Former U.S Rep. Robert Wexler may be a liberal pro-Israel sycophant, but thank God he visited IDF intelligence chief two weeks before Operation Cast Lead began along with a U.S. embassy staffer. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this rich portrait of Israeli thinking just prior to the Israeli assault on Gaza. The cable was written on December 8, 2008 and the war commenced on December 27th. In the cable, Amos Yadlin‘s comments are paraphrased:
Yadlin…advocates taking a “much tougher” approach to Gaza.
Hamas’ control of Gaza provides an opportunity. Since the terrorists are now the government, Israel knows which terrorist is sitting in what office and where their homes are. They have come out of hiding and into the open, so the IDF can identify and find them. Yadlin warned that if the shelling of Israeli communities from Gaza continues, Israel can “use this card” against Hamas. It will “change the paradigm,” he concluded.
While Yadlin did not use the phrase “targeted assassinations,” it was clear from the context that he is advocating this approach to countering the threat from Hamas.
It should be remembered that Israel did assassinate several of Hamas’ top political leaders and cabinet members during the massacre along with 1,100 civilians, among them 300 children. But funny thing, it didn’t “change the paradigm.” I also find it astonishing that an IDF general briefing a U.S. Congress member accompanied by a U.S. embassy representative would boast, even implicitly, that it plans to assassinate Hamas leaders. That apparently didn’t ring any alarm bells for that good liberal Zionist, Rep. Wexler. I guess there are good assassinations and bad ones. Bad: Kennedy brothers, MLK. Good: anyone from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, etc.
What seems strange to me is that Yadlin candidly informs Wexler that the Palestinians are only fourth on Israel’s threat index behind Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. If that’s the case, and I have no reason to doubt it, then why was it dragged into a war with its fourth most dangerous threat? To me, this indicates that Israel has no strategic thinking. It allows itself to be pushed and pulled by whatever is the most pressing threat of the moment. A rocket falls in Sderot? This is the existential threat of the day and must be addressed as if all Israel depended on eliminating it.
The IDF intelligence chief also betrays typical Israeli thinking by warning that the conflict cannot be resolved by directly addressing the major issues through final status negotiations:
If the parties attempt to move straight to resolving the conflict, the attempt will collapse and result in violence as in the start of the Second Intifada after the 2000 Camp David summit.
I’ve always thought of this argument as some sort of weird magical thinking. There is an assumption that the highest priority for life in the Middle East must be avoiding violence at all costs, rather than resolving the dispute between the two peoples so that there is no longer any reason for violence.
Wexler, who led Jewish outreach on behalf of the Obama campaign, left Congress afterward and now heads the Abraham Fund. You can get an idea of Wexler’s hopelessly tepid views in this cable by nothing that he clearly favors Bibi Netanyahu’s “economic” approach to “resolving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an approach I’ve skewered here before. This is a bastion of the American Jewish liberal Zionist leadership.