Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chickenshit postscript

Image via JR Fibonacci.

A dissenter on the chickenshittery of Binyamin Netanyahu, Eamon Murphy, writes at Mondoweiss that Jeffrey Goldberg was wrong to suggest Netanyahu's
reluctance to launch major military operations: a familiar theme for Israel apologists, this was already dubious by Operation Pillar of Defense; in the wake of Protective Edge, the most savage punishment yet inflicted on the much-scourged Gaza Strip, it can safely be discarded.
Murphy is himself reading the information wrong, partly because Goldberg hasn't understood what he's been given to convey.

Netanyahu's chickenshit character does not consist in any reluctance to launch major military operations; that's Goldberg's stupidity. It is reluctance to launch major military operations that constitute a risk to the Israeli government and his position in it. Punishing Gaza entailed no risk whatever, so he was glad to do it, and kill as many people as possible. He is delighted to launch operations against the weak, especially if they have a capacity for frightening the Israeli public without actually harming them (those Hamas rockets are perfect), serving Netanyahu's political aims in two directions at once; it's the strong he won't attack.

Punishing Iran, a country with a large, well-trained and well-armed, and passionate military, was scary; they might have made him look bad to his voters. That's what he was unwilling to risk. Whereas just endless trash talk made him look brave and tough.

And it is a "good" thing, for the rest of the world, that he didn't attack. That doesn't make him any less a coward and bully.

Then there is
the inexplicable illusion that Netanyahu’s hostility to the so-called peace process can be attributed to political cowardice — that he avoids making concessions to the Palestinians in order not to be kicked out of office. This might seem plausible to an Obama apparatchik — someone who works in a White House that has allowed Israel to continue its absorption of the West Bank and immiseration of Gaza despite probably disapproving of these measures — but it betrays complete ignorance of Israeli politics.
Again, Goldberg's stupidity distorts the point. Netanyahu's cowardice is in the exact opposite direction, in his constant pretense with the liberals and the US that he really would like a two-state solution, if only, if only, if only the situation were more auspicious, if only others would be as kind and open-hearted as he is, as white and civilized, etc., etc.

He doesn't mind the US authorities thinking he is a coward in comparison to Begin or Rabin, as long as he keeps the $4 billion annual tribute, but he's a coward because he won't risk losing a dime of it by acknowledging his actual (and unacceptable) beliefs. And it's what his American backers expect him to do: lie, cravenly.

And it is a "bad" thing for the US administration that he pretends to accept their aims while stonewalling them as hard as he can, creating a deluded constituency in the US press and public, preventing the Obama administration from calling him out as the chief obstacle to a workable peace (not because they're cowards but because pretending he is a "partner" is the only way to keep some hope alive in this dark moment).
The question raised by Chickenshitgate, following Kerry’s doomed effort to reach a final agreement without putting real pressure on Israel, is whether the US political class is now too stupefied by ideology to manage the conflict at all effectively. It is dangerous to construct the kind of myths that surround the US-Israel relationship: people start to believe them, and eventually it becomes impossible to respond to reality, which changes.
Right on that one, anyhow, alas.

Via Imad Khadduri.

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