March 24, 2015 · 12:56 pm
BLOG 245 March 23, 2015
Twenty-four hours after winning the election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu threw the world a curve ball. Bibi snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. A dear friend of mine always says, “All politicians are liars and thieves.” Netanyahu certainly didn’t help that image.
Many thoughtful Jewish people are dismayed and angry at how this election was won. About to lose, he played the racist card. Netanyahu screamed that the Arabs are coming to the polls “in droves” and the Jews better pull together and vote. Of course, Arab citizens have a right to vote. Such a tactic came straight out of the Jim Crow days in the Deep South. Arabs, Jews, and the White House rebuked such a tactic.
Worst of all, Netanyahu denied his support for a two-state solution and suggested the Palestinians could lump it. Certainly, there are many Jews in Israel who feel this way but the rest of the world disagrees. Netanyahu’s statements further alienated Europe that has also become a rocky road for Israel. The United States responded that they would no longer protect Israel in the United Nations debates on the Palestinians. Twenty-four hours later Netanyahu withdrew those positions after the election was over.
How bad can it get?
In his last minute attempt to win, Bibi has demonstrated it can get worse. Regardless of 47 congressional signatures on a letter to Iran, he has seriously damaged his currently shaky personal relationship with the United States. The strong Jewish voice and the right-wing unequivocal support of Israel as well as the pressure of the USA’s need of an important Middle East ally will definitely not end the diplomatic, military, and security connection with Israel. However, the Prime Minister’s office may soon discover the line is busy when he attempts to call the United States.
Netanyahu’s trip to speak to Congress put the Obama administration on the defense. Netanyahu’s twenty-four hour flip-flop amazingly switched the chairs. Obama has come out on top because of Netanyahu’s own maneuvers. While the Prime Minister was making gains in his opposition to a treaty with Iran, he has now spent most of the capital. It appears the West will close a deal with Iran whether Bibi likes it or not.
As damaging as the foregoing is, what Netanyahu has done to his own image is no small matter. No longer does he appear to be a statesman sounding a trumpet of alarm. He has come off as a predictable politician that will say anything to win. At this point, he may even have trouble forming a government as local politicians back away, forcing him to develop a cabinet from religious and nationalistic groups. Such a result would further deepen the racist charge against his government. Moshe Kahlon, the other big winner in the election, may be pulled into the new cabinet. However, Kahlon and Netanyahu dislike each other and that tension could bring down a new government quickly.
With ISIS functioning around 20 miles from the Israeli border, the issues are super serious. Netanyahu’s next moves may be the most important in his political life with dramatic effects on the future. He’d best think carefully and be cautious in what he says this time.
Is winning at all cost worth it? History answers no.
March 16, 2015 · 6:27 pm
BLOG 244 March 16, 2015
Never has the future of the Middle East been so uncertain. Disintegration exists from the deserts to the mountains to the Mediterranean Sea. Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq are failed states. The jihadist’s terrorist challenges in the Sinai along with a failing economy put Egypt in jeopardy. The United States and its Western Allies continue to attempt to hammer out a nuclear disarmaments deal with Iran that everyone from Israel’s Prime Minister to the Republicans in Congress are already denouncing. Where is it all going? Quo Vadis, indeed!
The promise of spring won’t be arriving in Gaza. Tens of thousands remain homeless and in poverty as a result of the last conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The United Nations reported this winter that children were dying because of the cold. The report went unheard as the media moved on to cover the latest conflict somewhere else. Israel continues a siege that amounts to economic warfare. On the other hand, Hamas sustains the conflict with Israel and is brutalizing their own people while their economic resources are squandered. Egypt keeps the tunnels into Gaza closed and consequently the entire Gaza strip is trapped in the pincers between Egypt and Israel. The result is a time bomb ticking away until the Gaza strip explodes again. The citizens no longer have anything left to lose – another war waits in the wings.
In Iraq, the native army has made significant gains in pushing ISIS back. Certainly, this is true in Tikrit. In the Diyala Province, Shiite militia fighters defeated the ISIS militants. At this point, it appears ISIS is in retreat from their boastful claims made earlier. Their beheadings, brutal killings, and cultural genocide have done much to turn fellow Muslims against them. However, their next turn in the road raises a new prospect of Shiites and Sunnis battling each other. The centuries old ancient differences that separate them still stirs the pot. The specter is now raised that the defeat of ISIS will result in a continuation of the fighting between these two Muslim groups.
The new Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi promised inclusively rule. However, they are now under pressure to distance themselves from retaliatory fighting against Sunnis by both Shiite and Kurdish fighters. The Badr Organization, a relatively new militia led by Hadi al-Ameri, have proven to be the most effective fighters against ISIS. They are ready to strike in other provinces. All of which raises the question who they will support and who they will attack. Each sun rise seems to produce a radical shift in the direction the war is going. Like a chess game where each moves changes the strategy, the war continues to be a crumbling mess.
And we haven’t even touched where the negotiations with Iran are going. Obama haters predict disaster. Obama supporters proclaim a new day. What’s your guess? Informed observers are playing it close to the vest as the pieces of the puzzle are still up in the air. However, it’s another sign of confusion.
Where is the Middle East going? By the time you read this blog the election in Israel will probably be over. Will Prime Minister Netanyahu win? He can certainly lose. Any clarity there? Will he win? Sorry. No clear indications out yet. If you are a believer in prayer, this would be a good time to put the entire region on your list.