A no-frills explanation of what is going in Israel just now – re Gaza, and beyond
So, Israel and Gaza are at it again. To an outsider, it seems simply tragic. But it is more than just an aerial bombardment. So let me try to dummy-down the complexities, as an Israeli who did not vote for the PM in any of the recent elections.
In terms of the conduct of the war – yes, it is a war – I approve of everything I have seen so far from the government. Why? Putting aside the ‘who started it game’, no country has the right to hurl thousands of rockets indiscriminately, at anyone else. Israel must defend itself.
Disagree? Consider you have a child at school. Rightly or otherwise, that child always takes the spot of another kid in the playground, which causes distress. Would you agree to allow that child beat up yours? Unlikely.
That said, there is no doubt in my mind that the events leading up to the latest fighting were totally misunderstood by the PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his cronies in the Likud party. (Likud is the dominant faction in a very fractious temporary government).
To start with, it turns out that the Hamas social media network has been calling for riots for months to take place on Jerusalem Day. The policing of the hot points of the Holy City was shown to be naïve at crucial moments. Rushing into mosques to arrest trouble makers showed old lessons had been forgotten. And the management of the Sheik Jarrah eviction was a shambles.
All of the above are the responsibility of the PM or a close ally. They gave Hamas the excuses they needed. Israel was caught off-guard.
However, let us keep some perspective, the rockets from Gaza are laced with anti-Semitism and terror. They frighten, destroy, maim and even kill. But, they will not destroy the country. Just today, an Israeli e-commerce company has completed a NASDAQ valuation of over US$3.0 billion.
What disgusts me is what happened over the past two nights. In cities known for where Jew and non-Jew literally live side-by-side, vigilantes of both religions took control of the streets. There are stories of of repulsive violence and vandalism from both corners of the ring.
Social media was full of warnings. Police presence was inadequate. Political leadership was noticeable through its deafening silence. I was shocked dismayed and embarrassed.
Yes, of the few exceptions to this was a spontaneous interview with the highly respected Reuven Rivlin, the outgoing President of Israel. About 90 minutes later, the PM also issued a brief statement.
Maybe I missed his wise words, but I have yet to hear from the Minister of Police, Mr Amir Ohana. Known for his close ties to the Prime Minister, he has to accept that under his watch, and I repeat, his police force lost control of the streets in at least four cities!
And that comes immediately after the tragedy 2 weeks ago, when 45 people were crushed to death in a religious ceremony in the north of the country. It would seem that only at the highest of levels did the police approve the security arrangements for the event. To date, no public inquiry has been set up. A disgrace!
The difference between the issue of the rockets and the riots is that the former is a threat to life and property, but it is scenario with boundaries (for now). The latter is vast in depth and represents a direct threat to the core values of a country, based on democracy and mutual respect.
Who gave the PM the right to put this at risk?
For a decade, Netanyahu has kept power by mocking minority groups and dividing society. For the past two years, he has fought his legal battles, maintaining that he run the country at the same time. He has asked for a mandate from the public four times in 24 months, and thankfully has not received it.
For the sake of the future of this country and its values, the man must go, now!