Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ralph Peters: No Ceasefire! Wipe Hamas Out.

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: “No Ceasefire! Wipe Hamas Out.” Video. Real Clear Politics, July 29, 2014.


Washington and both sides of the aisle to a degree will not face up to the fact that in Middle Eastern Islam there is a sickness right now that has perverted the religion grossly... And you have all these factions competing to see who can kill the most Christians, kill the most Jews. I mean, again, the Obama administration doesn’t care about dead Christians or Jews, but gosh they’re really worried, we want a ceasefire to rescue Hamas. No ceasefire, Sean. No ceasefire! Wipe Hamas out. Let me use one more Russian phrase because Russian is an expression language: [Wipe them out in Russian]. Wipe them out.

We Must Defeat Hamas – Next Time. By Benny Morris.

We must defeat Hamas – next time. By Benny Morris. Haaretz, July 30, 2014.


The Israeli government must prepare both the Israeli people and its allies for the next round against Hamas, and be prepared to deliver the killer blow.

It seems like the current war is already lost. It will end in another few days, or perhaps a week or two, with a whimper – yet another cease-fire that leaves Hamas in place, just as happened after previous rounds. Moreover, it seems this war will even increase Hamas’ political and military power, as it has managed to portray itself both as a victim deserving of the world’s compassion and as a hero of the resistance against the Zionist entity. (All the talk of “disarming” the Gaza Strip and stationing Palestinian Authority policemen at the border crossings is so much hot air. As long as Hamas remains standing, it will not lay down its arms and will not let anyone else restrict its sovereignty over its territory.)

Gaza’s status as the victim will win it large helpings of cash from the Arab oil kingdoms and European states. This money will fund the reconstruction of its civilian infrastructure and destroyed houses. Of course, just as happened with the cement that entered the Strip in previous years, some of this money – if not the majority of it – will be diverted by Gaza’s rulers into rebuilding the tunnels and factories that make the rockets. In a few months, the tunnels leading into Israeli territory will resume operation and the missile stockpiles will be replenished, perhaps with new and improved homemade models (or even smuggled ones).

Therefore, the next war will surely come. It will come in another year or two, or perhaps even sooner, because Hamas wants to eradicate the State of Israel (if not to eradicate all Jews, at least in the Middle East), and also because Palestinians in general, as a nation, want the State of Israel to disappear. It’s not pleasant to say this, because many people prefer not to hear it. But even a brief glance at the Hamas charter (1988), the Fatah charter (1964) and the Palestinian National Covenant (1964) – which was never replaced by an enlightened, conciliatory covenant, as Yasser Arafat promised – proves it.

After 1948, 1967, 1973 and 2000-2005, the Palestinians understood that the Arabs aren’t capable of destroying Israel in one blow. Perhaps an Iranian bomb will succeed in doing so in the future, but they can’t count on it. Thus, they adopted a tactic of taking partial but frequent bites that, over time, will gradually weaken the Jewish state.

Our talented young people will move to Berlin or California, tourists and foreign investors will stay away, and potential immigrants will stay where they are, or head for more attractive shores. Who would want to raise his children in a country under constant missile fire, even if, for the moment, very few rockets actually hit their targets? And who would want to tour or invest in a country battered by terrorism?

Just as the Muslims gradually wore down the Crusaders and finally defeated them, so too the Palestinians will wear down and defeat the Jews and, in the end, they’ll return to their places in the Diaspora.

The Israeli government was dragged into the current war against its will. It didn’t prepare for it, but it received a golden opportunity – with comfortable political, international and regional circumstances (Hamas “started it”; they rejected a cease-fire; Egypt is with us; Europe is busy with Ukraine) – in which to destroy Hamas and clean out Gaza.

But the government preferred to take the easier route and exit with “quiet in exchange for quiet,” i.e., a tie, which means continued bouts of violence with Hamas. In recent decades, Israeli governments and the Israeli people have turned into carbon copies of the West: All they want is peace and to hide their heads in the sand; there’s no willingness to sacrifice soldiers (and no willingness to exact a heavy price in blood from the enemy’s civilians), even if it’s clear that the price today – in terms of both our soldiers and their civilians – would be lower than it will be in the future.

That’s what happened in recent years over the issue of Hamas’ attack tunnels. Successive governments knew about them, but opted not to take action against them – perhaps they’ll disappear on their own; let the next government deal with them, and so forth. The same thing happened to us over Iran’s nuclear project, and Judgment Day is approaching.

This is a large part of the explanation for Israel’s weakness in the various Gaza operations that have brought us to this point – the same weakness that guarantees the next round will happen very soon. This weakness is very similar to America’s policy of appeasement under President Barack Obama’s governments, which wound up weakening the status of the United States, and the West as a whole, throughout the world.

What should we do next time? The answer is clear and well known. All that’s needed is the courage to start down this path and the determination to finish the job. It won’t be either easy or quick. We’re talking about reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip and destroying Hamas as a military organization, and perhaps also as a political one (it’s reasonable to think that destroying Hamas’ army will badly weaken Hamas as a political movement).

This will require months of combat, during which the Strip will be cleansed, neighborhood by neighborhood, of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives and armaments. It will exact a serious price in lives from both Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinian civilians. But that’s the price required of a nation like ours, which wants to live on its own land in a neighborhood like ours. After gaining control of Gaza, it must be hoped that some moderate Arab power, perhaps the Palestinian Authority, will take over the reins of government.

There are good reasons to destroy Hamas. It seeks to kill us. Every day it fires rockets at our cities. And it kidnaps and murders whenever it has the chance. Destroying Hamas will strengthen the moderate Palestinian forces and might even advance the possibility of peace. Destroying Hamas will make it easier for Israel when the moment comes to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. It might even deter Hezbollah from embarking on a war against Israel. But at the very least – if and when war breaks out – the IDF will face one less front. Ultimately, destroying Hamas would probably also reduce the desire to confront us in the West Bank and Israeli Arab towns.

The Israeli government must prepare both the Israeli people and its allies for the next round. Western leaders understand the nature of the Islamic enemy – from the Philippines through India and Pakistan, Somalia and Nigeria, Dagestan and Iraq, and all the way to Paris, Madrid and London – very well, even if they generally prefer to bury their heads in the sand and avoid using the word “Islam” explicitly.

By showing them the Hamas charter and Hamas spokesmen and Hamas actions, it’s possible to convince many people that Israel is facing a branch of this same all-out enemy of the West and Western culture – the enemy whose branches include Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) – and that defeating it serves both Israel’s interests and those of the entire West.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hamas Sermon from Gaza: Our Doctrine Entails Exterminating the Jews.

Hamas from the Gaza Strip: Our Doctrine Entails Exterminating the Jews. Video. MEMRI TV. Clip No. 4376, July 25, 2014. Transcript. YouTube. Also at Atlas Shrugs, IDF Twitter.


Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas TV channel, aired on Friday, July 25, 2014 a sermon from a Deir Al-Balah Mosque, in which an unnamed imam called for the extermination of the Jews. “We will not leave a single one of you alive,” declared the imam.

Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. You are the mercenaries of all times. Research the history, my brothers. Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption. Oh Muslims, didn't you notice that Allah said: “They spread in THE land...” The definite article in “THE land” means the entire land. “They spread in the land corruption, and Allah loves not the corrupters.”

Israel Is Losing the Long Game. By George Friedman.

Israel Is Losing the Long Game. By George Friedman. Real Clear World, July 29, 2014.


We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas’ rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.

War Without a Military Outcome

The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime?

For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous “three nos” at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the “no recognition” and “no peace” agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.

For Hamas, at least – and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank – the only solution is Israels elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent.

Under these circumstances, the Gaza war is in some sense a matter of housekeeping. For Hamas, the point of the operation is demonstrating it can fire rockets at Israel. These rockets are inaccurate, but the important thing is that they were smuggled into Gaza at all, since this suggests more dangerous weapons eventually will be smuggled in to the Palestinian territory. At the same time, Hamas is demonstrating that it remains able to incur casualties while continuing to fight.

For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War’s purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can’t go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem.

We thus see periodic violence of various types, none of which will be intended or expected to achieve any significant political outcome. Wars here have become a series of bloodstained gestures. There are some limited ends to achieve, such as closing Palestinian tunnels and demonstrating Palestinian capabilities that force Israel into an expensive defensive posture. But Hamas will not be defeated, and Israel will make no concessions.

Sovereignty and Viability Problems

The question therefore is not what the point of all this is – although that is a fascinating subject – but where all this ends. All things human end. Previous longstanding conflicts, such as those between France and England, ended or at least changed shape. Israel and Palestine accordingly will resolve their conflict in due course.

Many believe the creation of a Palestinian state will be the solution, and those who believe this often have trouble understanding why this self-evidently sensible solution has not been implemented. The reason is the proposed solution is not nearly as sensible as it might appear to some.

Issues of viability and sovereignty surround any discussion of a Palestinian state. Geography raises questions about the viability of any Palestinian polity. Palestine has two population centers, Gaza and the West Bank, which are detached from one another. One population center, Gaza, is an enormously crowded, narrow salient. Its ability to develop a sustainable economy is limited. The West Bank has more possibilities, but even it would be subordinate to a dynamic Israel. If the Palestinian workforce is drawn into the Israeli economy, both territories will become adjuncts to Israel. Within its current borders, a viable Palestine is impossible to imagine.

From the Israeli point of view, creating a Palestine along something resembling the 1967 lines (leaving aside the question of Jerusalem) would give the Palestinians superb targets, namely, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Given its history, Israel is unlikely to take that risk unless it had the right to oversee security in the West Bank in some way. That in turn would undermine Palestinian sovereignty.

As you play out the possibilities in any two-state solution, you run into the problem that any solution one side demanded would be unbearable to the other. Geography simply won’t permit two sovereign states. In this sense, the extremists on both sides are more realistic than the moderates. But that reality encounters other problems.

Israel’s High-Water Mark

Currently, Israel is as secure as it is ever likely to be unless Hamas disappears, never to be replaced, and the West Bank becomes even more accommodating to Israel. Neither of these prospects is likely. Israel’s economy towers over its neighbors. The Palestinians are weak and divided. None of Israel's neighbors pose any threat of invasion, a situation in place since the 1977 neutralization of Egypt. Jordan is locked into a close relation with Israel, Egypt has its peace treaty and Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria. Apart from Gaza, which is a relatively minor threat, Israel’s position is difficult to improve.

Israel can’t radically shift its demography. But several evolutions in the region could move against Israel. Egypt could change governments, renounce its treaty, rearm and re-enter the Sinai Peninsula. Hezbollah could use its experience in Syria to open a front in Lebanon. Syria could get an Islamic State-led government and threaten the Golan Heights. Islamists could overthrow Jordan's Hashemite monarchy and pose a threat to the east. Turkey could evolve into a radical Islamic government and send forces to challenge Israel. A cultural revolution could take place in the Arab world that would challenge Israel's economic superiority, and therefore its ability to wage war. Iran could smuggle missiles into Gaza, and so on.

There is accordingly an asymmetry of possibilities. It is difficult to imagine any evolution, technical, political or economic, that would materially improve Israel’s already dominant position, but there are many things that could weaken Israel – some substantially. Each may appear far-fetched at the moment, but everything in the future seems far-fetched. None is inconceivable.

It is a rule of politics and business to bargain from strength. Israel is now as strong as it is going to be. But Israel does not think that it can reach an accommodation with the Palestinians that would guarantee Israeli national security, a view based on a realistic reading of geography. Therefore, Israel sees little purpose in making concessions to the Palestinians despite its relative position of strength.

In these circumstances, the Israeli strategy is to maintain its power at a maximum level and use what influence it has to prevent the emergence of new threats. From this perspective, the Israeli strategy on settlements makes sense. If there will be no talks, and Israel must maintain its overwhelming advantage, creating strategic depth in the West Bank is sensible; it would be less sensible if there were a possibility of a peace treaty. Israel must also inflict a temporary defeat on any actively hostile Palestinian force from time to time to set them back several years and to demonstrate Israeli capabilities for psychological purposes.

The Palestinian position meanwhile must be to maintain its political cohesion and wait, using its position to try to drive wedges between Israel and its foreign patrons, particularly the United States, but understanding that the only change in the status quo will come from changes outside the Israeli-Palestinian complex. The primary Palestinian problem will be to maintain itself as a distinct entity with sufficient power to resist an Israeli assault for some time. Any peace treaty would weaken the Palestinians by pulling them into the Israeli orbit and splitting them up. By refusing a peace treaty, they remain distinct, if divided. That guarantees they will be there when circumstances change.

Fifty Years Out

Israel’s major problem is that circumstances always change. Predicting the military capabilities of the Arab and Islamic worlds in 50 years is difficult. Most likely, they will not be weaker than they are today, and a strong argument can be made that at least several of their constituents will be stronger. If in 50 years some or all assume a hostile posture against Israel, Israel will be in trouble.

Time is not on Israel’s side. At some point, something will likely happen to weaken its position, while it is unlikely that anything will happen to strengthen its position. That normally would be an argument for entering negotiations, but the Palestinians will not negotiate a deal that would leave them weak and divided, and any deal that Israel could live with would do just that.

What we are seeing in Gaza is merely housekeeping, that is, each side trying to maintain its position. The Palestinians need to maintain solidarity for the long haul. The Israelis need to hold their strategic superiority as long as they can. But nothing lasts forever, and over time, the relative strength of Israel will decline. Meanwhile, the relative strength of the Palestinians may increase, though this isn’t certain.

Looking at the relative risks, making a high-risk deal with the Palestinians would seem prudent in the long run. But nations do not make decisions on such abstract calculations. Israel will bet on its ability to stay strong. From a political standpoint, it has no choice. The Palestinians will bet on the long game. They have no choice. And in the meantime, blood will periodically flow.

There Is No Diplomatic Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. By Rush Limbaugh.

There is No Diplomatic Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. By Rush Limbaugh., July 29, 2014.

Poor John Kerry, He’s Trying So Hard! By Rush Limbaugh., July 29, 2014.

Geraldo Rivera: A Woman’s Greatest Asset Is Her Youth.

Geraldo Shocks Outnumbered Hosts: A Wife’s Greatest Asset Is Her “Youth.” By Matt Wilstein. Mediaite, July 28, 2014. Video also at YouTube

Geraldo Rivera’s Extremely Sexist and Weird Rant About Marriage. By Catherine Taibi and Jack Mirkinson. The Huffington Post, July 28, 2014.

Geraldo Rivera: Youth Is the Best Thing Women Can Bring to Marriage. By Kate Dries. Jezebel, July 28, 2014.

Geraldo Rivera Can Suck My 41-Year-Old Dick. By Rebecca Schoenkopf. Wonkette, July 29, 2014. 

The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach “I Do.” By Jessica Bennett. Time, July 25, 2014.

Millennial Trend Forecasting: Beta Testing Marriages. By Kara Brown. Jezebel, July 25, 2014. 

Why we should definitely beta-test marriages. By Jenny Kutner. Salon, July 25, 2014.

Hot Topic: Beta Marriages. Video. The View. ABC, July 28, 2014. YouTube.


I know this may provoke a Stephen Smith-like reaction, but I think essentially – although there’s an increase in two income marriages – generally speaking, the man is the breadwinner, more often than not, though now increasingly women do work. But what I think a woman brings to a marriage more than anything else, to a relationship, is her youth. Her youth is a fragile and diminishing resource. So if a woman were to invest two years in one of these marriages and then to be rejected by the man, I think that she has given up a valuable asset that is unequal. In other words, the man gets everything and the woman gets nothing from this arrangement.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Richard Kemp: A Pro-Israel British Colonel Predicts Endless Costly Military Operations. By David Horovitz.

A supportive British colonel, and a bleak vision of endless costly military operations. By David Horovitz. The Times of Israel, July 25, 2014.


I asked Richard Kemp how Israel might achieve a demilitarized Gaza. He shook his head at the improbability of it. “Some kind of peacekeeping force would be essential, but who’d do that? Not the US, not the UK, nobody.”

Col. Richard Kemp CBE, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, is notorious among Israel-bashers for his robust defense of the morality of Israel’s army and his empathy for the challenges Israel faces from Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups seeking its destruction.

Kemp is in Israel at the moment and gave a lecture on Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem, arranged by the NGO Monitor organization. I spoke to him beforehand in the faint hope that this 30-year British army combat veteran, who served 14 operational tours of duty worldwide and who subsequently worked in the British Cabinet office on defense and intelligence issues, could offer clear-cut guidance on how Israel might decisively, and with a minimum of loss of life, prevail over Hamas in the current offensive. As we talked in the cafe of Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Kemp was astute and informed and wise. Unsurprisingly, unhappily, however, he echoed the words from the Prime Minister’s Office these past two weeks — you need to use a mixture of military and diplomatic strategies, but there are no 100 percent solutions. Actually, it was bleaker than that. Read on, but don’t expect to be uplifted.

I asked Kemp first, simply and unfairly, how Israel could win out over Hamas in the military, diplomatic and public opinion arenas, and left it for him to choose where to start. He began with the military aspects. “It’s possible to use different military operations to defeat Hamas as a viable military entity,” he opened, promisingly enough. “It can’t be done from the air. It can be done from the ground. At the moment you’re attacking the tunnels. You could move further into Gaza, to the rocket launchers and the infrastructure and the underground tunnels there.”

And here’s where things started to go downhill. “But that means a protracted operation, which is likely to be costly,” he warned. “There’s already been significant cost to Israel in the ground operation. There’d be more clashes with those the Israeli troops are assaulting. As with British forces in Afghanistan, you’re facing suicide attacks, roadside bombs, IEDs, booby traps, snipers. Except Hamas has had a lot more time to prepare than the Taliban had in any particular area of Afghanistan. You’re also operating in very heavily populated areas. This all means major advantages to the defenders. Tanks, artillery and aircraft are of more limited use. You’re fighting hand-to-hand.”

And that’s not all, said Kemp. The heavy civilian casualties among Gazans would raise world opprobrium. And the heavy casualties among Israeli troops would cause support to falter in Israel. Therefore, you need to bring in diplomatic resolution “at some stage along that path.”

Okay, but at which point along that path, I asked him.

“Military pressure at some point could cause Hamas to want a ceasefire, he said. “That’s more than possible at some point before its defeat. Or,” he went on, “diplomatic pressure [earlier on] could achieve the same effect.” But he cautioned, “it’s preferable to end with a diplomatic solution only if and when the IDF believes there has been sufficient damage to Hamas and/or you are confident that Hamas is so restricted as to significantly reduce the threat it poses.”

But, I responded, as he sipped his soda water, it’s hard to imagine Hamas seeking a ceasefire. Indeed, he agreed, and Israel has sustained so many casualties that it will not want a ceasefire without concrete assurances of long-term calm. At the same time, he said, “there’s media pressure” — reports of dead babies, dead boys on the Gaza beach, the UNHRC ordering a probe — “accumulating on the government to agree to a ceasefire short of what it really wants.”

If that all sounds unsatisfactory, Kemp readily acknowledged it. These are hard questions, he said.

I asked him how Israel might realistically achieve the demilitarized Gaza that it and the EU are calling for. He shook his head at the improbability of it all. “Some kind of peacekeeping force would be essential, but who’d do that? Not the US, not the UK, nobody.”

So what, I asked him, at the risk of going round in circles, was a realistic exit? “Pillar of Defense-style assurances from Hamas that they won’t carry out attacks,” he suggested, “and assurances from Egypt that they’ll do what they can to prevent Hamas’s rearming.”

But the Pillar of Defense calm held for only 20 months, and Hamas was unlikely at present to offer any assurances, I noted. “I don’t have the solution,” said Kemp. “The fact that there’s a problem doesn’t mean there’s a solution.”

So what is Israel to do? Kemp was curt. “Recognize that it has a festering sore blistered onto the side of it.”

He did recommend something Israel could do to boost its security — encroaching deeper into Gaza to carve out “a more substantial buffer zone that would provide some defense against the cross border tunnels.” But he also then immediately acknowledged that there would be heavy international criticism for the removal of Gaza’s civilian population that this would entail.

It all sounds impossible, I suggested bleakly. He sighed and said that Western forces in Afghanistan and Iraq had found it very difficult to grapple with the tactics and strategies used by Islamic extremist forces. “Years ago it was possible for Western forces to use extreme violence,” he said. “The language of extreme violence has more leverage here [in this region]. But that’s not on the table in the 21st century… That’s not feasible or desirable.” And, therefore, he concluded, “You’re in an enduring situation.”

Worse than that of Western forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, I said, because we can’t withdraw back to distant Britain and the United States. We’re stuck here in this neighborhood. Said Kemp: “It’s a matter of containment, rather than resolution.”

I tried a different course. Perhaps a political solution? “Yes, of course,” replied Kemp. But it quickly became clear he was speaking theoretically. “But as the Gaza lessons show, how could Israel possibly come to any agreement with the Palestinian Authority which would allow them full sovereignty in the West Bank? Maybe in 20, 50 years. But in the world today, it’s not possible for Israel, with its security needs, to withdraw its forces significantly from the West Bank.”

Except that’s precisely what the international community, led by the United States, has been urging Israel to do. Kemp was withering. “The Allen Plan” — a proposal drawn up by General John Allen for Secretary of State John Kerry to provide security for Israel after a gradual West Bank withdrawal — “is a complete nonstarter and was from the very beginning,” he said. “The idea that you could expect technology to secure the area, to expect Israel to rely on monitoring perhaps by American forces, and thus to withdraw Israeli forces from the interior of the West Bank, and gradually from the border, [in a world] with the Islamic State (terror group), Gaza, the downing of the Ukrainian airliner…” Kemp tailed off.

“Even if your prime minister, any Israeli prime minister, wants to enable the PA to have a state without an internal Israeli military presence, they can’t. And will the PA accept an agreement on sovereignty with an Israeli military presence? Of course not.” So unless there’s a tectonic shift in the region, a political solution is “impossible.”

What he seemed to be saying, I summed up, is that Israel is, at best, doomed to have to continue intermittently conducting very costly military operations. The colonel agreed. “In the world today, and as it appears it will be, Israel is, if not fighting for its survival, certainly fighting people who will continue to attack it.”

Doesn’t the international failure to understand this constitute an existential danger, given the criticism and potential constraints on Israel’s room for maneuver when it resorts to these very costly military operations? Kemp said there was a strategic danger if international criticism became a profound economic problem for Israel. But he also thought the BDS campaign and some efforts by the EU to disrupt the economy had been “feeble” to date.

How did Kemp explain the international failure to understand what Israel is up against, I wondered. I cited British Labor opposition leader Ed Miliband’s harsh criticisms of Israel in recent days and President Barack Obama’s less than unconditional support as examples, while crediting British Prime Minister David Cameron for taking a more supportive position. But Kemp wasn’t even completely happy with Cameron. “Cameron said some good things, to an extent, but he also said that Israel needs to do more to reduce civilian casualties. Assuming he’s aware of how things are unfolding, that’s not a reasonable comment of an ally of Israel. The same goes for Obama (who expressed concern at the deaths of civilians), and for [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon’s use of the word ‘atrocious.’ All of that validates Hamas’s tactics and encourages Hamas to continue what it is doing,” he fumed. “It shows other jihadists that these tactics work — especially the use of human shields. If Miliband says ‘I can’t defend Israel,’ well, how would he fight terrorism? Our country Britain has been very lucky not to face the same thing. But these international jihadists learn from each other.”

The international response to Operation Protective Edge could have been worse, Kemp allowed. But Israel deserves full support for what is a “legal, lawful operation, [a case of] Israel defending itself,” he said. When that full support is not forthcoming, that encourages the extremists.

Lack of empathy for Israel in some quarters, certainly in Britain, Kemp posited, stems partly from a desire to avoid internalizing what is really going on. People are “self-indoctrinated with their own thinking” — their own inclinations to “compromise, reason and logic. They just can’t see how the situation really plays out,” he said.

In the UK, he added, there is also still a belief in high circles that Israel is at the root of all of the Middle East’s problems, even if that belief has been somewhat dented by reality. Also, he said, “people like Miliband see that supporting Israel, when most parts of the Muslim world oppose it, is going to be unpopular given the UK’s increasingly influential Muslim community. And there’s an element of appeasement: [Islamic extremists] have carried out attacks,” a reference to the July 7, 2005, London bombings — “and we’ve thwarted more. So [the thinking is], if we’re nice to Israel, [the extremists] will be nasty to us.” Kemp also cited electoral considerations — with British constituencies where Muslim voters can prove decisive — and the small matter of oil.

But what of Obama, president of Israel’s key ally? Kemp began apologetically: “It’s not an original thought, but obviously he wants to be a peacemaker, to lower the Middle East profile, to be a friend of the Arab world. Being seen to be too close to Israel undermines that.”

Increasingly depressed by this point, I said one of my concerns was that Israel, when facing amoral enemies, might have an increasingly hard time surviving without resorting to more brutal actions. He was adamant that Israel, in his judgment, is simply not prepared to act immorally. He spoke of Israeli pilots telling him that they’d aborted bombing runs time after time because of the danger of civilian casualties. That must be frustrating, he’d ventured. Quite the reverse, they told him. I’d rather do that time and again, one pilot had said, than have the opposite on my hands.

Kemp said he didn’t understand why the Western media doesn’t recognize this morality. “They go to Afghanistan and see the troops and feel respect, but they seem to believe Israeli soldiers are different. In my experience, Israeli soldiers, with their different accents and uniform, are very similar to the British soldiers in terms of their mentality, ethos and morality,” Kemp said. “In some cases, the individual morality of the Israeli soldiers is greater than the British.”

Maybe all our woes stem from the settlements, I suggested, playing devil’s advocate as our conversation came to its bitter end. “Some say that’s central. I say it’s marginal,” Kemp said. “The same people who are attacking Israel now were attacking Israel before there were any settlements. If the settlements were withdrawn, it would not markedly affect the problem. The only thing that would markedly affect the problem is if Israel — I should say the Jewish state — were to withdraw from the Middle East. Because that’s what Hamas wants. And in my view, that’s what Fatah wants as well.”

Bleak indeed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But utterly supportive. At least someone gets it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Israel vs. Hamas: A War Between Good and Evil. By Ben Caspit.

Tunnel intelligence failure a wake-up call for Israel. By Ben Caspit. Al-Monitor, July 24, 2014.


Apparently, there is no way to avoid the creation of a commission of inquiry once Operation Protective Edge is over. The commission will have to discuss what Israeli cabinet ministers are describing as a “resounding security failure.” Why didn’t Israel mark the threat posed by the Hamas tunnels as a strategic threat, as is now so obvious? Why didn’t it devote thought, effort, budgets and attention to this threat, just as it did to the rocket threat, which received an appropriate response in the form of the Iron Dome air-defense system?

The commission of inquiry will have to investigate three distinct tiers of questioning: Did the security forces have intelligence about the tunnels? If so, was it relayed to the political leadership? And if it was relayed, why didn’t the political leadership act accordingly? It should be remembered that had Hamas not rejected the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, Israel would not have discovered the scope of this threat, and Hamas would have continued digging and expanding its tunnel network, right until the moment it was deployed.

One senior Cabinet member I spoke with this week described that possibility to me: “Imagine," he said, “that we are in the middle of a conflict with Hezbollah up north. Our top-notch infantry brigades are up there, in the north, when suddenly Hamas deploys its network of dozens of tunnels all at once. Some 2,000 Hamas commandos suddenly burst out of them and embark on a killing spree, slaughtering thousands of people in the cities and towns across Israel’s south, from Sderot through Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim, maybe even all the way to Beersheba. Who would stop them? The police? The air force? It would take weeks to clean up the mess, and at the end of the entire process, we would find death and destruction across southern Israel. I know,” the minister continued, “that it sounds like a figment of the imagination, but based on what we are discovering these days, the scenario is far more realistic than it is imaginary. In this region, the reality easily exceeds anything we can imagine.”

What originally led to Israel’s ground assault in Gaza was the tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa from which 13 Hamas commandos emerged. They were seen coming out of the tunnel by scouts in an Israel Defense Forces observation post. Video of the ensuing battle, which took place that same morning, aired on all of Israel’s TV networks. The commandos can be seen coming out of the tunnel dressed in IDF uniforms, with all of the standard equipment, with body armor, camouflaged helmets and toques (knit caps) and an enormous amount of weapons. They crawled across the ground together, performing together rolls and rescue maneuvers, until, apparently, they suddenly heard the motor of one of the IDF’s unmanned aircraft or the ignition of a tank that was turned on in the sector by accident, and they raced and pushed themselves back into the tunnel. An IDF aircraft fired a few rockets, but not all of the commandos were hit.

The film footage shocked Israel. Suddenly, everybody realized how permeable Israel’s border wall along the Gaza Strip really is, how much we had been living for the past few years beside a barrel of gunpowder on the edge of a volcano. Even ministers Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, who did not support a ground incursion until that morning, withdrew their opposition, clearing the way for the operation to begin. At first, it was said that it would take three days to clean out the tunnels and destroy them. Now they are already talking about three weeks. This is not some effort to win time. It is an effort to win lives. Israel believed before that Hamas had three strategic tunnels. The current estimate is that there are 30, and perhaps a lot more.

As this piece is being written, an end to the ground operation in Gaza seems to lie far in the future. Efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring about an end to the fighting are not bearing any results. Hamas is not interested in a cease-fire. It is interested in prolonging the fighting, which is costing hundreds of residents of the Gaza Strip their lives, because the organization is well aware that this is the only way to break through the international blockade. It is the only way for Hamas to get past the dead end that it has reached as a result of its behavior over the past few years.

So they continue to fight. What helps them along is the realization that Israel will restrain itself and not dare “go all the way.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be a big talker, but he is somewhat less of a doer. He will not have the courage to sacrifice the necessary lives (about 200 soldiers according to one estimate) to conquer Gaza. He is worried about complications, he recoils from international pressure and he has difficulty making decisions. That is why what we have now is a paradoxical situation verging on the absurd: Israel is desperate for a cease-fire, and Hamas is thumbing its nose at it. The entire international community (except for Egypt) is desperate for a cease-fire, and Hamas is thumbing its nose up at it. The strongest, best equipped and most powerful army in the Middle East is completely submerged in Gaza, fighting a hopeless war against a guerilla army that is carefully concealed and camouflaged, well-trained and unwavering. But the outcome remains unresolved because Israel’s political leadership is afraid of any complications, afraid of casualties and afraid of international public opinion.

I write this as a journalist who is identified more with the Israeli left. Throughout my journalistic career, I supported, and continue to support, all of the peace plans, from Oslo to the Geneva agreement. In order to resolve this conflict, I am prepared to give up the occupied territories (with territorial swaps), East Jerusalem (although, like all Israelis, regardless of who they are, I will not agree to the return of the refugees to Israel), everything. I would do all that on the condition that there is someone with whom that peace agreement could be signed.

It seems to me that we are at the stage that the world is wising up to Hamas. Given the international community’s support for Israel, which was not taken for granted, it seems to me that the world has already internalized that this was a war between good and evil, between a culture of life and a cult of death. Hamas is the Islamic State, IS. Hamas is Jabhat al-Nusra. Hamas is Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. They are all products of the same school: the oppression of women, the expulsion of Christians, a war of annihilation against the Jews. Some of the aforementioned groups even slaughter Shiite Muslims, solely because they are not Sunnis. This is not some figment of the imagination. It is not a delusion. These are firm facts that any child can find on YouTube.

The facts are that even after the current conflict began, Israel agreed to a cease-fire and Hamas refused. It is piling up the people of Gaza as a defensive shield for the means of destruction that it is acquiring wholesale — and then complaining that Israel is killing civilians. On Wednesday, July 23, three young Israeli paratroopers were killed when they entered a booby-trapped house in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. The US Army would have flattened the house from the air. The Russian army would have flattened the entire town from the air. Let’s not even talk about what the Syrian army would have done, because that’s something of a sensitive issue these days. In contrast, the IDF informs civilians that it is coming by way of text messages and phone calls and even by firing warning shots. Hamas responds by firing rockets at a field hospital that Israel set up in Gaza, where Palestinian civilians were being treated.

No, I am not saying that Israel made no mistakes or that it has been free of errors. Not everybody in Israel wants peace. The behavior of Netanyahu, particularly in his dealings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, has been strongly criticized here by me and in many other places, too. He has been criticized severely, and he will continue to be criticized. But in this war we must not get confused. This is a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness

Progressive Jews, Wake Up. By Abraham H. Miller.

Progressive Jews, Wake Up. By Abraham H. Miller. National Review Online, July 25, 2014.


At pro-Hamas demonstrations in U.S cities in recent weeks, anti-Semitism rises up and is heard.

In the largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Chicago’s Petersen Park, residents last Saturday morning found anti-Semitic leaflets on their way to synagogue to observe the Sabbath. The leaflets threatened violence against the community unless Israel stopped the war with Gaza.

For those progressive Jews who have found solace in the myth that anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the events across the globe of the last few weeks have been a rude and discomforting awakening. And so they turned to their final recourse, the belief that America was different.

Sure, there was a pogrom at a synagogue in Paris, but, well, that’s Paris. Muslims and their neo-fascist and leftist allies might walk through the streets of Germany shouting anti-Jewish slogans reminiscent of the Hitler Youth, but, well, that’s Germany.

Then came the pro-Hamas demonstrations in Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago. 

In San Francisco, if not for the police, some 30 pro-Israel protesters would have been brutalized by over 300 people demonstrating on behalf of the genocidal Hamas terrorists.

Sounds of a vicious, leftist anti-Semitism associated with anti-Zionism have long been audible in American society, but Jewish-community leaders, cut from leftist cloth, refused to acknowledge them. I have to wonder if those Jews pushed back on the streets of San Francisco by frenzied haters recognized some of their opponents from joint ventures on gun control, gay and lesbian rights, reproductive rights, and interfaith dialogues. 

Those who believe in women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, and human rights have cast their lot with people whose culture violates the basic dignities of freedom. What explains that? Hatred!

Hatred is the great unifier. If you are going to hate anyone, hate Jews, because no one cares. When a naïve foreign-born student at the University of California, San Diego, put up a noose in the library, as a prank on her boyfriend, the administration called for a campus soul searching and held meetings, vigils, and teach-ins. Moved by the inadvertent crisis she caused, the student confessed. The administration, however, was unsatisfied and notified the FBI, calling for her to be charged with a hate crime, all for an act of naïveté.

But just months later, on the same campus, Jumanah Imad Albahri, a member of the Muslim Student Association, publicly proclaimed her support for killing Jews. The UCSD administration took no action.

Slight the voluble sensitivities of any group on an American campus and you’ll be condemned to sensitivity training and endless bureaucratic harassment. But propose to kill the Jews and you’ll find that the Constitution will be wrapped around you tighter than a piece of cling wrap.

The palpable anti-Semitism visible in recent demonstrations here in the United States has caused some of our progressive community leaders to come out strongly for Israel, but in so doing, they have to showcase their progressive credentials, as if it is necessary to say, take me seriously because I too am a progressive and I support Israel.

Forgive me if I am not awed by progressive credentials, especially knowing that these are the people who helped put this administration in office. Why did the Federal Aviation Administration cancel flights to Tel Aviv, when flights to Ukraine, where a passenger plane actually was downed, continue? Flights to Damascus and Baghdad, active war zones, were never canceled. Why was the Jew-hating, Islamist Turkish president Recep Erdogan once one of President Barack Obama’s most trusted allies in the Middle East? The questions answer themselves.

As for progressivism, gay marriage is not worth putting the lives of 6 million Jews in the hands of an incompetent, indifferent president, whose cultural affinity is with Islam. His Jewish associations in Chicago’s Hyde Park were with rabbis who believed peace was more likely if Israel was on the receiving end of condemnation.

Progressive Democrats do not support Israel in this existential struggle, but the Republicans do. The reality is that progressive Jews are going to have to decide whether they are progressives or Jews, because the term “progressive Jew” is increasingly becoming an oxymoron.

The modern anti-Semitism that now concerns our progressive leaders is an outgrowth of the Left. It was Marx who wrote the vile “On the Jewish Question.” Hitler recruited from elements at the margins of Germany’s economy. There is a reason he called his movement National Socialism and infused it with an ideology of workers’ rights. The distinguished political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset has shown how Hitler’s electoral surge came from the liberal elements of Germany.

Progressive rabbis will probably organize a call for peace, but that is precisely what Israel does not need. Israel needs to destroy the Hamas tunnels, some of which are under Israeli schools and residences. They form part of the command-and-control apparatus of the terrorists. No nation-state can live with rockets and missiles falling from the skies and explosive-laden tunnels underneath its schools.

As for our progressive Jewish communal leaders, I will believe their commitment to Israel when they go to the next interfaith-council meeting and publicly confront their fellow progressives about their boycott-divestment-sanctions hypocrisy. I will have renewed faith in our community-defense groups when they confront the double standards on campus that protect every group but Jews.

In the meantime, their failure to do so only means that, increasingly, American Jews will have to start behaving and thinking like French Jews, because the bigotry of Islam and its leftist allies does not end at Europe’s coast.

It’s Been a Pretty Good Century for the Zionists. By Edward N. Luttwak.

Why Obama, Kerry, Abbas, Hamas, BDS, and Hezbollah Will All Go Poof! By Edward N. Luttwak. The Tablet, July 10, 2014.


Bad newspaper headlines aside, it’s been a pretty good century for the Zionists.

In 1912, David Ben Gurion moved to Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, to study law at Istanbul University. The land of Israel had been under Ottoman rule for centuries, and the only way the Jews could grow their villages and towns, family by family, house by house, was to be accepted as loyal Ottoman subjects.

Two years later, when the World War broke out, Ben Gurion recruited 40 fellow Jews into a militia to serve the empire. Given the strategic situation, it was the only intelligent choice: The Ottoman Empire had persisted for centuries as its declining military strength was perfectly offset by increasing diplomatic support—by 1912, it was backed by both the British and the German empires, a double assurance of its long-term survival. That is why Ben Gurion was studying Turkish and the law, confident in the expectation that in 10 or 20 years he would master Ottoman political complexities to attain the rank and seniority of an ethnic leader for the thousands of Jews who were arriving each year.

But Ben Gurion’s strenuous efforts were wasted. Instead of enduring for several more centuries, in a mere six years the Ottoman Empire went poof! Just like that.

Many things changed in the ensuing confusion of World War I and its disordered aftermath—but not the determination of the Jews to return to their ancestral land to grow their villages and towns family by family, house by house. With the Ottoman Empire but a memory, from Sept. 29, 1923 on, it was the British who officially ruled the land.

Managing relations with the Ottomans had been fraught with complexities—aside from their ambivalence toward the immigration of Jews, even the language that Ben Gurion had to study was no mere street Turkish but the complicated Persian-Arabic-Turkic mixture of the official imperial language. With the British, however, matters were even more complicated. Instead of straightforward colonial rule, the British governed as the “Mandatory Power” under the League of Nations, forcing the handful of emerging Jewish leaders to contend with Foreign Office officials whose taste for intrigue was only exceeded by their distaste for Jews, while also trying to fend off other League of Nations powers. The French acquired a Mandate of their own over neighboring Syria, from which they soon carved out what is now Lebanon, but they also demanded privileges in Jerusalem especially, and were anything but sympathetic to Jewish settlement. The Italians were much nicer of course but to no avail after 1926, when Mussolini ended the quarrel between king and pope, and Italian officials started to serve the Vatican, whose prelates viewed the return of the Jews with outright alarm, as if it undermined the very legitimacy of their own church, which in a way it did. The alliance between Arab rejectionists—violent ones definitely included—and the Franciscan “custodians” who represented Vatican interests started already then, generating another layer of complexity that the Jewish leaders had to deal with.

In order to be able to grow Jewish villages and towns, family by family, house by house, the Jewish communal leaders—themselves still callow youngsters—had to outmaneuver highly experienced British officials, sophisticated European diplomats, and especially relentless prelates. Given all this, Ben Gurion’s 20-year timetable to understand and overcome Ottoman imperial complexities was definitely optimistic when it came to the Mandate. But just when he and his colleagues had finally learned how to avoid its traps, on May 15, 1948, British rule went poof!

By then, the newly minted Israeli state was engulfed in war, not least with the British-officered Arab Legion. And in spite of President Harry S. Truman’s instant recognition, Israel was also at war with the U.S. Department of State, for its officials were relentless in denying arms and ammunition to the beleaguered Jewish forces who were fighting on five fronts. At the time, there were huge unwanted inventories of armored vehicles, artillery, personal weapons, and combat aircraft in U.S. military depots across Europe and the world. But the same officials who had gone to inordinate lengths to deny immigration visas to Jews desperate to escape the Nazis were equally assiduous in denying any military supplies whatever to Israel, on the poisonous theory that more weapons would only add to the fighting and the suffering—blithely ignoring the resulting imbalance with Arab military forces already equipped. Moreover, in an excess of zeal, the U.S. State Department used the United States’ then-overwhelming influence to persuade other countries as well to deny weapons to the Jews. The fledgling CIA joined the British Secret Intelligence Service in trying to intercept pathetic shipments of ancient cannons from Mexico, worn-out rifles from Italy, and others such purchased by desperate envoys. In the end, it was only by Stalin’s will, for his own anti-British ends, that the Jews were able to buy in Czechoslovakia the vast majority of the weapons with which they won the war, thereby being able to keep growing their villages and towns and cities family by family, house by house.

U.S. policy toward Israel did not change even after the fighting ended in 1949—indeed the sale of Canadian-made F-86 jet fighters to the Israeli air force was prohibited as late as 1956. But by then Israel had found an all-round ally in France, so that its originally Polish-and Russian-speaking leaders who had taught themselves Hebrew, who had once striven to study Ottoman Turkish before having to learn Mandatory English instead, now found themselves struggling to learn French. They also had to understand the peculiar but far more important complexities of French foreign and defense policies, which were entirely incompatible: French diplomats wanted to woo the Arabs by opposing Israel, while French soldiers wanted to defeat the Arabs by befriending Israel. Given Israeli dependence on shipments of French jet fighters and much else, Ben Gurion and his juniors, notably Shimon Peres (still hard at work 60 years later!), made every effort to immerse themselves in French politics, while reserving their principal energies to grow Israel’s villages and towns and cities family by family, house by house.

It was not until 1967, which witnessed the splendid performance of French Mirage fighter-bombers in what became known as the Six Day War, that Israel’s leaders finally became confident in their much-valued alliance with France. But in the May 1967 prewar crisis Charles De Gaulle replied with a sinister threat when asked for his support, and in his infamous press conference of Nov. 27, 1967 contrived to both compliment and damn  the Jews—“a self-assured elite people and domineering”— and Israel, “which had started a war on a pretext,” i.e., the Egyptian army massed in Sinai. With that an exceptionally broad, exceptionally close alliance abruptly and entirely unexpectedly went poof!

By then Israel faced a new and most formidable strategic opponent in the Soviet Union. Reacting to the humiliation inflicted on their Arab allies and by extension on Soviet weapons and Soviet military craft, the rulers of the world’s largest state decided to direct their power against one of the smallest. So, they cut diplomatic relations with Israel and forced their Warsaw Pact allies to do the same. (Romania’s refusal was its declaration of independence.) They unleashed the then still very influential Communist and “fellow traveler” propaganda networks to demonize Israel and Zionism and sent weapons and trainers to Egypt, Syria, and Iraq in wholly unprecedented numbers: armored vehicles by the thousand, jet fighters by the hundreds, along with all manner of military supplies and thousands of instructors.

All this inflicted much damage on Israel. Instead of being able to reduce military spending in the aftermath of its great victories of June 1967, Israel had to double spending to ruinous levels to try to offset the Soviet-supplied growth of Arab military forces. At the same time, Moscow-directed propaganda turned much of European and Latin American opinion against Israel, increasing its political isolation, which was further compounded when the French betrayal was not offset by American support. As of June 1967, the United States had not delivered a single combat aircraft, armored vehicle, or war vessel to Israel. (In June 1966, though, after years of entreaties, 48 A-4s, the smallest and least advanced U.S. combat aircraft, were promised—but they would not arrive until 1968.)

In the wake of its historic June 1967 victory, therefore, Israel found itself facing the total hostility of both the Soviet bloc with its sympathizers world-wide, and the Islamic bloc with its camp followers. The Chinese and Indians were also unfriendly. It was 3 billion against not quite 3 million.

But Israel’s leaders and citizens were not intimidated by 1,000-to-1 ratios and were not lacking in tenacity—they continued to grow Israel’s villages, towns and cities family by family, house by house—within the 1967 lines, and beyond them, too.

Their serene confidence was soon justified. Faced with the massive Soviet military investment in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, even the U.S. State Department (if not the CIA, hostile till now) came to accept that American national interests mandated counterveiling support for Israel in order to deny a strategic victory to the Soviet Union. It took time for U.S. military supplies to arrive, but arrive they did, increasing over time in quantity and quality, albeit in fits and starts as bureaucratic opposition persisted.

Moreover, the smashing victory of June 1967 had other positive consequences for Israel’s global position. Though mostly invisible at the time, they were in part significantly helpful, and in part not less than utterly momentous. In the former category was the growth of military-industrial trade with ambitious players who were properly impressed by Israel’s war-winning talents. Among them, the Shah of Iran had the deepest purse, the longest shopping list, and a particular willingness to invest in co-development; that allowed Israel to produce weapons that the United States would not supply. The Israeli alliance with the Shah was always problematic and hardly central—Israel’s leaders were not under pressure to learn Persian (though it was spoken with classical over-perfection by Foreign Minister Abba Eban), yet it absorbed much well-rewarded efforts, until it went poof! in 1979 with the shah’s overthrow by the ayatollahs.


By then, the other and even less visible consequence of the 1967 victory had become visible. For many American Jews previously untouched by Zionist passion, now was the time to join a winning team; for the Jews of the Soviet Union Israel’s victory awakened the will to liberate themselves from fear, to demand the right to emigrate in order to live as Jews. Of the 80-odd nationalities of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Jews were the most vulnerable simply because they were the most dispersed—that, in addition to officially despised, unofficially promoted anti-Semitism. Yet it was the Jews and not tens of millions of Ukrainians or Uzbeks who stood in Red Square right in front of the Kremlin to demand the right to emigrate. When they were swiftly arrested, the authorities were no doubt sure that it was the end of the madness. But it was only the beginning, in a movement that kept growing despite persecution, prosecution, and imprisonment.

In the meantime, Israel was trying to cope with Soviet power by every means possible, including the famous July 30, 1970, episode of direct combat, in which the best fighter-pilots on each side fought it out over Egypt, with five jets shot down, none of them Israeli. Again, Israel’s resistance to Soviet intimidation had other consequences, including the encouragement of other kinds of courage. Communist intellectual hegemony—by then an anti-Zionist hegemony—in France, Italy, and beyond was breached by the “new philosophers,” Jean-Marie Benoist, Pascal Bruckner, André Glucksman, Alain Finkielkraut, Bernard-Henri Lévy —a fact that was hardly noticed at the time but would soon help to dismantle the entire Soviet support system among intellectual “fellow-travelers” that had once operated globally, lately against Israel (e.g., to secure a prestigious New York publication for the Stalinist hack Maxime Rodinson). That of the “new philosophers” several of the most prominent were Jews was no doubt a mere coincidence, as was the post-1967 timing of their intellectual revolt. Yes or no, it too was a factor in the collapse of Soviet ideology and Communist Party morale that would transform Israel’s external environment when the USSR and the entire Soviet bloc went poof!

One immediate consequence of Gorbachev’s liberalization that preceded the final collapse was that the growth of Israel’s villages, towns and cities, family by family, house by house, hugely accelerated as ex-Soviet Jews arrived from Alma Ata, Zlatoust, and hundreds of places in between, inaugurating a statistical miracle: Jews kept leaving the former Soviet lands but the number that remained in their Jewish communities did not decline anywhere near in proportion, as more and more ex-disaffiliated Jews and newly affiliated semi-Jews kept joining up, in a process that continues still.

Back in the 1980s, when it was not yet known that the Soviet Union would collapse, Israel still faced the elemental military threat of much more populous Arab states with very large standing armies, notably Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. When it came to air power, Arab numbers mattered less because of the phenomenal advantage of Israeli piloting and air command skills, but in ground combat there are no 60-to-zero kill ratios, and even if 100 battle tanks can resist 1,000 (it happened on the Golan Heights Oct. 6-9, 1973) they could not resist 3,000. The Israelis therefore had to make an extraordinary effort to man and equip as many armored divisions as the U.S. Army (!), to be able to contain a simultaneous Egyptian and Syrian offensive while guarding the Jordanian front. Even that was not enough to cope with the Iraqi army as well, whose oil-fueled growth accelerated after 1973. Two Iraqi armored divisions with 30,000 men and hundreds of tanks had arrived during the October War just when the Israelis with a supreme effort had repelled the Syrian offensive to attack in turn—and poorly handled as they were, those fresh Iraqi forces almost tipped the balance. Iraq’s military growth therefore loomed very large in Israeli war planning, in which the “eastern front” of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq had become more dangerous than the “southern front” with Egypt, even before the peace treaty of March 1979.

But that reality also turned out to be an evanescent, because just when Iraqi military strength was reaching really dangerous levels, the fall of the Shah ignited the tensions that would send the Iraqi army east instead of west—to invade Iran in September 1980. That started a truly bloody war that would last until 1988, exhausting Iraq’s armed forces even before they went poof! in the 1991 contest with the United States and its Gulf War allies. Thus the fall of the Shah, which had cost Israel an important quasi-ally, ultimately brought down Israel’s most dangerous enemy, whose strength could have tipped the balance in a repeat of the 1973 war—still the most probable threat scenario right up until the outbreak of civil war, when Syria itself went poof!

But of course the fall of the Shah also brought into existence the present Iranian threat, whose expressions range from the nuclear and ballistic-missile programs on which the Islamic Republic of Iran has spent many billions of dollars since 1985, to the funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon and of “Islamic Jihad” in the Gaza Strip, as well as the support of Nouri Hasan al-Maliki’s intolerant Shia rule in Iraq, and Assad’s rule in Syria.

Each of these dire manifestations of the Iranian threat will have its own fate of course, though it is already clear that Hezbollah will not go poof! because it is deflating with a peeeeeeef…as it over-extends in fighting vastly superior numbers of Sunnis across Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. The contention that all Arabs would rally to its cause if only it starts launching missiles and rockets against Israel was a fair calculation in the past, but would be pure delusion today, when Hezbollah membership is a capital offense in Sunni eyes; and the Israeli response might not be as gentle as it was in 2006, now that the number and quality of Hezbollah projectiles demands an all-out ground offensive. Nor can it be known if Iran’s regime will also go poof! on its own or if it will require outside action, even though at this particular time President Obama’s categorical promise to end Iran’s nuclear-weapon efforts by diplomacy or by air attack is not universally deemed to be entirely credible.

In the meantime, however, other and greater things had changed in the world. From 1978, as China started to emerge from the smelly misery of late Mao rule (in those days Beijing had hand-pulled “night soil” carts instead of sewers), its earliest military purchases were from Israel, which could best upgrade China’s Soviet-pattern tanks as it had upgraded its own captured Soviet tanks. Long before the advent of formal diplomatic relations in 1992, China’s rulers had replaced the pre-1976 nullity with a widening range of trade and cooperative ventures that were only limited years later by U.S.-imposed prohibitions on military sales. These restrictions did not apply to Israel’s relations with India, which extend from the mass tourism of post-army backpackers and all manner of commerce—Mumbay’s Hindu merchants now include Yiddish-speaking diamond traders—to joint projects in the most sensitive of military spheres. In some cases, moreover, Israel is engaged in tri-lateral ventures with Russia as well, as in one of the most ambitious of all Israeli military ventures, the Phalcon radar and command aircraft, which is an Ilyushin-76 in the version sold to India. That in turn is a very small part of the full range of Israeli-Russian and ex-Soviet area relations, whose significance is perhaps best summarized by the abundance of non-stop flights from Tel Aviv to Russian and ex-Soviet airports, 39 of them at present, as opposed to the 5 non-stop flights to U.S. airports (albeit with much larger aircraft).

All of the above are merely disjointed reflections of a veritable transformation of Israel’s position in a transformed world. After 1967, when the U.S. State Department and U.S. Joint Chiefs, compelled by the Soviet engagement with Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, reluctantly accepted the necessity of supplying and supporting Israel, their spokesmen missed no occasion to remind Israeli diplomats and soldiers that they were entirely dependent on the United States, for it alone stood between Israel and complete isolation. That was true enough, because in those years China, India, and the entire Soviet bloc were aligned with the Islamic countries, while even the two key U.S. allies, the United Kingdom and Japan, went out of their way to minimize relations with Israel. Now the situation has been almost entirely reversed across the globe, so much so that even among the Islamic countries only Iran and a few of the most lethargic and peripheral still refuse all dealings with Israel.

Looking back on the vast, abrupt, unpredicted, and amazingly rapid transformations of the world in which the Zionist project advanced over the last 100 years, it is perfectly evident that the importance of “geopolitical realities” and “Great Power Politics,” and of the political preferences and Middle East priorities of the mighty of the earth—sultans, emperors, prime ministers, presidents, and Popes—were all of them very greatly overrated, at every remove, when compared to the growth of Israel’s villages, towns and cities, family by family, house by house.