Things could get bad. Really bad. Islamic State carrying out attacks on Israeli soil bad. Islamic State taking over the West Bank bad. Snooty French far rightists using IS-sown chaos to make electoral gains bad.
At least that’s the message readers of Israel’s dailies Monday morning will get, with headlines proving that even if the jihadi group doesn’t have a foothold in the Jewish state and Palestinian territories, the specter of it being bandied about by officials and politicians is making sure the group’s cowing work is being done for it.
“The fear: An Islamic State attack on Israel,” reads the fear-monger-tastic front page headline on Yedioth Ahronoth.
The fine print reveals that there isn’t any actual smoking gun to warrant such a headline, and certainly not on the front page, but rather just a senior security official saying it’s only a matter of time until they target the Jewish state, which is awfully similar to the plot of the story “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Night Soil.”
Instead, the paper does report that there has been a “dramatic” increase in the number of Israelis fighting for IS, putting the number at a few hundred. To officials, though, it seems the biggest problem is figuring out who to blow to kingdom come once an attack does occur.
“Who are we going to hit in Syria that the international coalition and Russia aren’t hitting already?” the security source is quoted asking.
It’s not just IS attacking, but also the threat of it “flying its black flag” above the Muqata, at least according to Hillary Clinton, who used the threat to try to force Israelis to accept Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech Sunday night, the same way parents get their kids to eat their greens by warning them the Bogeyman will get them and fly his Bogeyman flag over the Muqata if they don’t.
Clinton’s words, coupled with Secretary of State John Kerry’s depressing prophetic vision of a one-state reality delivered a night earlier, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of Kerry’s one-state prognosis, all at the Saban Forum in Washington, leads into a Barak Ravid commentary in Haaretz in which he notes that Israel’s vision and that of the Democrats running the White House are not exactly dovetailing.
“It’s safe to assume that Netanyahu and his aides are hoping that a Republican president will win the 2016 election. Such a scenario is within the realm of possibility, but it is more likely at this time that Netanyahu will find Hillary Clinton in the White House. The former secretary of state’s speech at the Saban Forum on Sunday showed that her policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict won’t be much different from that of Obama and Kerry,” he writes. “The conclusion reached by many senior members of the Obama administration, as well as those who might hold key positions in the Clinton administration, is that the Democratic Party in the US and the Israeli government are two entities living in parallel universes that are drifting apart and are unlikely to converge. A similar feeling is harbored by numerous senior officials in Jerusalem and the Israeli right. The American side can’t understand why Israel isn’t obsessively searching for a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, while the Israeli side can’t understand why the entire world is so obsessed with the Palestinian issue.”
Giving a taste of the Israeli position, Israel Hayom columnist Dror Eidar tries to pour water on those like Kerry and Clinton who say the two-state solution is the only solution.
“The binary thinking we’ve gotten used to – two states or one state – is overly simple and disastrous. As of now, the geographic entity termed by the Romans as Palestina has four different political entities: in Israel, In Jordan, in Gaza and in the Palestinian Authority. What’s that? Somebody thought Hamas would give up its rule? And in Jordan, would the House of Hashem give way to the Palestinian majority? Geniuses sit in Washington (and in Israeli punditry) and make the map how they want it, on the assumption the reality will straighten out, or will be forced to straighten out. But our sages taught that it’s not upon us to finish the work, even if we aren’t allowed to desist from it,” he writes, quoting a proverb from Ethics of our Fathers about realizing the limits of what is possible, but also what needs to be done.
In Yedioth, the headline “Two states, one bluff,” isn’t even the most unfortunate thing about Nahum Barnea’s commentary, but rather his declaration of the death of the two-state solution in Israel, even if the US refuses to recognize it.
“This weekend, American government officials learned an important lesson from the mouths of the Israelis: From the view of the Israeli government, the two-state solution is dead. When Netanyahu speaks of it, he telegraphs negativity. Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman gave their statements happily, [Isaac] Herzog and Tzipi Livni did so with regret. But everyone agreed,” he writes. “Despite that, the American will continue to hole up with this formulation, because they have no other formulation, and it’s comfortable to keep with it rather than search for alternatives. This agreed-up on lie will take us until the next Saban Forum.”
I have a little terror wave
The papers’ determination to look to the future for threats seems somewhat strange when considering the fact one only need look out the window to see near daily stories of death and destruction during an ongoing terror wave. Israel Hayom is the only paper to lead off with a stabbing/car-ramming attack in Jerusalem from the night earlier, in which three people were lightly injured and the assailant killed.
The timing of the attack, on the first night of Hanukkah, plays to great effect in Haim Shine’s commentary in the tabloid, with him declaring that terror won’t manage to extinguish “the Jews’ eternal light.” In the great Hanukkah tradition of ignoring hypocrisy and irony, he at once links terror in Jerusalem to attacks around the world, and chides anyone who would link Palestinian terror to attacks around the world.
“The merit to live in the State of Israel, in which we are once again able to light the menorah in public without fear. The Maccabees of old have come to life again, the swirling strength revealed in civilians and soldiers who are forced to deal with day-to-day terror. If human beings around the world want to live, so today more than ever they need the light of the Jewish menorah,” he writes. “Yesterday, on the streets of Jerusalem, like the London Underground and the rehab center in San Bernadino [sic] it became clear again to whoever needed proof that Islamic terror is not just a problem in Israel. Anyone who tries to link the uptick in terror to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and blame Israel for fighting it, suffers from blind hatred or evil cynicism.”
Speaking of putting things where light doesn’t shine, Haaretz’s Amos Harel and Chaim Levinson write that with the Shin Bet having a hard time making headway in the hunt for Jewish terror suspects behind the fatal Duma firebombing, they may have to employ some unorthodox and unpleasant methods to get information, usually only reserved for Palestinian suspects.
“Shin Bet investigators have repeatedly complained that the methods used in interrogating suspected Jewish terrorists are less aggressive, and therefore less effective, than those used against suspected Palestinian terrorists,” they write. “Even if ‘exceptional’ measures are used against only some Palestinian suspects, the very fact that the threat exists, and the suspects know interrogators won’t hesitate to use harsh measures if they believe there’s no other option, often intimidates the suspects and helps persuade them to talk.”