How to Respond to Iranian Piracy?

On Friday, two Iranian suicide drones crashed into an empty oil tanker off the coast of Oman, killing the captain of the ship, a Romanian citizen, and a British crew member.

The ship was Japanese-owned and Liberian-flagged, but it was under management by a company called Zodiac Maritime, based in London, which is part of the Ofer Global Group, whose principal owner is Eyal Ofer, an Israeli billionaire who lives in Monaco.

Not precisely an Israeli target, but close enough for the Iranians, who promptly denied having anything to do with the incident. Israel’s PM Naftali Bennett responded that he had proof that Iran was responsible. There will be a diplomatic response, of course. Nobody is allowed to shoot at commercial ships and kill crew members, even if there is some Israeli connection. Piracy is still piracy. Romania and the UK are expected to protest over the death of their nationals.

To be fair, Israel has been responsible for cases in which Iranian ships that were illegally transporting weapons or oil to Syria were damaged by sabotage or mines. As far as I know, nobody has been hurt in these incidents. The Iranian attack is a significant violent escalation.

In addition to the diplomatic response, which is unlikely to have serious consequences for Iran, there will have to be a more direct – and truly painful – one.

Until now the conflict on the seas between Israel and Iran has been carried out under a cloak of plausible deniability. But now the Iranian denial is not plausible. Everybody knows they did it, and indeed it was done in such a way – the drones were launched by the air force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from Iranian territory – that it would be impossible for anyone to believe otherwise. It was done this way on purpose, to send a message. It is no longer a secret war.

Israel’s struggle with Iran has a physical and cognitive aspect. Every skirmish has components in these two realms. Israel often wins a battle in the physical realm while losing it in the cognitive one. In some cases, it is because the enemy simply distorts the facts, as happened in 2002 when the media (encouraged by the Palestinians) invented a massacre in Jenin that never occurred. But sometimes it happens because Israel tries too hard to satisfy the exaggerated demands placed upon her, as when naval commandos carrying paintball guns landed on the deck of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break the blockade of Gaza. In this case, the commandos suffered casualties – and also killed nine people on the ship – because they did not use sufficient force. The image of our fighters with toy weapons may have done as much damage as the stories of their brutality, when they were forced to use their real sidearms in order to escape the ship with their lives.

The best response to the latest Iranian provocation is one that sends two messages: the practical one, aimed at their military planners, that says that keeping this up will be more expensive for Iran than for us; and the cognitive one, aimed at the Iranian regime, but no less at the rest of the world, broadcasting that we have enormous power and are not afraid to use it. While it was a secret war, only the practical message had to be considered. But now that it has moved to the public sphere, then the cognitive message is as important or more so.

So what should we do? I’ll leave that up to Israel’s military planners, but as a naval warfare buff, I would personally like to see our submarines torpedo an Iranian ship or two.

This entry was posted in Information war, Iran. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to How to Respond to Iranian Piracy?

  1. Leon Kushner says:

    I too would love to see Israel blow up a few Iranian submarines too. The sooner the better.

  2. DonDavid says:

    An Israeli suicide drone or two into the Iranian oil facities on Khgard Island might send the right message.

  3. traderjoe91 says:

    I really do respect the hell out of you. You are intelligent and truly love Israel.

    How could you have voted for Bennet? This is the most pathetic government I have ever witnessed. Bennett is a pseudo-prime minister, an empty suit, because in reality the true head of state is Mr. Lapid, a high school dropout.

    How can you possibly justify voting for such a schmendrick, such an absolute nothing? I have close relatives in Israel who also voted for him, who are genuine Zionists, and I ask them the same questions.

    Bibi is not perfect, but nobody is. But you willingly swapped Bibi for yair lapid? I really don’t understand.

    We are already seeing the consequences vis a vis Russia, Jordan, et al.

    • First of all, Bennett is not a nothing. He demanded that the army take the Hamas tunnels seriously, and possibly averted a catastrophe. He had numerous good ideas for dealing with the pandemic. He was a successful businessman and understands (and has incorporated in the new budget) numerous ideas to reduce governmental interference in business. He has an excellent war record, and — unlike Bibi — is an honest man.
      I did not and would not vote for Lapid, whom I think is an idiot. I’m sorry that Bennett ended up with the government that he did, but I believe him when he says that the alternative was a fifth election. The country could not stand yet another 4 or 6 months of pre- and post-election paralysis. Today they passed a budget. Bibi would not allow that to happen, causing great difficulty for the IDF, the healthcare system, etc.
      The Bibi of today is not the same Bibi of even four years ago. He’s consumed with his legal problems, and I agree with Gideon Sa’ar, who said that he is subordinating the good of the country in favor of his own ends. While Bibi has a lot of talents, he does not delegate — he tries to hold all the strings in his own hand. This might have worked in the past, but more recently he had begun to neglect important things, while refusing to give his ministers the authority to deal with them.
      Incidentally, I don’t believe the story about Bibi’s “personal relationship” with Putin. Putin acts according to his interests, not his “personal relationships.” There is a lot going on here under the surface, involving Russian weapons sales, the influence of the US, etc.
      I am hoping that Bibi will at some point step down from the Likud leadership and we can get a solid right-wing government like the great majority of Israelis want. In the meantime, this government can fix many of the “small” things that were neglected in the past. I do have confidence in Bennett to deal with any “big” things, like Iran, that may crop up.

      • traderjoe91 says:

        When I say that Bennet is nothing, I do not mean he is a bad or incapable person. He is nothing in the sense that he is no more than a mere figurehead—for crying out loud, his “right-wing” bloc is the minority in the government! Do you really believe that Bennet has any significant power in this coalition? No, he does not—he is, as far as this government is concerned, a big nothing. An empty suit. If anybody in this government has substantial power, it is obviously Lapid (and even Lapid’s power is subject to the Muslim Brotherhood faction of this wonderfully diverse coalition). To the extent that Bennet has any power, it is bestowed on him as a privilege by the actual majority, which allows Bennett a concession or two from time to time so as to sustain the pitiful charade.

        I don’t intend to quibble about the details of the various frankly trifling issues you brought up–for example, Bennet’s “good ideas” vis-a-vis COVID. From what I understand Bennett’s ideas in that regard were based on the failed German model. And what’s more, Bennett had “ideas,” as you describe, but Bibi actually acted. It’s easy to say someone had a good “idea” when that idea hasn’t been subjected to concrete real-time application.

        Is Bennett an honest man? Do correct me if I am mistaken, but isn’t this the same man who, following an election, justified having broken certain promises he made to his constituents, on the rationale that there are two types of campaign promises, something along the lines of, “campaign promises” versus “core promises,” and it is only the latter “core” promises which are inviolate? The man spins such a fiction right before your eyes, the majestic new doctrine of “core” tenets (a “good idea,” you might say), and you have the confidence to say that Bennett is an honest man? The man openly and unabashedly said that he doesn’t necessarily mean any of his promises. But, of course, he told us that he does mean “core” promises, so we can hang our confidence in that. And yet, we have no criterion by which we can actually ascertain which are those promises which qualify as “core” or otherwise. And there isn’t or ever will be such a criterion because such a useful and objective standard would defeat the very purpose of the “core promise” doctrine: to lie at his convenience.

        Do you personally know Bennett? Because if you don’t, I don’t see how you could have any basis to conclude that he is an honest person. And all the evidence indicates otherwise–he flat out lied, and then justified those lies with some disingenuous metaphysical concoction.

        And whether or not Bennett is honest is not even at issue. You say Bibi is dishonest, and Bennett is honest, and yet I firmly believe that the vast majority of politicians are dishonest, ambitious, and tend to favor advancement of their personal interests. As far as I’m concerned, Bibi and Bennett are both liars. And I think most people, myself included, are fine with that and willing to accept that so long as those inherent and ineludible vices are not inimical to the State’s interest. Bibi or any other politician can pursue policies that advance their personal interests while simultaneously advancing the State’s interest. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and frankly nobody would qualify to hold public office if we held politicians to such a standard.

        So, no, Bennett is not honest. And as I said, generally that’s fine. But in this case, Bennett made a very material lie—not a mere misrepresentation, mind you, since nobody has ever heard of the “core promises” doctrine, so this is not a question of ambiguity in what he said—and that material lie induced many of his ultimate voters to cast their ballots for him. I would wager that many of these voters would not have done so had they known what the result would be (indeed, that’s what makes the lie a material one).

        Bibi is consumed by legal problems because the State’s judiciary and their media allies have totally subverted the rule of law. You know that, I don’t need to lecture you on this. You know that the charges against Bibi are utter bullshit. You know that his “legal problems” exist purely because malevolent actors want him out of power. You know all this. At first it was “bribery,” but last time I checked they whittled down the definition of the “crime” that Bibi committed to something such as “unusual compliance” by a regulated industry…what. a. joke.
        And so you say, or maybe you reason to yourself…perhaps it is true that his prosecution is purely vindictive and part of an effort—even a very immoral and unjust effort— to undemocratically get him out of office…but, be that as it may, that is, for better or worse, the situation as it stands before us, and it is untenable for Bibi to continue in office in the face of these legal issues, even if it unfair to Bibi and would give these malevolent actors the victory the sought. So for the good of the nation, he should step aside. Bibi simply cannot act in Israel’s interests, or lead the nation, while facing this malicious prosecution.

        But, as they say, that’s a “slippery slope.” If they did it once, to Bibi, then they will do it again, and again, and again. Bibi is no longer in office because of corrupt state officials. How can you place confidence that the will of the people will be respected ever again? Wouldn’t you agree that it is a bad thing to have corrupt state officials determine, at their own undemocratic whims, who should remain prime minister and who shouldn’t? Wouldn’t you agree further that Bibi, by fighting for his office, is in fact promoting Israel’s interest in having a democratically-elected leader who is immune from the corrupt influences and machinations of institutional actors?

        I don’t care how much Bibi’s preoccupation with the prosecution is detrimental to the State. Because letting these bad actors win will end up being far more detrimental. Bibi’s prosecution is not just an attack against Bibi, but against democracy.

        A fifth election would have been preferable to a coalition where one of its members says that Zichron Yaakov should be eliminated. A sixth election would be preferable to a coalition where the former adviser to Arafat presides as speaker of the legislature and commands Jewish guards to expel Jewish MKs for uttering perhaps inconvenient facts. A seventh election would be preferable to a coalition where the foreign minister/actual prime minister says that anti-Semitism is equivalent to any random form of group hate. An eighth election would be preferable to a coalition that has surrendered its sovereignty by promising “no surprises” vis-a-vis Iran.
        Yesterday I read some UK official’s comment that the “US and UK greenlit Israeli targets in Iran” in response to the drone saga. Can you imagine an official making such a remark while Bibi was in charge? No. Because Bibi, for all his faults, stood for one principle above all else: the sanctity and inviolability of Israel’s total and unconditional sovereignty. It was Bibi who went to the US Capitol to trash the US president’s Iran deal.
        Bibi’s speech to congress made Israel a legitimate regional power, not a vassal state of the US. I think that’s what Putin saw, and I think Bibi’s dethronement does play at least a factor in Russia’s recent decisions.

        You have confidence in Bennett’s ability to deal with “big” things like Iran? My understanding is that negotiations on the JCPOA are ongoing and Biden is really trying to get the deal wrapped up. Why hasn’t Bennett already gone to Washington?
        Whatever. I could go on and on. I’m sure you could as well. You have far greater knowledge and insight on this subject than I do, as a general proposition. But I think you are very mistaken on this particular matter.

        The reality is very simple: Bennett formed an anti-Zionist government. That is the cold, hard truth. Bennett voluntarily chose to form a government with people that wish to see the State of Israel annihilated as a Jewish sovereignty. That includes Lapid and his ilk, to be sure, when they say things like anti-semitism is the same as any other form of prejudice. Lapid wants to disintegrate Israel’s character as a Jewish state just as Meretz and the Arabs do—the difference is only one of degree.

        And so, for that, Bennett is scum.

  4. Shalom Freedman says:

    I do not understand why this incident is given such great importance. Israel in the course of trying to prevent Iran from having yet another base to attack it from has attacked and killed Iranian surrogates and in some cases Iranians. The Iranians have taken all kinds of aggressive actions in their effort to take over the Middle East. Why haven’t Iranian actions all along induced a response even a verbal one the way this incident has?

Comments are closed.