HOME January-February 2011 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web



by David Isaac


"The US faces a weak prime minister, perhaps the weakest in memory. I saw Netanyahu when he spoke to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee a year ago, after his first meeting with Obama. Having served in the IDF's Medical Corps for decades, I am certainly able to diagnose shell shock when I see it. Netanyahu looked like a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder," wrote Israeli Knesset member Aryeh Eldad,[1] former chief medical officer of the Israel Defense Forces.

Netanyahu seems to have suffered another bout of shell shock after the recent Lebanese-sponsored attempt to have the UN Security Council declare Jewish settlements illegal. "The U.S. veto in the UN Security Council was achieved with great effort," Netanyahu[2] said recently to a gathering of Likud Party officials, explaining Israel's "very difficult international situation".

Netanyahu's answer to the difficult situation? Pre-emptive surrender.

The policy of pre-emptive surrender was explained succinctly, though not in those exact words, by Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor this week. In an interview with Israel Army Radio, following reports that Netanyahu planned to announce a new peace plan, perhaps during a U.S. visit scheduled for May, Meridor said that if Israel doesn't take the initiative, that is to say, transfer more of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority, the "entire world could recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders."

So there it is in a nutshell: Netanyahu's government argues that surrender is inevitable, so Israel might as well surrender now on its terms rather than later, on someone else's. It is as if Netanyahu is saying: 'I'm too weak to withstand the pressure, but I won't give away as much as the world demands either. When it comes to surrender terms, I drive a hard bargain.' The trouble is when you've agreed in principle to a two-state solution, the final result is the same, whether you give away more now or more later. It doesn't make a difference in the end — Israel's days are numbered either way. It's just a matter of the number.

It reminds one of the old joke about the young gentleman seated next to an attractive, seemingly upright young lady. He asks, "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?" The lady refuses, but then humorously agrees. He then asks. "Would you sleep with me for five dollars?" Offended, she says, "Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?" To which he replies, "Madam, we've already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price."

The worst part of it is that Netanyahu substitutes virtual surrender for real surrender. The world can recognize a Palestinian State with any borders it likes. That doesn't change the facts on the ground. Israel isn't obligated to go along with such an 'international consensus', which has no legal basis. In such a scenario, Israel may face international isolation, perhaps even sanctions, but that beats retreat to indefensible borders, the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of citizens, followed by social upheaval and death.

In the world court, international opinion is the false accuser and Israel is the defendant wrongfully accused. If Israel carries any guilt, it's only the guilt of a defendant who doesn't defend himself. Israel has barely made its case to the world, as Shmuel Katz frequently pointed out. He developed a detailed plan for a Ministry of Information that would rival Britain's Ministry of Information during World War II (that ministry was second in size only to the Ministry of Defense).

As Shmuel wrote in "Countering Propaganda"[3] (The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 1984):

Nobody who has studied the nature and extent of the anti-Israeli campaign, and the many factors potentially working in Israel's favour, will suggest that that campaign cannot be defeated. Only — for that you need, first of all, a hasbara "war office" dedicated to that single purpose.

Shmuel believed that the fight for world opinion was a fight Israel could win. Netanyahu apparently does not. He doesn't even offer the Israeli people the option. It would mean telling the world where to go and how to get there. It would mean a degree of mental toughness that Netanyahu doesn't seem to have, and a persuasiveness that (surprisingly, given his eloquence), he feels he cannot muster.

Perhaps because Netanyahu is not willing to fight against the erosion of Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria he becomes cruel towards those who do. "People do not understand where they live. If you do not live in the real world, it is possible to disregard everything, and I suggest that they start being wary in order to protect the existing construction," he said in response to an attack by Israeli security forces on Gilad Farm[4] in Samaria, a much-abused piece of private property that the government considers illegal because Defense Minister Ehud Barak refuses to sign some construction papers. The assault was unprecedented in that, for the first time, security forces used pneumatic guns[5] that fired rubber bullets. Fifteen civilians were wounded.

No wonder Shmuel referred to Netanyahu as "Tweedledee" — "(forced to end his earlier term by his blunders, breach of promises, and his dismissive, not to say insolent behavior toward his colleagues and followers)". ("...And Netanyahu's Candidacy",[6] The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 22, 2000)

Netanyahu goes the way of Ariel Sharon, another nationalist leader who engaged in pre-emptive surrender, forcing Jews out of the Gaza strip by arguing, among other things, that Gaza would have been evacuated anyway as part of a peace deal.

Even Netanyahu's attitude toward the Jews of Gilad Farm is of a piece with Sharon. Sharon not only turned the self-sufficient Jews of Gush Katif into victims, he also mistreated them in the process. Netanyahu has not quite sunk to that level, but his reaction to the recent assault suggests he may.

As Shmuel wrote in "Two Faces of A Bully"[7] (The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 30, 2005):

Civic courage and social courtesy surely require that Sharon should apologize for ruining the lives of the Katif community, explain why it was essential for the national health and why it was an urgent measure. He should moreover have stressed his thanks and admiration for the steadfast bravery of the community over the years of Arab terror directed against them. He never came to them. What he did do was to abuse them verbally and to have those who chose to resist being driven from their homes, including youngsters of 14, treated as criminals to be sent to prison.

The weak are often cruel. Netanyahu must overcome his weakness in the face of international pressure if he is to lead Israel out of danger. If he cannot overcome that weakness, he should at least overcome his weakness for sitting in the prime minister's chair, so as to make room for others made of stronger stuff than he.


[1] Article.aspx?id=175298







David Isaac is editor of the Shmuel Katz website: Contact him with questions or comments at This article was published March 9, 2011 and is archived at


Return_________________________End of Story___________________________Return

HOME January-February 2011 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web