Archive | December 2012

Spinning Out of Focus

Syria is burning, Egypt is undergoing game-changing processes, the West-Bank is stirring, and it seems Israel could not have found a worse time for holding elections. 
What happened to Iran? You don’t have to be terribly astute to notice that it has suddenly disappeared from the headlines, when not so long ago there wasn’t a day that went by without being warned of the upcoming Armageddon.   The Mayan date for the end of the world passed uneventfully, so either there is nothing of substance taking place behind the scenes, or Israel finally discovered some sense in keeping a lid on its plans. Doubting the latter, especially since playing the Iranian card would probably greatly aid Netanyahu’s campaign so if there were any new developments we most likely would have heard of them by now, I have little doubt that Iran provided an excellent diversion from the Palestinian issue. 

I’m not disputing the facts, only the way they were spun and manipulated to mask the total freeze and inaction on other fronts. The Iranians are definitely up to something, and it is indeed imperative that Israel and the world are aligned to deal with the potential threat, but the volume and frequency of the  alarm bells suspiciously outrun any logical proportion. Bombing routes, types of required ammunition, take-off bases in Kazakhstan, different and ever changing schedules – all created a doomsday scenario that managed to focus everyone’s attention on one focal point. 
We so easily forget things, but only a few months ago, Defense Minister Barak was talking of March 2013 as the cut-off date after which Iran’s program could no longer be reliably damaged by an aerial attack. That’s only a few months ahead, yet there is absolutely no chatter about it, in the media, or outside it. Netanyahu himself presented the U.N with his famous cartoon poster, suggesting that this coming spring Iran will have reached the so-called red line in its nuclear weapon plans.
I’ll give him credit where it’s due – the world (i.e. U.S and Europe) responded to Netanyahu’s outcry with a series of sanctions against Iran, and I can only wish he would show the same amount of activism on other crucial issues. But the smoke screen he created quickly dissipated following the “Pillar of Cloud” operation, the Palestinian U.N move, and the recent idiotic construction declarations. Israel has never been so isolated, and what makes this situation especially dangerous for Israel is the fact that the world has never before been so distracted on the one hand (economic crisis), and wary on the other. Simply put, the world has had enough, and is tired of the constant Israeli – Palestinian bickering.  Any quick resolution will now receive international backing, even a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. 
Allow me to be presumptuous and propose a recipe for extracting Israel from its current position, taking into consideration Netanyahu’s inevitable re-election:

  • Netanyahu gets re-elected with enough mandates to make a policy shift
  • Using his momentum, he builds a left-center coalition with the Labor party, and other new center parties, discarding his traditional right/religious political allies, en route to forging a new relationship with Obama and Europe
  • He re-iterates his support for the two-state solution, and declares Israel’s willingness to return to the negotiation table without any pre-conditions from both sides, forcing Abu-Mazen’s hand, and countering any additional unilateral initiatives
  • He apologizes to Turkey over the Marmara incident, re-establishing the strategic relationship he carelessly neglected, and strengthening the moderate forces in the region
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Probably. I can only hope. But to those doubting a real policy change from Netanyahu, I can only say that everything is possible in the Middle East. The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.  




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