Netanyahu does not have many cards left to play. His way out his current political troubles may be a war – and we should be ready for it, and reject it
Netanyahu’s magic hat is emptying quickly. Unlike his last term, he failed in buying the students for a few slices of plzza, and his attempt to preempt the “stroller protest” by parents, planned for today, was particularly pathetic: He offered to lower the bus fare of a parent with a stroller by 50%. The offer was received with appropriate derision. The fact that the leader of the trade unions, lackluster Ofer Eini, joined the protest belatedly, and the jump-on-band-wagon manouver by Tzipi Livni – she was seen marching with the striking doctors today, after a silence longer than that of Ehud Barak – must have made Netanyahu sweat even more.
I’m hearing from several quarters that Netanyahu has only two rabbits left in his hat. One of them is the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, who has become a sort of celebrity in Israel. It’s not at all clear this will end the protests, and the manouver becomes complicated because it requires the agreement of Hamas, which, for its own part, is in no rush. After all, a new government – needing a quick boost of popularity – may well pay for Shalit. This particular rabbit, then, ought to be considered a Schrodinger: Netanyahu won’t know if it’s dead or alive until he pulls it out of the hat. Not good. He cannot afford a backfire. Not now.
The other rabbit is going to a splendid little war. Or, if not a full-fledged war, a massive operation which looks just like the real thing. This schtick rarely fails. Israeli air force planes circled over Gaza last night, and in general the IDF seems to be heating the Gaza sector in the last few weeks. And if we’ve already mentioned Ehud Barak, then it’s worth noting he flew again to the US last night, for another meeting with the American leadership. What for?
I don’t know. I do know, however, that security officials in the north have received an official warning from the government (Hebrew) that September is going to be hot. Possibly a war, possibly against the Palestinians, possibly against the Israeli Palestinians, possibly against Hizbullah.
It is worth noting that, contrary to myth, most of Israel’s wars were propagated by it, often for a political reason. The 1956 war was a conspiracy of Shimon Peres with two declining colonial powers, France and Britain. Prior to the 1967 war, the Americans asked for time for diplomacy, but the IDF was impatient to the point of a threatened putsch, and war broke out. The attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor took place several days before a general election, which was not a coincidence. The Lebanon War of 1982 needs no explanation. Shimon Peres went to Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996, in order to win the coming elections; Being Shimon Peres, he managed to lose them by 0.4%, by shelling Qafr Qana and thereby convincing his Arab voters to stay home and not go the polls. In 2006, the IDF used a border incident – granted, a clear casus belli – in order to start a war intend to wipe the shame of defeat by Hizbullah in 2000. Needless to say, this did not work as planned. Cast Lead was the result of an Israeli wish for conflict, and rejection of Hamas’ attempt at prolonging the ceasefire. One needs a healthy dose of goodwill and bulk quantities of naiveté ij order to believe it had nothing to do with the already-declared elections.
Ehud Barak has no political future worth speaking of, and he’s intelligent enough to know that, and know that he is the most hated politician in the history of the republic – so hated, nothing short of seppuku will improve his image. Even that might not do the trick, though it’s certain many people will show up for the funeral, just to make certain he’s really defunct. One wonders whether he’s in the US in order to garner support for a war, which is the only thing which will buy him more time in power. With the exception of 1956 – Eisenhower was livid by the invasion of Egypt, as the US was not consulted, and had the Hungarian crisis on its hands – every other Israeli war has received American support, even if tentative; and Israel did not go to war again without reaching an understanding with the US.
So, should a war suddenly breaks out in the next few weeks; if the northern border, or perhaps the southern, suddenly erupts, as it by its own volition; if Netanyahu makes a surprise TV appearance, pale and resolute, and inform us he ordered the IDF to start bombing Iran, to prevent it from becoming Nazi Germany – should any of this happen, don’t believe a single word you’re told. Assume that the regime is trying to save itself by a war. After all, that’s what our propaganda has been saying of the Arab rulers for years. Do you think Barak is less cynical that Nasrallah? That Netanyahu cares a fig about the citizens more than Nasser did?
One hopes that the very public warning by Meir Dagan – remember him? – and his doubts whether the current security leaderahip can stand up to an adventurous government will shame the military brass into blocking this grotesque idea. But army life is not conductive to common sense and to the ability to say “no” to your superiors. So, if war suddenly breaks out, our duty will be to disrupt it: Storm the Kirya (military headquarters), block entrance to Air Force bases, and basically refuse to play the part of pawns in Barak and Netanyahu’s attempt to the save the ruling economical-political oligarchy by paying in citizen’s blood. The true patriot, in such a case, will have to face down his government and army.
Let’s hope this does not happen, but let us be ready for it.