Playing on recent Western concerns about the Islamic State, Netanyahu linked both Iran and Hamas with the terrorist group.
"Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons," he said. "Make no mistake, ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."
See what Netanyahu did there?
ISIS is not a recognized state. They really really want to be recognized - that gives them legitimacy, an ego boost, a win to feed their propaganda machine with. We don't want to call them a state for all those reasons.
Netanyahu, however, has different priorities. His enemy is Iran; he wants the world not to forget Iran. So, calling ISIS a state suites his interests; it makes for a bridge to the line "Islamic state of Iran."
That was his first mistake. It gets worse.
If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck, right? What do ISIS, Hamas and Iran have in common? Islam. Different forms of Islam, mind you - and if we get down to it, the people perpetuating war in the Middle East are breaking faith with Islam with their actions.
This doesn't make for a simple narrative, however, and we all know how important sound bites are. Netanyahu has found his; "it's Israel and allies vs. the Muslims." Israel has international allies like the US and Canada; what Netanyahu is doing, intentionally or no, is choosing a ballot question for those allies - you're with us or you're with the Muslims.
Though there are Muslims and non-Muslim citizens/residents of Israel's Western allies who may disagree with that black-and-white frame and may get mad at their government for declaring them or their friends as enemies of the state. That's all sociology, though, isn't it? Don't worry about context, keep your eye on the prize - this is about the survival of Israel, not the stirring of civic dissent within her allies.
Politics is all about framing; you want to identify yourselves as the good guys, but more importantly you want to position your foes as the bad guys. Part and parcel of this game is picking fights to stir up your base.
Well, what's good in politics is also good at polarizing society and building the kindling of war. When you frame them as an intractable, inhuman enemy to be vanquished - a zombie hoard of Muslims, if you will - then you're helping them to define you and your allies the same way.
This is how escalation happens and war erupts. And it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
It's no consolation that they can't say "nobody could have seen this coming." We all have to live with the consequences of their willful blindness.