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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu and Instability

With all the disruption and uncertainty surrounding uprisings in the Arab world Israel has had to be aware of two things:

First:      Political Islam will always be a religiously murderous theology. It will experience no ethical conflict if it chooses to renege on any agreements it has made with Israel or any other country. It can find enough theological precedent to justify this if it wishes.

Second:     Revolutionary change creates triumphalism, triumphalism is jingoistic in temperament and jingoism destabilizes nations even as it unifies societies.

A new paradigm is open to testing and just as we learn from our relationships through experience, change creates opportunities for new interactions that are not necessarily mutually beneficial.  Multiple uprisings in the Arab world present both opportunities and dangers to all players in the region and it may be a number of years before the overall picture can be fully viewed.

What has particularly frightened me is not the speculation around multiple ‘what-if’ scenarios but the electrical impulses surging through Benjamin Netanyahu’s brain.  Correct me please (if I was misled) but in disbelief I read that he thought the cost of coping with this new ‘threat’ would be an extra $20 billion.  We can all guess from whom he intended to ask for this cash.

The world has gone through tremendous economic trauma since 2008. It will take a long time before any of us (perhaps excepting the wealthy) are able to recover from this onslaught on our national pockets. Most of us will not recover from this latest economic downturn as future pensions are squeezed and as prospects for increasing real, inflation adjusted net income are marginal at best over the medium to long term.

For Benjamin Netanyahu to suggest that he may need the kind of help that will never trickle down let alone make most of his or anyone else’s citizens safer showed gross political insensitivity.  As an exemplar of grotesque silliness I find it difficult to begin to speculate from where his thoughts emanated. It is as if Benjamin occupies a space of serenity and insensible calm completely oblivious to the pain everyone else is experiencing.

It is very damaging to Israel and one must question the motive of the man who seems intent on alienating his nation’s principal benefactor by his bizarre and irreverent behavior.

If the States citizens can no longer see the fundamental error in their Prime Ministers thinking then the original heroic vision upon which Zionism built the State of Israel has been truly lost.

We know from global history that collapse is orchestrated from the margins. The extremes of left and right restrain the center and by exercising de facto veto over policy, paralyze or severely restrict a nation’s efforts to deal with either an external or an internal threat. When an extreme minority dictates debate over what constitutes the national vision atrophy ensures. Those who are best at manipulation, profit from dysfunction to the detriment of everyone else. Consensus and that means the nation, is the only loser.  In democracy it is consensus that binds us together as a nation because it provides a vision that is overwhelmingly shared by the people.  A vision that is shared by the alienated and peripheral figures at the margins of society by its nature precludes the majority and therefore is damaging to the society that it infects.

Egypt’s total aid package from the USA was tied to Israel’s aid by the terms of its 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel. It was conditioned and it remains contingent on Egypt’s good behavior. As a guarantor of good conduct its effectiveness  has been hampered by Israel’s reluctance to use this particular weapon.  Perhaps it is time to remind the Egyptian people that their aid may not be as visible as Israel’s is but it is no less significant for the Egyptian military establishment and therefore the Egyptian people.  Of course China, Iran, Turkey and even Saudi Arabia may be eager to jump in with the next 60,000 million dollars of loose change (as the US has given Egypt since 1979 - $2.5b in 2010) but I suspect not.

If I was Prime Minister Netanyahu I would have stood before the people of America and offered to share their pain.  I would have massively reduced or better still, ceased Israel’s government aid from the USA immediately. 

But the Prime Minister simply does not appear to inhabit the same world the rest of us do. If Bibi is incapable of seeing the enormity of his present failure he must go before the damage to Israel is irreparable.

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