Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Netanyahu, Carpe Diem

There was an article recently entitled “Netanyahu, Carpe Diem;” Bibi, seize the day,” - I would add “Netanyahu illegitimi non carborundum”, don’t let the bastards wear you down.

Ashkelon Parents Association voted not to send their children to school on Monday. But why should they have to do that? The cause for the decision to close down schools was a weekend missile direct hit on a high school in Ashkelon that caused massive damage both to the school and to surrounding apartments. IDF inspectors concluded that the Grad missile the Palestinians used in the attack had been locally upgraded. Its warhead was two and a half times bigger than usual.

Ever since the outgoing Olmert government ended Operation Cast Lead in Gaza on January 20, the Palestinians have steadily stepped-up their missile attacks against Israel. Daily Palestinian missile barrages against Israel have returned to pre-Operation Cast Lead levels. The IDF warned that over the past six weeks Hamas has rebuilt its missile arsenals both through imports of Iranian arms from Egypt and through local production. They have also brought in fairly advanced anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down Israeli helicopters.

As Ashkelon was recovering from the latest Hamas onslaught, representatives from 80 countries and international organizations convened in Sharm el-Sheikh and pledged billions of dollars in aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza. The US, represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pledged $900 million in assistance. Of course the Obama administration through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the $900 million was not being given to Hamas but how absurd is this. Every bit of aid and money given supposedly to the people in Gaza has been appropriated by Hamas for their purposes. Why in the world would Obama and Clinton think anything different would happen with the latest gift?

The Jerusalem Post reported that despite all this the US is curtailing its military aid to Israel. Under new Obama’s Pentagon guidelines, the Israeli Ministry of Defense must give a detailed accounting of how it uses every item it purchases with US aid money. As a consequence, the Defense Ministry issued new instructions to the IDF that from now Israel's purchases from the US will be limited to defensive armaments and systems aimed at preserving its "qualitative edge" against its enemies. Can you imagine this happening to our only friend in the Middle East?

The main reason that six weeks after Operation Cast Lead the US has joined the nations of the world in funding Hamas and is curtailing its military assistance to Israel has to do with the new US administration and what happens in Israeli politics.

Israel's leaders during Operation Cast Lead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, are responsible for Israel's current predicament. Since its founding in November 2005 Kadima’s main objective has been that it never be perceived as failing. For the past three years, with the active collusion of their version of our liberal media, Kadima has managed to control the flow of information to the public and successfully covered up the failures of its strategic policies. Indeed, only because of a sycophant press did Kadima do as well as it did in the last election through its ability to spin and obfuscate information.

This Kadima practice was first implemented in the lead-up to the 2006 elections. The Jerusalem press reported that at the time of the elections the media worked with Kadima to suppress information about the strategic significance of Hamas' electoral victory in the January 2006 Palestinian Authority elections. The Jerusalem Post reported the Israeli liberal press also blocked reportage and public discussion of the massive build-up of Iranian-supplied arms in Gaza following Israel's withdrawal from the area in September 2005, and the transformation of Gaza's disparate terror cells into Hezbollah-trained and styled paramilitary brigades.

As columnists for the paper reported “The need for the cover-up was obvious: An open discussion of post-withdrawal developments in Gaza would have demonstrated to the public that Kadima's signature policy of unconditionally surrendering land to the Palestinians was, to put it mildly, insane.”

Kadima's handling of Operation Cast Lead was another effort to mislead Israelis. It is clear to most observers that the only way to defend southern Israel is to re-conquer Gaza because as long as Hamas controls this territory it will use it to attack Israel. But for Kadima, which owes its existence to its leaders' 2005 pullout from Gaza, acknowledging that Israel has no option other than reasserting control over Gaza was not an option. Moreover, a re-conquest of Gaza would discredit Kadima's plans to give away territory like Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. As elections approached, Kadima declared that deterrence had been achieved and pulled IDF forces from Gaza. They told Israelis and the rest of us that the continued Palestinian missile offensive against the south was nothing more than the last gasps of a defeated foe. And the media in Israel and the US went along with them.

Now that Likud with allies on the right is forming the next government, information about Israel's actual situation is finally being reported. Not only did Israel not deter Hamas, the inconclusive end of the campaign has paved the way for a massive diplomatic onslaught against Israel and a diplomatic campaign to legitimize Hamas. Today Israel is being blamed for Hamas' war against it. Kadima's favorite Palestinian "peace" partner, Fatah, is leading an international campaign to indict IDF commanders as war criminals while last weekend's bombing of another Israeli school was met with international indifference. Instead, international leaders had their photographs taken outside the UNRWA school in Gaza that the IDF bombed in January after Hamas combatants used the building as a missile launching pad against Israeli civilians.

Recently the US backed an international campaign to force Israel to surrender control over its borders with Gaza to Hamas and Clinton joined her European counterparts in demanding that Israel permit cement, aluminum tubes and other missile components to enter Gaza in order to alleviate the "humanitarian suffering" of the poor Gazans. Furthermore, like Europe, the Obama administration supports the establishment of a Hamas-Fatah government. Rather than attack Hamas and Fatah in international forums and defend Ashkelon's schoolchildren at least diplomatically, Livni devotes herself to attacking Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu for refusing to back Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu's view is that surrendering control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians will endanger Israel. For as long as that remains the case, it is impossible to support Palestinian statehood. This is also a denunciation of Kadima's governing strategy. So Livni denies the truth to advance her party's interests and condemns Likud for recognizing reality.

Despite media control and Kadima's strategy for "success" by appeasement, the country still gave Netanyahu and the parties to his right a mandate to govern. Netanyahu needs to take the people’s support and consolidate his gains without unnecessary compromise or allowing people in the government who would detract from the need to take all steps to protect Israel. Then, when his government is formed, Netanyahu needs to move quickly on two fronts.

After consolidating his government, Netanyahu must take decisive, "disproportionate" action against Hamas and show the Israeli people (and the world) he is serious about making them secure. People rally around a leader who's willing to take political risks to protect them.

Additionally Netanyahu has to publicly highlight the major differences he has with the Obama administration - and he should never be led around or intimidated by them. Netanyahu needs to break the illusion of dependency by showing Israelis the world doesn't end when it stands up to America on matters of life and death. In fact, he might find that it's Obama and Hillary who are set back on their heels.

Israel is knee-deep in crises spawned by the so-called Oslo Accords and a Sharon-Olmert-Livni government too long in power. Netanyahu should take Rahm Emanuel’s advice – “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” This may be the last time for Israel to survive and protect its future – Netanyahu should not waste it.

World leaders give their money to Gaza while Israeli schoolchildren are forced to stay home from school; they should be ashamed.

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