitate to change the price if he felt it were wrong – if he can be persuaded to intervene. He may feel he already has enough on his hands.However, there’s little doubt, Bibi could care less if Channel 10 goes away.

On the whole, a murky affair.


And now, the end is near

This is a follow up post to An Israeli in Paris, being a recommendation to read the wonderful David Horovitz‘s opinion piece at the Times of Israel, entitled:

The death-cult ideology that France prefers not to name

With a follow on snippet like this:

Op-ed: Of course Hollande didn’t want Netanyahu in Paris. The Israeli PM annoyingly insists on speaking about the dangers of Islamist jihad — the murderous ideology that many of those 3.5 million marchers desperately didn’t want to talk about

He does not mince his words:

The obsession with Netanyahu’s words and deeds in Paris, and with what Hollande did or didn’t want, might seem trivial in the context of the day’s great exhibition of determined resistance to terrorism. The question of whether France would have mobilized in the way it did solely for Jewish victims might seem jaundiced and small-minded after a day of such grand display.

But now that the 3.5 million marchers have all gone home, we are left with the question: What are the French actually going to do about the mounting challenge of Islamist terrorism? More security? Evidently so. More vigilance? Doubtless, at least for a while. More substantive action, truly designed to eliminate the danger? Don’t bet on that.

In other words, it was a fine show of solidarity and empathy, but that is all it was, and all it ever will be: a show.

Read it all, here.

Pay particular attention to the following:

Do the last few days of Islamist murder in France constitute a watershed moment for one of the Diaspora’s largest communities? The beginning of the end? I rather think so.

A watershed moment in the Western battle against Islamic extremism? I fear not.


An Israeli in Paris

You have got to hand it to Bibi. He sure knows how to represent the Israeli people. For example, from the Times of Israel report on today’s Paris march (Sunday):

Netanyahu was initially situated in a second row of leaders, but shimmied his way into the front row, alongside Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Abbas.

That shimmy? I can assure you; it’s a well practiced move in Israel…

Read the rest of the report here, then ask: if this is true, what the hell are the French playing at?


The end of the Abbas era?

The Times of Israel has an interesting, wide ranging, and rather fresh – and honest – perspective on the current position of Israel, Bibi, and the Palestinians by Haviv Rettig Gur. It is all worth reading. However, I want to highlight this part:

As a young recruit in the elite IDF commando unit Sayeret Matkal, Benjamin Netanyahu, known then and now by the nickname “Bibi,” was taught a powerful lesson by his brother Yoni, who outranked him in the unit and would go on to be one of its most famous commanders.

The older Yoni took the future prime minister to a hilltop on the training grounds of an IDF base and asked him how he would conquer the hill in battle. Bibi offered a plan of attack, probably laying out the usual IDF battle doctrine taught to every 18-year-old infantryman for the past six decades: deploy a flanking force covered by suppressing fire and initiate a staggered advance to close the distance to the entrenched enemy.

While his opponents too often plan for a static opponent, Netanyahu prides himself on his ability to maneuver

But Yoni was unimpressed. The problem with Bibi’s plan, the veteran commander explained, was that the enemy also moves. It was a fatal flaw for a military commander to construct his strategy on the assumption that the enemy would not react, surprise and seek to disrupt the plan of attack. By the time his troops arrived at the enemy position, the enemy could have flanked Bibi’s own moving column.

It was a lesson Netanyahu took to heart. While his opponents too often plan for a static opponent, Netanyahu prides himself on his ability to maneuver.

As I have said before, one of the reasons Bibi is disliked by some is because he has done a terrific job, all things considered, of keeping the people of Israel safe. Sure, he has made mistakes. But those who characterize him as shallow and power seeking (which may at least in part be true) overlook (a) what a consummate politician he is; and (b) that he is, following his late brother’s advice, always on the move. We should be grateful that is the situation.

Read it all here – there is lots of excellent analysis worthy of your attention  – and at the end, you may well come away with a wistful smile. So who will follow Abbas? And will it matter?


Noise, nonsense, and common sense

Here’s what I recall seeing in the media about the Gaza negotiations and proposed terms:

  • The blockade was being lifted.
  • The fishing limit was being extended.
  • An airport was to be built.
  • A sea port was to be built.
  • Gaza was to be rebuilt.

And then came the breakdown, the rocket fire, and we are back on a war footing.

First, it seems as if a lot of the leaks about progress in negotiations were garbage. They did not make sense as it was difficult to see how Israel could give Hamas a meaningful reward for terror.

Second, it also seems that Bibi Netanyahu had a better handle on the situation – long term and short term – than many others. This piece in the Times of Israel says:

At some point, it might be worth internalizing what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying since the start of Operation Protective Edge six weeks ago: that Israel should be prepared for a long conflict.

Third, there’s no doubt the defamation of Israel by the international media – which has ceaselessly and uncritically promoted Hamas’ war porn propaganda – along with large, vocal demonstrations by Palestinians and their supporters, has had an effect. Western politicians like David Cameron and Barrack Obama behaved in a cowardly fashion. The UK’s especially craven surrender is reminiscent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Britain refused to send military supplies to Israel for fear of incurring an oil embargo. (France behaved likewise then.) This is likely to have two main consequences.

  1. Whatever arms manufacturing Israel has in the UK – mainly Israeli subsidiaries – will be wound up. Either the manufacturing will come to Israel, or perhaps the USA. It’s unlikely Israel will continue to put its weapons capability at risk of such interference again.
  2. Whatever actions Israel takes towards Gaza (or indeed, towards Iran) will depend on the extent to which Israel can roll back International condemnation and turn it into support. As David Horovitz says in that TOI piece: “But only if Hamas believes its survival is in danger, its capacity to live to fight Israel another day in doubt, will it call a long-term halt to the fire — the kind of halt that would constitute the attainment of Netanyahu’s sought-after sustained calm. And that would require a far more significant military operation than the Israeli government, mindful of the likely consequent losses, has been prepared to authorize. It would also require a more astute assessment of the conflict from the international community than we have seen to date, providing more dependable support for Israel.

In short, as matters stand, we are going to have to be patient. And we should ignore the noise and nonsense from those who suggest a material deviation from Bibi’s position. Indeed, Bibi’s position is the common sense one. As I have said before, whatever mistakes the man and the leader may have made, one of the reasons he is so vilified by Israel’s enemies is that he continues to succeed in keeping us largely safe and protected from the murderous intent of some of our neighbors.

Back to David Horovitz:

“Indeed, to the ongoing cost of Gazans and Israelis, it is not about to meekly defer to anybody. Hamas is not in the business of governing Gaza; it’s in the terrorism business, and terrorist groups are not easily deterred.”

I’m backing Bibi to create the deterrence.