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The Blue Lobster

Public intellectuals and political leaders are the bizarre crustaceans of our time.

by
David Solway

Bio

June 17, 2011 - 12:05 am
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4. Israel’s “allies” have always proven to be fickle and unreliable, whether we are considering Eisenhower’s self-admitted mistake in intervening in the 1956 Egyptian campaign or France’s betrayal of Israel or the UNIFIL forces in Lebanon permitting Hezbollah to re-arm in violation of UN Resolution 1701 or President Obama’s current agenda to render Israel increasingly defenseless against its terrorist enemies. Israel cannot depend on the good faith or treaty obligations of its allies whatever its geographical dimensions.

5. The phrase “perpetual occupation” is a misnomer and an oft-repeated blue lobster mantra. Israel withdrew from its buffer zone in South Lebanon and was rewarded with an Iranian-supplied missile armada trained on its cities. Israel withdrew from Gaza and reaped thousands of Hamas rockets falling on its civilian centers. The Palestinian Authority controls almost the entirety of the West Bank. There is no “occupation” in the present acceptation of the term, but mainly “facts on the ground” entailing some scattered hamlets in the Shomron, the inevitable population growth in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and the necessary security apparatus to prevent the infiltration of suicide bombers.

Friedman’s conclusion is, in consequence, largely untenable. The reason Israel did comparatively poorly in its post-1967 wars has little or nothing to do with its expanded boundaries or the supposed onset of macromania. Rather we must look to the inescapable human frailties of over-confidence and complacency, the conviction that past successes augur future victories, which leads to the subliminal assumption of invincibility. The prelude to the 1973 or “Yom Kippur War,” in which Israel was effectively asleep at the wheel, is an illustration of this predictable weakness and lapse of judgment. The somewhat disheveled condition of the army during the 2006 Summer War is another such instance. Yet another enfeebling element is — or was — the pervasive feeling of weariness after two generations of unrelenting conflict, expressed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his infamous “we are tired of winning” speech.

No less significant, programmatic left-wing defeatism and utopian irreality in the press and the academy plainly had a role to play in arranging for the country’s more recent miseries. The deterioration in the quality of the Israeli leadership is also a salient factor in the country’s suffering — a Barak who fled Lebanon in the night, a Sharon who went back on his word in disengaging from Gaza, an Olmert and a Livni ready to give up the store to their Palestinian “peace partners.” Blue lobsters all, these leaders-in-name-only were all willing to comply with their so-called “allies” and to recede, as per Friedman and others, to smaller, less defensible or protected borders. In doing so, they brought only various forms of burden and distress to their people.

Clearly, the extension of Israel’s border is completely irrelevant to its malaise, notwithstanding what our “experts” seem to think. What we are remarking here is not responsible tradecraft but a kind of mental aberration at work. More and more, we are led and lectured to by people who are prone to delusions of self-importance coupled with magical thinking, the belief that an ideological slogan, noble intentions, an unsupported theory or a wave of the negotiating wand can accomplish results that only humility, insight, practical acumen, and a dedication to long-haul survival can yield. All Western nations have succumbed to this deformity of thought, but tiny Israel in its territorial corset is most in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, the blue lobsters of the political and ideological domain tend to proliferate and reproduce with abandon. They swim not only in the waters off Prince Edward Island but in all the oceans of the world. Armored against the lessons of reality and convinced of their uniqueness, they glitter in the media and international forums, oblivious to their natal incongruity. Whether we are considering public intellectuals like Friedman, whose numbers are legion, or political authorities who have allowed themselves to be swayed by fantasies of sophistication, they are not so much genetic anomalies as intellectual misfits, political incompetents and, what is most disheartening, a pod of eccentrics who threaten to become the norm.

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David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, was released by Mantua Books. His latest book is The Boxthorn Tree, published in December 2012. Visit his Website at www.davidsolway.com.
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