Nov 5th 2014

The Real Danger To Israel’s Security Is Netanyahu

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu has consistently invoked his solemn duty to protect Israel’s national security. Ironically, he has become the single most reckless individual who is imperiling the very security of the state. One need not look far and wide to discern Netanyahu’s disingenuousness and misguided policies that have only undermined Israel’s future security.

He uses his political skills to deceive and mislead in order to ‘protect himself from political defeat’ while disregarding what is best for the future of the state. He surrounds himself with cronies blinded by their skewed ideological zeal with no morals or scruples to support his sinister political agenda.

To be sure, Israel under Netanyahu’s stewardship is globally on the defensive, isolated, threatened from within and without, loathed and criticized by friends and foes alike, and with no prospect to achieve peace, which jeopardizes not only Israel’s security but its very existence.

By what measure can Netanyahu claim that the occupation of the West Bank enhances Israel’s national security? Nearly fifty years of occupation did nothing but poison the Palestinians, intensify their hatred and animosity toward Israel, and drive them to extremism, which gave birth to Hamas and an assortment of other jihadist groups.

How does the building of settlements and their expansion under the pretense of securing the borders provide Israel with better security? Thousands of soldiers are stationed throughout the West Bank to protect the settlers, making the settlements a security liability rather than an asset.

Moreover, the settlements became the source of the Palestinians’ resentment and violence, and their continuing expansion closes the window for a two-state solution. The settlements diminish the prospect of establishing a Palestinian state while risking Israel’s security and national identity and alienating the international community.

Instead of embracing the Arab Peace Initiative (API), especially now that the entire region is in turmoil and the Arab states are more eager than ever before to make peace, Netanyahu still rejects it irrespective of the fact that many current and former Israeli political and military leaders beseech him to embrace it.

By rejecting the API, Netanyahu has yet again forfeited another historic opportunity to negotiate, with some give and take, a lasting peace which more than anything else could radically enhance Israel’s long-term national security.

Netanyahu habitually ignored Israel’s Western allies’ pleas to moderate his policies toward the Palestinians and end the occupation. Frustrated and angered by his continuing violation of Palestinian human rights while usurping their territories inch by inch, the European countries have abandoned him.

The loss of the West’s moral and political support will have long-term security implications on Israel, as the country becomes increasingly isolated and ever more vulnerable to outside threats.

Engrossed by his self-grandeur and lack of sensitivity, Netanyahu betrayed Jordan’s King Abdullah, Israel’s closet Arab ally and the custodian of the Muslim Holy Sites, by using the Temple Mount—the most sensitive area to both Jews and Muslims—to assert Jewish right to the site at a time of extreme tension.

To galvanize and further strengthen his political base, Netanyahu provokes the Palestinians by his restriction on their mobility, night raids, and arbitrary incarceration, deliberately instigating them to resist, often violently.

He then uses the Palestinians’ resistance to the occupation to justify his harsh treatment to the cheering of the growing right-of-center segment of the population. As Aristophanes once observed, “You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good.”

Netanyahu and his government’s systematic discrimination against Israeli Arabs has alienated them to a point where they now stridently and vociferously condemn the Israelis’ inequality and openly side with their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza.

The continuation of Netanyahu’s policy toward the Israeli Arabs could have disastrous national security consequences as Israel cannot count on the loyalty of nearly 20 percent of its population, especially in times of intense conflict with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Rather than working in earnest in the search for peace under US auspices, Netanyahu never negotiated with the Palestinians in good faith. He recklessly defied America’s call to freeze settlement building, which the US considers a major impediment to peace.

By defying his country’s closest ally, whose commitment to Israel’s national security is central to its very survival in a sea of hostilities, Netanyahu must now take blame for the crisis between Israel and the US and for the deterioration of their bilateral relations, which have never stooped so low in Israel’s history.

By not reining in his loose-tongued ministers, Netanyahu has become complicit in their outrageous verbal attacks on US officials. The absurdity of these ministers, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, is surpassed only by their blindness to grasp the indispensability of the US to Israel.

What makes matters worse is that the Netanyahu government has lost its credibility in the US, whose political, economic and military support helped Israel become a formidable regional power, which Netanyahu and many of his supercilious ministers take for granted.

The irony is that Netanyahu invokes national security concerns even when he personally came under intense criticism from American officials, one who anonymously called him “chickenshit” and a “coward.” “I am under attack,” hetold the Knesset last week,” simply because I am defending the State of Israel. If I didn’t stand firm on our national interests, I would not be under attack.”

Finally, what has and continues to adversely impact Israel’s national security is the country’s political factionalism that prevents the emergence of a cohesive policy toward the Palestinians which has plagued Israel.

Netanyahu’s government is no different than previous ones; it consists of disparate political parties with different political agendas, led by self-conceited individuals.

Every minister believes that he or she should be the next prime minister, but none has the courage, vision, and the leadership qualities to lead, and none have a clue where Israel should be in 10 or 15 years down the line.

This includes the other two party leaders, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid). Although both hold moderate views toward the Palestinians, the fact that they never challenge Netanyahu to change course and did not leave the coalition government means they have become complicit in Netanyahu’s ill-advised policy and its dire implications to Israel’s national security.

Leave it to Netanyahu to successfully manipulate and play one party leader against the other, knowing that they cherish their jobs and titles more than taking real responsibility to serve the nation.

Although Israel has legitimate national security concerns, Netanyahu subordinates it to his narrow ideological agenda and uses it as a tool to manipulate the public.

His unwillingness to develop a genuine national security strategy, which must rest on peace and be supported by all political parties, ensures that what follows is at best paralysis and at worst a misguided policy that will lead to disaster.

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Sep 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "That long path, though, has from the start had within it one fundamental flaw. If we are to make sense of wider global trends in insecurity, we have to recognise that in all the analysis around the 9/11 anniversary there lies the belief that the main security concern must be with an extreme version of Islam. It may seem a reasonable mistake, given the impact of the wars, but it still misses the point. The war on terror is better seen as one part of a global trend which goes well beyond a single religious tradition – a slow but steady move towards revolts from the margins."
Sep 11th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Is it not extraordinary that in a country that claims to be as enlightened and advanced as ours, the combined wealth of three individuals – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett – exceeds the total wealth of the bottom half of Americans? One has to return to the days of the pharaohs of Egypt to find a parallel to the extreme wealth inequality that we see in in America today." ...... "The top tax rate remained above 90 percent through the 1950s and did not dip below 70 percent until 1981. At no point during the decades that saw America’s greatest economic growth did the tax on the wealthy drop below 70 percent. Today it is somewhere around 37 percent. President Biden’s American Families Plan would increase the top tax rate to 39.6 percent – a fairly modest alteration, albeit in the right direction. It is true that there was a time when the top marginal tax was even lower than it is today: in the years leading up to the Great Depression it hovered around 25 percent."
Sep 7th 2021
EXTRACT: "But Biden can’t be blamed for the rise of the Taliban, or the fragile state of a country that has seen far too many wars and invasions. The US should not have been there in the first place, but that is a lesson that great powers never seem to learn."
Sep 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "The world is only starting to grapple with how profound the artificial-intelligence revolution will be. AI technologies will create waves of progress in critical infrastructure, commerce, transportation, health, education, financial markets, food production, and environmental sustainability. Successful adoption of AI will drive economies, reshape societies, and determine which countries set the rules for the coming century." ----- "AI will reorganize the world and change the course of human history. The democratic world must lead that process."
Sep 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Although the Fed is considering tapering its quantitative easing (QE), it will likely remain dovish and behind the curve overall. Like most central banks, it has been lured into a “debt trap” by the surge in private and public liabilities (as a share of GDP) in recent years. Even if inflation stays higher than targeted, exiting QE too soon could cause bond, credit, and stock markets to crash. That would subject the economy to a hard landing, potentially forcing the Fed to reverse itself and resume QE." ---- "After all, that is what happened between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, following the Fed’s previous attempt to raise rates and roll back QE."
Sep 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Today’s economic challenges are certainly solvable, and there is no reason why inflation should have to spike."
Aug 27th 2021
EXTRACT: "To be sure, they have focused on their agenda, which is totally misguided—not by our own account but by the account of the majority of the American population, who view the Republican party as one that has lost its moral footing to the detriment of America’s future generations, who must now inherit the ugly consequences of a party that ran asunder."
Aug 21st 2021
EXTRACTS: "Now that so many sad truths about Afghanistan are being spoken aloud, even in the major media – let me add one more: The war, from start to finish, was about politics, not in Afghanistan but in the United States. Afghanistan was always a sideshow."--- "....the 2001 invasion was fast and apparently decisive. And so it rescued George W. Bush’s tainted presidency,..." --- "Bush’s approval shot up to 90% and then steadily declined,..."
Aug 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The Taliban’s virtually uncontested takeover over Afghanistan raises obvious questions about the wisdom of US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US and coalition forces from the country. Paradoxically, however, the rapidity and ease of the Taliban’s advance only reaffirms that Biden made the right decision – and that he should not reverse course. ...... The ineffectiveness and collapse of Afghanistan’s military and governing institutions largely substantiates Biden’s skepticism that US-led efforts to prop up the government in Kabul would ever enable it to stand on its own feet. The international community has spent nearly 20 years, many thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars to do good by Afghanistan – taking down al-Qaeda; beating back the Taliban; supporting, advising, training, and equipping the Afghan military; bolstering governing institutions; and investing in the country’s civil society. .... Significant progress was made, but not enough." ....... "That is because the mission was fatally flawed from the outset. It was a fool’s errand to try to turn Afghanistan into a centralized, unitary state. "
Aug 6th 2021
EXTRACT: "But even in the US, which is more lenient than most countries, the principle cannot be absolute. Inciting imminent violence is not permitted. Donald Trump’s speech on January 6, urging the mob to storm the US Capitol, certainly came close to overstepping this boundary. It was a clear demonstration that language can be dangerous. What the internet media has done is raise the stakes; “fighting words” are spread around much faster and more widely than ever before. This will require a great deal of vigilance, to protect our freedom to express ourselves, while observing the social and legal bounds that stop words from turning into actual fighting. "
Jul 27th 2021
EXTRACT: "When it comes to the Chinese economy, I have been a congenital optimist for over 25 years. But now I have serious doubts. The Chinese government has taken dead aim at its dynamic technology sector, the engine of China’s New Economy. Its recent actions are symptomatic of a deeper problem: the state’s efforts to control the energy of animal spirits." ---- "... the Chinese economy, no less than others, still requires a foundation of trust – trust in the consistency of leadership priorities, in transparent governance, and in wise regulatory oversight – to flourish. --- Modern China lacks this foundation of trust ."
Jul 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "It seems that they are, as the last 18 months have seen a remarkable expansion of the central banks’ fields of activity, largely driven by their own ambitions. So they have moved into the climate change arena, arguing that financial stability may be put at risk by rising temperatures, and that central banks, as bond purchasers and as banking supervisors, can and should be proactive in raising the cost of credit for corporations without a credible transition plan. That is a promising new line of business, which is likely to grow. ---- Central banks are also trying to move into social engineering, specifically the policy response to rising income and wealth inequality, another hot button topic with high political salience."
Jul 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "The EU’s ambitious unilateral climate strategy will transform Europe into a trade fortress, encourage green protectionism worldwide, and give other regions the opportunity to develop using cheaper energy. And without China, India, and the United States on board, other countries will be careful not to follow the EU in its self-appointed role as the world’s green guinea pig. If Europe is not careful, it will risk finding itself in a climate club of one. "
Jul 9th 2021
EXTRACT: ".... ruminants belch and fart methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. As a result, rearing beef cattle brings about, on average, six times the contribution to global warming as non-ruminant animals (for example, pigs) producing the same quantity of protein. ..... if projected to 2050 [beef production], would use 87% of the total quantity of emissions that is compatible with the Paris climate agreement’s objective of staying below a 2° Celsius increase in temperature."
Jul 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " .... while China’s leaders never mention it, they are just as embittered over Russia’s theft of Chinese territory in the nineteenth century as they are over the West’s imperial predations. With Western imperialism having been largely rolled back, it is Russia’s continued occupation of historic Chinese territory that stands out the most to ordinary Chinese observers. For example, the city of Vladivostok, with its vast naval base, has been a part of Russia only since 1860, when the tsars built a military harbor there. Before that, the city was known by the Manchu name of Haishenwai." ---- "There is also a demographic argument for Putin to consider: the six million Russians spread along the Siberian border face 90 million Chinese on the other side. And many of these Chinese regularly cross the border into Russia to trade (and a good number to stay)."
Jul 7th 2021
EXTRACTS: "According to a new analysis by researchers at Brown University, America’s two-decade war in Afghanistan cost it nearly $2.3 trillion. Now, Afghanistan’s neighbors – Pakistan, Iran, China, India, and the Central Asian countries – are wondering just how much it will cost them to maintain security after the United States is gone." ----- "After clandestinely supporting the Taliban as a means to undermine the US war effort, Russia now fears broader destabilization in Central Asia and beyond." ---- "Similarly, after having made nice with the Taliban, China also now fears the greater regional instability that the US withdrawal may incite. In addition to disrupting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Eurasia-spanning Belt and Road Initiative, a revitalized Taliban could re-energize the Islamist extremist threat in China’s western Xinjiang province."
Jul 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "When former Fed Chair Paul Volcker hiked rates to tackle inflation in 1980-82, the result was a severe double-dip recession in the United States and a debt crisis and lost decade for Latin America. But now that global debt ratios are almost three times higher than in the early 1970s, any anti-inflationary policy would lead to a depression, rather than a severe recession. ---- Under these conditions, central banks will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and many governments will be semi-insolvent and thus unable to bail out banks, corporations, and households. The doom loop of sovereigns and banks in the eurozone after the global financial crisis will be repeated worldwide, sucking in households, corporations, and shadow banks as well. ---- As matters stand, this slow-motion train wreck looks unavoidable."
Jun 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "Xi Jinping’s call for friendship gives us an opportunity to examine Chinese politics on both the domestic and international stage. On the face of it, it suggests the possibility of rapprochement between the rich liberal democracies represented by the G7 and the authoritarian Chinese state. However, despite appearances of a call for a closer relationship, there is more than one way of being friends – and Xi’s idea might be somewhat different to what many in countries attending the G7 might expect."
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "China’s recently published census, showing that its population has almost stopped growing, brought warnings of severe problems for the country. “Such numbers make grim reading for the party,” reported The Economist. This “could have a disastrous impact on the country,” wrote Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, in the Financial Times. But a comment posted on China’s Weibo was more insightful. “The declining fertility rate actually reflects the progress in the thinking of Chinese people – women are no longer a fertility tool.” "
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: " I remember recounting fellow leaders of the story of a Rwanda schoolboy caught up in the genocide of the 1990s and now immortalized in the Kigali Genocide Memorial museum, where, in a section devoted to children, one can find his photograph and a plaque that reads: ----- David, age 11 ...... Ambition: to be a doctor ...... Favorite sport: football ...... Favorite hobby: making people laugh ...... Death: by mutilation ...... Last words: the UN are coming to save us ----- In his idealism and innocence, David believed the international community would save him and his mother. We didn’t. "