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.