OpinionIsrael at War

Silence the diplomatic clock

The only clock that matters is the one that stops when Israel achieves victory, not a minute before.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Nov. 3, 2023. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Nov. 3, 2023. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Nave Dromi
Nave Dromi
Nave Dromi is the director of the Middle East Forum in Israel.

Former Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”

Never has this been truer than in Israel’s current war to destroy Hamas.

For many years, a figurative diplomatic clock was set for Israel every time it launched a defensive military operation.

This clock is not brought out for any other conflict in the world. It simply does not exist except in the imagination of Israel’s foreign interlocutors, who try to burn it into the psyches of the Jewish state’s decision-makers.

As a result, the clock has become an ever-present part of Israel’s wars, almost as much as the ingenious deconstruction of the concept of “proportionately,” which is used as a weapon against Israel to ensure that it fights with one-and-a-half hands tied behind its back.

But the diplomatic clock is a fraud, and Israel’s leaders must see through it.

There can be no specific time limitations on responding to the murder, rape and butchery of 1,200 people, the wounding of thousands of others and the vicious kidnapping and humiliation of 240 Israelis and foreigners.

There is no precedent for such crimes. Thus, there can be no time limit set on how long it takes for Israel to ensure that it never happens again.

Israel’s wars are not fought halfway around the world. They are fought on our borders, mere meters from our homes, towns and cities.

The war on the Jewish state launched on Oct. 7 broke something that needs fixing, regardless of how long it takes.

Unfortunately, as we know, the diplomatic clock is very much brought to meetings with foreign leaders, who are eager to end the war before Israel’s goals have been achieved.

According to a leaked readout from a recent Israeli war cabinet meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Blinken placed a very firm proverbial stopwatch on the table in front of his Israeli counterparts.

During the meeting, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months.”

Blinken reportedly replied, “I don’t think you have the credit for that.”

One would think that Israel’s closest ally, which knows how Israel has suffered, watched the horror movie chronicling the massacre and heard Hamas say that Oct. 7 was just a “dress rehearsal,” would be more attuned and sensitive to the Jewish state’s needs.

My expectation is that Israel will ignore Blinken and many others who demand that Israel speed up the war, because speeding up means many more Israeli soldiers will be killed.

The IDF has been very successful thus far in taking its time in conquering territory and flushing out Hamas terrorists. It sends in the air force first and deploys ground forces only when absolutely necessary. Speeding up this process will mean making mistakes and forcing Israel to send in its soldiers without the advantage.

No Israeli leader can or should be doing anything but putting our war aims and the safety of our soldiers first. These go hand in hand, and while the process might be trying for some foreign leaders, Israel has experienced enough bloodshed and loss already.

Israeli leaders must say firmly and confidently that the only clock that matters is the one that stops when Israel achieves victory. Not a minute before. Israel must say very clearly to the world that it governs the clock; it is not governed by the clock. This must be said now, not when the pressure mounts.

Those who claim to be Israel’s allies must help, not hinder Israel’s effort to win this war. They must dispense with their obsession with time; but if they do not, it is the responsibility of Israel’s leaders to silence the clock themselves.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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