Netanahu Reframed

August 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have recently equated Benjamin Netanyahu with what I perceived as an excessive and occasionally immoral assault on innocent civilians in Gaza.  I read Haaretz every morning.  Its coverage of the war in Gaza includes criticism of the IDF’s bombing and shelling of civilian targets in Gaza, as well as support for the Israeli effort to destroy the tunnels and confiscate the rockets that are designed to kill and injure Israeli civilians.  Its opinion pages reflect several ways to see the conflict, some of them squarely contradictory to others.

Netanyahu The Moderate?

I am now beginning to understand more about the political context in Israel.  This morning’s paper links to a taped interview that discusses the political campaign now beginning that will determine Netanyahu’s future as an elected Israeli official.  It appears , contrary to some of my comments about him, he may be a moderate voice in a fractious political situation, responding to an electorate insistent on a strong military attack on Hamas, but trying to limit the extent and duration of that attack to something short of an all out war of total destruction and annihilation.  Without being too simplistic, it appears that he, like some members of our GOP, has his own Tea Party to contend with    And, again like the GOP, this does not make him a leftist, just not a fire-breathing advocate of unconditional surrender as the only honorable goal.

Here is a link to the Haaretz story:  Netanyahu  . 

I do not think these facts alter the moral issues I have been writing about.  Politics does not excuse  decisions, but it does explain the forces  affecting the behavior of politicians.

Chutzpah – The Ridicule and Trashing of Obama and John Kerry

Even given the political context, I think Netanyahu,  has been unwise to allow himself and his political allies to attack John Kerry and Barack Obama.  I know he has insisted that “America has been terrific.”  But he has been quiet during a week when Israeli media and various political spokesmen labeled John Kerry a “nebbish”;  pillioryed him for drafting an outline for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Gaza that included  lifting  Israel’s blockade, even though it also included a statement requiring attention to security for Israel,; and called him naive for appearing in public apparently friendly with representatives of Turkey and Qatar. 

This episode is only the latest of several which reflected the hostile nature of Netanyahu;s personal relationship with President Obama.  This dates back to the election campaign of 2008, when Netanyahu made clear his hope that Romney would become President.  It echos George W’s defiant declaration that those who were “. . . not for us will be regarded as allied with those against us.”  [I have not taken the time to go back and get George’s exact words. This expresses the substance of his contribution to our nation’s historic rhetoric.]

Before Israel decides to become a partisan participant in U.S. political conflicts by attacking its President and Secretary of State, it should remember that foreign policy is conducted by the President, not by the House of Representatives or the Senate.  Barack Obama is the President and Hillary Clinton is probably going to be the next President.  I don’t think it is a winning strategy for Israel to try to dictate the foreign policy of this country by undermining confidence and political support for our President.  At some point, political attacks evoke political reactions and, for Israel, a political war with the U.S. is not a good idea. 

Some History of the Close Relationship Between Israel and the United States

In 1948, while memories of the Holocaust  were fresh, President Harry Truman was the first national leader to recognize the new nation of Israel.  For more than twenty years thereafter America’s support of Israel came without serious consequences because our adversary was the USSR, not Islam or the neighbors of Israel in the Middle East.  

This changed on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qeada successfully attacked us.  Since then, every development in Israel’s continuing conflict with its neighbors in the Middle East has directly affected the security of America and its international relationships.  That dramatic change has not prevented the United States from remaining steadfast in its support of Israel, financially, politically and militarily,  even when the U.S. was alone,  opposed by a majority of other nations. 

These circumstances and this history does not, of course, give the U.S. the right to control Israel’s politics and policies.  It should, however, discourage Israel from publicly attacking America and its government.  IWe are partners.   We may sometimes disagree, but those disagreements should be respectful, and not regarded as appropriate for making domestic political points.  John Kerry has done nothing to indicate any lack of support for Israel.  He is doggedly working toward a peaceful end to Israeli wars.  It is a thankless job.   He is entitled to respect, not opprobrium.


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