If you think you’ve seen this movie before, then you probably have. It’s more or less the sequel to Operation Cast Lead and it’s happening under similar circumstances: a forthcoming election. That’s right, Bibi Netanyahu is facing an election and he wants to win, and the only way he can see himself and his Likud party winning seats is by presenting himself as a macho tough guy with a baseball bat who stands up to a boy with a pea-shooter.
The last time this happened, it was the new Kadima Party chairperson and former Mossad operative, Tzipi Livni, facing an election after she ousted the corrupt Ehud Olmert as party leader. Kadima, founded in 2005 by notorious Zionist headbanger, Ariel Sharon, presents itself as a “centre party” and in the scheme of Israeli politics, perhaps it is a centre party. That doesn’t mean it isn’t influenced by revisionist Zionism, because it is. Half of its members are former Likudniks, the other half are former Labor Party members. Can you imagine a party in the UK being formed from factions of the Conservative and Labour Parties? No? I can’t either. But that’s the incredibly fluid nature of Israeli politics for you.
Likud is committed to neoliberal economic policies and neoconservative foreign policies. Many of its leaders are American or have spent some considerable portion of their lives in the US. Netanyahu lived in Pennsylvania for a number of years and ‘ambassador’ Dore Gold was born and raised in Connecticut.
It is worth remembering that the Likud-dominated government has imposed austerity measures and that Netanyahu’s popularity took a dive earlier in the year. Last year and the year before, Israelis have been protesting in ever larger numbers against the rise in the cost of living – especially rents. This barely gets reported in Britain’s newspapers and is never mentioned on television news.
The poll, conducted by Dialog and Tel Aviv University, found that 60 percent of Israelis were displeased with the way Netanyahu was functioning as prime minister. Only 31% said they supported Netanyahu’s actions.
The numbers are the lowest since Netanyahu took office in 2009. The prime minister has generally enjoyed approval ratings hovering around 50%, with periodic large drops coming as a result of economic issues.
Regarding Steinitz, 67% said they were unhappy with his policies and actions, while only 19% supported him.
The results were the latest in a series of polls conducted by the newspaper. Netanyahu’s popularity has been dropping in the past three polls, and it dropped by 10% between during the month of July.
These are the actions of a man who is desperate to turn around his flagging popularity in the face of a forthcoming election. But let’s not make excuses for Netanyahu; he is a warmonger and a psychopath. His idea of “security” means brutalizing the Palestinians and holding his fellow Israelis to ransom by using the spectre of one-sided violence and persecution as a psychological weapon.
The language used by Netanyahu and Likud and the other right-wing parties differs little from the stream of paranoid scaremongering that comes from the likes of The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner. This blog is rather typical. It paints Netanyahu as a “defender of the free world”. Seriously, the man is totally nuts.
What’s the betting that the IDF will claim, in the coming weeks, that they’ve found evidence that the Iranian Republican Guard are present in Gaza and that they’ve found a “cache of chemical weapons”? It may sound far-fetched but then, this is what desperate politicians like Netanyahu do when their ratings are in the toilet and they’re facing a serious test at the ballot box. “I’m your protector and you can only have freedom through me”, seems to be the tacit message coming from Bibi’s lips.
As I type this, William Hague is on Sky News talking darkly about “Iran’s support for Hamas”. You can see how desperate the Tories are to start a war with Iran and if Netanyahu and his chums use Gaza as a prelude to a future war with Iran, then all the better. It’s a great way to divert attention from austerity measures and the Tories’ unpopularity. But they forget the embarrassment of the Suez Crisis.
Bibi also wants to outmanoeuvre those in the Israeli establishment who are beginning to question the policy of never-ending war.
In short, Bibi and Barak’s ship continues to sink. Their war plans have been scuttled by forces that have proven much more determined than I ever expected them to be: the Obama administration; the Israeli security establishment, retired and, most importantly, active; many of Israel’s most respected mainstream journalists (especially Barnea and Shiffer, Haaretz’s Amos Harel and Amir Oren, and Channel 10′s Immanuel Rosen and Alon Ben-David), who’ve gotten out the story that IDF chief Benny Gantz, IDF Intelligence head Aviv Kochavi, Air Force commander Amir Eshel, Mossad director Tamir Pardo and Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen are against a war; and Peres, whom Haaretz’s Ari Shavit described as ”the true leader of the opposition … [who] is working with all his power to foil the move being advanced by Netanyahu and Barak.”
Meanwhile the BBC keeps silent about this and the growing Israeli peace movement. Instead, we are treated to more doses of chest-thumping rhetoric from Gold or some IDF spokesperson as if it’s the only discourse in town. It’s easier for Netanyahu to blame Hamas for violence than to accept responsibility for the failure of his government to provide real peace and security.
Daniel Levy has written an interesting article in the Daily Beast. Here’s an extract.
“In all my years in office I haven’t declared a war.”
With those words (and others) Israel’s Prime Minister launched his re-election campaign in an October speech to the Knesset. Well, at least that part of the election message box might now have to change. In launching Operation Pillar of Defence, Netanyahu is taking an uncharacteristic gamble—albeit a calculated risk. The decision was very likely made with the prompting of his Defence Minister Ehud Barak (who unlike the Prime Minister has little to lose politically, with Barak’s Independence party barely scraping the threshold to enter the Knesset, and is predicated on a number of circumstances having aligned). To be clear, this was an escalation of choice by Israel’s leadership (and it could become yet another war of choice). As the timeline of events over the last week makes clear, the killing of a Palestinian minor on November 8 during an IDF incursion into Gaza initiated a round of escalation which was already drawing to a close on November 11 and 12, leading to formal reports from a number of Israeli, Palestinian and international sources that a new truce was in place on November 13. Israel then assassinated Hamas’s military chief Ahmed al-Jabari on November 14.
And the British media continues to lie. How much longer?
UPDATE @ 18/11/12 @ 1321
Here’s an interesting article from Global Research that adds another dimension to this whole affair.