Saturday, November 17, 2018

Netanyahu Screwed Up with the Ceasefire with Hamas

Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

"Regarding the Gaza issue, the prime minister made a very difficult but very responsible decision. Despite the massive fire on the south and the terrible suffering of the residents of the Gaza border communities, the prime minister acted out of a deep strategic vision," Oren said. 

 I usually support Netanyahu and would vote for Michael Oren for PM if it were possible under the Israeli voting system, but this time I disagree with them both. 

I am quite aware of the strategic danger Israel is under. The existential threat from Iran which could start a nuclear war where Iran  would not be deterred by MAD, the horrific threat from Hezbollah  with their 150000 rockets ready to attack any point in Israel, the threat from Hamas with tunnels and Grads, and on top of that we have the Russians who in their blindness are repeating the mistakes of the Ribbentrop- Molotov agreement and siding with Iran whose ideology and true danger to the world and themselves they underestimate.

So Netanyahu is fully aware of the Iranian and Hezbollah threat.  Fully aware that a ceasefire with Hamas will be broken by Hamas the minute they find it convenient since they would be following Muhammad’s Hudaybiyya precedent, and fully aware of the Russian duplicity with Putin’s supply of the S-300 to Syria after the IL-20 downing and Putin’s recent rhetoric on MAD .

Constrained by so many factors from all sides what is it that Netanyahu has done wrong? It is a very tough position to be in.

Bibi should not have continued this balancing act at the expense of Israeli citizens in the south because near Gaza it has really become almost impossible to live and people there do not see Iran in every analysis, but see that the rockets keep falling and the government doing nothing for months. Furthermore, despite Netanyahu’s denial that Hanegbi’s comments   “Hamas’s response was minor – there is a difference between Tel Aviv and other communities “  are government policy, it is clear to all that had Tel Aviv been attacked Israeli reaction would have been different. After all, even Hamas has an escalation scale: 1. Sderot and settlements around Gaza, 2.  Ashdod and Beer Sheva, 3. Tel Aviv.  Had Israeli policy been to react the same whether Hamas attacked Sderot , Be’er  Sheva or Tel Aviv, we would have not gotten into this situation in the first place, and Israeli citizens in the south would not be feeling as second class citizens and marching to Tel Aviv in protest.

What the government had definitely failed to do is expose both the jihadi ideology of Hamas and the Iranian Twelver eschatology, which would have help deflect some of the world opprobrium against the action Israel should have taken against Hamas. No one is going to convince me that killing three Hamas terrorist after 470 rockets on Israeli population centers is a deterrent.  Tougher action from the air should have been taken, and less concern about what the world would say. Imagine that Brighton were Gaza.   

Netanyahu has been a great fan of Winston Churchill.  He has read biographies of Churchill and in a way has been put in a similar position. See  Standing Alone - Churchill 1940 - Netanyahu 2013

Yet Netanyahu, for all his public relations skills, has failed to do what Churchill managed to do best - tell the truth about the enemy and tell the truth to British people what they are up against.

Netanyahu quoted Bernard Lewis in his speech to the UN General Assembly in 2012:

There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Prof. Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.
Michael Oren quoted Bernard Lewis in his article in the L.A. Times:        

As famed Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis once observed, “Mutually assured destruction” for the Iranian regime “is not a deterrent — it's an inducement.”

Michael Oren on France 24 quotes the head of Hamas: “the goal of the demonstration was to enable the people of Gaza to eat the livers of Israelis”
The terrible suffering of the residents of the Gaza border communities could have been relieved if the government had hit Hamas hard from the air. To make that possible they should have had a public relations campaign during the months the Gazan’s were sending incendiary balloons and kites with swastikas into Israel. This was not done.    


This also was published as a JP Letter to the  Editor on November 21, 2018   under  Not Churchillian enough