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3 Short Notes on Netanyahu’s Recent Messages

by Shmuel Rosner

June 23, 2014 | 4:07 am

Benjamin Netanyahu, Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

1.

It is summer. An Israeli is kidnapped by Hamas, in the north, and the IDF attacks hostile forces. If 2014 reminds you too much of 2006 – just before the second Lebanon War – I can’t blame you. But it is not 2006, and history isn't repeating itself. Israel attacked in Syria in response to a deadly fire from beyond the border. It is searching for three missing Israelis in the West Bank. And yet, there is no sense of a looming greater crisis in the making. Prime Minister Netanyahu, a man with an image much more hawkish than that of his predecessor Ehud Olmert, should get some credit for that. He did give the IDF a mandate to operate, but he is much more cautious not to let the situation get out of hand (For now, in this region one must add "for now" so as not to be seen as a fool).

2.

Reality overtakes hope in Iraq, declares a New York Times headline. And what is true for Iraq is also true for many other fronts. Last week, I wrote about Iraq and explained what Jerusalem is making out of it. Let me add one point. The war in Syria was thus far an isolated case of a long violent battle in close proximity to Israel, and the spillover was not significant. Thinking about the incident on Israel's Syrian border, coupled with the gradual advance of violent rebel forces in Iraq, one has to up a notch one’s worry about a possible seepage of violence. It is no wonder that "Jordan beefed up its border defenses with Iraq on Sunday after Sunni gunmen seized territory close to its border in Anbar province and appeared to have also taken control of the only land crossing with its large eastern neighbor". When Jordan worries, Israel also worries. So Israel's response in Syria should be seen as a message to the Assad regime but also to other potential violators of Israel's (relative) calm.

3.

I moderated a panel on Jewish media in Israel's "Jewish media summit" this morning. Before the session I was surprised to learn that many of the participants were unhappy with the Netanyahu’s performance yesterday, when he spoke to the group. What was the problem? Here's a number of quotes: "propaganda", "he didn't take us seriously", "he should have given us a chance to ask him questions", "he treated us as if we are a branch of his government".

During the session, members of the Jewish media complained that Israel doesn't generally treat them seriously. We are, one said, at the bottom of the food chain. The summit – so I assume – is supposed to be a step in the right direction. But for it to succeed, the high ranking speakers have to be prepared and to satisfy the crowd, not to further ingrain a sense of disregard.

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