Photo: Shahar Azran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at UN
Photo: Shahar Azran
Aviad Kleinberg

Netanyahu's double standard

Op-ed: Prime minister is good at making demands of others that he himself would be unwilling and unable to meet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the UN General Assembly was not lacking in truths. The claim that radical Islam is a threat to the entire world is correct. The claim that Iran supports terror is correct. And the claim that Israel did not perpetrate genocide in Gaza is correct too.



Other claims can be disputed: Is every Islamic organization ISIS, and are Iran and ISIS part of the same Islamic effort to take over the world? The hostility between Iran and ISIS is evidence that not all Muslims cooperate with one another. The Islamic Republic views the Islamic Caliphate as a dangerous enemy and is willing to cooperate even with the despised West in order to stop it.


And if Abbas is indeed Hamas, as the prime minister claims, and Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Iran, it's unclear why Israel doesn't take the same action it is demanding from the West. Unlike Iran, Gaza and Ramallah are within our reach. Why does the prime minister of Israel refrain from eradicating the local threat at least? It's unclear. That is to say, it's clear: Political-military actions are complex matters involving profit-and-loss calculations. As prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu is aware of this complexity. He simply refuses to recognize it when it comes to others.


Netanyahu's UN speech (Video: Reuters)    (צילום: רויטרס)

Netanyahu's UN speech (Video: Reuters)


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 קוד להטמעה:

They, he argues, are sitting back with their arms folded. That's not exactly accurate. It's not true, for example, that the West is doing nothing about Iran's nuclear program. Iran has been hit by the West with a regimen of sanctions that probably brought about the regime change and capitulation agreement, which included a suspension of the nuclear program in return for an easing of the sanctions. It may not be enough, but it is certainly not "nothing at all."


The West has learned its lesson from Iraq and Libya and has refrained from toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite all its loathing for him. It managed to disarm him of his chemical weaponry without an all-out war. It hasn't solved the Syrian problem, but it's also not the nothing that Netanyahu attributes to the Western states. When it comes to ISIS, too, the West isn’t sitting idly by. It is organizing local coalitions and is also using force.


All in all, the achievements of the West do not fall short of those of Netanyahu in Gaza. What have all the Israeli operations and wars and sanctions achieved? Not very much thus far. The Hamas regime remains unshaken (partly because Hamas is good for the State of Israel, as declared by settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein) and its ability to renew its attacks on Israel hasn't disappeared.


Israel's prime minister is in the habit of offering advice on how the world should be run. The problem is that Netanyahu is not the ruler of the world; he's not even the leader of a world superpower. Netanyahu, the leader of a small country in the Middle East, talks a good game. When it comes to putting things into practice, he's no great shakes.


Netanyahu's policy is one of preserving the status quo and expanding construction in the territories. He's not doing so well with the first element of his mission: The status, alas, is changing continuously, and Netanyahu has old answers to new dangers (force) and new opportunities (no). The last time the United States lent an ear to Netanyahu and his neo-conservative allies, it invaded Iraq, leaving death and destruction in its wake.


As far as the second element of his mission goes, Netanyahu has chalked up some success, but no one outside of Israel appears very impressed. The Churchill-like stance from Jerusalem could perhaps have been be amusing if our Churchill was indeed bent on solving the problems of the world in the 1930s (the Nazis are never left out of Netanyahu's speeches); meanwhile, however, he is missing a one-off opportunity of going from a player who no one wants on his team to becoming a member of a highly powerful team that will play a central role in the battle against Islamic radicalism.


But Israel's inclusion in this team requires a solution to the Palestinian problem. This solution involves the evacuation of settlements, and the evacuation of settlements clashes with Netanyahu's one-and-only political achievement – appeasing the Yesha Council of settlers. It's not going to happen during the course of Netanyahu's term in office. Netanyahu must go.


פרסום ראשון: 10.01.14, 15:23
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