Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 20, 2023
Navigating the Delicate Rift: US-Israel Relations Amidst Gaza Crisis
In the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel’s military offensive against Gaza has strained its traditionally unwavering alliance with the United States. Even as President Joe Biden initially supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions, recent developments have seen a shift in the administration’s stance. Biden’s public criticism of the “indiscriminate bombing” and the rising death toll in Gaza reflects a growing unease in Washington over Israel’s conduct of the war.
The United States, historically a staunch supporter of Israel, is increasingly concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. As the death toll surpasses 18,700, the international community is growing more vocal in calling for an end to Israel’s bombing campaign. The US, cognizant of the need to appease its Arab allies and mitigate public outrage, expects Israel to transition to a more targeted phase of the conflict, minimizing civilian casualties.
However, Netanyahu’s resistance to heed US advice poses the risk of isolating Israel on the global stage. Washington is also pushing for a post-conflict plan, emphasizing the necessity of a political vision to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu’s rejection of working towards a Palestinian state further complicates the situation, as the US and Arab states seek to bolster the Palestinian Authority as an alternative to Hamas.
Critics argue that Netanyahu’s divisive rule has exacerbated the situation. His alignment with ultranationalist parties and attempts to undermine the Palestinian Authority have fuelled internal strife. Additionally, his failure to effectively address the threat posed by Hamas has led to a devastating attack on Israeli soil, further eroding public faith in his leadership.
The opposition leader, Yair Lapid, has shown unwavering support for the Netanyahu-led government’s strategy in Gaza, despite historical misgivings. In his communications with Senate Democrats, Lapid emphasizes the unanimity of purpose in defeating Hamas. However, his formal and strategic approach hints at a broader message – a contrast with Netanyahu’s leadership style. Lapid’s outreach to Democrats is a delicate diplomatic effort, showcasing his ability to engage with a spectrum of political views.
The complex dynamics surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict have become a fault line in Democratic politics, with scenes of devastation in Gaza triggering activism and divisions within the party. While President Biden remains pro-Israel, internal ambivalence, particularly within the Democratic base, poses challenges.
As Israel faces the prospect of discarding Netanyahu, there is uncertainty about a leftward shift in peacemaking and national security policies. Despite dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s leadership, Israelis overwhelmingly support the military mission against Hamas. Lapid’s potential as an alternative is met with skepticism, with former IDF chief Benny Gantz currently enjoying greater popularity.
The delicate line of communication between Lapid and the Democratic Party reflects the broader challenges in aligning Israeli and American political interests. Lapid’s diplomatic efforts aim to showcase his ability to engage with a diverse range of opinions, distinguishing him from Netanyahu. However, navigating this political tightrope requires careful consideration of domestic and international dynamics.
Ultimately, as the conflict unfolds, the trajectory of US-Israel relations may hinge on mainstream Democrats’ willingness to reconcile with the complex realities in Israeli politics. Delicate phone calls and strategic communication may be the best immediate solution in bridging the gap between distant political cousins on the centre-left. The path to a more comfortable bond may require time, a shift in political landscapes, and a shared commitment to lasting peace in the region. (AI)
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Letter to the Editor The Hamilton Spectator, Friday December 22, 2023
Cartoon not based on reality
In Graeme MacKay’s Dec. 20 editorial cartoon, he portrays Israel as a warmonger desperately grasping rockets, being held back only by Uncle Sam. Whatever world MacKay is depicting in his cartoon, it’s certainly not the real world, because incredibly, nowhere does Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamic terrorist group, appear. Hamas is the perpetrator of the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, the largest mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust, and which continues to hold hundreds of Israeli hostages in Gaza and use its own people, the civilian population in Gaza, as human shields. Israel is fighting a war over its very survival against Hamas, a genocidal and fanatical terrorist organization that seeks its destruction. Yet bizarrely, it is Israel depicted by MacKay as war monger, seeking out blood for apparently no reason at all.
Robert Walker, Honest Reporting Canada