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That cease-fire: does Netanyahu out-smart himself?

By Tuvia Brodie
7/16/2014, 12:07 PM

The plot-line created by Israel’s acceptance of a cease-fire plan continues to unfold. Right now, that plot-line still favours Israel.

If you recall, yesterday morning Israel accepted a cease-fire plan proposed by Egypt. Hamas rejected it. Then Hamas made a blunder. It immediately increased its rocket fire against Israel (“Barrage of rockets fired from Gaza despite Israel's acceptance of ceasefire”, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2014).

That barrage had all the markings of a grand gesture. Its intensity seemed designed to show Israel how weak it was compared to the ‘bare-chested’ Hamas.

Yes, Hamas propaganda actually used that reference to characterize its ‘resistance’ to Israel. An Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, used it on Al-Aqsa TV, on July 8, 2014, just as Israel’s attacks into Gaza began. He used that reference to boast how brave Arabs were for ‘choosing’ to serve as human shields (“Hamas rejected ceasefire proposals and fired a barrage of rockets at Israeli towns and cities”, the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, July 10, 2014).

But such macho Hamas responses were exactly what the Israel Prime Minister needed. The aggressiveness of the ‘cease-fire barrage’—and the brazenness of Hamas’ posturing--was a convincing indictment of Hamas’ war intentions.

In answer to the cease-fire proposal, Hamas fired 44 rockets (Jerusalem Post, above). In just a few hours, those rockets rained down onto Israel’s civilians, mostly in southern Israel (“Netanyahu: Israel Expects 'Full Support' From World Leaders”, Arutz Sheva, July 15, 2014). Using that barrage, Netanyahu changed both the tenor and direction of the propaganda war that Israel must fight if it is to win international support.

Netanyahu lost no time pointing out how aggressive Hamas’ rocket barrage was. Appearing at a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ( Arutz Sheva, ibid), he spoke forcefully—and grabbed the moral high ground.

He made the case he needs to make to attract at least some kind of sympathy from powerful gentile nations who have not been kind to Israel. His case was simple: Hamas has flatly rejected ceasefire proposals (ibid). It has fired a barrage of rockets at Israeli towns and cities (ibid).   That barrage proves that Hamas is committed to war, not peace or restraint.

For the moment, Netanyahu has garnered at least some kind of international support. Yes, that support could be only silence--until Israel unloads a ground attack. But that silence does buy him some latitude. That’s certainly better for Israel than the negative and hostile international pressure he had been looking at only two days ago.

In less than eight hours, Netanyahu took control of the terms used to define this fight. With the German Foreign Minister beside him, Netanyahu said that it was Israel's right under international law to defend itself from attacks on its population. The German Minister did not object to that. Netanyahu also said that he expected full support from responsible members of the international community (Arutz Sheva, ibid). The German Minister did not object to that, either.

This morning, Netanyahu controls the moral battlefront. He has, at least temporarily, secured the right to defend the Jewish nation. His performance right now is masterful.

But it might not be enough.

Despite his current success on the international stage, angry Jews at home feel betrayed by his ‘cease-fire’. They are not looking at his chess-like mastery on the international stage. They are looking at those rockets. They are truly outraged.

To the Religious Nationalist who defends Israel’s right to exist on this Holy Land, Benjamin Netanyahu spends too much time turning away from us. He seems instead to yearn for the love of gentile nations who have no interesting in loving us. Worse, by seeking to conform to gentile expectations, he appears to turn away from our Torah, which says Israel is a nation destined to stand separate from the world.

Instead, he wants the opposite. He wants to be like everyone else. He has even written a book whose title suggests that goal—A Place among the Nations.

Our Torah says, our place is not among the nations.

Pro-Israel advocates say that Netanyahu fails to stand strong for us. While we yield to international pressure to ‘make tough decisions for peace’, the Muslim will not yield a single comma or semi-colon.

The world accepts Muslim intransigence without question. But it terms our hesitation to give in to that intransigence ‘not good enough’. For many in Israel, that’s not acceptable.

Could Netanyahu win at this cat-and-mouse diplomat game but lose his nation’s support? It’s possible.

This story could turn out to be a strange one: Prime Minister does beautiful job, loses his constituency.

Only HaShem could write a sc‎ript like this.

You might want to remember that—because this is Israel. In the war over who will control the Holy Land, G-d is a player. He’s the writer, director, producer and star.

Nothing will happen without His stamp of approval.

Stay tuned.