Preemption or Destruction: Which Should Israel Choose?
By Bernard J. Shapiro
Israel has been swept with Arab violence and terrorism since the late 19th century. Israeli Prime Ministers have tried but failed to stem the tide. Ariel Sharon, well know for his tough tactics in quelling terrorism in Gaza in the 70's, has also failed.
Back in 1965, in a small meeting room in Tel Aviv, former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan gave a pep talk to a group of RAFI (Rishimat Poalai Israel) volunteers, myself included. At that time, RAFI, a breakaway faction of the Mapai Party, included such notables as former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and former Defense Minister Shimon Peres. Peres and Dayan had been considered the "hawks" of Mapai and it was no accident that in the 1965 election they supported a strong defense and security policy.
Dayan was always interesting to listen to, but this talk was something special and we paid attention to every word. "The essence of Israel's security in this region (Middle East) is deterrence," he said. "When we formed the State in 1948-9, we were very weak. The Arab States had planes, tanks, heavy artillery and many more soldiers than us.
We had very little heavy military equipment. In the period 1949-55, we absorbed almost a million immigrants. Tent cities sprung up all over the country. We were totally disorganized. Had the Arabs mounted another major invasion, we could have lost. We devised a solution to this problem. It was deterrence. Think about being lost in a forest and surrounded by hostile animals. If you light a torch, boldly approach them showing no fear -- they will retreat. But, if you show fear -- they will attack and you are lost. We used this principle to save Israel during those early years. Every time we were attacked, we retaliated ten fold. We showed daring and penetrated deep within their borders to attack our targets. We were fearless, brave, and even a bit bloodthirsty. You know the result. The Arabs were afraid and never attacked. Deterrence worked. By 1956 when we invaded Sinai, the Israel Defense Force was not just strong, it was invincible."
The story above was not told just for nostalgia. The lesson is extremely important for the survival of Israel today. Unfortunately Israelis are daily witnessing the consequences of seven years of declining deterrence vis a vis its Arab population. In 1987, the intifada presented Israel with a new challenge. It was a new kind of war, but with the same aim of driving the Israelis out of their country. The Israelis fought the intifada with many handicaps, not the least of which were their own rules of conduct. Israeli soldiers failed to cope with attacks by teenage Arab boys. In the course of several years, the Arabs learned that the soldiers would not aggressively retaliate for their attacks. They became emboldened.
The Jews living in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza showed great fortitude, enduring thousands of attacks and still tripling their numbers. The serious security failure developed as Arabs became accustomed to attacking Jews and Israeli soldiers. By trying to remain humane in the face of massive attacks, Israel emboldened the Arabs to more and more attacks. Throwing concrete boulders, Molotov cocktails, and then using firearms at Israelis became the norm of behavior among the Arabs. The Israeli government allowed its citizens to be attacked solely because they were Jews. In no other country of the world would such a policy be tolerated. Just two weeks ago a reserve officer of the Israel Defense Forces made a wrong turn and ended up in the center of Ramallah, a Arab city. He was immediately attacked by a vicious mob of Arabs, murder in their eyes, who almost beat him to death. Deterrence had vanished.
While the Jews may not have been afraid like the man in the forest, the affect of multiple restrictions on the Israeli right of self defense had the same result. That result was to increase the bloodlust of the Arab population and to multiply the Jewish casualties.
In 1991, the Persian Gulf War, with its SCUD attacks on Israel, further undermined Israeli deterrence. Having to depend on United States Forces instead of her own had a deleterious effect on Israeli self-confidence. It is notable that the Arab population of Judea and Samaria danced on their on their roofs and cried, "Gas the Jews" as the SCUD's headed for Tel Aviv. The self-assurance of the Israelis also declined immensely as a result of their cowering in sealed rooms during the missile attacks.
After the Gulf War, Shimon Peres and his associates began to search for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that did not require deterrence. The answer, Peres thought, was to be found in the growing influence of the extreme left (Meretz Party) in Israeli's ruling Labor elite. For many years, the left in Israel and its supporters in America have promoted the doctrine of "Israeli guilt" for the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict.
The leftists accepted the Arab propaganda version of Middle Eastern history and see their role as making amends for alleged "wrongs" committed against the Palestinian Arabs. When the Labor Party formed a coalition with Meretz, it was assumed that Meretz would be the junior partner. What we have witnessed is the virtual infusion of extreme left-wing philosophy into the body of Labor.
Peres took this "Israeli or Jewish guilt" and developed it into a "peace" policy based on rectifying "wrongs" committed against the Palestinian Arabs. The leftists saw the most serious "wrong" as being the occupation itself. Jewish rule over a minority of Arabs was considered so immoral, in and of itself, as to cause a destructive decline in Israeli democracy and public morality. The details of maintaining the occupation, like reserve duty in Gaza, were said to cause everything from violence in the home to reckless driving.
Divorcing Israel from the territories was seen as a goal for Israel and not just a victory for the Arabs.
I describe the Peres "peace" policy as the "dhimmization of Israel." It was based on virtually giving the Arabs everything they wanted: a PLO state in most of the territories, control of land and water, return of refugees, and a shared status for Jerusalem. His belief was that by Israeli actions and concessions, he could terminate Arab hostility to Israel. Peres exhibited the fallacy of believing that anti-Semitism is caused by the "bad behavior" of Jews. He failed to understand that there are major forces of religion, history and psychology in the one billion strong Islamic world that can not be manipulated by anything that Israel does.
Would the Holocaust have been prevented if the Jews of Europe had been "nicer" to the Nazis? By shrinking Israel to a size that was non-threatening to the Arabs, Peres hoped to achieve for Israel the status of a dhimmis-nation in the Islamic world. Dhimmis status, you will recall, is the inferior third-class status afforded Jews in Arab countries throughout the centuries.
Now Prime Minister Barak was willing to give the Golan Heights to Syria despite the full knowledge that this would weaken Israel and make it more vulnerable to attack. The concurrent loss of one third of Israel's water resources would further weaken Israel. What is hard for rational Jews and Israelis to understand is that weakening Israel is precisely the purpose of the 'peace process.'
Israel, with its powerful military and independent citizens, had always been an affront to Moslems everywhere.
Therefore, Jews should be made subservient, weak and dependent on the approval of their Moslem overlords. Peres understood that Israel in its present borders was too strong to be destroyed. He also understood that the Arabs were offended that they could not destroy Israel within its defensible borders. The Peres solution seems to involve making Israel weak, creating a PLO state, and even groveling before Arab rulers. Such an emasculated dhimmis-likeIsrael, would now win the approval of the Islamic world. He would call it "peace." Some would call it appeasement. Some would cheer. Some would protest. Freeman Center members (and real Zionists) see the Peres/Barak/PLO/Syria plan as a nightmare and pray that Israel's leaders will come to their senses and return to a policy of deterrence, security and defense of Israeli interests.
The Bottom Line
Israel must preempt the threats described in the article below and NOT ACCEPT A FIRST STRIKE AS INEVITABLE. Survival depends on it. Ein Brera.
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Bernard J. Shapiro is executive director of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies
www.freeman.org and editor of its monthly Internet magazine, The Maccabean Online, the Freemanlist, and the Freeman Blog.
Israel Braces For The Iranian Rain Of Fire
November 5, 2010: The head of Israeli military intelligence warned his political superiors that the next major war Israel encountered would likely result in much higher Israeli casualties, especially to civilians. There is also growing concern about Russia selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria, which could pass them on to Iran.
All this could be traced back to preparations Iran has been making for over a decade. Using their oil wealth, and weapons smuggling network, Iran has armed Syria, Hezbollah (the Shia militia in southern Lebanon) and Hamas (the Palestinian terrorist group that runs Gaza) with over 50,000 rockets, plus numerous other weapons. Most of the rockets are short range (about 10 kilometers), but several thousand have a much longer reach, and can hit targets throughout Israel.
The Iranian master plan is for Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran to simultaneously fire as many missiles and rockets into Israel as they can. Even if there are no ground forces to follow up such an attack, the casualties (civilian and military) in Israel would be seen as a great Islamic victory, and would demoralize the Israelis. While Israeli defensive moves could do great damage to Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, Iran considers it a reasonable plan. Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas are not so sure, but Iran already has all the rockets and missiles in place.
Israeli military planners have seen this coming. Over the last three years, Israel has been revising its civil defense plans, and how to deal with the growing arsenal of rockets and ballistic missiles aimed at it. The latest change is the announcement that the military is dispersing its stocks of supplies, equipment and spare parts to a larger number of (better protected) locations.
The basic defense plan assumes a future war with Syria, and gives the local officials an idea of what to expect. Currently, the Israelis estimate that there would be as many as 3,300 Israeli casualties (including up to 200 dead) if Syria tried to use its long range missiles against Israel. If the Syrians used chemical warheads, Israeli casualties could be as high as 16,000. Over 200,000 Israelis would be left homeless, and it's believed about a 100,000 would seek to leave the country.
Israel now assumes that Iran would also fire some of its ballistic missiles as well, armed with conventional warheads. But the big danger is Syria, which is a client state of Iran. Syria has underground storage and launch facilities for its arsenal of over a thousand SCUD missiles. Armed with half ton high explosive and cluster bomb warheads, the missiles have ranges of 500-700 kilometers. Syria also has some 90 older Russian Frog-7 missiles (70 kilometer range, half ton warhead) and 210 more modern Russian SS-21 missiles (120 kilometer range, half ton warhead) operating with mobile launchers.
There are also 60 mobile SCUD launchers. The Syrians have a large network of camouflaged launching sites for the mobile launchers. Iran and North Korea have helped Syria build underground SCUD manufacturing and maintenance facilities. The Syrian missiles are meant to hit Israeli airfields, missile launching sites and nuclear weapons sites, as well as population centers. Syria hopes to do enough damage with a missile strike to cripple Israeli combat capability.
Israel has long been aware of the Syrian capabilities and any war with Syria would probably result in some interesting attacks on the Syrian missile network. The SCUD is a liquid fuel missile and takes half an hour or more to fuel and ready for launch. So underground facilities are a major defensive measure against an alert and astute opponent like Israel.
But Syria has been adding a lot of solid fuel ballistic missiles to its inventory, and recently transferred some of these to Hezbollah, in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Syria would likely coordinate an attack on Israel. Hamas, in Gaza, is a semi-client of Iran, and might be persuaded to join in as well.
No unclassified government planning documents have discussed what Israel would do in response to such an attack, but in the past, Israel has threatened to use nukes against anyone who fired chemical weapons at Israel (which does not have any chemical weapons). But current plans appear to try and keep it non-nuclear for as long as possible.