Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Not to Deter Hamas (and Iran)

November 28, 2012


By Jonathan F. Keiler

According to Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, the first purpose of in launching Pillar of Defense, the country's most recent Gaza campaign, was "to strengthen our deterrence." Now that the operation has concluded, there appears to be little confidence in Israel, at least outside of the Netanyahu government troika that negotiated a cease-fire agreement with Hamas, that Pillar of Defense will deter Hamas from much of anything. And looking on is Iran. If Israel can't deter a thuggish terror outfit like Hamas, how is it going deter its larger and infinitely more dangerous sponsor, Iran? One thing is certain, Israel will never, and has never deterred its enemies by launching operations in which the stated goal is deterrence.
It is not that Israel's enemies cannot be deterred. Despite the unending enmity and hatred of the three major Muslim Arab states that directly border it (Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) Israel has, since 1948, emerged as a relatively secure and powerful regional state, increased its population ten-fold, and given its population a standard of living that rivals the most prosperous Western states, and absolutely shames those Arab states in practically every meaningful category of economic success, military power, freedom, and just, effective governance. Egypt, its most powerful enemy, concluded a formal peace agreement three decades ago. Jordan followed suit twenty years ago. Syria, which remains implacable, has nonetheless maintained a truce for nearly 40 years.
But these successes were not won by Israel's pursuit of deterrence. Rather they were the result of four bloody full-scale wars waged between 1948 and 1973. In those conflicts, Israel did not fight to deter its enemies but to defend its borders, seize territory from which the Arabs launched attacks, and destroy Arab armies.
Arab nations were not deterred from war by any deliberate Israeli policy of deterrence but by traditional wars, waged with traditional objectives. Deterrence was just a salutary side effect of actual repeated military success.
Beginning in the late 1970s, facing nontraditional, nonstate enemies, Israel began waging wars of deterrence with much less success. In 1978 and again in 1982 Israel went into Lebanon with the stated purposes of driving back PLO terrorists (and Syrian anti-aircraft batteries), deterring further attacks, and securing Israel's northern border, rather than defeating or annihilating its enemies. The result was that even when the Israelis secured military successes (as at the outset of the 1982 campaign) they were unable to translate them into tangible long-term deterrence. Because neither the IDF nor the Israeli public had been prepared for a war of annihilation against the PLO, the Israeli leadership hesitated at critical junctures, allowing the PLO to escape, and turning early military successes into perceived failures.
Israel persisted in this inconclusive policy against Hezbollah, which replaced the PLO on Israel's northern border. In 1993 (Operation Accountability) and 1995 (Operation Grapes of Wrath) Israel launched standoff air and artillery attacks against Hezbollah without success, but engendering international disapproval when civilian human shields were killed. In 2000, Israel gave up against Hezbollah and pulled out of Lebanon.
This led to the 2006 War against Hezbollah, which though widely perceived as an Israeli defeat, nonetheless has produced a quiet northern border for the past six years. The Israelis made many mistakes during the 2006 campaign, first among them, approaching it from the outset as an operation to retaliate for a Hezbollah attack and compel the Lebanese government to rein in and control the organization. But a few days into the campaign, when it appeared that Hezbollah was not being deterred and that the Lebanese government was unable or unwilling to act, Israel appeared to change its rhetorical tune, with Israeli officers and ministers speaking of destroying Hezbollah -- a traditional military objective.
The true objectives of Israel's 2006 operation are unclear and subject to debate even to this day. It's not certain that Israel's leaders ever had a firm idea of what they wanted to do. However, once Israel reoriented the mission, or mission rhetoric, to destroying Hezbollah, or at least its organization in Southern Lebanon (in fact the new operation was dubbed "Change of Direction"), it seems to have had long-term deterrent effect (although this was not necessarily apparent at the time or shortly thereafter). Like Hamas, Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel until the end of the war, but they have not fired any rockets since.
Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah or even most of its infrastructure in South Lebanon, which allowed Hezbollah to declare "victory" in the war. Despite this, Hezbollah was apparently been deterred. Had Israel escalated more, attacked Syrian supply routes, and pressed the attack further, the results would have likely been better. Still, the Lebanese border has remained quiet for six years now, a nearly unprecedented period in Israel's entire history. Hezbollah's loquacious leader Hassan Nasrallah is judged the ultimate intensity of the Israeli response and has since gone to ground, rarely emerging. The war was a defeat for Nasrallah too.
Still, the IDF's overall performance in the 2006 War was disturbing enough that Israel established the Winograd Commission to investigate the reasons for the campaign's shortcomings, and recommend reforms. One of the commission's findings was that "standoff fires," like the air and artillery strikes that solely comprised Pillar of Defense, were an ineffective tactic for stopping or deterring rocket fire.
When Israel launched Operation Cast Lead four years ago, it combined standoff fires and a ground attack with great success. Indeed, Israel might have easily destroyed Hamas had it pressed its attack for a few more days. Its failure to do so convinced Hamas that Israel lacked the will to destroy it, and Hamas quickly returned to its policy of intermittent rocket fire which finally provoked Pillar of Defense. There is no reason to assume that such a standoff operation, which was castigated by the Winograd Commission, will work to deter Hamas today. Indeed, the reason Hamas launched a dozen missiles right after the "cease-fire" went into effect, was to make just that point.
The only way to deter a radical Islamist organization like Hamas or Hezbollah is to destroy it -- or at least try. Hamas, Hezbollah, or Iran will not be deterred by military operations whose stated purpose is to deter. They are not deterred by conventional considerations like casualties, damage, or civilian loss. To win, all they must do is launch one more attack.
A nuclear armed Iran (which seems likely) must be deterred from launching its own attack. Iran will certainly not be deterred if it believes that Israel will hesitate to launch an annihilating attack in return. For Israel, the stakes of letting Hamas fight on another day are greater than whether that organization will be able to launch missiles in the future. It is the message Israeli restraint sends to its most potent enemies.
Since 2006 Hezbollah has rearmed, and in the interim, the deterrent effect of the 2006 campaign will have eroded. Hezbollah and its patron Iran have certainly closely watched Israel's operation in Gaza, and to the extent they perceive a lack of resolve, will test Israel again. Which is all the more reason why Israel's early termination of Pillar of Defense may well come back to haunt it.
Jonathan Keiler's novel of the Holocaust, Upfall, is available for sale at and other online outlets.

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The Noose Around Israel's Neck - by Daniel Greenfield

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Noose Around Israel's Neck

Israel is being hanged on a public gallows erected on the grounds of the United Nations with yards of rope gleefully supplied by the Muslim world. But the hangmen are mostly Westerners who still think that the Muslim lynch mob at their doorstep can be pacified with the death of a single victim.

There are three things you can do when you are about to be hanged. You can walk proudly, recite a glorious line or two to embed your martyrdom in historical memory, and then allow yourself to be hanged. Jews have an extensive body of experience with that brand of martyrdom.

Alternatively you can plead your case all the way to the gallows, arguing that a mistake has been made, that your case has been improperly reviewed, begging for someone to listen and do something. This way also ends in a hanging. But it's the hanging of a slave without even a shred of dignity attached to it. A man that dies pleading with his murderers, and puts his fate in the honesty of the liars and hypocrites whose own crimes makes the worst of his look like virtues, is a craven fool.

Because there is really only one thing you can do when the noose is being placed around your neck. Resist. A noose works by tightening around your neck and cutting off your air or breaking your neck. If you resist the tightening of the noose, you may actually survive. On the other hand if you follow through all the procedures, if you allow your hands to be tied behind your back, and the noose to be fastened around your neck while trusting in the system to do right by you-- your death is inevitable.

For seventeen years Israel has been walking toward the gallows. Its leaders have led it there by the nose ring of international assurances. Its people have been led there by refusing to see what is waiting ahead for them, even while the blood was being cleaned off the streets. Every attempt to reach a peaceful solution, every concession and show of good faith, has only tightened the bonds around its hands and the noose around its neck.

That is because every concession Israel has made, has further restricted not only its ability to defend itself, but even its ability to do basic things such as build residential housing in the capital of its own nation. Every gesture and agreement Israel has signed has bound it to ever more restrictive terms. And none of them have brought any peace. All they have ever done is set the bar higher for the next round of concessions demanded by the enemy and its aiders and abettors in the next phase of negotiations.

This is not a peace process, and it has never been one. It is a public lynching. It is the lynching of a country whose only real crime is that its existence offends the religious fanaticism and prejudices of a billion Muslims, who control much of the world's oil, and whose followers are willing to riot and kill in the streets of nearly every major city in the world at the slightest offense.

The lynching began as a trial where the murderer wore a fine suit and his victim sat in an orange jumpsuit in the dock. Every day during the trial, the murderer would be allowed to leave the courtroom to kill again. And every afternoon he would return to the courtroom with bloody hands that the judge and jurors would pretend not to see. And if the victim dared to call attention to those bloody hands, he would be silenced and told that those murders too were his fault. Hadn't he after all provoked the murderer into committing them?

Now the trial is coming to a close. The farce that the proceedings ever had anything to do with peace is unraveling. And we can thank Hamas and Obamafor that. The endgame is all too clear. The undoing of that "mistake" which allowed the oldest and most persecuted minority in the Middle East to briefly reclaim their homeland from the tyranny of Muslim Caliphs and Sultans. To serve as a homeland for their persecuted brethren from the east and the west. From the south and the north. That mistake.

Every time Israel tries to be accommodating, it instead takes a step closer to the gallows. It allows the noose to be tightened around its neck. And every time that happens, it has to fight harder for air. Eventually if things keep going this way, there will be no air at all. Only a sad forlorn figure swinging in the hot eastern wind from the desert. And cries of Ibtach al Yahood among the rubble of cities and gardens of Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ariel.

Israel cannot survive by accommodating a lynch mob. Only by having the courage to defy it. When the international community at the behest of the Muslim lynch mob dictates the parameters of Israel's survival, it must expand those parameters by pushing through them to the other side. If they want to recognize terrorists, then kill those terrorists. If they want to unilaterally create a Palestinian state, then annex those territories. Accommodation is a noose. Defiance is the air of freedom. Every time Israel retreats, it is condemned for it. When it advances, it is condemned for it also, but its freedom of action expands.

The world will always condemn Israel regardless of its intentions. But like any form of name-calling, those condemnations only gain power when Israel allows its actions to be dictated by them. Israel is not condemned because of what Israel does. It is condemned because of a diseased pattern of Islamic bigotry, left wing radicalism and international dhimmism converging in one place. This is a pattern of hate that cannot be undone. It can only be ignored.

When you listen to the threats and taunts of those who hate you, you give them power over yourself. If you try to accommodate your behavior to gain their favor, their outpouring of hate for you will only grow. For it is not your behavior they hate, it is you. By showing weakness, you invite attack. By giving your enemies power over you, all that you accomplish is to drive them into a feeding frenzy at your vulnerability. If you go on this way, you will either be a slave or a corpse. A slave if they have any use for you alive. A corpse if they don't. Either way you have put your head into the noose they made for you.

Israel cannot go on this way. No country could for long. Yet it does, marching on toward the gallows, protesting that there has been a terrible mistake here. But there is no mistake here. None at all. The executioners nod sympathetically and promise to look into it, as they bind his hands behind his back. It's a farce and everyone except the dumbest among the lynch mob, and the condemned knows it.

But like the condemned man refusing a blindfold in the anecdote who's scheduled to be executed, Israel keeps being warned not to make trouble. Go quietly. Breathe deeply. Soon it will all be over. What will the world say, if Israel resists? Exactly what the world says now.  The troublemakers that are the cause of all the troubles of the otherwise peaceful nations of the Middle East. The worm in the lovely healthy apple otherwise covered with Muslim tyrannies.

Every threat that has been made has come about when Israel made concessions, not because it refused to. Every time Israel has chosen the high road, its enemies have ambushed it from the low road. It's past time to wake up and start learning some lessons. The noose is drawn. And the nation is gasping for air. That breath of air was Jerusalem. The next one will be the Galilee. And then what? How many more breaths are left after that?

Before Oslo, Israel was threatened with terror if it did not comply. It complied and the terror increased manifold. And if did not negotiate further, it was threatened with international isolation. It negotiated. It gave. And it was isolated anyway. It was threatened with boycotts, and it gave, and the boycotts came anyway. Now they threaten the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Followed by a One State Solution. Followed by international intervention. Noose, gallows and all. And does anyone think that all these will not come about anyway if Israel gives Abbas and his terrorist cronies their own official state with a capital in Jerusalem?

No compromise has worked until now. Which means no compromise will work. A process in which one side repeatedly compromises and the other side repeatedly threatens and takes, is not a process, but a holdup. If a man threatens you with a gun, then you might think that you can buy him off. Until he returns again and again. And then it is no longer a threat, it is a process. Israel is in that process, or rather it is being processed. At the end of the process is death. If you pay attention only to the gun, and not the pattern of threats, you may keep giving in, until you have given up your home, your wife and your children, and you have nothing left but your life. And then you will lose that as well. That is the nature of the process. To survive, you must not see the gun alone, but the process it is part of.

When Israel withdrew fromGaza, allowed Hamas to control it, and did nothing but prevent Hamas from having outside access, the world howled as if Israel had filled the country with graves from end to end, as Sudan or Iran or some of the other members and former members of the UN Human Rights Commissionhave. That is not justice. That is a lynch mob. And what does Netanyahu do in response? Like nearly every Israeli government before him, he backs off. Because given that tidbit the lynch mob will be appeased. It will, won't it. Won't it?

We are no longer talking about negotiations. Or any serious discussion of a state. We are talking about the world rising up in one voice to defend the rights of a genocidal organization whose charter includes the words; "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." The pretense is over and done with. This is not about anything resembling peace. This is about death. This is a lynch mob. Some come willingly. Others think that they have no choice. That a single murder will buy them the tolerance of the Dar Al Islam.

This is what a noose looks like. These are the gallows. As its hands are bound, Israel loses the ability to defend itself. As the noose tightens, Israel dies. Only by resisting the noose, can it survive. Only by fighting to free its hands, can it resist. The way of surrender is the way of death. And after Israel dies, its own hangmen will be next. Because the lynch mob has only begun. Its appetite is whetted by death. Its hunger will only be sharpened by blood, not sated by it. And it will cover the world in blood, if it is not stopped. But now the noose draws tight. Only a little more air is left. What will Israel do with that air? Appeal for justice, or fight with all its strength to rip the noose away. For now the choice is still hers. When the noose has done it work, it no longer will be.


The Ramifications of a Palestinian State

Bee's Note:  The following article was first posted on August 28, 2008.  Professor Beres analysis of a "Palestinian" statehood is relevant this evening - the night before the Palestinian Authority (PLO) Chairman Abbas "seeks recognition by the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution to admit the PLO as a non-member state".  
Please take a moment to read the following:

UN Set to Violate Its Own Rules on ‘State’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo by Reuters
The Ramifications of a Palestinian State

August 28, 2008  |  Professor Louis Rene’ Beres
With many issues now surfacing in the US presidential campaign, few are more important than the next president's position on "Palestine." To date, neither candidate has been open on this issue. Would one or the other (or both) feel the current president's commitment to a Palestinian state? Significantly, any such continuance would enlarge the terror threat to Western democracies in general, especially to Israel and the United States.

Even before George W. Bush, the formal US mantra had called for a "two-state solution." Yet the official maps of the Palestinian Authority (an authority with no proper electoral basis and no clearly fixed territory) still include Israel only as a part of Palestine.

 This inclusion refers to all of Israel proper - not merely to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The so-called road map still favored by President Bush offers a devious and ironic cartography. Everything about this plan presumes Israel's disappearance. Not even the irreconcilable and bloody divisions between warring Palestinian factions has diminished the overriding commitment of all of them to Israel's demolition. It is notably ironic, therefore, that the current government of Israel is on record in favor of a Palestinian state. What can Olmert be thinking? From the Oslo agreements onward, prime ministers from Rabin to Olmert have failed to understand that the true struggle with Arab enemies is less about territory than about God.

TODAY, EACH Palestinian faction remains utterly loyal to a strategy for the "liberation of all Palestinian territory." This "phased plan" was first adopted by the Palestinian National Council in Cairo in June 1974. Under it, any Palestinian state would welcome assorted jihadist terror groups, including al-Qaida. Such cooperation is already on full display in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Israel, of course, would be the primary target. Additionally, a Palestinian state would aim to undermine the essential security interests of the US. Most perilous would be the inevitable competition for control of such a fragile and anarchic state by the various Sunni Arab regimes now being armed by Washington, and by Shi'ite Iran, being armed by Russia. Candidates McCain and Obama should be made aware of certain ominous linkages between a Palestinian state and regional war. Here, together with Israel's prime minister, they should also consider plausible connections with nuclear war.

A PALESTINIAN state would have no proper authority under international law. Whatever its mode of self-declaration, any such presumption of Palestinian sovereignty could not satisfy the authoritative expectations of statehood. Candidates John McCain and Barack Obama should understand and acknowledge that every state must satisfy four specific requirements of the 1934 Montevideo Treaty: (1) a permanent population; (2) a defined territory; (3) a government; and (4) the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

Although the PA could satisfy none of these criteria, it will argue otherwise. Almost certainly, this will involve incorrect legal references to "fundamental rights of self-determination and national liberation." The right of statehood under international law is never contingent upon goodness. For better or worse, there are no moral or ethical considerations that must be taken into account in the granting of sovereignty.

This means that the openly declared and indisputable Palestinian goal of Israel's forcible destruction and America's incremental destabilization will have no legal bearing on whether or not a Palestinian state is created. Nor will unending and widespread Palestinian acceptance of violence. International law does not insist on any standard of decency for aspiring states, not even the most rudimentary acceptance of peaceful coexistence. While it is true that such acceptance is required for membership in the UN, the logically prior expectations of statehood are less stringent.

In law, all that matters in establishing statehood are certain identifiable demographic, geographic and political facts. It is these particular facts on the ground, defined at Montevideo - not the codified and far-reaching Palestinian indifference to comity and civility - that would make any Palestinian declaration of statehood illegitimate.

A Palestinian state remains contrary to America's strategic interests, and to the binding claims of both national and international law. Naturally, and notwithstanding the incomprehensible government stance in Jerusalem, such a state would be especially dangerous to Israel. It should, therefore, be rejected by both presidential candidates, and by Israel's next prime minister.

The writer is professor of international law at Purdue, and was chairman of Project Daniel, which presented its final report on Iran to former prime minister Ariel Sharon. He is also the academic advisor to the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.