Troubles called Yvette
JERUSALEM–Patrick Martin, the Middle East correspondent of the Globe and Mail (www.theglobeandmail.com), published on February 5 an article with the ominous title, “Is this Israel’s calm before the storm?” Pointing to the relative tranquility of the first year of the Netanyahu government, Martin cites observers who recall other calm periods before wars, notably the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1987 Palestinian intifada. He refers to reliable analysts who say that something similar may happen soon again.
The February 7 edition of the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) has a long essay by Sharmine Narwani, political analyst and senior associate of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford. She writes in a similar vein, suggesting that as the 2006 Lebanon War was the first not to yield total victory to Israel, its political leaders are “itching for a ‘do-over’.” As “the cornerstone of Israel’s military strategy is deterrence… loss – or even perceived loss – is not an option.” It doesn’t sound quite right, but she may have a point.
Referring to recent pronouncements by Israeli politicians, Narwani concludes that “instead of self-examination, Israel’s conflicted, and increasingly right-wing political body unleashed a belligerent tone – angry, defiant, threatening, unfocused like a petulant and wounded child.” (I believe that the child is called Yvette, not Israel: see below.)
In addition to the ongoing issue of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Narwani lists five other areas of immediate concern to Israel about which “in recent weeks, Israeli officials have made inflammatory statements about conflicts.”
Syria: Foreign minister Avigdor “Yvette” Lieberman’s speech in which he threatened Assad himself and his family.
Gaza: The warnings in the wake of the Goldstone report and its aftermath that if Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, won’t watch their steps, Israel may attack again.
Lebanon: Similar warnings have been issued to the corresponding terrorist organization on Israel’s northern border (Hezbollah) that its actions that involve stockpiling of arms in Lebanon are endangering its population.
Iran: The risk of war, perhaps as concerted preemptive action backed by the United States and European countries, is the most obvious and greatest danger.
Turkey: To quote Narwani again, “things have gone from bad to worse since, culminating a month ago in the now-infamous Ayalon row when the Israeli deputy foreign minister publicly and deliberately humiliated Turkey’s ambassador in front of cameras.” Ayalon may have once known better, but he has become Yvette’s poodle.
Perhaps journalists are more in the know than ordinary citizens who read newspapers, watch TV and talk to friends. Speaking as one such a citizen it strikes me that it has more to do with ineptitude than with policy. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first year in office may seem successful to him and to his entourage, but from where I sit, I’m not persuaded. He’s more anxious to keep his coalition together than the country safe.
In an effort to stay in power at all costs he seems to be indecisive. Even if Mrs. Netanyahu isn’t the one who sets the agenda, as some have suggested, Yvette probably does. Many of the troubles listed above are due to the latter’s kindergarten-style foreign policy. The fact that he’s shunned in most countries doesn’t seem to bother him (he’s just gone to Azerbaijan to solve the Iranian problem….), but it should bother the rest of us.
As part of my prayers for peace I hope for his speedy dismissal and/or indictment.
Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He divides his year between Canada and Israel