New site

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

If you’re interested I’ve now moved my blog to another (hopefully more professional domain) http://www.raffegold.com

Thanks!

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2012: The Year of the Foreign Passport

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Will 2012 be the year of the foreign passport? Will left-wing Israelis, after experiencing gender segregation; political sidelining and the threat of religious coercion find themselves researching how much it would cost to move away from Israel for good? What will happen when these Israelis say that enough is enough? When they believe that the Zionist dream remains just that…a dream that could have been so much more.

Left wing Israelis are preparing themselves to leave the nation of their birth, and of their dreams, because the dream for them has turned into a nightmare.  Many are planning on joining their family members, cousins, brothers, sisters or parents, in the West to restart their life. A 2008 Menachim Begin Heritage Centre Poll found that 59% of Israelis surveyed had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to apply for citizenship and a passport. A Bar-Ilan University study found that more than 100,000 Israelis hold a German passport and the number rises by 7,000 every year. The foreign passport was originally acquired as a last resort in case the Arab armies managed to go through with their plans of the annihilation of Israel. Passports were updated in 2001 when the Palestinian terrorists waged their war of bus bombings and massacres and it is being updated again under the threat of the Zionist dream dying.

Those Israelis that are looking for a escape route are leaving for a number of reasons. They leave for a life free of religious and right-wing coercion. They leave for a better economic future. They leave for a life for their children that is not dominated by religion. They leave with a heavy heart. This is not what they wanted. They remain proud Zionists and they know that with the growth of extreme right wing religious extremism, there is nothing here left for them. Israelis who cannot leave warn their friends not to return. This is not a country to start, or restart, a life. It is a country that is on the brink of abandoning liberalism, once a happily celebrated value by Jews and Israelis the world over.

This is not, in any way, to say that modern day Israel has become Saudi Arabia, Iran or Gaza. Only around 10% of Israel’s population identify themselves as ultra-Orthodox and an even smaller number insist on this gender segregation. There remains a vibrant community of thinkers here who are free to say and do what they wish. Haaretz continues with its proud tradition of challenging government authority and all faiths are free to worship as they see fit (unlike Gaza where Hamas, in an almost cliched villainous move, literally outlawed Christmas). Israel remains a strong democracy with a free press and our neighbors look on in envy as their own governments trample their basic rights. Israel remains a beacon of light amongst a sea of totalitarian dictatorships but lately the beacon has been wavering slightly and this is why some are looking for an escape route.

Israelis see the battle in Bet Shemesh as but another nail in the coffin of Israeli liberalism. They see the increased construction within the settlements as a cause for alarm, they see the potential shut down of Channel 10 as a threat to the Fourth Estate and they see ‘loyalty bill’ as curbing the right of freedom of speech. They feel that the right-wing coalition formed under Netanyahu has damaged Israel irrevocably. Ultra-orthodox groups, a minority in terms of the population, are imposing their will on the majority. A recent bill, thankfully defeated, proposed turning electricity ‘kosher’. Essentially electric companies would operate according to Jewish halachic demands and the rabbinate would have the authority to cut off power. Israel is a country that truly appreciates freedom of religion but it seems that it is forgetting that freedom of religion also demands freedom from religion; secular Israelis should not be subject to the will of the faithful.

Right-wing groups and various MKs paint many in left wing NGOs as traitors. The New Israel Fund has been demonized as anti-Israel and has sparred with the Knesset and the right-wing media alike. Many of those who eye foreign passports fear that they do not have an adequate voice at the parliamentary level. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is considered a failure in her goal to create a credible opposition. Despite her party holding a majority of seats she is outnumbered by right wing and religious groups and can resort only to name calling against Netanyahu.

It is presumptuous to declare the modern-liberal Israeli State ‘over’. It is, however, teetering on an edge that leads to a very dark and uncertain future. Many centrist Israelis hope that the recent decision of Yair Lapid, a popular television commentator, to enter politics will lead to a resurgence of a strong opposition to take on the right-wing coalition. These Israelis who believe that the darkness is overcoming believe that Israel is in need of a major intervention. They had hoped that the recent protests over the summer would lead to a renewed sense of vigor but many are disappointed in their inability to change anything. These Israelis, who serve in the army with pride and built the State from nothing, will sigh in frustration as they line up at Embassies to collect their foreign passport.

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The Lament Over Loewenstein

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The purpose of journalism has always been to seek truth through an arduous process of investigation. Journalists today follow in the illustrious footsteps of Edward R Murrow, Woodward and Bernstein and Seymour Hersh. These are journalists who were able to change society through their writings for the better.

The internet, whilst a power of good in that it spreads information repressive regimes are keen to block, also has a dark side; anybody without qualifications in journalism, or who has a particular agenda, can become an overnight propagandist. There’s no fact-checking, no editorial guidelines and certainly no oversight by more adult or experienced hands when somebody in his or her bedroom, rants and raves through a blog.

Australia’s infamous anti-Zionist blogger and self-described ‘independent journalist’ Antony Loewenstein, posted an article to his blog on January 2 2012 about the recent backlash against the Haredim and their attitude towards women in public. The post, titled ‘Jewish extremists, indulged by the Jewish state, think they’re in Nazi Germany’, links to a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece about the subject of gender equality in religion and Antony reminded his reader(s?) that there was a significant amount of segregation against Arabs as well. Whilst one could forgive Loewenstein for his erroneous title (supporters of gender segregation are despised across Israel) one could not forgive him for his grossly offensive sub-heading ‘This is what Zionism has created’. The sub-title is so inaccurate that one truly wonders what Loewenstein was thinking when he wrote it. Loewenstein has conveniently forgotten that gender segregation has existed for thousands of years before Zionism was even a thought in Theodore Herzl’s mind. Whilst I am a secular Jew,  I rarely, attend the Orthodox synagogue that my grandfather founded in Cremorne. Here there is a practice of gender segregation as the men and women sit in separate parts of the schule with a divider between them. Such practices have been going on for centuries. The idea of gender segregation exists in almost every religion when it comes to aspects of devout worship. One simply has to look at our neighbor Saudi Arabia where women are forbidden from participating in public life or even driving a car. A simple peruse of the recent Saudi press shows that they’re not exactly Zionism’s biggest supporters so one truly wonders how gender segregation (according to Loewenstein a ‘Zionist concept’) was implemented in such an anti-Zionist country.

Furthermore, Loewenstein purports to have knowledge of Jewish groups within Israel, Zionism and Israeli domestic politics. If Loewenstein had bothered to do a modicum of research on these protests and the groups who support gender segregation then he would know that these protests are being led by a number of anti-Zionist groups. These are religious groups, such as the Netura Karta, who are often seen at left-wing anti-Israel protests and famously attended the Iranian Holocaust denial conference in 2006. Essentially these are the self-styled ‘good Jews’ that many far left wing groups actively promote to show that not all Jews support Israel. These are Jews who reject the entire idea of Zionism and the Jewish State for religious purposes.

One could easily dismiss this as an off-the-cuff remark by Loewenstein which he posted without forethought. We are all guilty of such internet faux pas and in the age of technology where everything is instant and permanent one should be able to easily forgive such mistakes. But there are only so many mistakes we can tolerate before we admit that Loewenstein’s ‘knowledge’ of Israel come from a few quick trips to the region and a working ethos which sees him cut and paste from the sites of other left wing bloggers and academics. His book ‘My Israel Question’ has been repeatedly debunked and contains a number of serious errors (the least harmful error was changing the gender of Tzipi Livni Israel’s FEMALE Opposition Leader) and he routinely uses the term ‘colonizer‘ in reference to the Jewish State (Israel being the worst colonizing nation in history considering it has withdrawn from the Sinai, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip). In its review of his book the Sydney Morning Herald stated that it was filled with ‘numerous serious political and historical clangers’. Despite all this Loewenstein is routinely quoted by the media as an ‘independent journalist’ and expert on Israel while he sits on the board of the Macquarie University’s controversial Centre for Middle East and North African Studies under which I studied for my degree.

In no way do I mean to dismiss those who are critical of Israel, her foreign policy or her treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I have written numerous articles, blog posts and tweets that are critical of the current and former Israeli governments. A fantastic resource of sound journalists who are critical of Israel is 972mag.com and I would recommend everyone bookmark it. But Loewenstein cannot possibly compare to these fine journalists and truth-seekers at 972mag because, unlike them, he fails to pass even the most basic tenets of the journalistic creed. Perhaps Loewenstein should consider hanging up his keyboard before he unwittingly does even more damage to a country that already has enough problems to deal with.

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Israel’s Civil War

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

In Yehuda Avner’s book ‘The Prime Ministers’ the author recounts watching Menachim Begin deliver a speech in a dilapidated cinema shortly after the State of Israel came into being.

Begin spoke of how he believed that his terrorist group, the Irgun, had helped push the British out of Mandate Palestine but that there were times in which he and David Ben-Gurion, his ideological opponent and the first Prime Minister of Israel, had come close to civil war. When Begin could see that there was a possibility of civil war he ordered his men to back down. Begin proclaimed in the old cinema that “I live by an iron rule: a Jew must never lift a finger against a fellow Jew. NEVER. A Jew must never shed the blood of another Jew, NEVER. Twenty centuries ago we faced the bitter experience of the destruction of our Second Temple….and why? Because of our senseless hatred of each other, a hatred that led to civil war and to our utter ruin….I took a solemn oath….I would never ever be a party to a civil war”.

Despite his extremist views, I believe that at this point in Israel’s history, we need to think very carefully about Begin’s refusal to participate in a war of Jew against Jew; Israel is heading towards a civil war and it will not be pretty.

 

This is a civil war that is simmering under the surface but in the last decade it has all the hallmarks of boiling over. We have seen it in the protesting ultra-Orthodox Jews who riot when a car park opens on Shabbat or who scream at young school girls for wearing dresses which show their arms and legs. And we have seen it in the settlers who ambush IDF troops. We have seen it in the defacement of Rabin’s memorial and the price tag attacks on the offices of Peace Now. We have seen it in the way in which the IDF is increasingly called on to act in a placating role that bends over backwards not to offend ultra-Orthodox soldiers at the expense of its proud history of gender equality’s politics. We have seen it in the  un-Israeli and undemocratic bills that are appearing now before the Knesset by the militant right-wing coalition; the loyalty oath and the nakba laws to name a few, bills which not just make Israel into a pariah with the rest of the world, but are antipathetic to those principles of equity, participation and democracy which were the very core of our foundation as a state and a moral light to the rest of the world.

We have seen it in the decision by Jerusalem’s mayor to sack his female colleague just to win more votes, for demanding that the ultra-Orthodox obey the law of the land. We are seeing it more and more every day and it is not a fight that the left can win. In fact it does not seem that the left can even maintain an effective defense.

 

Earlier this year, for a fleeting moment, there was hope for a change in this country. A young girl, long before the hipsters occupied wall street, set up a tent on Rothschild Boulevard in protest at the cost of living of Tel Aviv. Over the course of a few days the tents multiplied in number until they spread throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands, myself included, marched and protested and sang. We saw an Israel that we had not seen before. An Israel that was crying out for change from the path of self-destruction that she is heading down. This was the moment in which the country was screaming for the social justice that we, as human beings, deserved. Israel needs these protesters to cry out louder and harder. It needs them to scream that the occupation must end and a just separation of Church and State, one of the founding principles of democracy, must be enforced.

 

The civil war will be anarchic. The left will fight the right and the ultra-Orthodox will fight everyone else. The pro-Settler coalition will smile and pass more and more bills which legalize an occupation that should have ended years ago. The government will lie through its teeth, again, and complain that there is no partner for peace whilst, against the wishes of the security services, withhold more money from the PA. We will bear the brunt of more Iranian-made rockets from the North and the South and peace will be further from our grasp. Eventually we will not be the Israel of Begin or Ben-Gurion but the Israel of Likudniks and Lieberman. A sad excuse for a country that has burnt its bridges in the international community and in return is receiving international condemnation. The left, once those who safeguarded the human rights of all, will shake its head and sigh, from their apartments in Manhattan and Marble Arch, Sydney and Seattle, at the Israel they vacated out of desperation.

 

Israel’s civil war will be bloodless. It will take years to resolve, and it threatens to destroy this country. It will see Israel, once the beacon of light in a sea of medieval Semitic darkness, descend into a theocratic regime or one so right wing that no centrist European or American government will want to maintain a relationship. It will be the country that Jews leave in order to be safe. The founders of Israel would weep at what they see today and their tears would be well justified.

 

The destruction of the Israel that the founders worked for, will be brought about not by Arabia, but by Israel itself. After facing down Arab armies on multiple occasions, defeating them in as little as six days, Israel is at risk of withering and perishing at the bayonet of its own extremist citizens. The Israel that we knew, and loved, will die in the stranglehold of right-wing extremism. In those final hours who will remain to say kaddish for the late State of Israel? Will it be the Diaspora, looking at the ruination of all their hopes and dreams, and wondering why Israel did this to itself? Or will it be those moderate Jews, living in the rubble of what they and their forefathers had tried to build, and wondering where it all went so horribly wrong.

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Thanks Steve!

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier my work, Swifto, posted a tribute to Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple, in the form of our favorite ads. This includes the iPhone 4 FaceTime ad which we unanimously believe is one of the greatest ads we have ever seen.

There is no one speaking, no one touting the speed of the device or how it was superior to it’s rivals. It just shows people using the device to talked to their loved ones. It shows, with no words, why FaceTime, a feature that many phones prior to the iPhone 4 had, would help you stay connected. It is a truly beautiful ad. Those who use the phone don’t care about how fast it is or how it looks. They just care that it is helping them create memories with their loves ones….regardless of distance.

It is an ad that sums up Apple. It is an ad that sums up Steve Jobs.

Today we lost a titan. Today we mourn not just a man. Men die, even great men die, but today a rare man died. A game-changer died. Steve changed lives for the hundreds of millions of people who use his products and for the billions of people who will use his products. There will be those who will grow up enjoying a world that he truly helped shape.

It may seem odd for there to be so much hoopla around one man. It is easy to dismiss him as a figure-head for a computer company. When I found out the news this morning I rushed in to inform my two roommates. They were sad that someone had died but their answer was ‘who?’ and ‘what makes him different from others who have died?’. Whilst their words hold truth, Steve was but a man, he did more to affect modern-day life than almost anyone else in recent memory. He did not have the powers of the President yet his mark will be left on this world. He dared us to be different.

When Steve first demoed the Macintosh in 1984 he did so with a very cheeky grin on his face. He allowed the Macintosh to speak for itself and the Mac stated that you should not trust a computer that you can’t lift. It was this showmanship that helped propel Steve Jobs to the top of the tech world. He was kicked out of his own company and so he simply went on to form another billion dollar company until he was brought back into the fold and made Apple the success story that it is today. It was Apple that helped him change the world. He did not just create beautiful products (looking down at my MacBook Air and iPhone I can attest to their beauty) but rather he refined entire industries. Take the smartphone. RIM, the creator of the Blackberry, was the most popular smartphone makers in 2007. Their smartphones had keyboards and scroll wheels and small screens. Then Apple came along with their now infamous iPhone. Suddenly smartphones had large screens, were touch enabled and could access the Internet like a real computer. It was, in short, a revolution that continues to reverberate around the world today. That was Apple. That was Steve Jobs.

To show how forward thinking Apple was take a look at the new iPhone 4S, unveiled just a few days ago, with an emphasis on a personal assistant called Siri and look at this video that Apple created in the 1980s.

Steve was a perfectionist and that is evident in the products that he created. When Apple first made a foray into phones it partnered with Motorola to create an iTunes phone. You can see when he introduces the phone that he isnot happy with it. It doesn’t ‘just work’ and it does not redefine the industry. So Apple distanced itself from the iTunes phone and hunkered down to create the iPhone. Perfection is often stressed by CEO’s but rarely does a CEO have such an attention to detail as Jobs.

Jobs continued to change the world but it was not until 2005 when he gave a life-altering speech, some consider to be the best commencement speech in history, that the world was confronted with the fact that this man was mortal. We learnt that he was suffering from cancer. He took multiple leaves of absence from his role at Apple until August when he resigned. Whilst we lose Steve today we remember his advise from that famous speech ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’. It is advise that many of us in the start-up industry take to heart. We live in an age that was shaped by Steve Jobs. Those of us who are lucky to work with computers know that without him they would not be the same. He rescued us from the beige boxes that dominated the 90s. He showed us that form and function could actually were not enemies and could coexist. He showed us that beauty did not have to come at the expense of practicality. The start-up industry would truly not exist if not for him and the devices that he pioneered. We, in start-ups all over the world, mourn Steve’s passing because we know that we are continuing his legacy of changing the world. Some start-ups may succeed and some may fail but no idea is stupid. No idea should ever be mocked because it is the stupid ideas that help change the world. One can imagine how, just a few short years ago, people would think it would be impossible to catalog the world’s information, hold an entire bookshop in your hand or be able to play tens of thousands of songs from a small device in your pocket. Yet that is exactly what Google, Amazon and Apple have done. They have helped change the world. Years ago they were just start-ups…being run by people who thought big. Steve Jobs thought big. I stand in awe of him and his life, which was tragically cut short, encourages me and all of us in the tech industry to continue to think big.

Steve once said that he wanted to make a ‘dent in the universe’. Steve you didn’t dent the universe. You redefined it. You have made it impossible for others to dent the universe because you have now set the bar so incredibly high. We will continue on in life trying to make our own mark but it will be in tribute to you.

We are Hungry. We are foolish. We thank you Steve.

Rest In Peace.

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Why I am going naked for Israel and the Middle East

September 1, 2011 5 comments

Anyone who knows me is aware that if I step into a gym it is usually to ask for directions out of the gym. I am the farthest thing from a gym junkie and the very idea of exercise makes me reach for the ice-cream that seems to constantly be in my freezer.

However for the last two weeks I have been on the treadmill, lifting weights, doing chest inclines and looking incredibly scrawny amongst the buff Israeli men that seem to drain me of my masculinity. Why? Because on September 17th I will be car-pooling with others down to the famous Dead Sea to pose naked for a Spencer Tunick nude photo. The purpose of this, largely for the thrill of the idea, is to show that currently Israel is the only country in the region that could possibly get away with such a brazen display of flesh.

Tunick is well known to Australians and the world. He has taken photographs of mass nudes in Sydney, London, Barcelona, New York, Switzerland and scores of other countries. The models are all unpaid and in many cases Tunick’s photographs are meant to convey a message to the world. In the case of his photo-shoot in Israel it is to highlight the rapidly eroding Dead Sea which scientists say will be dry by the year 2050 unless vital measures are taken. Yet for me the decision to bare everything, with the exception of my soul, was for both personal and political reasons. Tunick stated that he believed Israel was the only country in the Middle East with the religious freedom for a photo shoot comprising of hundreds, or thousands, of naked bodies. I sadly have to agree with Tunick and honestly believe that until we see similar nude photo shoots or even the most basic displays of liberalism in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Gaza then the grip of Islamist fascism will continue to take its hold on the region.

We remember, shockingly, in 2002 how fourteen young girls were brutally murdered by the Saudi Arabian Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice aka the ‘religious police’ when they were forced back into a burning building because they were not dressed to the fascistic standards of the organisation. For not wearing a veil these young girls were left to burn alive while the religious police prevented firefighters from rescuing the poor students lest physical contact take place between the young girls and their rescuers for fear of sexually enticing them. Whilst this is just one example it is one in a score of others. Acid attacks on young girls in Afghanistan is common for the simple crime of pursing an education, in Iran a woman’s life is worth half of a man’s and whilst boys cannot be held legally responsible for their actions until they are 14 girls as young as 8 can be sentenced to death and female prisoners are raped prior to their executions lest they go to heaven as virgins, in Syria the barbaric practice of honour killings is still routine and in Gaza women are barred from seeing a male hairdresser or strolling along the beach with a man. Homosexuals too are persecuted in the most gruesome way within these countries. One cannot forget the truly shocking sight of gay men being hung from a crane simply for the crime of following their hearts.

Yet Israel, despite being a bastion of liberalism, is not immune to the horrors of theocratic rule. Whilst we have a predominately secular government and scores of human rights organizations ensuring that the rights of minorities are protected we do still have large elements of our population that rally against liberalism. I am talking about those religious fundamentalists who demand that women in certain areas of Jerusalem sit at the back of the bus and if not they will be beaten like some twisted retelling of Rosa Parks in the modern age. I refer to the discrimination that women face in Israel when it comes to divorce, employment and domestic abuse. There is no doubt that Israel remains leaps and bounds ahead of both the Arab and many countries within the Western World however the fact that these discriminations still exists to the extent that it does is a depressing truth we, as Israelis, must face.

When Spencer Tunick positions his models he will be examining light filters and how the sun hits the water but in the back of his mind he will be thinking about the rapidly dwindling landmark that he is trying to save. I support him and his cause but when I am lying in the ocean my thoughts will not be on how impressive I look or whether a future employer may see this but it will be on the voiceless. Those who sit in silence and admire Israel for her liberal values, the women who wake up in the morning to a state-sanctioned abusive marriage, to the girls who bravely walk to school under the threat of maiming and death and to the homosexuals who must stay silent about those who they love. I await the day that they are free to express themselves as I am about to and I cannot wait for the day that we will be able to pose naked together.

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Netanyahu’s Test of Strength

August 24, 2011 1 comment

For a few days last week, Israel looked like any other modern Western nation. Its people were out on the streets demonstrating against their government’s incompetence in prices, rents, and other aspects of social equity. For a few days, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem could have been Paris and Washington…writes Raffe Gold.

But deadly aluminium tubes full of high-explosives aren’t fired into crowded civilian areas by neighbours of those who live in Paris or Washington, and nor do France and America, England or Germany have enemies who live next door swearing to annihilate them. Suddenly, as Israelis were waving their placards telling MKs in the Knesset how a civil society should be run, their innocent friends and neighbours were running for their lives into bomb shelters, scrambling to find lost children, desperate to protect their lives.

The terror attack on Thursday morning shocked many Israelis out of the fervor that they had been experiencing for the past month. They had, for the first time in many years, begun to taste change and they were enjoying it. The social protests, of which I was a part, had started from a small tent on Rothschild Boulevard and expanded to include tent cities throughout almost every city and town in this country and had led to protests encompassing hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life and the entire political spectrum. Affluent members of society were marching with the homeless, lawyers were marching with criminals and Arab was marching with Jew. The protests took place in Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Haifa and all were shouting in unison “the people demand social justice”. Regardless of the country or system of government when more than half a million people shout something at once their cries reverberate across the country and throughout the halls of power. So it was in Israel where the Prime Minister saw that his country was crying out and he scrambled to see what he could do. Netanyahu did what every other politician would do and proposed a number of stop-gap measures whilst trying to figure out what he could do to win the next election.

Then the terrorists struck. As men, women and children were demanding a better life from their government, missiles were fired across the Gaza border intent on killing and maiming innocents; young kids on a bus were strafed by machine guns; towns and hospitals, schools and synagogues were targeted by Gazan youths wearing headscarfs so that their identities could be hidden. And inevitably the IDF immediately struck back with deadly effect.

On television that night, the images of buses riddled with bullets, cars being fired at with anti-tank missiles and terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests brought back many painful memories of the terror war of the Second Intifada. In response to this brutal and unprovoked massacre the Israeli air force targeted the heads of the Popular Resistance Committee whom Israeli intelligence believed to be behind the attack. Over the course of the next few days various terror groups, including the PRC and Hamas, fired a barrage of rockets into the south of Israel killing and injuring scores of innocent people. The rockets hit schools and houses and the death count would be significantly higher had the Iron Dome missile defense shield not been deployed which saved innumerable lives.

This was Netanyahu’s time. Suddenly, rent and social issues were no longer at the top of his mind. He went into survival mode again. He has often talked tough with Israel’s enemies and the constant rocket attacks, including Hamas publicly declaring that the cease-fire with Israel was over, gave him enough moral and legal backing to appropriately authorize a military operation to remove what was a grave threat to the people of Israel. But he chose not to and in this his leadership abilities shone. There were a number of reasons that Netanyahu decided not to commit troops to eradicating the rocket threat and all of them show that he has learnt that whilst military deterrence should be a cornerstone in every defense strategy, diplomacy plays an equal role.

Israel is facing an incredibly daunting future and much of it will take place over the next several months. In September Mahmoud Abbas will be going to the United Nations to declare Palestinian independence, a move most likely to be vetoed in the Security Council, especially as it violates the Oslo Accords. Because of this Netanyahu is attempting to muster as much diplomatic support as possible to ensure that this declaration of independence does not happen. It is a delicate task and Israel is already facing increasing isolationism abroad. We have had some successes over the last few months, primarily in shutting down the Freedom Flotilla II, but we still have a long way to go especially with BDS extremists bizarrely finding chocolate shops in Sydney and Melbourne to be a legitimate target of protest. Netanyahu also wisely staved off military action because Israel’s relations with Egypt were close to collapsing. When pursuing the remaining terrorists, IDF forces tragically fired on, and killed, five Egyptian police officers in the fog of war. In war mistakes are made. However Egypt is still in shock from its popular overthrow of Mubarak and in many cases does not know what path it will take vis-a-vis relations with Israel. In this case the Egyptian people, not exactly pro-Israel, took to protesting outside the Israeli embassy and tearing down the flag. The Egyptian generals saw that this could be a potential flash-point and demanded an apology. Netanyahu and Barak, seeing that peace with Egypt was on the line, expressed regret at the deaths and promised to open a joint investigation into the matter.

This past week has once again seen blood spilled on our soil but it has also seen our leaders act as they should. They responded to attacks appropriately by targeting those who planned it and using enough force to impose deterrence. Furthermore whilst a military operation would have been a popular move, the opposition Kadima party pushed for one, it would have done Israel far more harm than good. Finally Netanyahu showed that he can be trusted to ensure that our most important alliances remain intact. During this past week, amongst horror and heartbreak, our Prime Minister showed that he has learned how to be a leader of this country and not just a warrior for it.

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