Suicide State

If there is one person who someone feels that our international situation is getting worse and another who thinks we are behaving like a suicide state, they should think again.

After all, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says all the criticism over the brutal raid on the Marmara is just "international hypocrisy." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that the Turks who sent the boat are responsible for the entire affair. And even Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Sancho Pancho to Netanyahu's Don Quixote, says that while in the short term we will indeed be blasted with criticism in the long run the world will come to understand and justify our position.

But as the economist John Maynard Keynes pointed out 70 years ago, "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

Steinitz is not affected by facts, nor by the suspension of all the infrastructure and energy projects with Turkey and the question mark now hanging over Israeli military and civilian exports to the country. He is not disturbed by the boycotts of Israel announced by various European organizations, nor by the fact that Deutsche Bank has sold its investment in Elbit Systems because of Palestinian pressure. Even Nicaragua's severance of diplomatic relations with Israel does not bother him, nor the fact that El Al air crews have been instructed not to wear their uniforms abroad. Soon no Israeli will be able to go abroad - but that's fine with him.

But all this is as nothing compared to the unprecedented nadir to which Israel's status in the world has sunk - to the point of the delegitimization of the state. That is a strategic threat to Israel: The country is dependent on Western public opinion, which at the end of the day determines the governments's actions. And if international opinion is fed up with us and sees us as a cruel occupying force that jeopardizes world peace, the road to total failure is short.

Even yesterday's good friends consider us a burden today. Not just Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called the flotilla raid "state terror," but also the representatives of Brazil, Austria and Mexico who demanded that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza. And European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, and UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who criticized Israel for the "disproportionate use of force." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not mince words either, nor President Barack Obama, who supports a credible, transparent international investigation. He doesn't trust Netanyahu, either.

Two days ago, Netanyahu gave a hallucinatory speech to the nation on television. It was a speech of personal defense at the lowest level. He spoke of our duty to prevent the entry of weapons into Gaza, as if that were the issue here.

The issue is how it was done, the lack of planning, the self-satisfaction, the lack of intelligence information, the poor management, the fact that the price of a brutal, deadly raid was not considered, and the real danger in which the naval commandoes were placed, without being aware of the ambush that awaited them.

Netanyahu said not one word about this colossal failure. He has continued his familiar habit of trying to terrify Israel with the "Iranian port that will be built in Gaza."

But today it is clear that if anyone who is expediting the creation of such a port, it is Netanyahu. It is his failures that are leading to a second Goldstone committee that will investigate and reach grave conclusions that are liable to end in a demand that the blockade of Gaza, including the military one, be lifted.

Netanyahu, who has said that for him security is above everything else, is doing the greatest damage to Israel's security. In 16 months he has managed to turn a strategic ally of Israel into a bitter enemy. He himself he threw Turkey irrevocably into the arms of Iran and Syria.

Netanyahu is also endangering our security by leading to a deep rift with the country's Arab minority and a "one state for two people" solution, which would be the end of the Zionist dream.

It is astonishing how Netanyahu has even managed to cause damage to the issue that is closest to his heart, the Iranian nuclear threat. The international isolation into which he has thrown Israel, combined with Obama's disgust with him make it impossible for Israel to obtain international support for tighter sanctions.

The United Nations debate on the subject was postponed once again this week. Israel received another blow recently, when 189 countries (including the United States ) called for international supervision of its nuclear facilities, something that has not happened in the last 40 years.

This dangerous nadir in Israel's international status marks the start of the countdown for Netanyahu's government. That's how it was in his first term (1996-99 ), too. The downhill path that time began with his success in destroying the Oslo Accords and returning to fire and guns. That turned the Clinton administration and the states of Europe against him.

We can only hope it won't take three years this time. The danger is too great.