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January 29, 2015 9:16 pm

Searching for Signs of Intelligent Life Among Israel’s Leaders

avatar by Brandon Marlon

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Jewish Leadership: Then

Israeli leaders are overfond of vowing that Israel’s enemies will “pay a price.”

Is Israel a retailer? Are Israel’s enemies a bunch of inveterate shoplifters?

The same Israeli leaders repetitively announce that there will be a “response” to the various terrorists for their various attacks.

Are Israel’s enemies a bunch of telemarketers or prank callers, or spammers sending unsolicited email?

When Israel half-heartedly confronts its foes, Israeli leaders publicly long for the return of “quiet.”

Are Israel’s enemies a bunch of noisy brats causing a ruckus?

Israel’s enemies are terrorists and terror sponsors. They exist to murder and mass murder. They’ll strike unless struck first.

So what is Israel waiting for? Why are Israeli governments satisfied with exacting a “price” or providing a “response” to terrorists so as to restore “quiet”…instead of proactively, concertedly, eradicating them from the face of the earth?

This is no great mystery: The reason is because of a fundamental leadership dearth. The conventional calculus prevailing at the highest levels in the Israeli government is one in which containment and management are the order of the day. Why go to the trouble of solving the problem when the problem can be contained? Why bother leading when you can get away with merely managing?

Jewish Leadership: Now

Regrettably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proven to be a classic manager. He favors the status quo, whether it is in regard to the Temple Mount, Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, or dealing decisively with the terrorists. By now it should be crystal clear that Bibi makes an adept  foreign minister (or finance minister) and a detrimental prime minister. He is content to remain a middling gerent instead of guiding the Jewish state into a new era of strength and confidence. He should therefore make way for someone willing to display leadership and common sense, someone who will take on Israel’s greatest challenges head-on. Israeli leaders wearing one eye-patch are functional; those who govern as if they are wearing two eye patches only ensure that a stagnant nation goes nowhere fast.

(Somewhere in the Knesset right now, a Jewish Diogenes is mumbling to himself, wandering the dim halls with a bright lantern in desperate search of a bold, determined, once-in-a-generation leader. Happy hunting, friend.)

Every day that the terrorists are permitted to plan, prepare, and attack at whim undermines the value of life in the Jewish state. As it stands, Israelis – even armed IDF soldiers, hamstrung by their flaccid non-leaders – nowadays walk around with invisible bull’s-eyes like sitting ducks, like fish in a barrel, until the terrorists shoot and slay at their pleasure, only pausing to resupply then reload.

For this the Jewish People needs a state? For this diasporic Jews will make aliyah to the homeland? This is a Promised Land?

Friendly reminder: If the State of Israel was an individual, it would at this point qualify for a senior’s discount. Pushing 67, Israel’s youth is over; the incunabula of statehood, the birth pangs, are inarguably bygones. Ergo, the Jewish state has got to comport itself like a wizened veteran, not a greenhorn, and valiantly advance beyond the stultifying, static inertia of the status quo.

Periodically countering the terrorists is sometimes referred to in Israel as “mowing the lawn.” Yet terrorists have an uncanny way of mimicking weeds, growing back instantaneously after the grass is cut. Terrorists do not need to pay prices or receive responses, they need to be uprooted (apparently, no incumbent Israeli leader is even remotely familiar with gardening).

Isn’t it high time the State of Israel put on its Big Boy pants? Isn’t it time Israel put away the lawnmower and instead gripped an incisive spade in each hand?

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  • Yale

    In a democracy, even one not as fractious as Israel, policy-making is a good deal more complicated than Mr. Marlon appears to understand. Before a democracy takes an initiative, it needs to weigh thoroughly the ramifications in every dimension and then gain political backing from the populace.

    Israel lacks the kind of leadership he wants today because it has far too many people who see the prime minister whenever they look in a mirror. Most of these people see nothing wrong with undermining their government if they think it will provide even the slightest political advantage. Effective leadership requires followership, but that is certainly lacking in Israel.

    And then there is the real side of this problem: Mr. Marlon appears to believe that unleashing the IDF will put an end to terrorism. If so, then he needs to account for the existence of terror today, since the IDF has been sent against terrorists repeatedly for over 60 years. Does he have a strategy that hasn’t occurred to the general staff?

    If the prospects for striking a meaningful blow are low, the political cost domestically high, and the probability of a hostile reaction from allies (I include the US here, despite Obama) high, the wisest thing to do is wait until an opportunity arises. That is the policy a serious leader should be following, even if it doesn’t meet with Mr. Marlon’s approval.

    • Yaakov Yampolsky

      Nonsense. Give the conventional, received rubbish a rest.

      While Israel waits ‘until an opportunity arises’, Jews die. Maybe that’s okay with you, but not for thoughtful human beings. Your stale cogitation is outdated and deadly.

      Contrary to your flawed assertions, leaders don’t wait around for approval from everyone, they don’t wait for foreign go-aheads. They recognize reality, deliberate, and act decisively. The writer is not discussing politicians, but Leaders. Read attentively.

      Actually, the IDF has never been “unleashed” against the existing terror groups in anything more than an operation of limited scope and scale. You appear to suffer from a lack of rudimentary imagination. If the IDF’s hands were untied, if arbitrary ticking clocks were dismissed, the results would be different because the goals would be different.

      Heard much from the Tamil Tigers lately, “Yale”???

    • Israel Isaiah

      Yale, your patronizing faux analysis does not withstand probing scrutiny. Practical considerations – like keeping the Israeli populace alive – must trump political gamesmanship and opportunism.

      A closer reading of the Jewish nation-state’s diurnal security needs will eventually enlighten you to the pragmatism inhering in staunch leadership, of which you have witnessed so little that you utterly fail to conceive of what it might look like.

      Study history and discover that even democracies are capable of producing remarkable leaders, who direct the ship of state instead of handing out surveys and questionnaires before making decisions. Good grief, man!

  • J

    Terrorism is the symptom of a deeper problem. Cut American aid. Refuse to tolerate corruption and the poisoning of the media and education system.

  • RobiMac

    I hoped that Israel would blow Iran off the map but, that is not possible. I mean, it is but it can’t happen. Ezekiel 38-39 states that a Russian-Arab coalition, including Iran, is going to march against Israel but, then Yeshua is going to stop that.

    I don’t know a lot about Bibi other than he is an upstanding humanitarian. And yes, he does retaliate when missiles are constantly fired into Israel but, any thoughts Bibi might have with regards to full out war with the enemy neighbors are presently halted by the higher power mentioned above.

    Make no mistake, when Ezekiel’s War begins, there will only be a handful of muslim survivors to return to their obliterated nations and tell any survivors, Israel’s God Is God

    • As a Messianic Jew I agree wholeheartedly. Also don’t forget Tehillim 83 which must happen or possibly is in the process of happening. The fact that the Jews in France are making Aliyah is also in keeping with prophecy. The Holy One (blessed be He) is allowing the events that are happening to bring Jews home to Israel in fulfillment of the prophecies you quoted and the ones I believe along with others are and must take place. Sha’alu Shalom Y’rushalayim!

  • Gail Foorman

    If you were a real gardener, you would use Roundup. But then you would get accused of using Nazi tactics. The world hates Jews who defend themselves. It’s called anti Semitism and it’s used against us no matter how we behave. If I am not for myself who will be for me. Roundup belongs in every gardener’s shed. Weeds are inevitable.

  • Well said and well written. Now let’s just find that leader person. Is there anyone out there with a track record that could apply for the position? You know the old adage: ‘Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.’

  • Moshe Feiglin for PM!!!

  • Alison Weston

    I support Israel 100% but it is a mystery why she is not proactive when it comes to her enemies. They need to be taught a lesson once and for all, being patient and polite doesn’t do it.

  • Yale Rodman

    Brandon Marlon,

    Right on my brother! You have nailed it more clearly and accurately than anyone else I have read. I was a Bibi guy until I read your piece. You are right—He is a mere manager. History requires, as you say, that we raise up a “once-in-a-generation leader”, to lead us in this period of existential need.

  • jack40

    Jsut excellent….I say that for now about 45 years (I am 74!) and am finally happy to read that finally…!
    “Klein Yiddele mach dir gur nicht wissen” so are still a lot of Israeli Jews confronted to international Policy and psychological threats…Jews have still to learn to find again their so called Hutzpeh…

  • Excellent!
    That has been the problem for many years. In recent times only Ben Gurion had real leadership qualities & immense courage.
    He stood up to the might of the USA & Truman’s bullying in 1948 when Israel was hanging by a thread. He refused to give up “occupied West Jerusalem” & the “occupied Negev” or to take back the Arab refugees from the war of extermination waged against Israel by 6 Arab armies. He was unmoved by Truman’s threats of an arms embargo which was duly carried out.
    This was all recorded in a book written by James MacDonald, USA Ambassador to Israel who delivered the letter to BG with Truman’s demands. He observed in his book that when BG refused to cave in on ANY of the threats, a new era of respect followed which was the beginning of the special relationship between Israel & the USA.
    The most important aspect of BG’s leadership was that he annexed the enlarged territory liberated, ( the correct term) by the War of Independence & brought in 3 laws to do that & to be enacted in any future war. This should have happened after 1967 which would have avoided today’s terrible impasse.

  • Pinchas Baram

    excellent essay, beautiful and florid. you ae right, Bibi is a manager (with an MBA from the Sloan School at MIT) and not a leader.still, given the polarities between left and right, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, to be a manager is no small thing– and if he, or someone else, actually led, given this mixed multitude called Israel, he’d be a leader without a following.

  • steven L

    Could the problem be the constant blackmail practiced by the EU and US against Israel. Furthermore the American liberal Jews are not supporting IL. In spite of the support of the US Senate and Congress, very difficult times are to be foreseen for IL. Obama can cut the weapon supply of the IDF whenever he wishes! Like he did right at the end of the most recent conflict. Also BB does not want to be responsible for a large number of casualties in the IDF. This is a major problem that he will not be able to avoid. Iran/Hezbollah will very likely provoke Israel before the end of Obama mandate.

    • Atilla2

      Netanyahu’s biggest enemy is the muz slime nazi in the white house ( I refuse to use capitals …) the ayatollahs best friend and also the EU nazis.

      I hope BN has been building up munition stocks like crazy so that when the next attack occurs, retaliation can be a blitzkreig with no concerns over supplies.

  • Well put.

  • judithg

    the author’s strategy of killing everyone all in a wide swath needs a bit of nuance. you must be very young. like, maybe six. ask mommy to marry you. maybe she’ll say yes. then you’ll feel all better.

    • Israel Isaiah

      Please do your very best to resist the urge to expose your total thoughtlessness via the nearest keyboard. Your inability to comprehend what you read is not something to flaunt. a little restraint goes a long way, you clown.

  • What Is A True Jewish Leader?

    The Torah (The Old Testament – Jewish Bible) clearly expresses the true character traits necessary for leaders of the nation. It is not great rhetorical skills that helps a person succeed in leading “The Nation of Israel”. The gift of self-expression is not a necessary component in the skill set of national leaders.

    A Jewish leader is one who is meant to represent the nation as a whole, externally and internally. Expressive ability is no more than an impressive external trait that occasionally has the power to cover an internal void. That is not what sets apart the leader of the Jewish nation. A Jewish leader must have the ability to withstand external pressures and protect his people and the Jewish nation at all times.

    The Jewish nation that appeared on the stage of history thousands of years ago did not begin as a nation with an impressive external appearance. On the contrary for long periods the Jewish people lacked military and political capabilities. However, since its inception, the Jewish nation has represented a huge world of moral, ethical and just values. Values which the entire world learned, some more and some less, and spread to cultures everywhere throughout the world .

    A leader of the Jewish nation is not meant to stand out as having an impressive external appearance but, rather, a significant internal appearance that also expresses the special characteristics of Jewish culture and humility. Moses (Moshe in Hebrew) was “heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue” yet he led the Jewish people out of Egypt following hundreds of years of slavery and oppression. Moses was the one who led the Jewish people during their exodus from Egypt and were attacked by various nations. Hence, the Jewish people had to learn how to defend themselves and thus, with the help of the almighty were victorious. The Jewish nation’s first leader Moses signaled to us by example with his presence and leadership, the correct path and the worthy considerations which should guide us as we choose our nation’s leadership.

    A true leader of Israel has to lead from a platform of absolute faith. He cannot be a politician, only. He has to embrace the history of the Jewish people and Israel. A leader of the Jewish nation has to understand what the Jewish people had to endure for thousands of years and still endure today to survive.

    A true leader must act from a foundation of humility and perseverance. Understanding the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people should be the foremost reason before any action is taken. The leader must lead by action and example — not by rhetoric.

    A faithful Jewish leader must be one who will not compromise Jewish values.

    A true leader has to have a vision, fortitude and determination to overcome internal and external obstacles!

    A true leader must stand relentlessly behind the defenders and supporters of Israel.
    YJ Draiman

  • consultingdoc

    PM Netanyahu is the best Israel has at this point in time. He has successfully managed BHO and the most hostile American Administration in the history of the Presidency. Israel can hardly eradicate Hezbollah and Hamas without American support. Recall that State Department spokeswoman, Psaki, wasn’t embarrassed to tell the press and the world that Israel could have done more to prevent “civilian” casualties in Gaza during the most recent war. Asked what more Israel could have done that it didn’t do, Psaki gave no suggestion, merely throwing off the vague, insulting and moronic comment that Israel “could have done more.” This hostile White House and State under incompetent Kerry, is now engaged in openly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the United States in the hope the Brotherhood –with US help–will overthrown Sisi, the best hope for the Arab world, and Israel’s best friend at the present time. So what is Bibi to do with a pro-Muslim-terror President of the U.S., with a supine American Jewish community and a hard Left community in Israel that yearns for policies that will lead to Israel’s destruction, and working hand-in-hand with this Administration’s-financed political operatives just arrived in Israel with the goal of defeating Bibi. If the Left were to get into power at this most important juncture, they will lead Israel to Part II of their failed Oslo, suicidal policies, obtuse to the consequences of their moronic prescriptions. A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand, wrote Abe Lincoln. Bibi has to cope with the Leftwing fifth column in Israel and with a hostile Administration in Washington that appears dedicated to helping Iran go nuclear. So far, PM Netanyahu has navigated Scylla and Charybdis magnificently. Who could do a better job? And what exactly is the more aggressive policy Israel is supposed to undertake? When it’s the right time to wipe out the Mullahs and the IRG general staff, perhaps along with their nukes, I think we can rely on Bibi to take care of business.

  • Barry Poladsky

    Easier said than done, though I’m in complete solidarity with what you are essentially advocating. The first place to start is establishing security for Jews, and Christians, to visit unmolested, and to pray on the Temple Mount, perhaps under some permanent tent or hard shelter on the Mount adjacent to the mosques. That would be a statement about justice, respect and equality for all. The Islamic Waqf long ago abdicated its responsibility to provide proper access and authentic respect for this universal shrine.

  • Why do the nations rage?
    and the peoples plot in vain?
    The kings of the earth take their stand
    and the rulers gather together
    against the Lord and against his Anointed One?

    Hear O Israel… The Lord himself goes before you
    and will be with you.. He will never leave you nor
    forsake you.. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged…

  • It is a fact.. That God himself will destroy His people’s enemies, it’s not a matter of if! But WHEN!!!and that day compared to eternity is right over the horizon!!
    The material for the rebuilding of the Third Temple is ready,
    But first the destruction of Damascus.. Then a 7 Year Peace Treaty with the Arab countries and other nations,…… Temporary peace.. But in the end Israel wins…
    Hear O Israel.. The Lord your God has commanded you,
    To be strong and courageous.. Do not be terrified,.. Do not be discouraged.. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go..
    El Roi who neither slumbers nor sleeps is watching over you.
    Your friend, malachi
    A Christian Zionist