Here are some headlines you may have missed. They--and the commentary below—are for January 15-17, 2014.
-IDF Legend: Ya'alon Is Right, This is Absurd (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)…
-Abandoning Jordan Valley Means Abandoning Security" (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Israel Advocacy Group 'Spells it Out' for Kerry (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
- ZOA: US Anger At Ya'alon A Double Standard (01/17/14, Arutz Sheva)
-Amidror: US Cannot Force Dangerous Deal On Us (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Report: Yaalon Outburst Provoked by Kerry-led Pressure Campaign (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
-Netanyahu slams EU 'Hypocrisy' on New Building (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Netanyahu: Israel is standing firm on its security interests (01/15/14, Jerusalem Post)
The news during this three-day cycle in Israel turned out to be upbeat. For the first time in recent memory, the Prime Minister has ‘dropped the gloves’. That’s a good sign.
Right now, Israel needs a fighting Prime Minister.
Last week did not start with an ‘up’. It began instead with a blunder: someone in the Israeli government (guess who) made Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon apologize for negative remarks he had made about US Secretary of State John Kerry. The apology made Israel look weak.
The problem here is, who will defend Israel? To paraphrase the Jewish Ethics of the Fathers, if we don’t defend ourselves, who will?
The short answer is, nobody. The Yaalon apology looked bad because it seemed to tell the world that, given the choice, Israel will bow to the powerful instead of standing firm.
Yaalon had ‘called out’ Kerry. Then he backed down.
We should be careful about Kerry. In a sense, he is not at the moment Israel’s real problem. Israel’s real problem is the new one-two punch combo called, the EU and the PA (Palestinian Authority).
Kerry is not our enemy—at least, not yet. Abbas of the PA is our enemy; and Catherine Ashton of the EU is doing a really good imitation of ‘enemy of Israel’.
If Israel is to survive the PA and the EU, it cannot be weak.
Here’s a lesson to remember: if we don’t defend ourselves when attacked, we validate the attack. If we validate an attack, we strengthen the enemy.
Our Talmud teaches us that (this is a paraphrase) keeping silent is the same as an admission. If Abbas accuses Israel of ‘stifling’ the peace talks and we don’t respond, then we validate Abbas’s accusation.
If Israel validates Abbas’ accusations, Israel will lose.
Consider the peace talks. Each week, it becomes clearer and clearer: these talks are not about peace. They are about how badly Israel gets demonized, delegitimized and sanctioned after the talks fail.
The talks are designed to fail. Abbas predetermined that. He has adamantly repeated that he will negotiate nothing. He keeps saying there will be no peace unless he gets all of his demands.
Abbas lays an ambush for Israel—and the EU can’t wait to spring it. Abbas works to guarantee that the talks fail. The EU waits to spring a massive boycott against Israel if the talks fail.
It’s a one-two punch. Israel will be cornered, boycotted and then ‘isolated on steroids’. Kerry has already said as much.
The talks, in other words, look increasingly like a set-up.
Israel’s battle is not to get a workable peace treaty. The battle is to avoid the post-talks ‘hit’. That battle plays out now-here-today.
Israel must fight for itself--now. If Israel waits until after the talks fail, it will be too late.
With this background, we can see that as ugly as Yaalon’s apology seemed, the fight to defend Israel may have finally begun. The apology set off a storm. Israeli editorials and op-ed essays came to Yaalon’s defense. Each editorial and every op-ed essay hammered out the reasons Yaalon was diplomatically correct, if politically incorrect.
There were at least six defences within three days. Every defense repeated the Israeli position: it would not be cornered into a militarily indefensible ‘peace’.
It was the best PR Israel could have given its citizens. You couldn’t avoid seeing Israel standing up for its survivability. If you missed one essay, there were three others to catch your attention.
Then a report surfaced to suggest exactly why Yaalon had spoken out in the first place (”Report: Yaalon Outburst Provoked by Kerry-led Pressure Campaign”). Kerry, it seems, had crossed a diplomatic line.
Do you remember the 2012 US Presidential elections? Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attacked in the US for ‘interfering’ with that campaign by appearing to favour Republican Mitt Romney (“Senator slams Netanyahu for interfering in US elections,” Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2014). Anti-Israel forces in the US had a field day bashing both Netanyahu and Israel: how dare you Jews try to manipulate us?
Well, Kerry has done the same thing, except he didn’t do it in public. He did it privately. He did it when no one could see him.
He is reported to have searched out Israel Defense Force (IDF) ‘friends of America’ and lobbied—or pressured--them to support the American plan. The result was a number of articles in Israel’s press showcasing IDF support for Kerry’s peace.
If Netanyahu’s behaviour during the 2012 US elections was considered ‘interference’, this raw lobbying was ‘interference on steroids’. It was far worse. It was an attempt to manipulate significant Israeli national decision-making by manipulating the military to manipulate the press.
Now, the US is getting hammered in Israel’s press for its over-reaching. Now, Israelis are listening a lot more to what’s at stake than they had before.
This is good for Israel—if it continues.
The reason Israel needs to defend itself now is that Israel has to influence decision-makers who can help off-set Abbas’ machinations and that EU boycott (above). The decision-makers Israel needs to influence are not the leaders we see in the news. They are instead individuals who will—or will not—carry out what their leaders’ demand.
The advertised leaders for this drama are Catherine Ashton of the EU and Obama/Kerry of the US. They appear to have already decided what will happen to Israel if the talks fail.
The people Israel needs to influence are lower-ranked officials in the US and the EU—the unadvertised specials, if you will. For example, in the EU, there are member countries which, even now, are sceptical about Israel’s responsibility for ‘no-peace’. Some may well be very sceptical indeed about the morality of punishing only Israel for peace talk failure.
These influential officials need to see a vigorous defense by Israel. They need to see Israel fight. They will not help Israel if Israel won’t stand up for itself.
In the US, meanwhile, members of Congress are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Many do not see Israel as the bad guy in the Arab-Israel conflict. Many are ready to support Israel—if Israel shows that it deserves that support.
That’s the goal Israel needs to pursue with the US Congress and EU member-states: it needs to make sure VIPs understand that Israel deserves their support.
Is Israel finally ready to do that?