[T]he raid is the latest case of Israel choosing militarism over liberalism, which Beinart identifies as the core issue. But the “counterproductivity critique” isn’t just a failure of nerve. It’s also unpersuasive.
Israel not only no longer faces any enemies who pose an existential threat, it doesn’t even have enemies who can thwart any strongly held Israeli policy aim. No state is going to go to war to “destroy Israel.” I doubt any state particularly wants to. Certainly no state that might want to can do so. But beyond that, no state is going to go to war on behalf of the Palestinians and the Palestinians lack the power to launch an effective war on their own behalf.
Every time Israel takes major, disproportionate action, the “counterproductivity corps” tells us that very soon now Israel’s high-handedness will cost it essential allies, alienate the United States and set the country on the road to ruin. Every time, the furor passes. In particular, the United States has attempted no material rebuke of Israel since the administration of Bush the Elder, and these days barely bothers with rhetorical rebukes....
This is not Israel “shooting itself in the foot.” This is Israel winning. Be for that or against it, but at least recognize it.
This is why the comparisons floating out there between Israel and North Korea leave me with a sinking feeling in my gut. Substitute North Korea for Israel, and North Koreans for Palestinians, and you basically can make the same argument. Does Israel really want to be seen as a pariah state? Is the whole pattern of intransigence and neoconservative dick-swinging some weird strategy by U.S. and Israeli hawks to push Obama to repudiate Israel so that they can swing the powerful Jewish vote mainly to the Republicans in 2012? Risky move if that's true, because I think there are a lot of American Jews who might not support Israel if Obama levels any sort of punitive action against Israel. Or is this some way that Israel now justifies war with Iran? Obama's screwed either way. Joe Klein:
First reaction: This is an insane use of disproportionate force. It is a product of the right-wing radicalization of the Israeli government, an extremism that Peter Beinart wrote about in his recent, much debated New York Review of Books article. And it will further isolate Israel from the rest of the world. The US will be asked to condemn this behavior in the inevitable Security Council resolution--if Obama doesn't veto the resolution, there will be hell to pay among the Israelophilic leaders of the American Jewish Community. If he does veto the resolution, his outreach to the Islamic world is kaput. If he abstains, everyone is offended.
Right on schedule, the Likudnik Israel-firsters over at Commentary throw down
the gauntlet. It's up to "liberal zionists"--that is, people who believe in Israel but not in Likud's neo-imperialist policies--to "choose" between Israel or Hamas. Sorry, but it's a false choice...and I'm certainly not going to submit to some juvenile ultimatum thrown down by right-wing extremists whose knee-jerk support of Netanyahu's sado-masochistic coalition is hurting Israel grievously. I understand Israel's position on the Gaza blockade, though not its crazed macho military nonsense against the flotilla. I believe it's up to Hamas to initiate negotiations that will lead to the lifting of the blockade. But I also believe that Likudnik policies created Hamas just as surely as the disastrous 1982 Likudnik invasion of Lebanon created Hizballah.
Again, nothing will come of this whole incident -- Israel will not cede any land, Hamas, after basking in the glory of the immediate condemnation of Israel, will gain no power from anyone, and will not inject any significant terrorist activities anywhere. Al Qaeda will act the same as it did before this incident, and Iran will remain stubbornly immobile in its stare-down with the rest of the world.