Israeli military stigmatized to block strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities

The Netanyahu government’s slow-moving, lackadaisical handling of the Goldstone commission mandated for accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, played into the hands of a coalition formed to strip the Israeli military of legitimacy as a defensive strike force against Iran’s fast-moving nuclear weapons program and its Middle East allies’ missile arsenals. Those missiles are poised to strike Israel’s population centers if Iran is attacked.
Israel had – and still has – plenty of moral, diplomatic and strategic tools for defending itself. They were not applied and so this hostile coalition was allowed to strike Israel on three fronts in the last fortnight: Turkish prime minister Tayyep Recip Erdogan’s unleashed an unbridled assault on the Jewish state; Muslim riots suddenly flared on Temple Mount; and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas changed his mind and pushed for a special UN Human Rights Commission session Friday, Oct. 16, to endorse the Goldstone report, after first accepting its postponement to March.
This sequence of events came together inexorably in Geneva where a predictable majority of the UNHRC voted to refer Israel’s alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council, while omitting to mention Hamas’ culpability.
The motivation behind this run of events was verified by its sequel:
Saturday, Muslim and Arab media, notably London-based news organizations, “predicted” that Israel would react to its “growing diplomatic isolation” with a “crazy military adventure” that would inflame the entire Middle East.
Al the region’s ills past and present were thus laid at Israel’s door and its military discredited from that day on.
The British prime minister Gordon Brown and French president Nicolas Sarkozy played along with this trend, first by staying out of the vote and second by then writing a letter to the Israeli prime minister, which smoothly confirmed Israel’s right to defend itself – calling it “an emotive issue” – without explaining why they failed to raise a finger against a UN motion denying this right.
In their letter, Brown and Sarkozy, who call themselves friends of Israel, expressed the hope that the international airing of the Gaza report would help promote peace negotiations because peace was the best safeguard for Israel’s security. Thus, with typical European hypocrisy, the two leaders committed themselves to helping the hate-Israel ball to continue rolling through international bodies which everyone knows are permanently loaded against the Jewish state by a majority of human-rights violators and tyrants.
Israel’s “emotiveness” was first invoked 39 years ago when Leila Khaled of the Palestinian Popular Liberation Front tried to hijack an El Al flight on Sept. 6, 1970, en route from Amsterdam to New York. Her accomplice was Patrick Arguella of Nicaragua, member of the Carlos international terrorist group, then backed by Russian intelligence.
The Israeli crew overpowered the two terrorists and the flight landed safely in London carrying Arguella’s body, Khaled tied up and a planeload of relieved passengers.
Then too the Foreign Office found the pilot over-emotional. And 24 hours later, the British authorities coolly released the Palestinian terrorist without charge although she had been armed with two grenades ready to detonate in midair. That free British pass for a terrorist endangers international aviation up to the present day. Nothing else appears to have changed in London.
Yet the Israeli prime minister continued to believe that calling European leaders in person and a charm campaign among them would be enough to reduce the fallout from the Goldstone report.
After the event – and much too late – Netanyahu’s office issued a determined statement Saturday: “We shall delegitimize all those who attack the legitimacy of our military. We’ll be every place where anti-Israel and anti-Semite forces are active.”
He vowed to mobilize all Israel’s best resources for building a task team to combat the fallout from the UNHRC resolution and put its recommendations before a special cabinet meeting – a process that will consume several more wasted weeks.
So how will this change the attitudes of the British and French leaders and line Europe up against the anti-Israel resolution?
And how will the Israeli government protect its top officials and generals from prosecution in the countries who voted for it or abstained?
Those are good questions given the Netanyahu government’s tame reaction to the crisis in Turkey’s relations with Israel: “Not everyone in Turkey is like Erdogan” or “Relations must be restored to their normal track without delay.”
They are dreaming. Erdogan’s violent anti-Israel and borderline anti-Semitic attitude is no passing phase. Israel must reconcile itself to the loss of this valuable ally and forget the friendly ties between the two air forces because the Islamic party ruling Turkey has gone fishing in extremist waters.
Netanyahu must also stop calling on the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to sit down and discuss peace without preconditions. Abbas has lost the Gaza Strip and the support of half of his people. To win them back, he has embarked on a rejectionist course in competition with the extremist Islamic Hamas. Two of the most dangerous powder kegs simmering in the Middle East today are not located in Washington or Paris but in Ramallah, 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip 78 kilometers to the south.
Israel has a boxful of powerful tools for dealing with the two Palestinian governments.
If sanctions are legitimate penalties for Iran, why not economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for setting the Human Rights Council loose against Israel and its military?
Why should Israeli soldiers, called “war criminals by Palestinians and copycat Israel Arabs, grant special passes for Palestinian VIPs to exit the West Bank at night and go partying in Israeli towns?
Why does the Netanyahu government continue to release INS 220 million (app. $50 million) every month to the Gaza Strip knowing that the Hamas uses the money to rebuild the smuggling tunnels Israel destroyed in its Cast Lead operation in January?
By charging customs duty on all smuggled goods funneled into Gaza through the tunnels, the Hamas regime has turned the them into a going concern with the help of revenue from Israel. The same income also funds its military operations.
After Israel dismantled more than 100 West Bank roadblocks as requested by the Obama administration, the Palestinians proceeded to turn the Goldstone Report and the UN Human Rights Council into one large roadblock for Israeli travelers abroad. At the very least, put the roadblocks back.
But most all, the government headed by Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman is painfully slow-moving and cumbersome in the diplomatic-strategic arena.
The Goldstone report did not pop up this Friday. The panel started work on April 3, 2009 under a predetermined UNHRC mandate targeting Israel. The government had seven months at the very least prepare a counter-report documenting 10 years of murderous Palestinian campaigns specifically targeting Israeli civilians, women and children, and their consistent violation of every rule and standard of armed conflict and human rights.
This document should have been prepared in good time and handed in to the international court at The Hague with a list of the guilty Palestinian officials, some still in responsible positions with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
The Palestinian delegate would then not have dared remark brazenly Saturday: “Anybody who kills children for no reason, or civilians should be prosecuted.”
One reason why the Middle East suddenly finds itself on a hazardous course today harks back to one of Barack Obama’s first acts as US president, which was to reach out to the Muslim world, including the Palestinians, in his June 4 speech at Cairo University. His conciliatory words planted high hopes in their minds that he was on their side and willing to squeeze Israel for gains which had eluded them in years of terror and military belligerence.
They misread his intentions: Obama sought to achieve peace for Israel with its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians, a tough call which all his predecessors in the White House had missed attaining, while the Arabs hoped to use Obama’s goodwill to neutralize Israel’s powerful military strength.
Feeling cheated of this hope, they proceeded to enlist the world, so far successfully, for disarming the IDF by having it discredited and criminalized.
The Palestinian-led campaign has nearly closed Israel’s window of opportunity for striking Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities; Netanyahu and his advisers were too slow off the mark. He will have to move fast and hit hard to turn the negative tide back.
His government may not be able to avoid establishing a credible panel of inquiry to rebut Goldstone’s allegations for the sake of an US veto at the UN Security Council against the report’s referral to the international war crimes tribunal. It could have been set up quietly without outside pressure months ago and validated the exhaustive probes carried out by the IDF of every single complaint arising from the Gaza offensive.

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