Sunday, June 13, 2010




Whenever I think of the daily challenges confronting Benjamin Netanyahu, I'm reminded of two scenes, seventy years apart.


It's was a mid-Winter afternoon following a heavy snowfall. Jewish boys, from seven to twelve-years-old, were entering the New Hebrew School on Stockton Street in Williamsburg. Suddenly, a gang of gentile lads emerged, chasing the remaining Jewish stragglers while pelting them with white missiles.

The young Jewish students ran in panic to security behind the Hebrew school gates as snowballs rained down.

Just then, one of the older schoolboys burst from behind the Yeshiva doors. His name was Nate -- we called him "Natie" -- and he startled his pals by throwing open the gates and confronting the "goyim," who were just as startled by his "chutzpuh" as the previously-frightened kids.

To the cheers of his mates, "Natie" not only repulsed the oppressors but gave courage to those who earlier had been intimidated. We all then paraded to class while one of the Yeshiva boys delivered the deathless quote, "Don't take any crap from the 'goyim.'"


This was a bright Spring day, shortly after the Gaza flotilla story grabbed headlines. A group of Muslim, Jew-hating protestors were marching near the Israeli consulate, denouncing Bibi Netanyahu and any other Zionist who came to their minds. Peaceful, this protest was not; no more than the flotilla operation.

Suddenly, a young man, carrying an Israeli flag walked among the protestors. He said nothing, did nothing but stroll with the Star of David. The Muslims screamed invective by the thousand-decibel count at the lone Jew. Insult mounted upon insult and it appeared that -- were it not for police intervention -- the Israeli supporter soon would be assaulted, if not beaten to death.

His courage -- under the circumstances -- strained credulity. He surely was aware of the body-threatening position in which he had inserted himself but the legitimacy of his mission was written all over his stolid face. "Don't take any crap from the Arabs!"

There is a message there for Israel's leader.

Netanyahu must once and for all stop backing down. No more concessions when he knows in his gut that one concession -- as in abandoning Lebanon and then Gaza -- leads to another and another, ad nauseum.

As my good, Israeli friend, Lionel Gaffen, puts it, "Bibi has bent but he has not been broken. He has managed to steer the ship of state on a pretty steady course; given all that's going on in the world today."

My point is that now is not the time for bending, if the Prime Minister at all can help it. The reason should be obvious to any student of the Arab -- or, for that matter Turkish, Obamaish and European Union -- mentality.

For that infamous group, the password is BULLY. Why not? Over and over again, bullying works.

The Muslim-oriented American president has been threatening, insulting and generally treating Netanyahu as a third-class citizen since Obama took office. What Bibi must once and for all do is stand up to the bully while letting all of Israel -- not to mention the rest of the world -- understand that enough is enough.

And if that message doesn't sink in -- with the EU, Turks and Arabs as well -- then Bibi should utter the two words that have most resonance with Jews who care -- never again!

Obama's spineless cow-towing to the Arabs merely has encouraged both Hamas and the PLO to make ridiculous demands while Iran continually ridicules Uncle Sam with impunity.

No Middle East observer grasps this bizarre situation better than Barry Rubin. The director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center invariably zeroes in on the issue with clarity.

"Obama displays no strategic sense," Rubin points out. "He should make clear that the United States does not want an Iranian client, a revolutionary jihadists Taliban-like regime on the Mediterranean Sea.

"It should be the goal of U.S. policy to avoid this. Instead he deals with this as a 'humanitarian' issue and makes no effort to get across what should be the main point."

My point is that Netanyahu should not expect any tilt in American policy toward Israel. Likewise, Bibi should not bend the wrong way on every American, EU, Turkish and Arab demand. And since Obama doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it -- the Israeli leader should stand tall and make some legitimate demands of his own. To wit:

* Not a single concession to Hamas until Gilad Shalit is freed. Would Obama tolerate the kidnapping of an American GI for so long?

* Absolutely no Turkish involvement in any deal opening a corridor to Gaza. Turkey has become Israel's enemy. And, besides, would Obama tolerate the continuing rocketry of the Northern U.S. by Canada in the manner that Israel continues to be shelled from Gaza?

* There should be no apologies to anyone about the Israeli response to the flotilla gambit. It was justified. Period.

Granted, it's easy for me to advise the Prime Minister of Israel who is under tremendous pressure from all sides. But there comes a time when retreat no longer is a practical option.

Standing up to the bullies is a vexing option but -- in the longer run -- it's the only one as the episodes in Gaza and Lebanon have demonstrated.

Gilad Shalit still is hidden by the brazen Hamas gang. Nasrallah keeps making threats. Rockets continue to fall in the Negev.

As Natie in Williamsburg and the courageous Jewish lad in Los Angeles said: ENOUGH ALREADY!

That should be Bibi's motto as he moves forward.

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