THE BLOG
06/07/2010 10:30 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bard Blog -- Israel's Critics & Perspective

"I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own advice," says Portia in Merchant of Venice.

She's the cool non-lawyer in lawyer's garb. She delivers the most beautiful tribute to forgiveness -- "the quality of mercy is not strained" -- and minutes later, shows no mercy whatsoever.

"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions." Again, the hypocrite Portia.
So it's easy for leaders who crack down viciously against terrorists, even dissenters -- like those in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia - to condemn Israel for disproportional response, when Israeli officials legally, and legitimately, take actions to stop arms coming into Hamas terrorists.

For us to judge Israel -- surrounded by enemies, who seek its extinction -- is rather presumptuous from 5,700 miles away, from a country surrounded by friendly neighbors.

Nonetheless, as Israel's best (if not only) real friend, we might remark on how Israelis are impressive at the tactical and (most of the time) operational levels. It's at the strategic level, however, that Israel fails -- miserably, and to all our misery.

The most critical relationships in the world, for Israel, are those with us and Turkey. Yet one tactical move after another -- whether on housing announcements, or settlement agreements, or ship boardings -- have bitterly alienated both the U.S. and Turkey.

Israeli leaders make it hard to be Israel's friend nowadays. And that's not a great strategic approach. But one all too common on the world stage.

Take Shakespeare's Bolingbroke, who's a tactical genius. His ability to scheme effectively enables him to seize power from the hapless Richard II.

Yet, he's a strategic nincompoop. For once Bolingbroke becomes King Henry IVth, his tactical adjustments lead smack dab into one rebellion after another. He never realizes the need for a true leaders to think big and act bigger, in order to preclude his need for constant tactical maneuverings.

So my most humble advise to the Israeli cabinet would be "Brush up your Shakespeare" and think more broadly -- move from a narrow-gauged Henry IVth to a wider track Henry Vth perspective.