MIDEAST MIRROR 15.06.15, SECTION A (ISRAEL)
Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom lead their Monday editions with comments by a leading Israeli actor, which they present as being part of the local intelligentsia's campaign against new Culture Minister Miri Regev and vice versa. Speaking on Thursday at an emergency cultural meeting in Jaffa focused on the recent 'anti-democratic measures' taken by Regev and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Oded Kotler likened right-wing voters to 'a herd of straw and cud-munching cattle.'
Regev responded to Kotler’s remarks, saying that likening Likud voters to 'cattle' reveals the 'ugly and patronizing face of the speaker, Oded Kotler and some of the participants who clapped for him.' Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition, also slammed Kotler for his speech, saying that the actor’s comment 'has absolutely nothing in common with culture, love of mankind or pluralism.'
Haaretz leads with the cabinet's decision to approve a proposed law that would enable authorities to force-feed Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike. Israel has long been concerned that hunger strikes by Palestinians in its jails could end in death and trigger waves of protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel's Medical Association, which considers force-feeding a form of torture and medically risky, has urged Israeli doctors not to abide by the law if it is passed.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who sponsored the bill, said the cabinet's support for the legislation would allow him to re-submit it to parliament for two final votes in the near future. It already passed a preliminary vote in the Knesset before the parliamentary election in March. 'Hunger strikes by imprisoned terrorists have become a weapon with which they are trying to threaten the State of Israel,' Erdan wrote on Facebook. 'The cabinet's decision today sends a clear message: we will not blink in the face of any threat.'
Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails, called the legislation racist and a violation of international law. Under current Israeli law, patients cannot be treated against their will, although an ethics committee can be asked to intervene.
Hamas called for the immediate release of hunger-striking prisoners held by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Ismail Haniyeh appealed for the release of Khader Adnan, who was imprisoned by Israel and has been refusing food for about 40 days. He also called for the release of Islam Hamad, who has been held by Hamas's rival Fateh and has been reportedly on hunger strike for 63 days. Haniyeh said that Israel 'arrests and kills our sons and our brothers, while our brothers use the same means.'
The Jerusalem Post is the only paper that leads with Israel's preemptive report on Operation Protective Edge – unveiled days before a United Nations probe into the 50-day war is due to be released. Prime Minister Netanyahu was presented on Sunday with the report. In remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that the report is especially important as part of efforts to counter anti-Israeli initiatives and de-legitimization efforts. He said the report presents the true picture of Operation Protective Edge, which proves unequivocally that actions carried out by the IDF were in accordance with international law, in contrast to the actions of Hamas, which deliberately fired at civilians while intentionally hiding behind their civilians. The Prime Minister stressed that the state of Israel and the IDF are committed to the rules of international law not because of this or that report or UN committee, but because Israel is a democracy and a moral country with values.
In its first comments on the Israeli report, Hamas said Sunday night that Israel, and not it, would pay the price for the 'lies' the report includes. Hamas leader Izzat al-Rishq called the report 'a lie that is being spread to cover up (Israel's) war crimes. It is a blatant attempt to squeeze out of responsibility and to spread lies that will support the evil narrative' of Israel. Al-Rishq said, Israel is attempting to divert attention from the 'real' report that is due out in several days by the United Nations Human Rights Council. That report is expected to be far more sympathetic to Hamas than the IDF's report.
Speaking earlier, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that there was no need to wait for that report 'in order to know that it will not be worth the paper it is printed on.' Speaking of the Human Rights Council, Lieberman said that 'there is no group in the world whose essence is the opposite of its name, with 'enlightened' countries like Cuba and Libya as its important members.'
In other news, all the papers run stories about the fate of Syria's Druze community, following a series of rallies and marches in northern Israel on Sunday. Members of Israel's Druze community called for the protection of the sect’s members threatened by jihadist movements Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.
Israel intends to create a humanitarian buffer zone inside Syria, along its border, to help that country's Druze, according to Walla! News. Israel is in contact with the Red Cross and various countries regarding the buffer zone. A diplomatic source told Walla! that 'there is no intention to ignore the possibility of a massacre against the Druze.' Several weeks ago a senior Israeli military official, briefing reporters, also said 'Israel would not stand idle if it sees a massacre.'
A Red Cross spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the report, but added that the organization is 'conducting secret contacts with various elements regarding the situation in Syria.' Israel has been providing medical treatment to Syrians injured as a result of the fighting at a military field hospital on the Golan Heights and at Israeli hospitals.
Israel has also asked the United States to increase its aid to the embattled Druze community in Syria, Haaretz reported Sunday. The request was made last week to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, on his visit to Israel. According to Haaretz, while Israel is unlikely to intervene on the Druze’s behalf in the Jabal Druze region of southern Syria, it is prepared to offer humanitarian aid to residents of the Druze village of Khadr, which lies close to the Israeli border.
ISRAEL OUTSIDE: Writing in Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit says that, for the time being, Israel is not involved in the Syrian Civil War or in helping the Syrian Druze – because it has learned the lessons of the past.
"The attacks by various terrorist organizations against the Druze population of Syria present Israel with an unprecedented and tough problem. It is a military problem and a diplomatic problem – but first and foremost it is a moral problem. The leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, was given a full appraisal by the relevant Israeli officials of Jerusalem's position in light of the murderous (and distant) threat posed by ISIS and the more moderate (and more proximate) threat posed by the al-Nusra Front. The relative moderateness of the official Druze leadership toward the Israeli defense establishment's handling of the situation makes one think that silence, in this case, is the best policy. If life in the Middle East has taught us anything, it's that when you have to shoot, you shoot. And if you don't have to shoot, don't talk either.
If Israel takes any action to help the Druze, it must do so quietly and with total ambiguity – in part because the 700,000 Druze residents of Syria are split between different geographical locations. More than half of them are located on Jabal al-Druze, which was the driving force behind the Syrian Revolution of 1925; the rest are located in areas under the control of President Bashar al-Assad. Some Druze have also thrown in their lot with the Assad family and are fighting for its survival.
So what, then, do the Druze really want? When push comes to shove – and it seems inevitable that it will – Israel will expect an official announcement from a unified Druze leadership in Syria. The IDF will not repeat the mistakes of Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eitan, who dragged Menachem Begin into the first Lebanon War on the mistaken assumption that it was a humanitarian effort to save the Christians there and who, in the end, turned their backs on the IDF.
In public, Israel will not be able to give the Syrian Druze anything more than moral support. Their leaders say that Israel intervenes on behalf of Jews who are under threat anywhere in the world. If, they say, it is still true that all Jews look out for the wellbeing of their landsmen; then this should also apply to the Syrian Druze. But the truth is that even Israel's commitment to Jews across the globe is not absolute. Only if the defense establishment feels that it can no longer live with events on the border will it undertake even a minimal humanitarian effort. Israel is not involved in the Syrian Civil War; and the Druze refuse to see themselves as refugees. Yesterday, the leader of the pro-Zionist Druze leaders in Israel said that they would prefer to die defending their land than to abandon it.
If, despite it all, some of the Druze population needs to be relocated to save it from ISIS' murderous advances, it is obvious that they will move from Jabal al-Druze into Jordan. This is because the Hashemite Kingdom has the resources to deal with incoming refugees and also because it is geographically closest. Israel is an interested party, watching the battles unfold with concern. But, for the time being, it is outside of the lines of battle."
KEEP OUT OF THE QUAGMIRE: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Ben-Dror Yemini says that, notwithstanding our desire to help the Druze, Israel cannot afford to be dragged into the bloody quagmire of the pan-Islamist war that is raging across the Middle East.
"The Middle East is a hornets' nest. That's not something new. Lebanon went through a bloody civil war, in which 150,000 people were killed. What is happening now in Syria and Iraq is just a continuation of decades-long tribal warfare, which does not look like it's going to end in the foreseeable future. Somalia has already collapsed; Libya, too. Yemen is on the same path of self-destruction, while Syria and Iraq are blowing themselves to smithereens. They are all engaged in battles to the death.
This festival of bloodshed has produced one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions have been turned into refugees. It is a chilling human tragedy. There are no demonstrations against this new jihadist imperialism, which brings death and destruction to every place it passes. Pan-Arabism has run its historic course. It has been replaced by pan-Islamism, which is much more dangerous and murderous.
Israel tried to intervene once. But it failed to save the Christians in Lebanon and failed to eradicate Palestinian terrorism. All it did was damage to itself. Our hearts go out to the victims of this bloodbath, in which people are massacred irrespective of religion, race or ethnic belonging. Western governments are not getting involved because they are afraid. The West intervened in Libya. Its intentions were good. The outcome was dire.
Intervention is justified when it helps. This is not the situation today. Things are more complex. Who is killing whom? Why? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Who is the aggressor and who is the victim? There are no separation lines. There are no good guys and no bad guys. The Druze sided with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who committed countless atrocities. Now they could find themselves the victims of pan-Islamism, which is no less brutal. And only one thing is clear: Israel cannot do and must not do what the United States and Sweden refuse to do.
This does not mean we should be indifferent to the fate of the Druze. We can and should help anyone who comes knocking on our door. Medical assistance. Humanitarian aid. But, under no circumstances, should Israel allow itself to be dragged into that bloody quagmire. No good will come of it. All that will happen is that we will sink into the quagmire, too. We have been in that situation once before. We cannot afford for it to happen again."
COMMON INTERESTS: Writing in Maariv, Yossi Melman says that Israel and Hizbollah have a shared interest in protecting the Druze population of Syria and Lebanon – and that the United States is helping to arm them.
"The situation in Syria is getting increasingly dire with each passing day. The horrific chaos there has already claimed 200,000 lives, left hundreds of thousands injured and created quarter of a million refugees. But there is another disaster lurking around the corner – the existential threat to the Druze community in Syria. That could drag Israel into the firing line against its will.
At the moment, Israel is merely keeping close tabs on events just the other side of the border. For reasons of national and regional security, we cannot say exactly how it is doing this. Sources in the Israeli defense establishment say that they have no intention of intervening in the Syrian Civil War, but will the Druze community in Israel – which numbers around 130,000 people – allow the government and the IDF to stand idly by while the million or so Druze in Syria face annihilation?
The fate of the Druze was discussed last week during the visit to Israel of General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Reuven Rivlin called on the United States to defend the Druze in Syria and it seems likely that his comments were coordinated with Israel's most senior military officials. It is also likely that these officials made similar comments when they subsequently met with Dempsey.
Ayyub Kara, the Druze Knesset member who serves as Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, attended a regional summit last week in Jordan to discuss the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. He took advantage of his visit to Amman to meet with the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Syria, Sheikh Youssef Jourba’a, and with members of the Jordanian government and military. Later this month, he will also visit Turkey, where he will try to persuade the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an to open up the border as an emergency measure and to allow Druze refugees to find safe shelter in his country.
Behind the scenes, however, the messages and the contacts are a lot more complex and fascinating; they are creating alliances that the public will never be aware of and which, under other circumstances, would have been unimaginable. The Druze conundrum involves Israel, Jordan, the United States, the al-Nusra Front (an al-Qa’ida offshoot), Hizbollah and – further afield – Iran.
As an ethnic and religious minority, the Druze enjoyed the protection of Bashar al-Assad and his army until recently. But the regime told them that it would no longer be able to protect them, especially the largest concentration on Jabal al-Druze, where more than 700,000 of them are threatened by the rapid advance of ISIS. Jabal al-Druze is located some 60 kilometers from the border with Jordan and just 50 kilometers from the border with the Golan Heights.
In the Idlib province in northern Syria, which is controlled by the al-Nusra Front, some 20 Druze residents have been killed of late. Leaders of the al-Nusra Front were quick to issue a rare apology, saying that the killings were a localized incident and that those responsible would be punished. Since one can hardly imagine any organization linked to al-Qa’ida apologizing for killing people it sees as infidels, it seems likely that a strongly worded message was relayed to the al-Nusra Front, warning them not to attack the Druze.
A similar message was relayed a few months ago to the Salafi organization which controls the area of the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights, where – in the foothills of the Hermon, there is a concentration of Druze villages. According to reports in the foreign press, there have been contacts between Israel and the al-Nusra Front for some time, with the goal of ensuring quiet on the Golan border. But the Druze in Syria, Israel and Jordan are not relying merely on apologies and understandings; they are starting to get organized.
Hundreds of Lebanese Druze have heeded the call of their leader, Walid Jumblatt, who has, in coordination with Hizbollah, ensured them safe passage. So – in a bizarre and almost unbelievable turn of events – Israel and Hizbollah have a common interest: to protect and strengthen the Druze.
There is a broader effort underway to establish a Druze militia. This ambitious effort hopes to recruit 100,000 fighters. The effort is spearheaded by a Druze former general in the Syrian army. The heavy weapons and training that any such force would need would no doubt be provided by the United States, via Jordan. One can only assume that Israel is aware of these moves and that the U.S. has coordinated with Jerusalem. At the same time, the Israeli defense establishment is preparing itself for the emergency scenario whereby it has to allow thousands of Druze refugees to cross over the border of the Golan Heights into Israel."
DRUZE BLUES: Writing in Israel Hayom, Professor Eyal Zisser says that Israel is morally obligated to help the Syrian Druze, who are under immediate threat from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front.
"The successes of ISIS in Syria has raised concerns in Israel that, one day in the not too distant future, the organization's fighters will be preparing to attack us from the Syrian side of the border fence on the Golan Heights. In the meantime, however, ISIS continues to focus its attention on the battles within Syria; in recent weeks, there have been signs that ISIS has been making a concerted effort to take Jabal al-Druze, in the south-east of Syria, which is home to some one million Druze. But ISIS is not currently threatening just the Druze population of Syria. In addition, the al-Nusra Front – an offshoot of al-Qa’ida which is also operating in Syria and which is considered more moderate and pragmatic that ISIS – is increasing its pressure on Jabal al-Druze from the west, as well as on several Druze villages in the foothills of the Hermon – directly opposite the Druze communities inside Israel.
The al-Nusra Front has captured the Idlib province in northern Syria, which is home to several thousand Druze. Many of them were forced to flee their homes and those who were left behind were forced to abandon their faith, to destroy their own places of worship and to adopt the customs of the al-Nusra Front. Last week, there were even reports of mass murder of members of the Druze population by the al-Nusra Front.
Over the years, the Druze have stood by Syria and have been loyal to its rulers. They remained loyal to the regime even after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War – especially when, as a result of this revolution, they found themselves slowly being surrounded by radical Islamist forces. However, Bashar al-Assad did not repay their loyalty in kind and has now abandoned them to their fate. Assad is like the captain of a sinking ship who is trying to offload excess ballast. He does not have the ability or the desire – and, most significantly, he does not have the military force – to send aid to the Druze and to protect them from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front. Instead, he is using all his resources and putting all his effort into saving whatever he can of his regime; at the top of his list of priorities is his capital city, Damascus, and, even more importantly, the Alawite-controlled coastal strip, where members of his tribe – who form the backbone of his regime – are concentrated.
The Druze, therefore, have been left to face ISIS and the al-Nusra Front alone. The Druze are a famously unified group and they are famous for their willingness to fight against anyone who seeks to harm them. Still, faced with hordes of ISIS and al-Nusra Front fighters closing in on them from every side, the Druze need help and assistance.
The Druze are still considering their next step and will not necessarily ask Israel for help. After all, they have thrown in their lot with Syria – even though that country does not really exist anymore. It is entirely possible that, if the rebel forces increase the pressure on the Druze villages near the Hermon, residents there will ask for Israel's help. They might even ask for safe refuge on Israeli soil. Jabal al-Druze, in contrast, is far from the Israeli border and is not territorially contiguous with the Golan Heights.
As far as Israel is concerned, reaching out to help the Druze would be a strategically logical move, since it is clear that ISIS will continue to march toward the Golan Heights once it has finished its work on Jabal al-Druze. But, in addition, it would be the moral and humanistic thing to do. Not only is Israel morally obliged to help any minority that is under threat, it also owes a debt to the Druze residents of Israel, who can only look on helplessly as their brethren on the other side of the border face a very real and immediate threat."
A STRATEGY OF REFUSAL: Writing on the News 1 website, Yoni Ben-Menachem says that there are some Palestinian leaders who recognize that regional developments have created an opening for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – notwithstanding President Mahmoud 'Abbas rejectionist policies.
"The most talked-about issue in the territories last week was the Palestinian poll that found that half of Gaza residents want to emigrate. Palestinian experts explain the reason as the difficulties for the younger generation, for economic reasons, to marry, find a job and a place to live.
The fact that the younger generation in the territories has begun to lose hope is due to the Palestinian rejectionist strategy that Mahmoud Abbas leads, and Hamas’ plan to establish an Islamic state.
Abbas has made a strategic decision not to return to negotiations with Israel without receiving international guarantees for an Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 lines, a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, and a solution to the refugee problem. Abbas has been encouraging boycott moves against Israel in recent days, to force Israel to accept Palestinian demands.
Therefore, it is crucial for Israel to wage an intensive response to the international boycott campaign in order to show the world that this is damaging the chances for a political solution and strengthening the Palestinians’ stance of refusal. The Palestinians are not interested in real negotiations but rather in an international decision that comes at the expense of Israel’s security interests.
But the Minister of History has other plans. The two major threats to the Middle East today are the rise of Iran and the spread of Islamic State, knocking aside the Palestinian problem. Within the Palestinian leadership are those who understand that Abbas’ rejectionist strategy is mistaken and will only increase local distress because Israel is a strong state and in the end Abbas will not be able to force his will on Israel in the international political arena. These Palestinian officials believe that the major changes in the Middle East create new opportunities to restart negotiations with Israel. They say the Arab states today are more prepared than ever before to accept an agreement between Israel and the PA. These states, particularly the Gulf States, see Israel as an ally in the war against Iran and ISIS."
BRING IT ON: Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Yonah Jeremy Bob says that the Foreign Ministry’s preemptive report on the 2014 Gaza war was meant to strike hard and deep at the United Nations Human Rights Council report – but asks whether Israel is actually ready to do battle against the United Nations.
"The stage is set, the main actors have taken their positions and in a day or a matter of days, the main event will begin.
The Foreign Ministry’s robust report on the 2014 Gaza war was meant to strike hard and deep at the United Nations Human Rights Council report expected to be published with highly negative conclusions about the IDF’s conduct during the war and alleged war crimes.
The legal shots across the bow were the culmination of a campaign that included hosting a large conference of countries’ heads of legal divisions in February, tours of top law schools in the U.S. and Europe by Israeli officials, and multiple rounds of pro-Israel reports on the IDF’s conduct by countries’ heads of legal divisions and top military law academics.
There are also the four IDF published reports, the latest from last Thursday, on the status of 190 reviews of incidents from the 2014 war, along with 22 full criminal investigations, three indictments and vivid detail on controversial cases that have been closed.
The new report not only explains the context of the war from the Israeli perspective but goes into painstaking detail in disputing Palestinian statistics on civilian casualties. It describes in detail IDF munitions and tactics meant to reduce casualties; translates portions of a Hamas manual that calls for endangering its own civilians; and explains all the changes to the IDF’s investigations processes post the 2008-2009 Gaza war as a result of the 2013 quasi-governmental Turkel Commission review of those processes. The most positive change is the speed with which the IDF opened its initial criminal investigations, some within weeks of the end of last year’s war.
The legal message from Israel to the UNHRC could not be clearer: Bring it on. But is Israel truly ready? The report says that Israel has implemented many of Turkel’s 18 recommendations for improving investigations. An exhaustive review of the recommendations by The Jerusalem Post revealed that only six of 18 recommendations have been fully implemented, though there has been progress on another five recommendations and some of those rejected are considered minor.
Most critically, as first reported in the Post, cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit has said that the government rejected recommendation No. 10, which was to set a time limit by when prosecutors need to decide whether to issue an indictment or close an alleged war crimes case. This will raise red flags at the UNHRC and elsewhere.
The Foreign Ministry’s report and IDF reports describe in vivid detail why the IDF has closed the files on certain tragic incidents. But almost 10 months after the war, there is still not a single war crimes indictment. (There are three indictments for theft.) The investigations of many of the most severe incidents – the Hannibal Protocol incident, Shujai’ya incidents, an attack on a coffee shop and several attacks on UN facilities – are still up in the air, though the Post was told that the state had heavily weighed publicizing decisions on the Hannibal Protocol incident before the UNHRC report is released. The IDF’s decision – justified or unjustified – to close the file on the Gaza Beach incident, in which four Palestinian minors were killed, without indictment did not win Israel any fans.
The truth is that Israel has done a phenomenal job building alliances with like-minded influential militaries and academics and has improved its own investigations, but has still left itself vulnerable in that area. Whether the UNHRC and – even more important and just around the corner – the International Criminal Court think Israel has reasonably investigated itself will likely determine the course of this crucial battle over the IDF’s legitimacy."
INEFFECTIVE PR: Writing in Haaretz, Barak Ravid says that an Israeli diplomatic initiative to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the international community would have worked better than any report.
"Hundreds of hours of work by attorneys, diplomats and officers were invested in the 270-page Israeli report on Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. The result was a comprehensive, detailed and well-formulated document. And yet, the report’s efficacy is dubious. It would be no exaggeration to say that its impact on Israel’s international standing, its legal position and its public image will barely be felt.
The Israeli report was published on Sunday, so as to come out ahead of the UN Human Rights Council report on the war in Gaza, which may be released on Monday. One of the main aims of the Israeli report was to try to influence the way the UNHRC report will be covered in the international media over the next few days. It is unlikely this goal will be achieved.
Few Israeli or international correspondents attended Sunday’s press conference at the Foreign Ministry, where the main points of the report were presented. Despite the serious work invested in it, the report provided no new information. Moreover, the three jurists selected to be the report’s 'presenters' had trouble piquing anyone’s interest or summing up the report in sound bites that would lead media coverage.
Although the report is serious, it is not much more than a particularly long PR document by the government of Israel. That is the way it will be perceived by the few people who read it from beginning to end, or by the few who read its summary. In the world of 2015, especially in the West, this is no longer enough.
If the government of Israel wants to persuade people of the rightness of the decisions it made and the actions it took last summer, it must establish an independent commission of inquiry in which international figures take part. That is exactly what was done by the Turkel Commission that examined the events of the 2010 Turkish flotilla to Gaza. The report that commission issued had decisive importance, in view of the investigation commissioned by the UN secretary general, which determined that Israel did not contravene international law when it took over the Mavi Marmara.
One of the main reasons the Israeli report on the Gaza war is no more than an academic exercise is that Israel decided to boycott the UN Human Rights Council probe. A major part of the decision not to cooperate with the council was emotional, but another part of it was rooted in logic. After all, the UN Human Rights Council has a clear bias against Israel and the probe into the Gaza war was headed by the anti-Israeli legal expert William Schabas.
Nevertheless, the decision to boycott the Human Rights Council investigation became less logical and reasonable after Schabas resigned because of a clear conflict of interest, and was replaced by the American jurist Mary McGowan Davis. The latter, who holds balanced views toward Israel, wrote a report a few years ago stating that the Israel Defense Forces investigations following Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) had taken too long, but were carried out properly and with major effort on Israel’s part.
If Israel had changed its mind and cooperated with McGowan-Davis on the Operation Protective Edge probe, and presented her with the findings of its own report, it is highly likely the outcome of the UNHRC report would have been improved. The fact that this did not happen raises the suspicion that the government in Jerusalem boycotted the commission only to be able to claim at the end of the day that the panel is a bunch of anti-Semites, and that the whole world is against us.
But the most serious problem about the Israeli report released Sunday is that it suffers from the same problem that Israeli government policy has suffered ever since Binyamin Netanyahu entered the prime minister’s office in 2009. Over the past six years, it seems Netanyahu and his people are trying to solve every diplomatic problem Israel faces by finding a clever, winning argument that will persuade the world that Israel is right. But the way to gain the world’s support is by acting, not talking. An Israeli diplomatic initiative to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the international community would have worked better than any report."
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