Archive for March, 2012

The ongoing war with Iran

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
PM Binyamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset this week

PM Binyamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset this week

A war between Israel and Iran is not something that may or may not occur in the future. It is in progress now.

PM Netanyahu said as much in a speech he made yesterday to a special session of the Knesset:

Understand, the dominant factor that motivates these events in Gaza is not the Palestinian issue.  The dominant factor that motivates these events in Gaza is Iran.

Gaza equals Iran.

Where do the missiles come from?  From Iran.
Where does the money come from?  From Iran.
Who trains the terrorists?  Iran.
Who builds the infrastructure?  Iran.
I have said this many times: who gives the orders?  Iran.

Gaza is a forward operating base for Iran.

I heard some people say that a third- or fourth-rate terrorist organization is acting against a million citizens in the State of Israel.  That is not true.  Iran is operating against us.

I hope that if not all, at least most members here and the public understand that the terrorist organizations in Gaza – Hamas and Jihad, as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon – are taking shelter under an Iranian umbrella.

Gaza is just one front in the ongoing war. On March 30, there will be a “Global March to Jerusalem” (GMJ):

GMJ, scheduled for March 30, 2012, is an anti-Israel publicity stunt that aims to have a million people marching on Israel’s borders from all the surrounding countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt – with the aim of reaching Jerusalem. Concurrently, demonstrations are planned in the Palestinian-administrated [sic] territories and against Israel’s diplomatic missions in major cities throughout the world.

Every imaginable anti-Israel individual and organization — Muslim, leftist, or just antisemitic — from the ANSWER coalition to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is supporting or taking part in this project, which could well mark the beginning of yet another Palestinian Intifada. Naturally, one of the major supporters is the Iranian regime.

On yet another front, From May 2011 through February, 2012, Iran and its Hizballah proxy have attempted to carry out terrorist strikes against Israeli targets in various parts of the world, the most recent being the February 13th bombing of the car in which the wife of an Israeli representative in India was riding.

Of course Israel has not been idle, almost certainly being behind some or all of the recent violent setbacks suffered by the Iranian nuclear program. In yesterday’s speech, the PM made it clear that Israel will not permit Iran’s umbrella for terrorism to become nuclear:

Now imagine what will happen if that umbrella becomes nuclear.  Imagine that behind these terrorist organizations stands a country that calls for our destruction and it is armed with nuclear weapons.

Are you ready for this?  I am not ready for this!  And any responsible leader understands that we cannot let this happen – because of nuclear terror and the nuclear threat, but also because of the strengthening of conventional terror and the firing of missiles at us.

In an interview on “60 minutes” this week, former Mossad head Meir Dagan repeats his contention that the consequences of a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran will be grave, and he argues that it is more difficult than many think. “There are dozens of sites,” he said. He indicates that he would much rather see an attack carried out by the US than by Israel. And he suggests that non-military options, like assisting opponents of the regime, should be emphasized.

But he does not say that Iran should be allowed to become nuclear. That is not an option for him any more than it is for Netanyahu.

While everyone would prefer that Iran give up its program peacefully, perhaps stopped by sanctions — which is simply not possible — or regime change, which is unlikely to occur in time and might not end the nuclear program in any event, this outcome is unlikely. So when the red line is crossed, Israel will have to act.

Both Netanyahu and Dagan would probably agree with Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev, who wrote this:

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamists is a danger to Israel. They live history. In their view, the Crusader invasion is a recent event, and as they see it, we, not to our credit, are also considered cursed Crusaders. They live this myth and are working to hasten the messiah – theirs. Give them nuclear weapons and they will use them. This is what they say. Whoever thinks this is simply “for internal propaganda purposes,” may he revel in his belief. But just as a reminder, a short while before the attack on the World Trade Center, an explicit threat was posted on al-Qaida’s Web page saying the organization was about to carry out an attack that would shock the world.

Many actors on the world stage do not want to see Israel attack Iran. There is Iran itself, of course. There is President Obama, who doesn’t want anything upsetting to happen between now and November. There is J Street, with its mysterious funders, which once lobbied against sanctions on Iran and is now pulling out the stops to oppose military action. “Wait for sanctions to take effect,” they say today.

Ideology is important. Islamist ideology (as well as traditional geopolitical ambition) is pushing Iran into war and pushing it toward nuclear weapons. But one cannot ignore the ideology of Israel’s leadership either, the ideology growing out of the historical experience of the Jewish people, that insists that threats against Israel must be taken seriously, and that the country cannot depend on anyone else to defend it.

The war is ongoing, and anyone who does not expect escalation into more open conflict is dreaming.

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The uses of military force

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

I know that those of us who have not been in combat for extended periods don’t understand the level of moral, emotional and physical stresses that those who fight face. So I am going to be very careful in this post not to speculate about the personal factors the led an American soldier to kill numerous Afghan civilians for no apparent reason on Sunday morning. But I think I am qualified to comment on the political aspects.

Until very recently, armies had a highly focused objective: to destroy enemy forces, to conquer and hold territory, and to defend ‘friendly’ territory and peoples against opposing armies.

Treatment of noncombatants has always been a secondary concern, varying over the centuries from the massacre of enemy men and enslavement of women and children common in ancient times, to what we hope is the more civilized behavior of Western armies today.

When an enemy army was defeated in the past, the winners brought about the political consequences that they desired, annexing territory or establishing a new regime, moving populations, exacting tribute, killing or imprisoning the former ruling groups, etc. These changes were enforced by violence or threat of violence. Since very few governments were democratic, the civilians involved could only hope that the new monarchy or dictatorship would be more benign than the previous one.

This pattern was followed in WWII, with the occupation of Germany, Japan and the Warsaw pact nations an example of the imposition of new regimes (the fact that the Western bloc managed to extricate itself peacefully from its occupations doesn’t change their essentially coercive nature).

More recently, a new paradigm is emerging, particularly in the case of the US: military forces are sent to a country which is ‘misbehaving’ in some way — in Vietnam, threatening to join the Soviet bloc; in Afghanistan, sheltering terrorist militias.* The objective of the military is to suppress the forces that are opposed to our goals, while winning the support of uncommitted groups.

Unfortunately these fundamentally contradictory goals — killing and making friends — place a huge burden on our soldiers. In order to stay alive, they must be killers when they face the enemy. Then they are expected to return to base and become Peace Corps volunteers.

This is exacerbated by the fact that these ‘police actions’ are by nature insurgencies without front lines. So the soldier never knows which form of behavior is called for.

And it gets even worse than this: while our troops are being trained in ‘cultural sensitivity’ in order to become capable of making friends with the ones who are supposedly on our side, we are facing Middle Eastern honor-shame cultures in which such ‘sensitivity’ appears as weakness and stupidity, leading to even more hatred and violence.

The icing on the cake is that our enemies understand all this, while we apparently don’t. So of course the accidental burning of Qurans or a massacre of civilians — which is standard operating procedure in the Muslim Middle East, by the way — provokes huge outbursts of rage. So we apologize, which provokes even more rage.

[Aside: No, I don’t condone massacres, and I don’t think that what the so-far-unnamed US soldier did is acceptable. But when Muslims kill Muslims, as they are doing in large numbers every day in Syria, Iraq and other places, the rage in the Muslim world is muted.

The principle is the same in Gaza, where Palestinian terrorists are applauded for trying to commit mass murder of Jews, but when those same terrorists are killed by the IDF, Egyptians are furious. Christians, Jews and other infidels are not allowed to kill Muslims — it turns their world order upside down.]

I think we in the West need to understand that we cannot expect our armies to both fight and act as social workers, especially in the Middle East.

Where there is an objective that can be achieved by military force, we must apply that force as aggressively as possible, and minimize contact between our soldiers and civilians. Compare the first three weeks of the invasion of Iraq with the other nine years of our involvement there.

But if we want to translate military victories into political gains, then we must be prepared to follow up by behaving as conquerors, not as helpers or allies. If we are not able to do this, then probably we don’t have a good reason for military action in the first place.

* The case of Iraq is more complicated, but I believe it fits the paradigm.

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Media distort reality of terrorrist rocket attacks

Monday, March 12th, 2012
An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

While southern Israel hunkers down under a massive barrage of deadly rockets — only effective warning and anti-missile systems have so far prevented any deaths — the usual suspects in the media are pumping out the usual message: Israel is the aggressor, killing Palestinian civilians.

For example, an AP report begins like this:

Israel Airstrike In Gaza Kills 2 Palestinian Militants, Schoolboy

Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinian militants and a schoolboy in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket squads barraged southern Israel, in escalating fighting that has defied international truce efforts.

Leaving aside the fact that the 15-year old ‘schoolboy’ was almost certainly not killed by an Israeli airstrike, but rather when an explosive device that he was carrying went off, the emphasis in the article and the headline is placed on Israel’s actions to suppress the attack in which about 240 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday, and not the attack itself.

This morning NPR broadcast a report from its Jerusalem correspondent. I’ve transcribed some of it and I’ll intersperse my comments:

[Steve Inskeep] …and we’re also reporting on violence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip: The shooting stretched through the weekend and into today. Israeli airstrikes killed two more people today in Gaza, that Palestinian-held area, bring the total to 20. Israelis have been bombing, Palestinian have been firing rockets into Israel, and NPR’s Lourdes Garcia Navarro has been following the story. Lourdes, what’s the latest?

Note that they take the same approach as the AP, emphasizing defensive Israeli actions against combatant targets and de-emphasizing terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. ‘People’, not ‘militants’ or ‘fighters’ or (fat chance) ‘terrorists’ were killed.

[Lourdes Garcia Navarro]: Well Steve, this morning we’ve seen more sorties by Israeli aircraft, and multiple strikes inside the Gaza Strip. Medical officials in Gaza confirm two men were killed so far today. The Israelis say they were targeting a team preparing rockets to fire into Israel. Overnight there were rockets successfully fired and landed inside Israel. In fact over fifty rockets were fired in total yesterday. For a second day today Israeli schools have been closed in the area around Gaza and people are staying close to shelters. Around one million people lie within reach of those Gaza rockets.

The reporter begins again by emphasizing Israeli actions and Palestinian casualties. Palestinians ‘confirm’ that two ‘men’ were killed, while Israelis only ‘say’ they were attacking a terrorist rocket squad. Only after this does she mention the rocket attacks themselves.

Inside Gaza, you can hear the sound of Israeli jets circling overhead. There are around 1.6 million Palestinians who live there in densely populated areas. We already know that two civilians were killed yesterday, a young boy and an old man.

She continues, making sure we understand that Israel is deploying massive military force against helpless Palestinians. I rather doubt that ‘jets’ were ‘circling’; more likely helicopters and drones hit the rocket squads, but it sounds so much more frightening. We ‘already know’ — of course, we don’t, really — that two civilians were killed, and the suggestion is that this is just the beginning.

[Inskeep]: There have been rocket firings, many, many of them over the years, along that border. What caused an escalation here?

[Garcia Navarro]: Well, this current flare-up began when Israel targeted and killed the leader of one of the main militant groups in Gaza. Israel said he was planning an attack on Israeli civilians in the Sinai…

So we see that not only is this a story about Israeli violence against Palestinians, Israel started it. But the terrorist that was killed, PRC leader Zuhair Mussah Ahmad Qaisi, was responsible for an attack in southern Israel from the Sinai (not in the Sinai as the reporter incorrectly says) in August 2011 in which 8 Israelis were murdered, and it is quite credible that he was, as Israel says, about to launch another one (Qaisi was also responsible for the attack in which Gilad Shalit was captured in 2005, and also served as a conduit for money and weapons between Hizballah in Lebanon and terrorist groups in Gaza).

After Garcia Navarro talks about the remarkable success of Iron Dome in intercepting so many of the rockets, her partner cuts to the chase:

[Inskeep]: OK, no fatalities in Israel, quite a few of them on the Gaza side, is anyone talking seriously about a cease-fire?

Thus NPR manages to turn what should be a story about terrorism and defense against terrorism into one about the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, and how Israel initiated fighting which has killed Palestinian civilians (well, maybe one).

There is no mention that the event that began it was a classic case of eliminating a ticking-bomb terrorist, or that despite the density of the population in Gaza, Israel is killing the fighters that are firing rockets without killing civilians.

Only a few lines of the report allude to the massive disruption of the lives of Israelis, who have been running to shelters for four days (read the story of an Israeli schoolgirl here). And there is no comment about the fact that the objective of the Arab terrorists is to kill as many Israelis as possible.

And here is something else you won’t hear about on NPR: despite the fighting, Israel is continuing to supply necessities to the Gaza population! Every day, truckloads of food, goods and cooking gas are supplied to Gaza through the border crossings. Yesterday more than 180 truckloads passed through the crossings. This morning, truck traffic was interrupted for a few minutes, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the trucks with mortars. Think about that.

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US State Department “regrets” PRC losses

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

As you know by now, over 135 rockets were launched at Israel over the weekend. The barrage was in response to the targeted killing of Zuhair Mussah Ahmad Qaisi and two other Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) terrorists. The PRC, which was responsible for the recent attack near the Egyptian border, was about to launch a “large scale” attack into Israel. 13 more fighters were killed when Israel attacked rocket launching teams in Gaza. The PRC is one of the most vicious of the terrorist militias (see the link at the end of the post).

There are no reports of Israeli deaths, although about a million Israelis spent the night in shelters. Schools will be closed today (Sunday). The Gaza air strikes were targeted precisely and no Palestinians were killed who were not terrorists.

That did not stop the US State Department from issuing a statement including a remark that they “regret the loss of life.”

Considering what the PRC has done in the past, this is a remarkable thing to say!

Update [11 Mar 1222 PDT]: Here are the names and terrorist affiliations of the 16 Palestinians killed. Not one of them was a noncombatant.

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The Lie Insertion Key

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
The lie key

The lie key

Here is yet another example of how much of the media are incapable of writing an honest story that concerns Israel.

On my way to the gym this morning I listened to an NPR story about how Christian volunteers are helping out at a Jewish agricultural community called Shilo.

The article by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is entitled “Christians Provide Free Labor On Jewish Settlements,” and mentions pointedly that the volunteers pay their own way. The implication is that this is somehow scandalous. Would they also write “Animal lovers provide free labor at shelters?”

The sixth paragraph of the article delivers the payload. Remember that this is a news story, not an editorial:

The problem is that the world doesn’t recognize this West Bank settlement or any other as part of Israel. The Palestinians and most of the international community view the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast War and has established settlements throughout the territory, which the Palestinians are seeking for part of a future state. The settlements are one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and Palestinians, and have been a major obstacle in attempts to restart peace negotiations.

This is presented in a matter-of-fact tone — “ho hum, everyone knows this.” In fact, I am certain that ‘journalists’ at NPR, the BBC and the New York Times have a special key on their keyboards to pop this into every article they write on the subject of Israel.

Nevertheless, every line of it is misleading. It is true that the climate of opinion in, say, the UN, tends to be anti-settlement. But it’s an inconvenient truth that a very good case can be made for the legality of Jewish communities in the parts of Mandate Palestine that happened to be occupied by Jordan from 1948-67.

Without going into too much detail, the right of Jews to settle anywhere in Palestine was expressed by the “international community” in the League of Nations Mandate. Security Council resolutions demanded that borders be established by negotiations, which have never succeeded. And attempts to apply the Geneva Conventions to delegitimize such settlements are a very far stretch.

Yes, the Palestinians don’t agree with this, and want the ‘West Bank’ (Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem) — as well as the rest of Israel — for yet another Arab state. But why should we give credit to their racist desire to end Jewish self-determination and ethnically cleanse, for a second time in 63 years, this land? What have they done for the past 100 years to qualify themselves for statehood other than terrorism and murder?

The NPR-BBC-NYT boilerplate says that communities like Shilo are “a major obstacle to the attempt to restart negotiations.” But they are only an obstacle because the Arabs insist that they are. The real major obstacle is that the Arabs want Israel to give them everything — including agreeing to evacuate settlements and a return to 1949 lines — as a precondition to negotiations, rather than an outcome of them.

Note also that it says that “Israel captured the West Bank … and has established settlements.” But Jews lived there before the Arab conquest and ethnic cleansing of 1948. Why shouldn’t they come back? And who did they ‘capture’ it from? Jordan, who had grabbed it in 1948 contravening the UN partition resolution — not the ‘Palestinians’ who claim it!

There are many motivations for journalists, academics and politicians to push the settlements-are-illegal line. Some of them are ideological, because you just can’t be ‘progressive’ today if you don’t support the (in truth) very reactionary Arab cause. Some are payoffs — European politicians concerned with oil, or academics who get Saudi money (Georgetown University, from which NPR’s reporter Garcia-Navarro graduated, got $20 million of it in 2005).

Regardless of the reason, the insertion of the very partisan Arab point of view into ‘news’ stories as background is universal today in the left-of-center media. And regardless of the reason it is bad, biased journalism.

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