Israel Needs a Change: DD Versus Bibi, Part 2

03/03/2015 02:42 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2015

"What are you thinking these days?," I asked DD, the imaginary Israeli Defense Dove, when I reached her in her office.

I could tell that she was edgy. "I read your Huffpost piece yesterday," she commented, "and I agree in large part. But there is more to be said."

"Tell me."

"You must have read about all the former high officials in Israeli security agencies who have come out against Bibi's bluster. I've reached their conclusions. And more: nothing is more important for Israel's future than the ouster of Netanyahu's Likud party in the upcoming elections. I fear grave consequences if he wins."

"You know," she went on, "I devote all my waking hours to Israeli security. That's why I am so angry at Bibi and his right-wingers. They're experts at jumbling up real security questions with nationalist swagger. The settlement issue is an obvious example. How many friends has Israel lost for the sake of those blinkered settlers? Why lose friends over them if Iran is the big issue? And he pours money into the West Bank while housing prices in Israel skyrocket."

"David Ben Gurion, Israel's founding father, once said that setting priorities is the most important thing a prime minister does," I noted.

"Yes," she said ruefully, "and by Ben Gurion's standard Netanyahu is arguably the worst head of government in my country's history. Iran is indeed a very, very real problem. If it goes nuclear, everything -- but everything -- changes in this region. It is not at all just a matter of Israel. Do you really want a nuclear arms race throughout this unstable region? What does Bibi do? He alienates an American president (and scores of other world leaders) after alienating everyone else he can."

"Nobody trusts him," she continued "Whoever heard of such 'strategic' behavior? Israel's political deck needs reshuffling."

"Strong words," I noted.

"Yes. Fortunately, our conversation is invented."

"So let me put you on the spot," I said, "Imagine an Israeli government to your liking after the elections. What strategy would you have it pursue? "

A phone rang. I heard muffled Hebrew. Something about military movements on Syria's side of the Golan Heights.

"I'll get back to you," she said.

My conversation with DD picks up in my next post.


Mitchell Cohen is editor emeritus of Dissent Magazine and professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. His book Zion and State (Columbia University Press) examines the intellectual origins of the conflict between the left and the right in Israel. It has just been republished in Paris by Editions la Decouverte.