Michael Boyden

A Mistaken and Dangerous Strategy

Israel is pursuing a strategy whose main purposes would appear to be to stop our prime minister from going to prison and to keep in power the disastrous coalition government that he has put together. (Just look at Ben-Gvir’s comments about President Biden. Hardly the way to show our appreciation for the incredible support he has given us.)

Benjamin Netanyahu needs to prevent his coalition from falling apart, because, were it to do so, he would be kicked out of office and, on the basis of current polls, his Likkud party would be in shambles.

From the very outset of this war, Israel was advised by its best friends to develop an exit strategy, so that there would be a government to replace Hamas once it had been defeated. Bibi has consistently refused to do so.

An international consortium including such countries as the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Saudi Arabia could have been involved in such a process of rebuilding. However, Bibi has right-wingers in his government, who want Israelis to return to Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip, and misguided ministers like Bezalel Smotrich, who mistakenly believe that the Gazans can be persuaded to pack their bags and go and live elsewhere.

No less problematic was the unfounded belief that the hostages would be freed as a consequence of growing military pressure on the Hamas. Evidence would seem to suggest precisely the opposite! Our government was able to negotiate the release of a number of hostages in the early days of the war. Even though our defence forces have since eliminated large numbers of terrorists and conquered an increasingly large portion of the Gaza Strip, it now appears to be more difficult to arrive at a further hostage deal with Hamas.

And then there is the disastrous strategy of barring Palestinians who live on the West Bank from working in Israel. Don’t we have enough on our plate with a war in the south and Hezbollah attacking from the north without inciting Palestinians on the West Bank? Not only is it causing immense damage to the building industry and other sectors of the economy in which they are employed, but it is also depriving them of income to support their families. This is a pressure cooker that can only explode in our faces. It is a recipe for disaster and hardly in Israel’s interests when we are already fighting enemies on two fronts.

Just as it was a misconception on the part of our government that led to the disastrous events of October 7, similar misguided strategies and policies currently being pursued by Netanyahu can only lead to further suffering for both our beleaguered country and those innocent Palestinians who are also victims.

It is time to get rid of this government, and the sooner the better!

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.