Archive for March, 2012

Preemption is better than defense

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Egyptian aircraft destroyed on the ground in 1967. Is Israel changing its traditional military doctrine?

Egyptian aircraft destroyed on the ground in 1967. Is Israel changing its traditional military doctrine?

When Iron Dome was first deployed, I was concerned. Now that it has proven itself in battle, perhaps saving countless lives, I am even more concerned.

This is not to say that Israel should not add more Iron Dome and other defensive systems. Every life is valuable. But Iron Dome’s success also has a downside.

Israel’s traditional military doctrine is based on the need to defend a small nation with a small regular army and little strategic depth. For this reason, the IDF has tried to take the war to the enemy, to fight outside of Israel’s borders, and to win quickly and decisively. This doctrine also makes it possible for the IDF to fight less often, by maintaining a posture of deterrence.

A primarily defensive strategy, even if supported by effective technology, turns this doctrine upside down. And this is not reasonable, neither from a military and technological standpoint, nor from a political and psychological one.

Every advance in offensive ability, either technological or tactical, has a defensive response; which, in turn, is overtaken by new offensive capabilities. Iron Dome shoots down a remarkable percentage of short-range missiles, but at a severe economic disadvantage. It can be saturated by a massive bombardment, there can be technical failures, etc.

It is impossible to rely on defense alone, because Israel simply isn’t big enough to absorb the damage when the defensive systems are not 100% effective. More importantly, a strictly defensive posture has zero deterrent ability. Why not fire rockets at Israel if the worst that can happen is that they will get shot down?

Now of course the Israeli government and the IDF will tell you that they are not replacing the traditional aggressive doctrine with a more passive one. Did not the IDF go after rocket teams in Gaza aggressively during last week’s barrage?

Yes, it did. But the response was aimed at the smaller terrorist militias and a few of their personnel. The terrorist infrastructure in Gaza was left in place, just as Hizballah is allowed to have tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel and an elaborate structure of bunkers, communications systems, arms depots, etc. poised in southern Lebanon, ready to take the next war to Israeli territory. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has even threatened ground incursions into Israel.

Israel is not hunkering down into a totally defensive posture. But it’s impossible to doubt that a change in the balance is taking place.

To be fair to Israel’s leaders, there is enormous international pressure on Israel not to fight offensively. One of the main reasons that Operation Cast Lead was terminated without overthrowing Hamas was pressure from the incoming Obama administration. But at least the fighting was in Gaza and not in the streets of Sderot.

The Obama administration approves the idea of a primarily defensive posture for Israel, and will probably be happy to help fund additional anti-missile batteries. My guess is that if they could pass a law that would permit Jews to have only defensive, not offensive, weapons, they would do so.

Nevertheless, it is essential that Israel return to its traditional posture of preemption and aggressive defense, despite the effectiveness of its defensive technology and the pressure from outside. More important even than the military aspects are the psychological effects of the shift, both on Israelis and their enemies.

I have already mentioned the fact that a strong deterrent can obviate the need to fight at all (which is why Israel must never give up its nuclear weapons), but it is also important for the self-respect of the population. Someone who sees himself as a target, albeit a well-protected one, begins to think that he deserves to be a target — or that he should live and work somewhere else, where he would not be a target.

The much-derided concept of “the new Jew” of the early Zionists, although it had silly and misconceived aspects (like the anti-religious stream), was correct in demanding an end to the idea of the Jew as passive victim.

Israel’s enemies are strengthened when defense is overemphasized. Their contempt for Jewish victims and their belief that it’s acceptable to try to exterminate them are augmented. Jews and Israelis are different from anyone else. What happens when you shoot, for example, at Russians?

There is a media phenomenon that was prominent during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, in which civilian casualties on the Arab side were exaggerated, often invented by elaborate scams. Of course part of this was simply in order to create hatred for Israel, but it was also intended to deter an active (as opposed to passive) self-defense. It may have succeeded by causing the US to ramp up pressure for a cease-fire.

IDF policy to combat this by reducing the percentage of civilian casualties is self-defeating. It can’t be 100% effective (and even if it is, the Arabs and their media supporters can invent atrocities). But insofar as it forces operations to be less aggressive in nature, it reinforces the primarily defensive posture.

This trend must be reversed. As the next war draws nearer, one hopes that Israel will strike preemptively, take the war to the enemy’s territory, and win quickly and decisively in keeping with its traditional doctrine, relegating defensive technology like Iron dome to its secondary function of protecting military bases and the home front — while the offensive capability of the IDF puts a permanent end to the threats facing the nation.

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The US is a slim reed to lean on

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
The USS Dwight Eisenhower. Do the Iranians really want to fight the US?

The USS Dwight Eisenhower. Do the Iranians really want to fight the US?

AP item yesterday:

JERUSALEM – Israel views the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran with greater urgency than the rest of the world, Israel’s defense minister said Monday.

Ehud Barak also reiterated recent Israeli assessments that Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of becoming immune to disruptions by a possible military strike.

New York Times item yesterday:

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

Do we have a problem here? Is the Obama Administration using its favorite mouthpiece to warn Israel that if it attacks Iran, then — as Bret Stephens put it in today’s Wall Street Journal [subscription required] — “American blood will be on [its] hands?”

Here is how it might happen, according to the leaked war game story:

The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Hmm, wouldn’t it be really, really stupid of the Iranians to piss off the US Navy? I think so, but the real story here is not what is theoretically possible — after all, an Iranian missile could hit a  ship of the Great Satan tomorrow, if the Iranians were that dumb.

The real story is “why is the administration helping Iran deter Israel from bombing its nuclear facilities?”

Certainly Iran has threatened that it would retaliate against an Israeli attack by attacking US forces. But actually carrying out this threat would be suicidal. Sure, the American people don’t want another extended war, but they would happily approve a punitive bombing campaign that would wipe out the nuclear program, and a bunch of other military assets.

The Iranians know this, the US administration knows this, and both sides know the other knows it. The point of the Iranian threats is not to influence our government or military, but to generate sentiment in the US against an Israeli attack and against Israel. And apparently the administration wants to help them do that, which is why they leaked this story to the Times.

I don’t know for sure what the administration’s reasoning is. Certainly their conservative Sunni allies would like to see Iran defanged. Probably the US is telling them “don’t worry, when the time comes, we’ll take care of it.”

One obvious reason is that the administration simply doesn’t want any trouble or uncertainty before the election. But the time frame involved is such that this puts Iran into Ehud Barak’s “immunity zone,” in which an Israeli attack would not be effective.

To put it another way, the US wants Israel to give up its ability to be “[master] of our fate,” in the words of PM Netanyahu, in order to help re-elect the President.

The election is not the only issue. The administration wants Israel dependent on it so that it can pressure it into making concessions to the Palestinians, so that it can realize its wish — based on ideology and an (unattainable) desire to make friends in the Muslim world — to force Israel back to 1949 lines. A triumphant Israel which has eliminated, or at least seriously delayed, the Iranian nuclear threat — and most likely also destroyed much of the capability of Hizballah — will be in a much stronger position in negotiations.

[Although the nuclear threat is more dramatic, the sword hanging over Israel’s head from the Iranian-controlled Hizballah is almost as dangerous, and more immediate. It will certainly also be a target if Israel chooses to strike Iran.]

Israel is facing one of the most difficult moments of its life. Once again, as in 1967 and other times, an Israeli PM is faced with choices that may make the difference between life and death for his nation and his people. Once again, the US is proving to be a slim reed to lean on.

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Beinart’s anti-Zionist boycott

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Peter Beinart has a new piece in the New York Times. He insists that he is a Zionist and supports Israel. But there is little truth in his analysis and a huge amount of fantasy in his prescriptions.

Beinart calls for boycotting Jewish communities (‘settlements’) beyond the Green Line, because he wants to end what he calls “undemocratic Israel,” where Palestinians “are barred from citizenship and the right to vote in the state that controls their lives.”

This is quite a step for an alleged Zionist to take. Ambassador Michael Oren has said that it

…places him well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace. The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe.

But Beinart believes that the nondemocratic nature of the regime east of the Green Line delegitimizes all of Israel, including the democratic part of it to the west, and that continued Israeli control of Judea and Samaria will result in a worldwide loss of support for the state itself.

Unfortunately for his argument, he mischaracterizes the political situation east of the Green Line; actually it is already two ‘states’ and has been thus since 1994. The part where 97% of the Palestinians live is under Palestinian Authority (PA) administration and the residents are citizens of the PA. The rest, where all of the ‘settlers’ live is under Israeli administration, but has few Arab residents.

The PA issues passports, and if it gets around to holding elections, the citizens can vote. It has massive ‘security’ and police forces. It even has Olympic teams. Many UN members recognize ‘Palestine’ as a state.

Israel does not “control the lives” of the 97% in the PA areas — the PA does. What Beinart considers “systematic oppression” and “human rights violations” are Israeli security measures like checkpoints, bypass roads and the security barrier, which he sees as ethnically-based differential treatment.

On the other hand, it is possible to see them as a reasonable response to an Arab insurgency which is aimed at repeating the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Jordanians in 1948, and indeed extending it to all of Israel. It is possible to imagine them going away if the security problem went away.

In addition, Beinart mischaracterizes the nature of the Jewish communities there. They are not alien colonies on ‘Palestinian land’ as the Arabs and their supporters constantly repeat, and they are not ‘illegal under international law’ as the media like to say.

It’s not as though Jews never lived in Judea and Samaria until they became ‘settlers’, either. They were there before the Jordanian Army kicked them out. They were granted the right to live there by the League of Nations Mandate, which recognized their historical presence in the land of Israel long before that.

Beinart wants to ‘restore’ Israel’s legitimacy by surrendering Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria, mitigated by some small border adjustments. This is basically the same plan proposed by the Obama Administration and the EU. If ‘settlers’ don’t like it, says Beinart, “they should move.”

In addition to the fact that the Arabs will never view any Jewish state in the Middle East as ‘legitimate’, there are a few other problems with this this plan:

  1. It is essentially racist, in that it calls for establishing a Jew-free Palestinian state
  2. It violates international law (the Mandate) and the spirit of UN resolutions calling for defensible borders
  3. It sacrifices the well-being of Jews that live beyond the Green Line for the nationalist aspirations of Arabs
  4. It precludes Israel’s ability to defend itself, since it would make a Gaza-like terrorist entity of Judea and Samaria (only much worse strategically)
  5. It ignores the oft-expressed intention of the PA leaders to use such a state as a steppingstone to the elimination of Israel

Point 4 was underlined last week when Iranian-inspired terrorists fired hundreds of missiles into Israel from Gaza. Think about how much worse it could be if the high ground east of the Green Line could be used to launch short-range rockets directly into Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, etc.

The Oslo paradigm of a two-state solution was discredited by the rejection of reasonable offers by the Palestinian leadership in 2000 — when Arafat chose war instead of statehood — and 2008. They continue to press their demands  for 1949 lines, right of return for Arab refugees, no demilitarization, refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, etc. as preconditions to negotiation. There is no intersection between the maximalist demands of the PA and the continued existence of a Jewish state of Israel.

Beinart’s plan to end the settlements by outside pressure only rewards the intransigence of the PA. Why isn’t he boycotting them (true, they don’t have any products or culture to boycott) until they agree to negotiate in good faith? Why pick on the settlers?

Of course, the PA doesn’t want a real peace. If you think that the Palestinian leadership — the PA, not just Hamas — just wants to “end the [1967] occupation,” you simply have not been paying attention. Official Palestinian media (see here) are filled with statements to the contrary, as well as praise for the most murderous terrorists and vicious anti-Jewish lies.

Beinart says that “Boycotting other Jews is a painful, unnatural act, [but] the alternative is worse.” While he is very concerned about “oppression” of Arabs, he doesn’t seem to feel the pain of the tens of thousands of Jewish settlers — in the best possible case — who would be expelled from their homes if the two-state plan with swaps were actually implemented.

By insisting on a plan whose imposition would almost certainly mark the beginning of yet another war, by demonizing and punishing the Jewish ‘settlers’ who have every right to live where they do, by calling for a boycott because Israeli security measures constitute “oppression,” Beinart’s approach is anything but ‘Zionist’!

Update [Mar 19 2012 2213 PDT]: Rewritten for clarity.

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Direct from Tehran

Sunday, March 18th, 2012
Parchin test facility near Tehran. Courtesy of Challah Hu Akbar. Click the picture for details and more photos.

Parchin test facility near Tehran. Courtesy of Challah Hu Akbar. Click the picture for details and more photos.

The New York Times reports,

Today, as suspicions about Iran’s nuclear ambitions have provoked tough sanctions and threats of military confrontation, top administration officials have said that Iran still has not decided to pursue a weapon, reflecting the intelligence community’s secret analysis.

FresnoZionism has decided to help the Obama Administration find out what’s really going on in Iran by applying its until-now secret technology: a drone so small that it can pass as a fly.

Here is a transcript of an audio report sent back to FZ headquarters from Tehran recently (unfortunately all of the drone’s 20,000 compound eye lenses were focused on the cookies on the table and we are unable to determine the identities of the speakers):

Iranian 1: Your Excellency, I bring you greetings from the Pure Research for the Good of Mankind Center located in Parchin.

Iranian 2: Wonderful! How are the tests of the new device to, er, cure cancer, proceeding?

I1: Well, we managed to achieve almost-simultaneous — within one microsecond — detonation of high-explosive shaped charges.

I2: Great! That should take care of those pesky cancer cells. There isn’t any other area of research that this could possibly be useful for, is there?

I1: No, Excellency. Only curing cancer. Or very rapidly increasing the density of a chunk of, er, heavy metal, if we should ever want to do something as pointless as that.

I2: Of course. What good would that be? What else?

I1: We had Molly Maids come out and vacuum the place. We were practicing compressing heavy metals — as if we would want to do that! — and some of the heavy metals escaped the containment vessel — er, the laboratory — and dirtied up the dirt around it.

I2: Oh, Molly Maids? I hear they do a good job. Wasn’t that expensive, though?

I1: Yes, but it was necessary. Those IAEA pests were bothering us about inspecting the site again.

I2: They just want to steal our secret cancer-fighting technology!

I1: Yes, Excellency. We won’t let them.

I2: The Americans want to steal it, too. I understand they have agents everywhere. Well, listen to this: I HAVEN’T DECIDED ANYTHING! NOTHING IS DECIDED! I NEVER DECIDE! Get it?

I1: Yes, Excellency.

I2: Damn it, there’s a fly eating my cookies! Swat it at once!

At this point, the transmission ceased. But we are presenting it in the hopes that top administration officials can make sense of it.

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Women harassed by Arabs, leftists

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

It’s been an open secret among pro-Palestinian activists that the attitudes of the people they are trying to liberate from ‘occupation’ are somewhat less than enlightened. A recent article in Ha’aretz details the complaints of some female international and Israeli activists who have found themselves demeaned, sexually harassed, and even raped by their Arab counterparts.

I am sure that the situation is even worse than described in the left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, whose description is bad enough.

There are also complaints against left-wing Israeli activists, and fury at an incredibly vulgar poster created by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement. Even women sharing their political viewpoint were outraged by the normalization of anti-woman violence implicit in the posters.

The usual excuses are being made. That women should understand that the goal of ‘ending the occupation’ is more important than these unfortunate phenomena, and they should be quiet. Or even that the Arabs (does this go for the non-Arab leftists too?) have been damaged by ‘occupation’ and therefore it is, naturally, the fault of Israel and particularly of ‘settlers’.

Similar claims are made by anti-Israel gay activists that ‘occupation’ causes Palestinian homophobia, while Israel’s tolerance of gays and lesbians is cynical ‘pinkwashing‘.

Because protest movements often are driven by young males, there is often a certain amount of macho posturing. In 1964, Stokely Carmichael famously said that the only position for women in his movement was “prone.” Eldridge Cleaver — in his case it was more than just posturing, as he admitted committing violent ‘political’ rapes of white women — remarked that women were useful because they had “pussy power.”

The Arab culture is a different story. Women are traditionally respected only insofar as they are protected by male relatives. One way to show disrespect for someone — or for an entire nation — is to steal his property, which includes ‘his’ women — wives, sisters, daughters. So Arabs steal cars and sheep from Jews, and rape their women.

The international and Israeli female activists are in a difficult position, because with no husbands or brothers around to protect them, they are nobody. Not even whores that have to be paid. Any unprotected woman is in danger, as Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy found out in Tahrir Square:

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The affair of the posters may have irritated the women activists enough that they will insist that the European and Israeli men at least pretend to understand their concerns if they want continued female participation in the ‘movement’.

But the idea that women are property — a particularly sensitive form of property whose damage besmirches family ‘honor’ (a grotesque form of male pride) — is deeply embedded in Arab culture and results in countless murders of women by their own family members throughout the Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority and even among Arab citizens of Israel.

It would probably behoove both female and male activists to think a bit about the real nature of the Palestinian Arab culture that yearns to  replace Israel, and ask themselves if they are really sure that this is the outcome they prefer.

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