Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’
I wanted to cover more of events in Syra and Yemen, but this piece in the New York Times is very relevant.
“Journalists recalled that Mr. Dagan, who had refused contact with the media during his time in office, called a news briefing the last week of his tenure and laid out his concerns about an attack on Iran. But military censorship prevented his words from being reported.
“Dagan wanted to send a message to the Israeli public, but the censors stopped him,” Ronen Bergman of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot said by telephone. “So now that he is out of office he is going over the heads of the censors by speaking publicly.”
Mr. Dagan’s public and critical comments, at the age of 66 and after a long and widely admired career, have shaken the political establishment. The prime minister’s office declined requests for a response, although ministers have attacked Mr. Dagan. He has also found an echo among the nation’s commentators who have been ringing similar alarms.
“It’s not the Iranians or the Palestinians who are keeping Dagan awake at night but Israel’s leadership,” Ari Shavit asserted on the front page of the newspaper Haaretz on Friday.
“He does not trust the judgment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.”
It was Mr. Shavit who interviewed Mr. Dagan on stage at Tel Aviv University this week. And while Haaretz is the home of the country’s left wing, Mr. Shavit is more of a centrist.
“Dagan is really worried about September,” Mr. Shavit said in a telephone interview, referring to the month when the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize their state within the 1967 border lines. The resolution is expected to pass and to bring new forms of international pressure on Israel. “He is afraid that Israel’s isolation will cause its leaders to take reckless action against Iran,” he said.
Nahum Barnea, a commentator for Yediot Aharonot, wrote on Friday that Mr. Dagan was not alone. Naming the other retired security chiefs and adding Amos Yadlin, who recently retired as chief of military intelligence, Mr. Barnea said that they shared Mr. Dagan’s criticism.
“This is not a military junta that has conspired against the elected leadership,” Mr. Barnea wrote. “These are people who, through their positions, were exposed to the state’s most closely guarded secrets and participated in the most intimate discussions with the prime minister and the defense minister. It is not so much that their opinion is important as civilians; their testimony is important as people who were there. And their testimony is troubling.”
This concern was backed by a former Mossad official, Gad Shimron, who spoke Friday on Israel Radio.
Mr. Shimron said: “I want everyone to pay attention to the fact that the three tribal elders, Ashkenazi, Diskin and Dagan, within a very short time, are all telling the people of Israel: take note, something is going on that we couldn’t talk about until now, and now we are talking about it. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and that is the decision-making process. The leadership makes fiery statements, we stepped on the brakes, we are no longer there and we don’t know what will happen. And that’s why we are saying this aloud.” “
Update 1: Letters From a Young Contrarian does a great job, The Arab Spring into Summer: Today’s Events.
Update 2: Not forgetting Left Foot Forward’s Arab Spring latest: Murder, civil war and motor racing.
Blake Hounshell looks at events in the Middle East in a critical way, and I think he’s correct, that Netanyahu will do nothing. Any halfway competent statesman would realise this is an opportunity to grasp, but not Netanyahu. The only quality he has an abundance is mediocrity, which will doom Israelis and Palestinians to more misery:
“Even more awkward for the United States, Netanyahu is due to visit Washington in a few days in what will likely be one long exposition of the words, “I told you so.” If he is smart, he will announce a serious plan for peace and get out ahead of the most serious threat to Israel’s security since the 1973 war. If he is true to form, he will use the opportunity to double down on his argument for the status quo.
President Obama has planned two speeches for the coming week: one for Thursday, billed as a disquisition on the Arab Spring, and another an address at the AIPAC conference. With George Mitchell’s resignation, the peace process is officially dead. The Arab street now understands its power — people clearly aren’t going to sit around quietly waiting until September for the U.N. General Assembly to pass a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. The BDS movement (“boycott, divestment, sanctions”) is gaining steam internationally. There will be more marches, more flotillas, more escalation, more senseless deaths.”
From the corner of my eye I have been following events in the West Bank and the progress towards Palestinian statehood, which I fully support.
Along with that has been my bemusement at the Israeli government response: incoherent, belligerent and inept.
Fortunately, I find I am not the only one that has noticed Benjamin Netanyahu’s complete failure to tackle these issues politically, in any mature way. Instead Netanyahu stands like a modern King Canute, arguing against the inevitable in a sour and unhelpful fashion.
Snoopy sees the problem as well:
“The last time that the skies smiled at Binyamin Netanyahu was, probably, when Shimon Peres asked him to form the next government, after Tzipi Livni had despaired of her chances to win the support of the Knesset majority.
Since that day it all went downhill for him. Overtaken by the events, outmaneuvered on the right and (less) on the left by his frisky coalition partners, Bibi seems to be continuously surprised by what is happening in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. Since his Bar Ilan speech, where Bibi announced his support for two state solution, which in fact wasn’t the first time for an Israeli leader (Sharon has already done it) and was made under pressure coming loud and clear from the White House, Bibi is drifting with the flow of the current events, all his moves no more than feeble responses to the outside irritants.
So far the Palestinian leadership appears to be much more adept and sophisticated in manipulating the world’s public opinion as well as in gaining the all around political and diplomatic support. The growing number of the governments that recognized the Palestinian state is the best indication of the failure of Bibi’s “wait and respond” behavior. ” [My emphasis.]
Update 1: Jeff Goldberg ponders the incredibility stupid notion of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran’s nukes:
“I asked Alon Pinkas, a former diplomat and military correspondent, what he thought of Dagan’s speech. He said: “Dagan believes that high-technology-based covert operations are far more effective and carry significantly less risk in terms of possible ramifications and consequences than an air strike.” He went on, “He is also genuinely warning against what he thinks would be a reckless military action underlined more by political expediency than by a cost-effective analysis.” “
Mostly, when blogging I try not to concentrate on personalities, but in the case of Avigdor Lieberman I will make an exception.
Lieberman is obnoxious, xenophobic and an authoritarian politician.
The fact that he will be indicted shortly should surprise no one.
Lieberman seems fairly representative of much of the Israeli political class, useless, self absorbed and only interested in short-term personal and political goals.
Certainly it is perfectly possible to blame most of this on the absurd implementation of proportional representation within Israel, where small or extremist parties, such as Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, have a disproportionate influence, but there is more to it than that.
Nowadays, coalitions in Israel often function by the lowest political common denominator, only what can be pushed through without upsetting minority or extremist parties goes ahead, creating a wider political lethargy and an incredibly conservative approach to running a country.
We can see part of this problem in the continued allegations of corruption against leading Israeli politicians which have come about in the last few decades.
We should not forget that Netanyahu’s first premiership was brought to a close when there was a corruption investigation into him and his wife’s dealings. Subsequently, charges were dropped for the lack of evidence.
A previous PM, Ehud Olmert was under investigation for corruption for years, which led to him stepping down. Readers probably know of many more examples.
Haaretz has more:
“Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to announce Monday or Tuesday that he intends on filing an indictment against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of fraud, money laundering, and breach of trust.
A draft indictment will be handed to Lieberman’s attorneys and he will be granted the right to a hearing to try to prevent the indictment.
Over the past several weeks, Weinstein has been refining the wording of the draft indictment, which was the subject of much debate among those composing the document.
The discussion between the State Prosecution and the Attorney General regarding Lieberman’s case continued for more than a year and a half, since the head of the police investigations and intelligence division, Yoav Segalovich, recommended putting Lieberman on trial.
Segalovich recommended indicting Lieberman on charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering, breach of trust, witness harassment, and obstruction of justice.
Police believe that he received more than NIS 10 million in bribes from businessmen including Martin Schlaff and Michael Chernoy. The money was allegedly laundered via a series of shell companies and fictitious bank accounts overseas.
The police also recommended indicting Lieberman for breach of trust in the case of Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus, Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, who showed Lieberman secret documents from the investigation against Lieberman. “
I do wish that Israelis would follow the example of others in the Middle East and throw out their useless and rotten political leaders.
What to make of the Middle East?
On the one hand, there is the natural desire of people to throw off their dictators.
Then on the other, bloody dictators clinging to power from Libya to Bahrain, using military might as they see fit, murdering willy-nilly. In part the West rightly condemns Gaddafi’s brutality, but then the EU commissioner defends state induced violence in Bahrain.
In Gaza, Islamic Jihad and Hamas deliberately launch mortars and rockets into Israel’s towns, hoping to kill civilians.
In response, the Netanyahu government plays Hamas’s game sending in planes and tanks.
In Jerusalem a bomb deliberately target civilians, ordinary Israelis, killing one and injuring many.
Back in Gaza, Hamas relish an opportunity to literally play the martyr and the stupid Netanyahu government obliges.
Hamas had been side tracked by events around the Middle East, their brutal rule of the Gaza Strip was made all the more obvious as they bludgeoned protesters for the human rights recently.
As a deflection they started poking Israel with a stick, knowing full well that the Netanyahu government would respond with military force and not a moment’s thought for the consequences, either politically or to ordinary Palestinians.
The Netanyahu government has shown itself incredibly inept and it is hard to point to any significant policy achievement that they have had in the last few years, if any. However, Hamas loves the Netanyahu government, for all their predictability, for all their political clumsiness and their diminishing political capital. If Hamas were left to their own devices they would continue to brutalise Palestinians without reproach, human rights within the Gaza Strip are negligible, speak out and you risk imprisonment, torture or worse. Hamas will brook no dissent.
Still, Hamas is full of canny political operatives, they know how to exploit a political situation and are comparatively good at PR, in stark contrast to the Netanyahu government that throws away chances and alienates allies, almost without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship kills another 15+, those trying to demand basic human rights in Syria.
On top of that in Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh clings on to power and invokes emergency powers.
Egyptian women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’.
Israel’s Interior Ministry stupidly wants deport Munther Fahmi.
(H/T: Linda Grant)
When I think of the Netanyahu government, I think of missed opportunities and of his previous term in office which resulted in less than nothing happening.
Netanyahu has always struck me as a rather incomplete politician, seemingly smooth on the surface, but riddled with indecision, political incompetence and the need to seem like a strongman.
I suppose that better explains the recent incursions into Gaza, because I can’t think of any meaningful reason why they should occur.
Firstly, they don’t stop the missiles.
Secondly, they normally lead to wasted deaths, Palestinian civilians, Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.
Thirdly, they only achieve the goal of stirring the pot, nothing more, except possibly providing Hamas with more opportunities to fire missiles at Israeli civilians.
Fourthly, Hamas loved these nonsensical incursions as they provide plenty of propaganda and bolster support for Hamas, but don’t do much more.
All in all negative and unproductive, which seems to me to sum up Netanyahu’s achievements.