In the twilight of reason, there comes a statement so profoundly imprudent that one might mistake it for satire, yet in the somber reality of today’s geopolitical theatre, the jest turns to consternation. A junior minister from the Israeli echelons, one Amihai Eliyahu, with the impassioned zeal characteristic of the less seasoned politico, let slip a remark so bracing that it sent ripples through the diplomatic waters. To muse aloud, on public radio no less, about the nuclear option upon Gaza, as part of the lexicon in the battle against Hamas, is to dance on the precipice of global trepidation.
Mr. Eliyahu, it appears, in his role as Minister for Jewish Heritage — a title that one would hope brings with it a sense of historical gravitas and temperance — is not privy to the inner sanctum’s war deliberations. This is, perhaps, for the best, given the proclivity for hyperbolic rhetoric the gentleman seems to harbor.
Yet, as swiftly as the echoes of his words began to reverberate, a chorus of rebuttals arose. The other stewards of Israel’s cabinet wasted not a moment to distance themselves from such imprudent bombast, assuring the public sphere that Mr. Eliyahu’s musings were not grounded in the reality of state policy.
The man himself, perhaps sensing the gravity of his blunder, attempted to retract his words, suggesting his apocalyptic scenario was but a metaphor. Yet in the same breath, he doubled down on the necessity for a robust response to terrorism, albeit leaving the term ‘robust’ alarmingly unquantified.
In the wings, the Defense Minister, Mr. Gallant, a man who wears the mantle of Israel’s security like a Spartan cloak, seemed relieved that Mr. Eliyahu’s finger is nowhere near the proverbial button.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, with the moral clarity that opposition can sometimes afford, proclaimed the junior minister’s statement not merely irresponsible, but veritably unhinged. He called for Netanyahu’s hand to be swift and decisive in its administrative amputation.
Netanyahu, for his part, was quick to suspend Mr. Eliyahu from the hallowed convergence of the cabinet — perhaps as much for the preservation of collective cabinet sanity as for the assertion of policy.
On the airwaves, Mr. Netanyahu attempted to assuage the world, affirming Israel’s adherence to the dignified codes of international law and a commitment to the sparing of innocents in their quest for victory.
Thus, we are reminded that in the theater of world affairs, the line between farce and calamity is perilously thin, and the actors upon this stage would do well to choose their words with the solemn care befitting the grave and enduring saga of human conflict.