Netanyahu’s Address; Flotilla Crisis

A couple interesting quotes from Netanyahu’s recent address.

“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

And my personal favorite:

“This was not the ‘Love Boat. It was a hate boat.”

Why can’t he acknowledge that this was an unacceptable tragedy? That measures could have been taken to prevent the loss of life? Why can’t he just admit that the issue is more complicated than merely Israel defending itself? Changing the subject to Iran does nothing to quell the outrage nor provide a constructive framework through which the Israeli people can comprehend what happened.

Netanyahu is devoid of nuance and empathy- a cold-hearted, vile man who appeals to the worst instincts of the Israeli people at the expense of garnering the support from the international community they desperately need.

The Israeli people need to do what the American people did in 2006 and 2008: Throw the bums out. For all of Obama’s faults, he is at least a leader who confronts unpleasant truths, who admits wrongs (domestically and internationally), and demonstrates a deep concern for the fragile relationships between countries and the peace process. Israel is acting like America did under Bush: a lone, deluded wolf; vengeful, aggressive and in pursuit of self-destructive policies. The Israeli people must find the strength within them to reject this.

It seems to me that in order to pursue a peaceful solution, Israel needs to recognize that there IS a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, caused in large part by the blockade. The settlements also have to stop in order to gain credibility among the Palestineans as well as the international community. In order to prevent another flotilla crisis, Israel also needs to come to grips with the fact that its military might greatly outmatches its current enemies’ and should be exercised cautiously to prevent collateral damage. Finally, the peace process cannot be viewed as a zero-sum game whereby Israelis view every act that benefits Palestine as a threat to Israel.

Aside from the complicated nature of the conflict, the dialog has been incredibly polarized and irrational. Extremists on both sides dominate the debate. But there are so many genuine allies of Israel that simply believe their current policies are counterproductive to everyone. We deserve to be heard and not maligned.

Stephen Walt, a Harvard prof who is continuously reviled as anti-Semitic for his dispassionate, level-headed criticisms, has a typically cogent, prescriptive take on the disaster. He comments on the political fallout:

Over the next few days, keep an eye on how politicians and pundits line up on this issue. Which of them thinks that Israel “crossed a line” and deserves criticism — and maybe even sanction — and which of them thinks that what it did was entirely appropriate? Ironically, it is the former who are Israel’s friends, because they are trying to save that country before it is too late. It is the latter whose misguided zeal is leading Israel down the road to further international isolation — and maybe even worse.

I fully support Israel and I really love the Israeli people. It’s sad that voicing criticisms is so often construed as anti-semitism when criticizing self-destructive actions is constructive. It’s like the show Intervention. “There’s nothing we won’t do to help you get help. But there’s nothing we will do to let this continue.”

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