Germany’s finance and economy ministers and central bank chiefs meet in Berlin with plenty to discuss.
With the myriad challenges the Israeli government currently faces – regional turmoil, unrest in Jerusalem, and opposition to a highly contentious budget -- this might seem like an interesting time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promulgate a new law defining Israel’s identity as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The bill, which was supposed to have been voted on this Wednesday but has now been delayed, would recognize Jewish religious law as an inspiration for legislation, and affirm that, “The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
When a senior U.S. official calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens--t,” you know the Israeli-American relationship has reached a new low point. The putdown was reported in The Atlantic just days after the Israeli defense minister’s request to meet with U.S. national security officials was rebuffed. Adding insult to injury, the rebuff was leaked to the press. While the White House distanced itself somewhat from the mudslinging, it did not retract any of the more substantive claims about U.S. discontent with Netanyahu’s policies.
At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else. Israeli media report diligently on the extremist group’s assault on the Kurdish town of Kobani and run at least a story every few days on its atrocities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu references Islamic State frequently, as do other Israeli ministers. And the stories of two Palestinian citizens of Israel who died fighting for the group have been recently featured in the press.
Day one in Davos showed the masters of the universe fretting about Sino-Japanese military tensions, the treacherous investment territory in some emerging markets and the risk of a lurch to the right in Europe at May’s parliamentary elections which could make reform of the bloc even harder.
“Red lines” are all the rage this year. Even as the swirl of Middle East headlines focus on Gaza and Egyptian politics, the region remains under two "red lines." If Iran and Syria, respectively, cross the nuclear and chemical weapons thresholds, it would generate a strong, if undefined, Israeli and American response.
Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to show that nothing has changed. Israel will defend its citizens just as it did before the Arab Spring. The language of Israel’s politicians, the brutal efficiency of its bombing campaign and the asymmetrical death count all echo Israel’s campaigns in the past. But the political dynamics surrounding this assault could not be more different.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is now in Europe to meet in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today and US peace envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday. He will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.
If you happened to miss Israeli Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu's speech Sunday evening (June 14), or if you would just like to have another listen, we've uploaded it for you. The version below has simultaneous English translation.