As I write it is just past noon on October 13, and there already have been five terror attacks in the country, with at least three dead and tens injured. They included shootings, stabbings and car attacks. Chances are that by the time you read this, there will be more.
I’m not going to go into detail, because early reports are often confused. Most of the Arab terrorists involved in the recent wave of murders have been from the PA areas or eastern Jerusalem, but a few have been Israeli citizens. In the past few days, terrorists have struck all over the country, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Ra’anana, Afula, and other places.
The PM has called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet to decide on immediate steps to be taken. Among other things — Americans obsessed with the pro/anti gun debate will appreciate this — a relaxation of Israel’s strict gun regulations has been suggested by the Internal Security Minister, Gilad Erdan.
Hamas has claimed ‘credit’ for the attacks, but Palestinian Authority radio praised terrorists who were ‘martyred’.
No doubt the government will decide to beef up police and other security forces, possibly close off PA areas or Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, and so forth. The real question is whether any substantive action will be taken to change the situation in a fundamental way, or will today’s terrorism be tamped down temporarily, to return the next time it is convenient for the Arabs.
The Arab leadership that incites terrorism isn’t stupid. They have an objective now, as they have in the past. This time it is to attract the world’s attention to the ‘unsustainable occupation’ and to promote the idea of coercing Israel to withdraw from Judea/Samaria/eastern Jerusalem.
We can expect to hear expressions of great concern from Barack Obama and the Europeans — as if they care in the least when Jews are butchered! — about how the ‘cycle of violence’ needs to be stopped right away, and of course the way to do that is to engineer an Israeli surrender to the same forces that are murdering our people today. The French will make their proposal to the Security Council that declares the Israeli presence outside the 1949 lines illegal and calls for the establishment of ‘Palestine’ there, and quite possibly Obama will not veto it.
PM Netanyahu understands this, which is why he has strongly opposed suggestions that Arab terrorism be met with increased building in the territories or other actions that our Western ‘friends’ will interpret as ‘anti-peace’ and use as an excuse to support the French initiative.
But I think this is a poor strategy. Obama and the Europeans are dead set on getting Israel back to 1949 lines — and yes, I believe they understand that this means the end of the Jewish state in the near future — and if we dodge the bullet that is heading at us today, they will fire another, and another.
I would like to propose another approach, which will combine striking a blow against terrorism with defeating the US/EU diplomatic offensive.
How do we attack terrorism? Jabotinsky argued correctly that the Arabs will continue to fight as long as they think they have a chance to throw us out. And since the 1990s, they have been successful, driving us out of Gaza and South Lebanon, and much of Judea and Samaria. We need to turn this around, which means annexing strategic and otherwise important parts of Judea and Samaria, and increasing Jewish construction in J/S and eastern Jerusalem.
Combined with stronger security measures and action against the inciters (for example, expelling hostile elements from Jerusalem and other parts of Israel), this is the best way to fight terrorism.
But that will trigger increased pressure from Obama and his friends, will it not? Of course it will, but the important thing to understand is that this pressure will come anyway. We know that appeasement of military or terrorist threats just causes increased pressure, and the same goes for the diplomatic threats coming from Obama and the EU.
What we need is an ally that will help us resist that pressure. And I think there is only one possible candidate.
Israel has a great amount to offer Russia in the present geopolitical contest: critical intelligence, military support in the eastern Mediterranean, reduction in US influence and ability to project power in the Middle East, great embarrassment for Obama, economic and technical assistance, and more. And Russia can help provide a quiet Syrian border, control Iran and Hizballah, and veto undesirable Security Council resolutions.
Indeed, even if Israel just begins to tilt in the direction of Russia, it would have a salutary effect on Obama’s behavior.
There are obvious problems. The IDF would have a harder time obtaining parts for its American weapons, and integrating Russian weapons and equipment into its strategic systems would not be easy. And it would probably have to do without US military aid. But Israel has met worse challenges of this kind before.
The pragmatic Putin could probably put aside any anti-Jewish attitudes he may have better than Obama can override his pro-Muslim bias. And any deals must be structured in such a way that Russia can’t achieve its objectives without also meeting its commitments.
Could Netanyahu pull it off? There would be great opposition from the IDF, which is addicted to its American suppliers. Some would say that dealing with Putin is like dealing with the devil; but Obama’s ideology is at bottom more dangerous than Putin’s opportunism.
Dangerous? Certainly. But the present situation is also dangerous. Israel is facing a triple squeeze, from Iran, the Palestinians and the US/EU. A bold move might break all of these threats at the same time.
I agree with every word Vic, and I have been saying the same thing for years now.
Everything you write can be said in the same manner regaring the Temple Mount and its’ return to Israeli soverignty. The world, particularly its’ Muslim component, and also the White House, would huff and puff, but as you say……what else is new.
I’m glad to see you writing of answers and not only questions.
Answers are very hard. This particular one could well be wrong. Suppose Ted Cruz becomes the next US president? Would the US turn around? On the other hand, I expect the Obama policies would continue if Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden wins the election.
This time I have to disagree with you, Vic.
Putin really cannot be trusted. Materially, he is the largest single enabler of Iran. He is going to great lengths to keep Assad – Iran’s main ally – in power, and public handwringing aside, I think this is tacitly supported by Obama. And this is not in Israel’s interest.
It is true that Putin is not pro-Moslem as Obama is. I don’t think he is even anti-Semitic; I understand that one of his former teachers was Jewish, she emigrated to Israel, and Putin bought her a new flat.
But, Putin is above all, a Russian nationalist. He is about increasing Russian power and influence first, last, and always. He will take advantage of anything Israel offers him, but if it is in his perceived interest to screw Israel, he’ll do that too, without a moment’s hesitation. And, because of Russian anti-Semitism, he’ll be under a certain amount of domestic political pressure not to get too close to Israel. To the extent that he does or has, the “Protocols of Zion” – as you know, that originated in Russia – types will be all over him, and unlike the U.S., this is not just a fringe viewpoint in Russia.
The hard truth now is that so long as Obama is in office, Israel has no genuine major power ally. This is the first time this has been true since the founding of modern Israel. It is uncharted territory for any Israeli leader, and represents the greatest challenge faced by Netanyahu. I don’t think there is anything Israel could to that would convince Putin to veto the French resolution that is coming up on the UNSC. I simply cannot see Putin doing this. He has been in power in Russia for a long time now, and he has not given even the slightest indication that he would ever do Israel any favors in the UN. He won’t do this because he needs Israel as a punching bag in the UN to distract the world community from things he does (e.g., Crimea, Ukraine). Same goes for China.
If India had a permanent seat on the UNSC, maybe they, at least on their current leadership, could replace the U.S. as a major power ally. But while one can argue that India merits a permanent seat on the UNSC, she does not have this now, and this is not in the cards for the foreseeable future.
Netanyahu is simply going to have to have the guts to do what needs to be done to subdue the Palestinian terrorists. He’s going to have to deal with Iran. I’d like to see as decisive actions as possible on these issues, plus seizure of the Temple Mount. He’s going to have to do these things in spite of the political/economic storm that would result from Obama, the EU, and the UN. As bad as that would be, I don’t think it would be unsurvivable. Congress would never let the U.S. participate in any sanctions/boycott of Israel. India, China, and probably Russia would still trade with Israel. Same would probably go for Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, plus Canada (as long as Harper wins re-election next week) and Australia. The main cost would come from the EU, and that would hurt, but it would hardly be fatal.
Street level, most Americans still support Israel. I think that there are better than even odds chances that the GOP will win the WH in ’16, and practically any GOP nominee will, at the very least, restore the pre-Obama “status quo” on U.S.-Israel relations (which may not have been that great, but would seem great after eight years of Obama). The only conceivable exception to this among those running would be Rand Paul, and he is doing very poorly. If we get Rubio, Carson, Trump (I don’t like him either, but he is at least good on the issue of Israel), Fiorina, Cruz, or Huckabee, then we are looking at genuinely better U.S.-Israel relations than we’ve ever seen under any past president, regardless of party.
Further, I would not expect Obama’s policies to continue entirely if Biden got the Democratic nomination, and I think he is most likely to get this. He’d be no help with Iran – he has long opposed military action against Iran, even before he was VP – but on the Pali issue at least, I’d expect him to be more sympathetic to Israel and less likely to make excuses for the Palestinians.
It is a terrible situation, but elections have consequences, as they say. But Obama is not going to be there forever, and the laws of political physics in this country – i.e., the backlash against the policies of an obviously failed president – will likely favor Israel.
Hang tough and hang in there, that is what I would say. And do what you have to do, never mind Obama, the EU, Russia, whomever or whatever. It will be a bad storm but the storm will pass. I do agree with you 1000% that giving in to U.S., EU, or UN pressure is the wrong path and only leads to more pressure.
Started my reply at home and came to work only to find many of my points made by Robman. Just to reinforce:
The first US President after Obama will have to contend with a lot to put American interests right again, and it’s unlikely that the damage can be corrected quickly. It may take generations, plural. Even a will to restore US-Israeli ties, and a forthright admission that the Palestinians do not have a valid brief against Israel, nor a leg to stand on in their claims upon a sovereign Israel, is still likely to be a glacial change that would take years to ensconce in real, ‘instinctive’ practice. For example, a President who could see to it that the Palestinians receive no more US aid, would have to be a President who asserts that the UN treatment of Israel is immoral and undeserving of support, and likewise exert policy so that European allies are reprimanded for their false and harmful Mideast views and theories. These are moral viewpoints, but it’s a lot of risk for one man or woman to muster for just one ally. Concerns about China in the Far East and Russian pressure on European polities (oil and natural gas are weapons with Putin) figures to dwarf the priority of this sounder American approach to Israel. And, there is no guaranty that Americans have learned their lesson and would not elect another Obama and again undo the progress a two-term President other than Hillary might craft. Hillary would be more of Obama.
The temptation to cut a deal with Russia is great, because healing the ruptures with America will take so long, and the large Russian population in Israel even seems to mitigate and empower the notion of a bargain with a Putin. These must be stopgap measures only. The Russian model of governing has been gangsterism for centuries. It waxes and wanes over time and trends toward influence-peddling and asking for favors based on the ability to deliver inordinate punishment on the uncooperative, but it sustains itself with the will to action. And Robman is beyond right when he talks about the very open-air anti-Semitism that flourishes in Russia. Putin seems sympathetic to Israel, but he is not going to cut Israel any slack just because he is not anti-Semitic. Israel would have to give away its oil and gas discoveries (a move that would convey abject weakness) just to draw in Russia for negotiations. Already the IAF is acting in a constrained way over the skies of their backyard in Lebanon and Syria. That is not conducive to defending yourself with authority and clear purpose. The fact that Russia goes out of its way to ally itself with Iran is a direct weakening of Israel’s strategic advantage, by having to consult first and attack second. Making deals with Russia may be necessary, but is to be avoided at all costs.
That leaves us with Robman’s grim, but accurate, recommendation. Do what’s right for Israel and hang tough. What does this require?
In the present European environment, there will be another mass aliyah of Jews to Israel… many to the US, Canada and Australia too. The Arab population who do not want to be Israeli citizens should have been transferred a long time ago–the obvious destination is Jordan. Piecemeal transference is progress too. There is no way to pacify a squall of knifings, car rammings and shootings based on a lie and religious fervor. New arrivals will need to feel secure and need to have a place to live. The malcontents and their co-conspirators should be transferred whenever they’re caught, their homes destroyed. The PA must be pruned of all its ill-gotten gains, and preferably presented the bill for their consumption that presently resembles more a parasitic existence (electricity, water, healthcare…). Whatever restraint Netanyahu feels he must show to keep the Quartet and Obama off his back, needs be abandoned so that the only consideration going forward should be the ability to preserve the peace, obtain military supplies and equipment, and rebuilding Israeli military equipment manufacturing capabilities.
As long as Russia is nearby strategically, Israel is at risk. Russia has the ability to make deals with all of Israel’s enemies that are guaranteed not to be to Israel’s advantage. The strategic goal should be to minimize Russian influence in all areas and keep accounts for its foes that must be squared up by Israel itself, not a proxy Big Brother. The balancing act with a muscular Russia is even more difficult than keeping Obama out of Israel’s business. To neutralize Russia more, favor China more and vice versa. To minimize Russian obstruction in military affairs, probe at every sore spot on its borders and beyond to quell enemies of Israel quickly with counterattack. Coordinate if it must, but Israel must not hesitate to strike back quickly at violations of sovereignty.
And build like there is no tomorrow. Stop Arab illegal building, dismantle illegal Arab building, and accelerate Jewish building. Make it clear that there will be no Palestinian national sovereignty any more for Arabs in any part of Judea and Samaria; that will be Israel proper with local governance if they can muster it. No more coddling. Gradually retake Gaza. The experiment is over and the population there has failed all the duties of governance. Gaza should be part of Israel.
Israel is looking at a minimum of 20 to 30 years of wandering through the desert of abandoned allies of the US before the rupture perpetrated by Obama will be fixed–and that’s IF we get our act together here–, to reaffirm its primacy of place in Western civilization. As Edward Luttwak once said, Israel’s success will be built one family at a time, with one son or daughter at a time carrying forward its values. It is a slow, long haul, that is best done without obligations that do not align with Jewish life and values. Turkey, because of the position of its country at the gateway to Europe, fancied itself the indispensable nation for the rest of the world. Because of its reversion to Islamic supremacism, it has lost even the appearance of this role. Israel is already part way to becoming the indispensable nation. It really must tough it out for another lengthy spell to have this affirmed by all. And it will be done by standing up for itself everywhere.