30 December 2008

Telegram for Iran... and Team Obama

In the Six-Day War of 1967- which was primarily an Israeli pre-emptive attack upon Arab units consisting of 465,000 troops, over 2,880 tanks, and 810 aircraft, Israel crushed these combined offensive military forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria... and seized large amounts of land from each. This conquest of Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt, was the birth of a long-problematic Israeli occupation there. Israel didn't want to gain and control these territories; the result arose from defeating an existential threat from enemies that surrounded them... and subsequently, the establishment of a new defensive, strategic depth.

Israel ended the 38-year occupation of Gaza in 2005, but the gesture did not lead to better relations with the Palestinians... who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Instead, the evacuation was exploited by Hamas to develop their military capabilities and use the Gaza Strip as a launching pad for rocket attacks on Israeli border communities. In early 2008, both sides agreed to a truce, but this began unraveling in early November.

Today, there is only one country in the world that is expected to "exercise restraint" in responding to attacks like those from Iranian proxy Hamas, and that country is Israel. Any response necessary to terminate the 3000 Hamas missile-launches aimed at her southern communities this year, with Hamas even targeting Jewish schools and day-care centers, cannot justly be labeled "disproportionate"- but of course, in some quarters it has already been condemned as such.

The military campaign in Gaza that we are now witnessing follows a decision by Prime Minister Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for Palestinian rocket attacks following the collapse of the ceasefire agreement. There was also pressure on Israeli political leaders to act as the February 10th election approaches. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "We face a period that will be neither easy nor short, and will require determination and perseverance until the necessary change is achieved in the situation in the south."

Israel bombed numerous Hamas military targets, including the the tunnels under the Egyptian border, used for smuggling of weapons and overpriced commercial goods, which had allowed Hamas to profit handsomely from the suffering of their people under the Israeli blockade, itself a reaction to Hamas' rocket attacks- talk about developing your own market.

Recently, the Islamic militants that rule Gaza expanded the range of their rockets from 20 km to 40km, enabling them to reach at least 8 additional Israeli towns....placing more than a million citizens at their mercy. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is also well-aware that Hamas has used the ceasefire period to evolve into what now resembles a full-fledged army. Numbering some 20,000 fighters, Hamas units are now divided into regions, and have a clearly-defined chain of command. It now has infantry units, a naval force, bomb-placing and rocket-launching teams, an intelligence unit, and more.

Hamas commanders have also been training with Republican Guard units in Iran, and have benefited from a steady influx of heavy weapons and ammunition smuggled from both Iran and Lebanon. Israel's leaders have extremely limited options for dealing with the Palestinians, primarily due to the fanatical instragence of Hamas... and so, cannot afford to ignore such a developing threat on their doorstep any more than they can continue to ignore the shower of missiles.

"Right now, we are not considering an end to the fighting," Israeli Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel said on Israel Radio. "We have the time, patience and means ... to return life in southern Israel to normal." And it now appears that Hamas will soon be facing a devastating ground offensive, as well- to be performed with surgical precision upon specific Hamas assets.

Arab states and western liberals "call on both sides to exercise restraint", but you have to wonder where they've been in the midst of this year's 3000+ missile attacks. Where was the international outrage when southern Israeli towns were reduced to begging their government to defend them?

The root of the Palestinian unrest has long been the occupation of the West Bank, and until three years ago, Gaza- as these territories where captured in the Six Day War. Now, as Israel faces relentless diplomatic pressure to help the Palestinians found their own state on these territories, it is hard to make the argument that returning the West Bank to the Palestinians would bring peace... where is the precedent, in Gaza?

As many Arab states and others had encouraged Israel to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, there was a paucity of guidance and support from them that would have made this move a success. Most Israelis would love to wash their hands of the West Bank and Gaza permanently, but now is clearly not a point in time where it makes sense from a security standpoint... and almost completely due to the irresponsible behavior of the Palestinians.

Moral relativism that paints Israel with the same brush as Hamas is not only dangerous nonsense, but of course a major obstacle to restraining all such extremist, obstructionist organizations. For the international interlopers who promote an immediate land-for-peace deal with the West Bank's Fatah government, continued aid for Gaza, and initiating contacts with the b
loodthirsty maniacs of Hamas (who recently legalized crucifixion on their territory), the fact that Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions are wholly dedicated to Israel's destruction and Islamic global domination appears to be just some small, irrelevant detail. Perhaps they should listen (for once) to Hamas' openly proclaimed intentions, or read their charter, rather than continuing to project idealized wishful thinking upon them... it's not like they're hiding anything.

It indeed seems ridiculous to pressure Israel for a two-state solution now, when recent experience suggests that Hamas will promptly install rocket launchers on any territory Israel concedes... using it not as a basis for peace, but as a platform from which to kill Jews. Until Hamas is de-fanged and taken from power, there is no hope of the Israelis exposing their jugular to a Palestinian state that still wishes to destroy them... why should they?

Blame has also, of course, been heaped upon the Bush Administration for "failure" to make progress with the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Although they felt an obligation to make an effort, it is likely Bush's team never really believed in the near-term practicality of the two state solution laid out in the "Road Map". However, the President held a summit in Annapolis in November 2007 attended by Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab leaders, which provided the stage for a public commitment to peace in one year. While Carter and Clinton had made progress towards Middle East peace a centerpiece of their policy, the agreements reached required compromises from the Israelis that didn't look wise in hindsight, and were not rewarded in good-faith by the Palestinians, either.

After the initial waves of IDF attacks on Saturday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed revenge, including suicide bombings in Israel's "cafes and streets." This is basically a promise to sacrifice more Palestinian youth to affect a "revenge" upon Israeli civilians on some Tel Aviv bus- all in the ceaseless pursuit of an unattainable goal. Disregarding for a moment this man's warped judgement, isn't a definition of insanity repeating the same actions, while expecting a different result? Remember that the stated goals of Hamas are "fighting to the death" for are the elimination of Israel, and establishment of a world Islamic empire... nothing less.

Hamas "will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood," vowed spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida added that the group will "teach the enemy a lesson they will never forget". Maybe, but the only lesson here for Israel is that the IDF should have been allowed to crush Hamas a long, long time ago.

Perhaps it would be helpful if Palestinian voters were finally held to account for their decisions, and shown the consequences of electing and supporting a radical, delusional, and confrontational Hamas government. Rocket salvos fired daily into Israeli towns were to come without a price? Such ingratitude and contempt in the wake of the Gaza handover has only has strengthened those in Israel such as Benjamin Netanyahu, who has always opposed ineffective and dangerous compromise with the Jewish state's sworn enemies... and who's Likud party is now leading in the polls.

And maybe we should ask: where is the Palestinian ingenuity, unity, and long-term vision of the type that made Israel such a successful and bountiful nation... from a strip of desert? How about something new from the Palestinian side... like a realistic self-awareness, instead of repeatedly overplaying a weak hand, making insatiable demands, and surrendering themselves to a band of gangsters? Does the Palestinian electorate value any attributes in their "leadership" other than stubbornness, vengeance, and a comprehensive lack of scruples?

While Hamas uses their own populace as cannon-fodder, the self-destructive instragence and the ceaseless missile attacks on southern Israel from Gaza have now brought a harsh retribution upon them and their people. Is there anyone in Gaza able to lead in a pragmatic, constructive manner... instead of continuing down a dead-end road with the apocalyptic lunatics of Hamas?

In the Gaza Strip, where suicide-bombers are celebrated like sports heroes, every last resource is utilized in the fight against the Jews, including the lives and minds of their own children... a plentiful asset where the average family has 7-8. No greater crime can be committed than the poisoning of a country’s future by instilling such a burden of hatred on the shoulders of its youth... and deeply damages the entire society for a generation, at least.

The repulsive child-abuse of Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV beaming shows like "Tomorrow’s Pioneers", featuring a faux-Mickey Mouse and a funny-bunny vowing to "kill the Jews and eat them" has taken the Palestinians' brainwashing of their children to a new low. This programming of the next generation of avengers only serves to worsen the ungovernable mess that is Palestine. The colorful shows have enacted for a 3-7 yr old audience the assassination of George W Bush, the killing of Danes in revenge for the Muhammad cartoons, and other fun-loving episodes.

If and when a two-state solution is reached, just how do Palestinian authorities plan re-program these youths to go to work, pay taxes, practice the art of compromise, and live in peace with their Jewish or Christian neighbors and/or employers? This totalist indoctrination goes a long way towards explaining the psychotic behavior of Palestinian society as a whole... and why those with a pollyanna view in the west will continue to be disappointed by the hopeless situation in Gaza and the West Bank.

Perhaps if the moderate, PLO-Fatah faction could again exert it's control over Gaza, and create an effective level of security that would halt the launching of rockets from Palestinian territory, the Israelis could have hope of striking a deal to bring both sides peace. But since the Palestinians voted Hamas into power when they knew this radical organization is based primarily upon the destruction of Israel, why would anyone on either side expect peace? In fact, Hamas needs Israel as a permanent enemy, as any peace deal eliminates Hamas' reason for existence, takes-away their substantial black-market profits, and it's not what Ahmadinejad is paying them for, either.

So after electing Hamas, and showing little ability to govern themselves successfully after a brief civil war with Fatah and the resulting two rival governments, why would anyone expect that the Palestinians can form a viable state that can be depended upon to honor treaties with Israel?

The Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick wrote recently that the international community expects that Obama “will move quickly to place massive pressure on the next Israeli government to withdraw" from the West Bank and Golan Heights in the interests of advancing a peace process with the Palestinians/Syrians. She states that “people who have been in close contact with Obama’s foreign policy transition team have privately acknowledged...Obama will move swiftly to put the screws on Israel. Her sources also informed her that the Obama transition team is "scope-locked"’ on Israel.

While the Israeli and even the American Jewish left might share many of Obama's views, they face mass rejection at the Israeli polls in February, when pugnacious, rightist, nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu is favored to be the new Israeli PM. And even if not, the current Olmert/Livni/Barak government has recently made a big swing to the right on defense issues, with the current "all-out" war on Hamas.
There seems to be precious little common ground between the theory-based Obama team and the Israelis, who live on the front-line.

Although they are oh-so-very tired of managing and fighting Palestinians for 40+ yrs, and their voters have often shown a desire for any kind of sensible peace, what other real option exists for Israeli leaders at this point, other than an open-ended occupation and military control of Palestinian territories?

The unrealistic policies of Hamas, the disappointing results of the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, and the pitiful performance of aid-addicted Palestinian society in general offer no reason whatsoever for Israel to expect peace from a two state solution. And while even the "moderate" Fatah has trouble controlling their fringe factions, a possible, even likely, Hamas takeover of a new Palestinian state is a risk no sensible Israeli government can accept.

If there ever was a people in-need of a benign dictator, the damaged and confused Palestinians just might be the ones... that is, if they are ever to display the type of behaviour and responsibility that would make them a viable partner for peace.

As for the leadership in Iran, the message is not the drawing of a line in the sand, as that line has long-ago been crossed by Tehran's head-long charge towards obtaining nuclear weapons. It is that they've already gone way too far in their showboating pursuit of The Bomb... and without an abrupt retreat from this brinkmanship, they now face a crushing military blow from the IDF.

Israel is making it clear to all that her security is not negotiable, nor subject to the whims of weak, vacillating "allies" in the west. Enemies of Israel should note that misguided policy and signals of appeasement coming from the incoming Obama administration, such as that the US will "provide a nuclear umbrella" for Israel (code for acquiescence to Iranian attainment of nuclear weaponry), will hold talks "without preconditions" with Tehran's apocolyptic leadership, and will encourage the return of lands in the West Bank to Palestinians without requisite acts of responsibility... will have no effect on Israel's ability to recognize an existential threat, nor to act upon it militarily.... and they will not sit back and take huge risks while engaging in wishful thinking of the type Mr Obama indulges himself in.

It appears that Israel alone will have to do the dirty work of eliminating Iranian nuclear development, Syrian instragence, and growing terrorist threats from Hezbollah and Hamas, all while enduring much of the world's condemnation. However, they are used to such ingratitude and lack of moral and strategic clarity from others, so will once again soldier-on alone. It was the Israelis themselves that eliminated Sadaam's nuclear weapons program with the brave 1983 air-attack on the Osirak reactor site, and if it had not been destroyed, Iraq would likely have had a nuclear weapon before invading Kuwait in 1990. Such a weapon would have prevented the U.S. from fighting against Iraq in 1991, and Kuwait would have remained an Iraqi province to this day... with Sadaam in control of a large portion of the world's oil supply. Iraq had fired deadly Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 war - but they were a pitiful substitute for the nuclear weapons Sadaam would surely have liked to use instead.

The Israelis had eliminated that Iraqi threat in the interest of their own survival, but did us all a great favor in the process. That attack, which completely destroyed the French-built Osirak reactor, was condemned at the time by most of the world community, including the United States and the UN Security Council. The US even suspended the sale of F-16s to Israel in response to the attack, but quietly canceled the suspension less than three months later. In 1991, just a week after the U.S. invaded Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, a photograph was handed to the man who served in 1981 as head of Israel's Air Force, David Ivry, that showed the bombed reactor, and included a hand-written note on the bottom: "With thanks and appreciation. You made our job easier in Desert Storm." It was signed "(Secretary of Defense) Dick Cheney".

If Likud's Bibi Netanyahu wins the February election, he will clearly not allow Iranian nuclear weapons to be developed and deployed, nor will he concede any more territory in the name of the "peace process". Sadly, indicators point to Obama's policy pushing Israel in precisely the opposite direction. But Israel can afford to ignore the tyro strategist Obama... and probably has the military capability already to not only bomb Iran, but win the wider Middle East war that is likely to result.

While Obama thinks he can afford to take a pollyanna view, the Israelis are the target of an extermination plan, and simply cannot. They are the ones the inept, oppressive governments of Syria and Iran are trying to focus their frustrated populations upon, rather than the daily hell of life in their own countries. This war will begin with a pre-emptive attack in a very similar vein to 1967... but now to neutralize a future nuclear obliteration from Tehran, who's Holocaust-denying President Ahmadinejad has called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map". Once attacked, the orders will go-out from Tehran to Hezbollah and Hamas, in concert will ally Syria, to declare war upon Israel.

The resulting actions of the IDF will be fought very differently than the tentative, cautious efforts in Lebanon in 2006. Expect a throrough, overwhelming, and devastating elimination of these threats. It appears that when let-loose, the Israeli Defence Forces indeed have the capability to defeat all these enemies simultaneously... as they've repeatedly done in the past.

And the message to the misguided and naive American President-elect and his lieutenant Hillary? If you think Israel is going to wait for your approval, attempt to appease enemies who are sworn to destroy it, or just sit back and hope for the best, think again. Instead, we will fight to win, with or without you, and let history be the judge... it's our nation's existence and families' lives on the line, not yours.