Monday, November 13, 2023

Long and Winding Road Ahead

During Sunday's State of the Union, Dana Bash of CNN asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

before I let you go, I know you have been asked this several times, but I have had multiple people inside Israel reach out to me knowing that I was going to interview you and say the one thing they want to hear from you is that you take personal responsibility for failing to prevent the October 7 attacks and protecting your people.

I know you say the time for that will come after the war. Why won't you take responsibility now?

Surprise! Netanyahu, though pressed by Bash, would not take responsibility. He would not take responsibility because no politician ever takes responsibility. None. He or she may say "I take responsibility" but none will say "I am responsible." The politician then will go on to explain how he/she is not to blame for whatever was said or done.

The reason is obvious. Once a politician admits responsibility, he or she can be held accountable. Opposing politicians will hold up the concession as proof that the individual is not worthy of continuing to hold office. Once they do that, the media will do what the media does, jumping on the bandwagon and question whether the pol should remain in office. Virtually no one will credit him/her for doing what no other public figure has the integrity to do.

It would be particularly perilous for a wartime head of state to admit responsibility because that leadere would be undermining his or her credibility, which would in turn undermine legitimacy. Bash should have known that and if she in fact has had "multiple people inside Israel." tell her that "the one thing they want to hear from" Netanyahu is that he "take personal responsibility for failing to prevent the October 7 attacks and protecting your people," she has been talking to the wrong individuals. It's unlikely an Israeli politician will do what American politicians won't: admit error. Not going to happen.

However, this was a critical line of questioning:

Bash asked

The U.S. also says that any postwar plan for Gaza must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority. You appeared to reject that yesterday. You said Israel will not accept a -- quote -- "civilian authority there that educates its children to hate Israel."

So I just want to be clear. Are you saying that Israel would not accept giving control of Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority after the war?

After Netanyahu dismissed the Palestinian Authority because it has "unfortunately failed" to "de-militarize" and "de-radicalize" Gaza, he remarked

So, you have to have some kind of authority, civilian Palestinian authority, that is willing to fight the terrorists and educating -- and, importantly, must educate their children for a future of peace, peace, cooperation, prosperity, cooperation with Israel, not the annihilation of Israel.

After the fighting ends and Hamas is subdued (hopefully eliminated), there still will be a Gaza and there still will have to be an authority ruling it. Gazans have little confidence in the Palestinian Authority, western hegemony wouldn't be accepted by the supermajority Muslims, and it's nothing Israel wants to do in perpetuity. Persian Iran is obviously out, so the ultimate answer probably lies in a some combination of Arab states, actors not partial to drowning the Jewish state.

That would be difficult to accomplish. Buy-in would be difficult to obtain from nations which themselves have wanted no part of ethnic Palestinians. There is one more roadblock: it would require some actual acceptance of genuine responsibility. And as with politicians in Israel and the West, that is asking a great deal.

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