It is with enormous sadness, but not surprise, that I share news of the death of Bar-el Shmueli, age 21, a Border Police officer who was shot in the head at point blank range, during the course of a riot at the Gaza border on Saturday night, August 21.
Shmueli, who was in critical condition because of the severity of his injury, finally succumbed to his wounds in spite of valiant efforts on his behalf by doctors at Soroka Hospital.
There was an enormous outpouring of prayers for Shmueli after he was wounded. It is not for us to explain why God chose not to answer these particular prayers, but I choose to note this now because it indicates something very significant about who we are as a people. No ranting demonstrations and calls for murderous attacks in revenge. When I saw the preponderance of prayers being said for him, in many locales, I wept. Here you see his fellow officers at this bedside.
May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. And may the Almighty avenge his death.
It is my considered opinion that our prime minister’s visit to Washington DC this past week is something that should not have happened. And I confess, my friends, that I am at a loss to understand or justify Bennett’s words or behavior.
He went to Washington despite advice from many quarters that he best stay away.
On his return home on Sunday, he declared that we “achieved and surpassed all the goals we set for ourselves for the meeting. We agreed on joint strategic cooperation to halt Iran’s nuclear race.”
What the hell was he talking about? Joint strategic cooperation, my foot. And precisely what goals did he have in mind? Is he delusional, or embracing a stance that he knows is out and out phony?
He knew before departing that Biden had messed up phenomenally in Afghanistan and was in an exceedingly weak position. It is very likely that he convinced himself that Biden would be on board for various agreements with Israel in order to be able to claim a diplomatic victory.
But that is not exactly the way it went.
Bennett had declared before going that he was bringing a new “joint plan of action against Iran.” As Joshua Davidovich wryly observed: “One might say to oneself that joint plans are usually planned, er, jointly and not presented by fiat by one party…”
“But Bennett’s team was supremely confident…a Bennett aide tells Israeli reporters on the trip that the two governments are so closely coordinated on Iran that they often use the same terminology and raise the same questions as they discuss their options if Iran does not return to the JCPOA.
“The aide also says Israel believes Washington is nearly ready to throw in the towel on going back to the deal…”
However, analyst Jacob Magid reported that “a source familiar with the matter said growing assumptions in Israel that Biden has all but given up on the Iran nuclear deal are exaggerated and misguided. ‘Biden is going to use the meeting to ask Bennett how Israel will react if there is a return to the JCPOA and how it will respond if there isn’t,’ the source said.”
And in the end, Magid‘s source had it right (emphasis added):
“Following the two leaders’ 50-minute meeting [on Friday], Biden reiterated the US “commitment to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon… We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”
That “US commitment” is worthless. Words from Biden are extremely cheap. And the US indeed does intend to continue negotiations with Iran, though they may be futile. Bennett’s people had it wrong going in. Nor does “turning to other options” necessarily suggest embrace of Bennett’s plan, whatever that was.
Bennett may well have informed Biden that Israel will do whatever is necessary to act against an Iran on the verge of nuclear breakout, and certainly should have. But did he need to travel to Washington for this?
Last Wednesday, August 25, before Bennett had even met with Biden, “IDF sources confirmed that the military’s Strategy and Third Circle Directorate, which is responsible for Iran, is coordinating an updated strike option, it was sending a clear signal that Israel’s military option is squarely back on the table.”
Writes Yaakov Lappin, the Directorate “is guided by the concept of ‘going to the tree trunk, not the fruit’ when dealing with a threat as big as Iran.”
This is comforting and exactly as it should be – with an Israeli decision to act unilaterally as necessary.
But the timing of the IDF’s public announcement of “its decision to refresh its intelligence, operational plans, training and equipment for [a military option]” would not have been a coincidence. So Biden’s people knew of this decision before Biden sat down with Bennett, yet he declared intention to continue to try “diplomacy” anyway. So much for a “joint plan.”
The impression Bennett lent by being there was a tacit recognition of the continued US “diplomatic efforts with Iran.” And sure enough, by Saturday news broke that:
“Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged to US President Joe Biden that despite opposing a potential Washington move to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, he will not wage a public campaign against a possible American return to the accord…
“Citing two American sources familiar with the details of Bennett and Biden’s meeting on Friday at the White House, the [Walla] news site said that the Israeli premier stressed the same point in his sit-downs with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“…according to the sources, Bennett said that he believes dialogue will lead to a better outcome, and that the White House was very appreciative of his stance on the matter.”
Declared Bennett, despite differences with the US, he wants them to work together “according to rules of honesty and decency.”
Honesty and decency when dealing with the dishonest and indecent Biden??? Forgive me, but this is stomach-turning.
We can see exactly where Bennett is going with this: He compares his stance to the overt opposition of Netanyahu to Obama’s plans for the Iran deal. See, he is declaring, I can get along with the US far better than my predecessor did. Hurray for me.
What I see is a first-class suck-up who is despicable for not taking a strong stand against a position that he damn well knows is bad for Israel, bad for the world.
I have my issues with Netanyahu, shown below at the UN. He is far from perfect. But I would like to see a campaign in Israel now: BB Bibi, a catchy and appropriate alliteration. (“Bring Back Bibi,” with a nod to a friend).
The current government has got to go.
With regard to the “two-state-solution” and Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority, there was most certainly no gain for Israel following the Bennett-Biden meeting. That is abundantly clear. Again, quite the contrary is the case.
I want to look at this very troubling situation – also cause for pain and fury – in a separate posting; it requires more space and attention than would be possible here.
After his meeting with Biden, Bennett gushed: “It was a wonderful meeting, especially the one-on-one… There was a feeling that we’ve known each other for a long time. I found a leader who loves Israel.”
You will see how much Biden “loves Israel” in my next posting.