Israel’s Doomed-to-Fail Strategy

Jeffrey Sachs on why the General Assembly speech of Israel’s U.N. ambassador advanced the Palestinian cause.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, shredding a page of the U.N. Charter during his speech to the General Assembly on May 10. (UN Photo/Manuel Elías)

By Jeffrey D. Sachs
Common Dreams

We owe an ironic debt of gratitude to Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan for advancing the cause of the State of Palestine at the United Nations. 

By delivering a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that was so unhinged, absurd, vulgar, insulting, undignified and undiplomatic, Erdan helped to secure a lopsided vote of 143-to-9 in favor of Palestine’s U.N. membership (the rest abstained or did not vote). 

But more than that, Erdan helped to clarify Israel’s tactical approach — and why it is doomed to fail.

Let us briefly consider the content of Erdan’s speech. Erdan claimed, in short, that Palestine equals Hamas and Hamas equals Hitler’s Nazi Reich. 

Erdan told the U.N. delegates that their nations support a state of Palestine because “so many of you are Jew-hating.” 

He then shredded the U.N. Charter at the podium, claiming that the delegates were doing the same by voting for Palestine’s U.N. membership. All the while, on the very same day as his speech and U.N. vote, Israel was amassing its forces for yet more slaughter of innocent civilians in Rafah.

Erdan’s rant rose to the level of venomous hatred and absurdity. Palestine would enter the U.N. as a peace-loving state, a commitment stated firmly and eloquently by the Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N., Riyad Mansour (here at 23:44). “We want peace,” Ambassador Mansour declared unequivocally. 

Moreover, the two-state solution will of course not happen in a diplomatic vacuum. According to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and reaffirmed by the Arab and Islamic countries in Riyadh last November the Arab and Islamic countries have repeatedly pledged to support peace and the normalization of relations with Israel as part of the two-state solution.

Contrary to Erdan’s slander, the governments of the U.N. General Assembly are of course not Jew-haters. Rather, they detest the Israeli government’s assault in Gaza, a carnage so vast that Israel is in the dock at the International Court of Justice on the charge of genocide. The same false charge has been made against student protestors who aren’t anti-Jewish but rather anti-apartheid and anti-genocide.


The question then is what Erdan was actually doing making a speech that was so over-the-top that it could only serve to bolster, not reduce, the overwhelming worldwide vote for Palestine. Of course, he was doing what all politicians do in the social media age. He was grandstanding for his adoring 157K followers on X (formerly Twitter) and for supporters in Israel’s right-wing Likud Party.

At first, when listening to Erdan, I simply thought that the man was deranged, suffering from post-Holocaust trauma and seeing a Hitler lurking in every shadow. Yet such a view is naïve.

Erdan is a highly experienced political figure, well-educated and well trained, and was in full control of a carefully prepared speech (which included a poster and shredder as props). My initial mistake was to think he was speaking to the rest of the U.N. ambassadors and to viewers of the proceedings such as myself.

The great difference between the broadcast-era politics of yesteryear and the social-media era politics of today is that politicians no longer speak to the broad public. They now communicate almost entirely with their base and “near base.” 

Each person today receives a personalized flow of “news” that is jointly constructed by individual choices (which websites we visit), networks of digital “followers,” algorithms of platforms such as Facebook, X and TikTok, and hidden forces that include the intelligence agencies, government propagandists, corporations and political operatives. As a result, politicians mobilize and motivate their base, and little beyond.

Erdan the politician, and his Likud Party, have been fighting against Palestinians for far longer than Hamas has dominated the politics of Gaza, indeed for longer than Hamas has existed. Erdan grew up inside the party, from its youth wing onward, in a movement that has always stood stridently against a Palestinian state and the two-state solution. 

Hamas as Political Prop  

Hamas graffiti in the Occupied West Bank city of Nablus in 2006. (Michael loadenthal, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In fact, Likud has long treated Hamas as a political prop, a ploy to divide the Palestinians and thereby to fend off international calls for the two-state solution. 

As even the Israeli media report, Likud leaders worked with Arab nations over the years to keep Hamas funded, so that it would pose a continuing competition to the Palestinian authority.

What, then, is Likud’s strategy as Israel increasingly isolates itself from the rest of the world? Here too, Erdan’s own political past ploys offer a clue. Erdan has been one of Israel’s shrewdest and most successful politicians in building Likud’s alliance not only with the wealthy American Jewish community but with America’s Christian Evangelical community as well. The Christian Zionists ardently back Israel’s control over the Holy Land, albeit as a prelude to their Armageddon, not exactly Likud’s longer-term agenda.

Likud’s tactical belief is that the U.S. will always be there, thick or thin, because the Israel Lobby (Jewish and Christian Evangelical alike) and the US military-industrial complex will always be there. Likud’s bet has always worked in the past and they believe it will work in the future. 

Yes, Israel’s violent extremism will cost Biden the support of America’s young voters, but if so, that will just mean Donald Trump’s election in November, so even better for Likud.

Likud’s strategy relies entirely on the U.S. for Israel’s security, as the sole blocking force in a world community that is increasingly united and aghast at Israel’s massive war crimes, and in favor of imposing the two-state solution on an utterly recalcitrant Israel. 

Yet U.S. core interests — economic, financial, commercial, diplomatic and military — are at odds with becoming isolated with Israel within the international system.

The Israel lobby will be hit by a pincer movement. On the one side, American voters, especially young American voters, are aghast at Israel’s brutality. On the other side, America’s geopolitical position is crumbling. 

Shortly, many European countries, including Spain, Ireland and Norway, are expected to recognize Palestine and welcome its U.N. membership. 

Erdan may end up at the top of the heap of the Likud party, but Likud and its extremist and violent partners in the coalition are likely soon to hit the limits of their arrogance, violence and cruelty.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development.

This article is from Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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16 comments for “Israel’s Doomed-to-Fail Strategy

  1. Molly MacQwire
    May 16, 2024 at 16:52

    Be careful about praising nations that ‘recognize Palestine’. America is currently trying to revive a “2-state solution”. But, they view a Palestinian State as a demilitarized, powerless, dictatorship under American-Israeli thumbs. America has been running around trying to find a dictator to appoint to the role of ruling Palestine. Abbas turned them down, even though he already has that job in the occupied West Bank. As apparently did the sheik of the UAE. But, the two words you never hear regarding a Palestinian State are “democracy” and “self-determination”. Nor probably much else about other human rights for Palestinians.

    America of course hates the idea of democracy in west Asia, because the second the people get any sort of voice they are going to oppose America, Israel and Wall Street in some order. Many Egyptians died as Washington replaced the elected government with the current military dictatorship in Cairo, ending a brief interlude after the long American-backed Mubarak dictatorship.

    As one would expect from America, there is an attempt at a con-game going on. Wall Street wants to create a fake Palestinian State, then get all these countries and humanitarians that have supported this to then agree to this. A different route to the “sweep Palestine under the rug” approach of Trump’s Deal of the Century since adopted with gusto by Biden and the Democrats.

  2. Gerry Kinder
    May 16, 2024 at 15:45

    If we are discussing UN speeches by officials of the occupying power, the picture should be on Netanyahu last Sept, 2023, holding up a map where the Israeli blue had completely taken over all of the occupied territories – a month before Oct. 7th.

    It is strange how nobody shows that picture, as that one picture is worth thousands of words about how this did not begin on Oct. 7th as the month before Netanyahu is showing off his map that shows the Arabs removed from both the West Bank and Gaza and nothing but Israeli blue. That one picture clearly shows prior intent, and speaks thousands of words about the ongoing genocide.

  3. Stephen Berk
    May 16, 2024 at 13:14

    The author makes an excellent point when he says that in the era of broadcasting, politicians and diplomatic officials would try to make the broadest appeal. But in today’s social media era, they only talk to their base. This encapsulates a great deal of what has become seriously deficient in international politics. If you are only talking to your tribal base, some kind of rooting or cheering section, then you are reducing international politics to schoolyard arguments. If we have completely given up the civility of good, competent diplomacy, only to call one another names, brag about ourselves in macho terms, and act petulant, then we have reduced ourselves to schoolyard bullies yelling insults at one another while thumping their chests. We are apparently flipping evolution in reverse, and moving back to some kind of great ape with a lethal gene. The actual apes do a lot better than this chest thumping excuse for international communications.+

    • Molly MacQuire
      May 16, 2024 at 16:18

      They say that people get the government they deserve. If the tribal base constantly responds to the politician that only talks to the tribal base, and who ignores all concepts of the greater good – then that is a tribal base that gets the government they deserve. This is not only the choosing of one course, but the rejection of a bigger thinking alternative that could lead to something better. True in America as well as in Israel. The people have supported a dead-end policy that can only lead to dog-eat-dog wars out the wazoo. Apparently, this is just what they always wanted, as anything else is apparently so unpopular, that it is not even discussed. Not a big surprise, since Jesus was nailed to a cross for pretty much the same reason. How dare he try to say that we should all beat our swords into plows and get along with each other.

      Its not new. Its not to be blamed on social media. As someone who grew up in the old Democrat racist south, playing to a particular base is an American tradition. Southern Democrats like George Wallace and Lester Maddox made their power and wealth singing from this same hymnal. Social media does appear to encourage mob mentality, but mob mentality existed long before social media.

      Humanity knew after WW2 that it had to grow up and advance morally after the development of nuclear weapons meant that a war could be the end of humanity. Humanity knew that it needed to advance spiritually to catch up with its technological development. Too bad humanity forgot. Reality can be unforgiving, and some mistakes can be fatal.

    • Molly MacQwire
      May 16, 2024 at 16:37

      Nomination for the 2024 Darwin Awards …
      … the entire human race.

  4. Selina Sweet
    May 16, 2024 at 12:40

    I appreciated the discrimination Sachs made. That the speaker’s unhinged diatribe was strictly for his base. The USA AIPAC soaked super rich Americans wholly disloyal to the fundaments of USA democracy – Justice, rights of assembly, and freedom of dissent – in their service of a foreign power’s quest of control.

  5. May 16, 2024 at 12:25

    Israel is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Rather than secure a peaceful and secure future, it has chained itself to US imperialism, and unlimited war. Hence we see that “supporters” of Israel are hastening its ultimate destruction.

  6. ericm
    May 16, 2024 at 11:02

    In case someone (especially youngsters) are wondering what Bart is talking about…hxxps://

    Bart, thanks for the guffaw! :-D

    • Valerie
      May 16, 2024 at 16:34

      That was a great video. Chavez was a great man. Thankyou.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    May 16, 2024 at 10:22

    Hamas equals Hitler’s Nazi Reich??? For the longest time I have opined that israel is the ‘nazis’ of the Middle East – so many tactics resembling Nazis’. I am starting to believe that israel will cling to ANY LIE to continue justifying its barbaric behaviour. And the white Anglo/Saxon world is guilty by association .Genocide or no genocide…this is mass murder on the grandest of scales. SHAME ON ALL…

  8. hetro
    May 16, 2024 at 08:59

    Erdan’s dramatics should have been met with a loud horse laugh from somewhere in the gallery. Its petulant and juvenile nature is amazing. This is the way supposed diplomats at a consulting body for a “united nations” behaves?

    Still, apparently his narrative resonates with a large number of Zionist paranoids who have cast Hamas into the role of Nazis. And what evidence supports this view? Is it the propaganda of October 7 events, which have been examined intensively at this time as y misleading and inaccurate? Larry Johnson reported recently that the total number of IDF killed by Hamas since 2006 is approximately 1500. The disproportion in Palestine casualties and innocents as victims suggests unhinged and berserk, with sympathy for their victimhood at the hands of the Nazis dwindling sharply. Further, we have indication of Hamas’ goals in its own narrative, as can be seen here:


  9. Free Palestine
    May 15, 2024 at 20:37

    Thank you jeffery, I often listen to you on judge nap. Can you estimate how long will this genocide continue? how long will it take for Palestinians to get freedom?

    • Em
      May 16, 2024 at 09:40

      Re: Palestinian freedom?
      Unsolicited, not definitive reply:
      Answer: what is the age of each person, at the time of first posing the question!
      Depends on how many years the person asking the question, has already been asking it.

      • Free Palestine
        May 16, 2024 at 11:35

        Hi Em,

        Thanks for the answer. I really dont understand it.

        • Em
          May 17, 2024 at 21:29

          The answer to the question you posed to Prof. Sachs, and which I was not able to convey. After some further reflection, I hit on Bob Dylans lyrics: The answer my friend is blowin in the wind….and then came across the following deeply inightful article:


          Hopefully this offers some deeper understanding of what I was driving at, unsuccessfully, about universal morality and wisdom, and the paucity of both, at times, throughout history.

  10. Bart
    May 15, 2024 at 18:43

    If Hugo Chavez had managed to follow Erdan at the podium, he would have been waving away the smell of sulfur before speaking.

Comments are closed.