Robbie Michaelson
Neither Right Nor Left - Just Passionate

Can Israel really trust its security to Netanyahu?

Less than two weeks to the election…..and counting down.

More polls keep coming out….but the truth is that polls, more often than not, are not always accurate; they are more like a snapshot in time taken over a small and not necessarily representative sample of the political landscape. It is also likely that, like most politicians, not all of the people polled tell the truth, and that a significant number of voters will actually decide who to support at the last minute, when they show up to vote.

Most Israelis would agree that this election, more than many of our past elections, will have a profound significance on the direction our special little country of Israel takes in the immediate present. And, unlike most other countries, Israel has not yet reached the place in history where we are not threatened existentially by hostile actors. The Iranian Mullahs, the terrorist Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah organizations, the hostile Muslim-majority and Arab countries, and the indifferent if not anti-semitic Western European nations have together and separately placed a dark cloud over our future. And it is because of these facts, more than any other, that Israeli voters need to ask themselves honestly if the current Government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is really the best choice to lead Israel going forward?

I think not!

I have come to this conclusion after a lifetime of studying Israel, Israeli leaders, Israeli and Middle Eastern history, and the world at large. At the end of the day, the single most important question that Israelis should be asking is: “Are we better off now in terms of our national security than we were before Prime Minister Netanyahu came back into power almost ten years ago?” I believe that the answer is no!

The situation in the South is, and has been for at least the last year, unacceptable. And it has spread to Gush Dan and The Sharon Valley. Citizens along the Gaza Strip have had their daily lives turned upside down. They are getting to know their bomb shelters better than their front parlors. Children are becoming traumatized. Schools are being closed, soccer games are being canceled. Incendiary balloons are continuing to burn our fields. People are being wounded and by some miracle only a few have actually been killed. And what has been the response of the Netanyahu Government? The tough talk, the meetings in the Kirya, the bombing of empty buildings and the expensive calling up of reserves has not worked. The definition of leadership isn’t to keep doing over and over again what has previously failed. The definition of leadership isn’t to ignore the already longtime drawn up plans of the IDF to restore our deterrence. The definition of leadership isn’t to defer the necessary military response for election purposes.

Today, on our border with Lebanon, we face an enemy backed by Iran, who has a large battle-trained army and an enormous amount of, in some cases, GPS-guided destructive missiles. The IDF was able to identify and destroy a significant number of terror tunnels which had reached into Israeli territory. The Prime Minister gave an elaborate TV presentation with photos showing Hezbollah missile compounds near Beirut Airport. Why haven’t these missiles been destroyed? If it is Israeli policy to destroy missiles from Iran in Syria why does the same logic not hold true for Lebanon?

The symbolism of America recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is important. However the reports that Hezbollah has forces in Southern Syria near our border is surely more important; as are reports that Iran has been rebuilding missile bases further north in Assad’s Syria. Again, one must ask: “Why is it that all of the sudden nothing seems to be being done to eliminate this threat?” Is the pending election really more important than the day-to-day security of the State of Israel?

Over the past decade Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a big deal about Iran continuing on their nefarious path to acquire a nuclear bomb. On this point he is surely correct. That said, is “Mr. Security” really our best leader to continue to address this most existential question facing our country? The evidence suggests not. According to several books Israel could have attacked the Iranian nuclear sites in 2012 with little opposition, at least from the United States. While this may not have solved the problem for eternity, it most likely would have pushed Iran further away from getting the bomb than where they are today. Netanyahu “blinked” and that fact, more than the uproar over the cellphone of Benny Gantz, should give the voter cause for concern.

Shortly after the election, the United States is likely to unveil their “Deal of The Century” with respect to Israel and the Palestinians. The plan is likely to go nowhere and be rejected. However it will have some “creative thinking” and represent ideas that will deserve further discussion. Of course Judea and Samaria hold important historical and security importance for the future of Israel. The “Blue and White” party has at least put forward some positions regarding what should be Israel’s “red lines” in any negotiations with the Palestinians. The Likud under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu has shoved this question under the rug as usual. Leadership should first acknowledge that there is a problem. We may not like what the Americans are going to propose and there may not even be at this stage a solution but when Judea and Samaria blow up is it in Israel’s best interest to have at the helm of our Government the person under whose watch this situation festered for so long?

So this is what we are facing; not to forget the coming indictments of Prime Minister Netanyahu; the problems plaguing our health and transportation infrastructures; the ongoing friction between the secular and religious populations; the unsettled controversy over the new “National Law”; the future of the Supreme Court; etc. However, the security of the State of Israel has to be our first priority.  It is to be hoped that the Israeli electorate will show up to vote in record numbers with this issue in mind!

About the Author
First came to Israel as a volunteer after the Six Day War. Made Aliyah in 1972, served in the IDF, stayed in Israel for 4 years. Returned again to live permanently in Israel in 2017. Am widely traveled & strong supporter of Zionism. Have an M.A. in International Relations from McGill University.
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