The Israeli Left Shoots Itself in the Foot by Demonizing Benjamin Netanyahu

For years, leftists in Israel—from moderates like the Hatnuah-party leader Tzipi Livni to post-Zionists writing for the newspaper Haaretz—have painted Prime Minister Netanyahu as a dangerous threat to democracy and an enthusiastic builder of settlements. Not only are these claims false, argues Evelyn Gordon, but they have done Netanyahu’s political opponents no favors:

[This leftist] narrative about Netanyahu . . .  has been widely embraced by American Jews and the Democratic party. That’s bad for Israel as a whole, as it has contributed to growing anti-Israel sentiment among both groups. I don’t think either group’s alienation stems primarily from Israel’s policies, whether real or alleged. Nevertheless, had prominent Israeli leftists told the truth—that Netanyahu was doing very little settlement- building [and] that his actual positions are far from his hardline image—it might have slowed the process.

[Moreover], this false narrative hurts leftists themselves since it impedes Netanyahu’s ability to adopt policies they favor. Many such policies, like the dearth of settlement construction, are indeed very unpopular with his base, but he could justify them if they were achieving something important for Israel, like maintaining its bipartisan support in America.

In reality, however, they don’t achieve anything. For instance, despite Netanyahu’s restraint on settlements, the Obama administration repeatedly accused him of “aggressive” settlement-construction, with full-throated backing from Israeli leftists. That makes it impossible for Netanyahu to justify restraint to his unhappy base, which is precisely why he sometimes “caves to them” [as Livni herself put it in a recent interview]. Finally, this false narrative hinders his ability to form a broader-based government. . . .

Many of the same evils obviously derive from Israeli rightists’ favorite trick of calling left-wing opponents “anti-Zionist,” though most Israeli leftists are no such thing. Inter alia, the false narrative that anti-Zionism is widespread on the Israeli left helps legitimatize anti-Zionism as a normative left-wing position overseas.

Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Haaretz, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Israeli left, Tzipi Livni

 

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy