Michael Loftus

The Mouse the Roared

In 1955, the Irish writer Leonard Wibberly wrote a series of satirical and humorous novels that were later made into a movie, called the Mouse that Roared (starring a young Peter Sellers). The movie was  about the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick who, facing bankruptcy, decided to go to war against the United States. The idea was that (in the shadow of the Marshall Plan put in place at the end of World War II), all one had to do was go to war against the US, lose, and then receive lots of money.

Some seventy years later, it seems that the Israeli government is taking a similar path. After the US abstained at the UN vote regarding a ceasefire, Netanyahu canceled a high level meeting with representatives of the Biden Administration. Sending a message – apologize, say you are sorry, and don’t do that again, or … we won’t talk to you! A diplomatic first strike, if you will.

Israel, however, does not see itself as a mouse that is roaring. The Netanyahu government thinks things are reversed, that the US is like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, small and mousy, and Israel is the big hi tech superpower.

The first problem is that, while it’s hard to accept, compared to the US, economically, militarily and politically, Israel is mouse sized.

The second problem is that while the Duchy of Grand Fenwick went to war to get money, Israel already gets lots of money. One may not like President Biden, and be angered by the abstention in the cease fire motion at the UN. But the Biden administration, as the Times of Israel reported on March 7, has quietly approved more than 100 arms sales since October 7. This is also the nation that provides economic assistance to Israel of over 3 billion dollars a year and since 1948, given to Israel over 260 billion dollars in US aid. Israel also needs diplomatic and political support. Is roaring against the hand that feeds you really a good idea?

Some might argue that while not a superpower, Israel is a sovereign nation, and as such, no one can dictate how the war should be waged or how Israeli policy should be conducted. The problem is that that could be equally said of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Canada, England, France or Andorra. Just because a country is sovereign, does not mean it can exist without help. Asking for aid, be it financial or diplomatic is rarely successful, when you are roaring at the person giving you aid.

I am in no way suggesting that Israel act like a mouse. Israel is fighting a war on at least three, and arguably four fronts. The IDF is fighting against a new and difficult type of enemy where one of the enemies wears no uniform, and is holding Israeli civilian, as well as military, hostages.

Nor am I suggesting that there is nothing to roar about. The atrocities done by Hamas, the need for the Arab world to abandon Hamas/ Hezbollah ideology all need to be screamed from the rooftops as well as the need to find a realistic political and diplomatic solution so that the fighting can stop.

But to roar at the US? If the Israeli government disagrees, is angry or disappointed, messages can be sent diplomatically. How exactly is roaring against the one who is providing you arms and aid is going to further the war effort?

There are times to roar, and people to roar at. And size does not matter. Mice and Elephants should equally roar at the right time, and in the right place.

But if you roar at the wrong people, at the wrong time, and in the wrong place, you quickly go horse and are in danger of having no voice at all.

About the Author
Michael Loftus has a masters degree law from the London School of Economics. He has been involved in business and capital markets for 40 years. Additionally he is a licensed tour guide, and a docent at the Israel Museum, Bible Lands Museum, and Tower of David Museum and has a specialist designation in Jerusalem from the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
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