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When violence fills the leadership vacuum

As usual, when a new cycle of violence approaches, the papers are full of prophecies by this military analyst and that political pundit on how long it will last, who will blink first, is Hamas interested in escalation, can Islamic Jihad be curbed, can Israel afford this and will it do that.

After only a few tense days, it looks like we’ve got a green light from almost everyone.

The Prime Minister is ready:

“In the last two weeks there have been parties attempting to disturb peace and security,” said Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “We don’t want to escalate the situation but we will not hesitate to activate the strength of the IDF,” he added.
Shaul Mofaz is ready:
“Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Shaul Mofaz said at a meeting held at Beersheba Municipality on Sunday that Israel must return to the policy of assassinations in the Gaza Strip. “We did it with Rantisi and anyone who decides to harm civilians needs to know that there will be consequences,” Mofaz said.”
The Islamic Jihad is ready:

“Islamic Jihad Spokesman Khalid Al-Batash stressed Sunday that Israel’s strike was unacceptable and that the group reserves the right to retaliate to “Israel’s crimes.” He added that “Gaza was not a sandbag where Israel can test its capabilities, we shall not accept this and sit idly by as aggression continues.”

The citizens of the south are ready:

Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich said that continued rocket fire targeting the city was unacceptable. “We cannot live with uncertainty and gamble our residents’ lives away. We all understand the cost of another operation, but if there’s no choice – then there’s no choice.”

Great! So, now that we have everybody’s OK, we can get this round of bloodshed on the road.

The current round has begun slowly, with a few rocket attacks – all the way to Beer Sheva – and some Israeli bombings in the Strip. Sort of how boxers sniff each other out in the early rounds. The pundits, so far, are split – some say the fight could go either way: cool down, or blow up.

But what you usually don’t read in the media is pundits even try to explain how we got here. Again. For the umpteenth time. Apparently that doesn’t sell papers..

Allow me. What got us here – again – is lack of leadership. And when so called “leaders” do nothing, they create a vacuum, which is eventually filled by events on the ground.

In the U.S., you have a weak president. A president who should have come and visited the Israeli people the minute he left Cairo, and told them what’s right for them. A president who should have been able to get more than a 10 month settlement freeze out of its ally. And a president who should not have even attempted to disgrace himself by bribing an Israeli prime minister with war planes, just so he could get 90 days free of building in the West Bank.

In Israel, you have a weak prime minister. One who doesn’t lead, only reacts. A prime minister who only moves on any issue once the public pressure kicks in. A prime minister who only thinks suddenly about drawing up a peace plan because he’s been reprimanded by Europe’s most powerful leader over the phone. A prime minister who actually breathed a sigh of relief when terror hit Jerusalem – for him, it meant the perfect excuse to stall even longer.

When leaders do nothing to change “the situation”, “the situation” proves to have a life of its own.

When no one does nothing to fill the vacuum of leadership, that vacuum is quickly filled. Much sooner than you think.

With violence.

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    1. Ben Israel

      Israel has had what you consider “strong leaders” who took the initiative. Among them Rabin, who brought Arafat and his terror gangs to Israel, leading to the worst wave of terror bombings in Israel’s history and thousands of casualties. Then we had Sharon, who was forgiven for his disastrous Lebanon I war by the Left/Progressives because he decided to destroy Gush Katif. That led to two bloody wars and endless rocket fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip, and now everyone is saying that another war is just a matter of time (not to mention how the instability in Egypt will affect the situation).
      So there you have it….”strong leaders” who take “initiative” and who repeatedly bring disasters on Israel AND the Palestinians. Maybe caution IS the best policy?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben Israel

      Let’s suppose that it was the Palestinians who showed the initiative.
      Suppose Abbas were to come forward and say the following:
      “I am prepared to sign a peace agreement this very moment with Israel-the terms are as follows:
      (1) The Palestinians are prepared to agree that the Palestinian people recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and we are prepared to recognize the State of Israel as the fulfillment of this self-determination.
      (2) After the signing and implementation of this agreement no further claims or demands will be made of Israel.
      (3) The Palestinian state acknowledges the problematic nature of returning the X number of Palestinian refugees created in the 1948 war and waives any claim to return them to the area that will defined as the sovereign territory of the state of Israel. All Palestinian refugees would have the right to be absorbed in the state of Palestine.
      (4) Israel and the world, in order to facilitate the settlement of the refugee problem would agree to pay for property loss and other indemnities to the refugees (without necessarily implying any guilt for the creation of the refugee situation) X billions of dollars.
      (5) The borders of the Palestinian state will correspond to the cease-fire line (the “Green Line”) that existed before 5 June 1967.
      (6) All Israelis currently living in the territory defined as the Palestinian state according to paragraph 5 would have the right to remain in place , receiving all rights and priviledges of full Palestinian citizenship, or have the right of repatriation back to Israel proper (also a possibility of remaining in place as permanent residents, maintaing Israeli citizenship while being subject to all Palestinian laws).

      If Abbas were to offer this NO Israel leader, even Netanyahu or other “right-wing” gov’t would be able to turn it down. The whole world would tell Israel that it is being offered everything they ever wanted…full, contractual peace. Why haven’t the Palestinians ever taken the initiative and offered this, putting the onus for refusal on the Israelis? But they never will because these terms are unacceptable to the Arab world. So, Kibbutznik, “peace” in the way you understand it has never been in the cards.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sinjim

      It’s quite telling that you don’t even bother to mention Palestinian leaders. It’s the Americans and the Israelis who matter.
      With all due respect, Ami, the “cycle of violence” never stopped for the Palestinians. Hundreds of them have died in the two years of “calm.” Nobody really cared all that much then, including Fatah and Hamas, who never issued any calls for war against Israel for its crimes. But all it takes is one bomb to blow up and claim the life of *one* innocent Israeli, and suddenly the once absent “cycle of violence” has returned.
      This dehumanizing state of affairs doesn’t go unnoticed by Palestinians. You say it’s the lack of leadership. I say the people elect the best reflection of their society. The problem is attitudes, not individuals.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Sinjim – it’s quite telling you don’t really bother to read the piece, and just knee jerk respond that I’m anti Palestinian.
      Read closely and you’ll see that I’m blaming Israel and the U.S. in this post. No one else.
      As for your conclusion that the people elect their reflection: with this I agree wholeheartedly.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Sinjim

      What is it with people completely misreading my posts around here? Seriously.
      There is no part of my comment that can be construed as an attack on you. I was commenting on the state of affairs, in which Palestinian leaders simply don’t matter. In other words, they’re not worthy of comment.
      I also took issue with the framing you chose regarding the cycle of violence because it ignored the Palestinian reality, but I didn’t attack you as anti-Palestinian. For the record, I don’t believe you or any of the staff of +972 are anti-Palestinian, and I wouldn’t suggest such, either.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Glad you cleared it up then. (Maybe if people misread your posts so often, you should check how you write them… just sayin…) 🙂

      Reply to Comment