Iran brings the worst out of Israel

Israelis aren’t noted for their social skills, but the snarling, sour-grapes response of Netanyahu and friends to Iran’s overtures to the West represents a lot more than just bad manners. Israel’s woefully inept response to  Iran’s charm campaign speaks volumes about the prime minister himself, the country he leads and the dead-end it has reached as a result of cognitive constipation.

Israel may be a hothouse of technological innovation, but that seems to have come at the expense of innovative – or even rational – thinking on the strategic plane or when it comes to do with anything that is not Israeli or Jewish. Israelis like to see themselves as cosmopolitan and the country is infested by strategic research institutes of every conceivable type and orientation. Yet our ability to understand anything outside Israel is dismal. It’s as if we’re fitted with invisible blinkers at birth, able only to follow the straight, Zionist line set out for us.

Being so one-dimensional, we are appropriately homogenous in our behavior. As Eyal Megged wrote in yesterday’s Haaretz, Netanyahu exemplifies Homo Israelus to a remarkable degree – his personality traits are, to a large extent, those of the majority of his fellow Israelis: “lack of respect for others, impatience, suspicion, unjustified conceit, and primarily arrogance, decapitated by the first little failure.” Continue reading

Two wrongs don’t make a right

President Obama wants to teach Syria a lesson in order to uphold international conventions to which it, Syria, is not a signatory. To do so, he intends contravening an international charter to which the U.S. is a signatory – the UN Charter, which renders dispute resolution by force unlawful (Article 2), unless legalized by the Security Council (Chapter 7.)

So, if the goal is ethics – in this case, the enforcement of legal and moral obligations – he’s going about it in a very strange way. As my Bobba used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right” (Yiddish accent optional.)  

Of course, things are a little more complicated than that. While Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Rome Statute of the ICC, it is bound by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, while the CWC is widely regarded (including by the Red Cross) as being customary law – i.e. a custom that is so widespread as to be the norm. A case, though not a very strong one, might be conceivable under international law for the proven use of chemical weapons. Continue reading