Emanuel Shahaf

The Crash of 2013

It’s been almost 40 years now that an Israeli government failed its citizens thoroughly by pursuing a futile and dangerous policy of ignoring developments in the region. At that time it was Golda Meir and her mantra of neither negotiating with the Egyptians, nor acknowledging the existence of the Palestinian National Movement politically. The writing was on the wall, the signs were there but we were arrogant, full of ourselves. Life was good. Why listen to anybody? Sharm El Sheich was more important than peace. And everybody was happy shopping in Shchem and Hebron.

The Arab world at that time had a leader – Anwar Sadat who set a clear goal for himself, recoup Egyptian territories lost in the Six-Day War and provide some kind of groundwork for a future solution to the Palestinian problem. He tried to promote these goals through negotiations with Israel using the international community, the US and even prominent Jews but to no avail. Israel was adamant. We were strong, dominant, overconfident. Our answer was no. Then came the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The war and its horrendous cost in human life and wasted economic resources should have taught a lesson that would not be forgotten for a long time. And indeed in the wake of the war Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979 and even moved ahead vis-a-vis the Palestinians once the Likud had been removed from power in 1992, in the wake of the first intifada. But the 1995 murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the last Israeli Prime Minister with an all encompassing strategic vision, and the ensuing Netanyahu government put us back firmly on the track of intransigence. Ehud Barak’s failed interlude in 2000 only served to prove the point: We were back on track, ready for another crash. Arik Sharon’s surprising effort in 2005 at relieving some of the pressure building up in the region by disengaging from Gaza fell flat since it wasn’t backed up by a serious enough effort to settle things with the Palestinians, once and for all. Ehud Olmert’s valiant efforts to reach such an agreement were cut short due to his own personal failings and Netanyahu’s comeback in 2009 stabilized our path towards another crash of major proportions.

Ignorant of international developments, notably the way Europe is reorienting itself, disregarding the Arab Spring and its implications, obsessively concentrating on the threat from Iran, flouting the Palestinians and last not least, substantially breaking line with the US, Netanyahu has set us up for the final approach to a bad crash landing in 2013. The ill-timed push on Gaza is putting serious pressure on Egypt’s President Mursi who is still trying to consolidate his government and learn ride the tiger he mounted only a short while ago. Obama, not Netanyahu’s pal, will have to work overtime to keep the lid on the situation and it is far from certain that this is even possible. When it all blows up,  missile attacks as presently mounted by Hamas will be the lesser of our worries.

This government is running the country into the ground. Unless Israel’s citizens will dispose of Netanyahu and Likud-Beiteinu in the elections on January 22nd, 2013, there will be hell to pay.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".