Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Bye, bye Bibi

Israel needs fresh, strategic leadership

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(Luo Huanhuan/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)

(Luo Huanhuan/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)

(Luo Huanhuan/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)

By Arthur Robert, Collegian Contributor

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Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, if he completes his term as Prime Minister of Israel, will be the second longest-serving Prime Minister in the young nation’s history. He will also likely go down in history as one Israel’s most divisive Prime Ministers. Critics have long accused him of putting politics and short term success ahead of Israel’s long-term goals. That type of thinking can often lead to corruption, which Israeli police now believe he is guilty of. Short-term thinking is also evident in Netanyahu’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he has effectively used to garner political support but has made no progress in resolving. Ultimately, Netanyahu’s refusal to address long term problems could be Israel’s undoing.

Netanyahu has strong views on how corruption scandals impact governance. Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor, stepped down after Israeli police recommended charges of bribery, breach of trust, money laundering and fraudulent receipt of goods against him. Netanyahu, whose Likud party was poised to unseat Olmert’s ruling Kadima party, described the 2008 political climate in Israel by saying, “These conditions [make it] very difficult to run a state.” Netanyahu elaborated when he said, “[Ehud Olmert] will make decisions based on his personal interest in political survival and not based on the national interest.” Now that the Israeli police have recommended corruption charges against Netanyahu, those words give us a clear window into Netanyahu’s way of thinking. Following his own logic, Netanyahu’s future decisions may well be made out of self-preservation rather than self-interest. Can Israel afford a leader who is less concerned with his country’s survival than his own political survival?

In the words of Tamir Pardo, the former director of Mossad (the principal Israeli intelligence service), the continuing lack of a two-state solution poses an “existential threat” to Israel. Even unencumbered by scandal, Netanyahu has demonstrated an inability (or unwillingness) to work toward a definitive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, a report by the State Comptroller of Israel found that Netanyahu’s government had no strategic goal for the fighting. Without a strategic goal, Netanyahu’s government could not (and did not) translate their crushing military victory into a political advantage they could have used to solve the overarching conflict.

With Israel facing an existential threat in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, decisive and strategic leadership are both necessary. Otherwise, Israel remains caught up in an unproductive and wasteful cycle where they are forced to invade the Gaza Strip every time Hamas builds up its military power. In the past ten years, the Israeli army has been forced to invade Gaza three times, twice under Netanyahu’s leadership. On Feb. 4, the Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, warned in a cabinet meeting that fighting between Hamas and Israel could break out again in 2018. If that fighting breaks out under Netanyahu, it is unlikely to result in anything more than a temporary ceasefire that would only perpetuate the unproductive cycle.

Israel has more on its plate than just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee described Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist group embedded in Lebanon, as one of Israel’s most immediate security threat. Hezbollah has stockpiled as many as 150,000 rockets, including an unknown number of scud missiles and other types of guided missiles. In the past, Israel has referred to such weapons as “game changing.” Iran, which has claimed it can “raze [Israel] in less than 8 minutes,” is also accelerating its ballistic missile program and establishing itself in Syria.

With Hezbollah and Iran expanding their capabilities and stepping up their anti-Israel rhetoric, Israel needs to be able to be able to commit its full national energy against them. To facilitate this, Israel needs a leader who is dedicated to resolving their decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, who has both backed away from a two-state solution and muddied the waters around any alternatives, is not that leader. Even if Netanyahu ever was a strategic thinker, his corruption problems will leave him far too busy and short-sighted to deal with the Palestinian conflict

Benjamin Netanyahu has been in power for almost a decade. Over the course of his terms as Prime Minister, he has advocated peace and claimed to act in the national interest of Israel. He has an opportunity now to do both in one grandiose act: resigning. By resigning, Netanyahu will make clear that the Israeli democracy will not suffer corruption. By resigning, Netanyahu will clear the way for a fresh, strategic approach to the Palestinian conflict.

Arthur Robert is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Bye, bye Bibi”

  1. beer baron on February 22nd, 2018 7:21 pm

    It would be difficult to find anything remotely accurate in this unintentionally-hilarious, Orwellian-rewriting of history masquerading as a diatribe against the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel, but I will restrict myself to the following points:

    The two-state solution is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance on a grand political scale.

    With regards to its plausibility, like the Holy Roman Empire, the two-state solution did not solve anything and it wasn’t in the business of creating two states. Not unless you count a Hamas state in Gaza and a Fatah state in the West Bank.

    Rather, the two-state solution was a perverse euphemism for carving an Islamic terror state out of the land of Israel and the living flesh of her people. It solved nothing except the shortage of graves in Israel as Muslim terrorists in the Middle East.

    In hindsight, the consequences of giving terrorists a country to play with were always about as predictable as running a toaster in the shower.

  2. Hammer6 on February 23rd, 2018 7:21 am

    A powerful case offered with dash and elan. The author reminds us that hypocricy serves the powerful but never the people. More importantly, he points out that rapprochement with the Palestinians is in Israel’s interest. Such a move would wrong foot Huzzbollah and Iran, to strategic effect. Without an external enemy, these movements will slide into existential crises of their own. Israel’s survival depends on it’s essential greatness, not on it’s ability to coerce.

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