This is from Amnon Abramovitch, a popular commentator on Israel’s Channel 2 Television News, writing for the Yediot Ahronot opinion page (Hebrew, print only), Tuesday, June 1.
Wherever he touches military and security affairs, Benjamin Netanyahu has bad luck. An evil eye, a sort of un-naches. That’s how it’s been since way back when, and that’s how it is today. In his last term as prime minister [1996-99] there was the opening of the Temple Mount Tunnel that ended with 17 Israelis killed, tens wounded and hundreds of Arab casualties; the failed attempt to assassinate [Hamas leader] Khaled Meshaal in Jordan; the capture of Mossad agents in Cyprus; the failed Mossad effort to plant listening devices in Switzerland and the arrest of a fighter. In his current term, the Mossad fiasco in Dubai and now the flotilla fiasco whose varied and mounting repercussions have yet to be estimated. There’s a point at which bum luck rises to the level of a system. A certain critical mass is reached when bad luck becomes a basic characteristic.
That’s why Netanyahu took on Ehud Barak as his defense minister. Recognizing his own weakness, Netanyahu armed himself with Barak well before the 2009 elections, before the results were known or even projected. Barak, for his part, infiltrated the government in his usual manner, under cover of night and half-denied. The citizens of Israel received the shakiest of governments. More swollen and more costly than any before it. Neither here not there, neither right nor left, with Netanyahu at its head, speaking out of both sides of his mouth, with Barack Obama and Barak Ehud on one side and Boogie Yaalon and Benny Begin on the other. And Netanyahu working his hands backwards, his right hand out to the modernizing economy and his left hand to the Haredi establishment… In the coming days a lot of words will spill forth, like water covering the sea, concerning the way the flotilla ships were taken over, coming down by air or not, at day or night, from the front, back or underwater, the Naval Commandos or the Police SWAT team. A little bit of common sense would have rendered the entire exercise unnecessary. The flotilla was intended less to aid the residents of Gaza than to help the Hamas regime, and more than helping Hamas it was meant to provoke and demonize Israel. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Israel’s security cabinet decide it could not pass up this dance. Israel hitched itself to the Turkish tango with all its might and gave it worldwide publicity, perhaps even a reason to exist. If not for the blockade announced early and loudly, it might never have set sail. The Gaza closure isn’t working. From time to time our security chiefs report on another few dozen tons of munitions or another batch of missiles smuggled into the Strip under the cover of the closure. A leaky military siege of Gaza has turned into a tightening diplomatic siege of Israel…
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).