Provocations: What Was Bibi Thinking?

— by Steve Wenick

“Israel has the right to respond to provocative Palestinian Authority moves.”Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

That was Bibi’s response to the UN General Assembly’s vote to give the Palestinians a non-member observer state status. But having the ‘right’ does not obligate nor does it necessitate exercising that right.

More after the jump.
True enough; a response was warranted but like ‘change’ there are good responses and bad responses. Bibi’s was the latter.  To paraphrase the great bard, to respond or not to respond that is the question. Or perhaps it is only a part of the question. More to the point is the question of how to respond.

My initial reaction to his response to the ‘provocation’ was that he was acting like an immature brat playing the old schoolyard game of tit for tat. Of course if Bibi had not responded at all, at least publically, it still would have constituted a response, albeit a silent one. But sometimes they are the ones which speak the loudest and most effectively.

But respond he did and as a consequence he gave the Palestinian Authority exactly what it wanted, a reaction from Bibi that would only serve to further alienate Israel from even its closest allies. He made three mistakes, all of which were unnecessary.

  • First of all, there was the timing. It probably was planned but appeared precipitous. It had the look of a thoughtless and reckless reaction rather than a thoughtfully planned course of action.
  • Second, it was pointless; he could have chosen a number of other more diplomatic ways to communicate his disapproval of the vote to his diminishing cadre of friends in the international community.
  • Third, it smacked of spite work; never a very pretty piece of work. He purposely pulled an ‘in your face’ tantrum which was a totally over the top reaction not becoming of a head of state. To resort to bluster, bombast and bravado, which oft characterizes the theatrics of Israel’s enemies, has been and continues to be the last resort of those who have nothing to say. Bibi should not have adopted tactics which were tantamount to slaps in the faces of friends.

So the question that begs an answer is, “What was Bibi thinking?”  The answer may be as simple as — he wasn’t.