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In the New Republic, Yossi Klein Halevi argues that Israel’s two-front war is really the start of a longer-term struggle with Iran and radical Islam. A must-read commentary.
Battle Plans: Israel's next war has begun
by Yossi Klein Halevi
July 12, 2006
The next Middle East war -- Israel against genocidal Islamism -- has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago, with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim; now, with Hezbollah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. Ultimately, though, Israel's antagonists won't be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites.
The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power--and to run the Palestinian educational system--will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too.
For the Israeli right, this is the moment of "We told you so." The fact that the kidnappings and missile attacks have come from southern Lebanon and Gaza -- precisely the areas from which Israel has unilaterally withdrawn--is proof, for right-wingers, of the bankruptcy of unilateralism. Yet the right has always misunderstood the meaning of unilateral withdrawal. Those of us who have supported unilateralism didn't expect a quiet border in return for our withdrawal but simply the creation of a border from which we could more vigorously defend ourselves, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding. The anticipated outcome, then, wasn't an illusory peace but a more effective way to fight the war. The question wasn't whether Hamas or Hezbollah would forswear aggression but whether Israel would act with appropriate vigor to their continued aggression.
So it wasn't the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel's tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing our political leaders -- including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert -- when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against any attacks emanating from Gaza after Israel's withdrawal. That policy was not implemented -- until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility, and that is the real meaning of this initial phase of the war, both in Gaza and in Lebanon.
Still, many in Israel believe that, even now, the government is acting with excessive restraint. One centrist friend of mine, an Olmert voter, said to me, "If we had assassinated [Hamas leader] Haniyeh after the first kidnapping, [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah would have thought twice about ordering another kidnapping." Israel, then, isn't paying for the failure of unilateral withdrawal, but for the failure to fulfill its promise to seriously respond to provocations after withdrawal.
Absurdly, despite Israel's withdrawal to the international borders with Lebanon and Gaza, much of the international community still sees the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of war: Just as Israel holds Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, so Hamas and Hezbollah now hold Israeli prisoners. One difference, though, is that inmates in Israeli jails receive visits from family and Red Cross representatives, while Israeli prisoners in Gaza and Lebanon disappear into oblivion. Like Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who was captured by Hezbollah 20 years ago, then sold to Iran, and whose fate has never been determined. That is one reason why Israelis are so maddened by the kidnapping of their soldiers.
Another reason is the nature of the crimes committed by the prisoners whose release is being demanded by Hezbollah and Hamas. One of them is Samir Kuntar, a PLO terrorist who in 1979 broke into an apartment in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, took a father and child hostage, and smashed the child's head against a rock. In the Palestinian Authority, Kuntar is considered a hero, a role model for Palestinian children.
The ultimate threat, though, isn't Hezbollah or Hamas but Iran. And as Iran draws closer to nuclear capability -- which the Israeli intelligence community believes could happen this year -- an Israeli-Iranian showdown becomes increasingly likely. According to a very senior military source with whom I've spoken, Israel is still hoping that an international effort will stop a nuclear Iran; if that fails, then Israel is hoping for an American attack. But if the Bush administration is too weakened to take on Iran, then, as a last resort, Israel will have to act unilaterally. And, added the source, Israel has the operational capability to do so.
For Israelis, that is the worst scenario of all. Except, of course, the scenario of nuclear weapons in the hands of the patron state of Hezbollah and Hamas.
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Israel need to back off its fear of looking bad in the eyes of the world and stand up and protect it citizens. As of now with Egyptians pouring into Gaza, Lebannon knocking at our door in the north and Iran gearing up for some serious posturing we need to figure out how Israel is going to remain safe and what the long term effects of this outburst is going to have on Israel and the rest of the world. the bees nest has been shook, do we all now run for cover? Some of us know about the 9 month reign, the dark times where all seems lost... perhaps the time is now? How are the Americans going to respond to this? Bush seems to have his hands tied and the troops in Iraq dont seem like they can go for anouther round... master plan? Perhaps.
So what I gather from this assessment is that the next five years are going to be more interesting than the past five years.
It's past time. Israel has been incredibly patient with people committed to exterminating the country and all it's people. They might allow a few to live as slaves if they felt generous.
I'm disgusted by the Europeans in general and Chirac in particular. It's no surprise that anti-semitism is rampant in Europe when it's clear what their leaders really believe.
Palestine is very easy to understand. So-called Israeli jews are occupying Palestinian land; Palestinians are not occupying any jewish land and never have.
I don't understand you people who have the double standard which excuses all Zionist crimes against humanity and attacks the Paletinian freedom and resistance fighters.
Zionism and Hitlerianism are the same thing. Anyone who opposed Hitler should necessarily oppose zionists.
Now once again, the Israeli war criminals are going on a jewish jihad to kill anyone who is not a jew.
We can hope and pray that the younger Iranian generation overturns the invading theology currently in power there.
Bernarda, you are crazy!
Wake up and stop letting yourself be brainwashed!
Who told you to call that little bit of land "Palestine"?
Who told you that is is undisputably belonging to the
Who taught you what Zionism and its aims are?
Who dared to let you believe that Zionism is like Hitlerism?
And who told you there is such a thing as Hitlerism? It is the most ridiculous word I have ever heard - Hitler was a person in our recen HIstory who hated Jews and killed six million in the most disgusting ways possible? Since when is this an "ism"?
And who told you that there have been Zionist "crimes against humanity"? And who told you that what zionists do is "Crimes against humanity" but what Palestinians do is "freedom fighting"?
And WHY are you believing whoever is telling you these things?
Most importantly have you ever REALLY researched and studied this conflict? Have you ever REALLY drawn your own conclusions and listened to BOTH sides with an equally open mind, and then gone and read and searched and studied to find your own answers?
No, you haven't. Because if you had you would not be so sadly stained with the skewed , warped, twisted and MANIPULATED sentences you have felt confident enough to state.
I honestly hope you learn the essential skill of thinking for yourself - quickly.
I agree with Esther. Whenever the Israelis bomb a military target or attempt to wipe out a group of terrorists they are committing murder, but the Palestinians are merely trying to defend themselves. The sad thing is that no matter what we Jews do we are "doing the wrong thing."
It has always been like that. If the Jews attack a group of suspected terrorists they are the "aggressors," but when the Palestinians attack a kibbutz or a public gathering they are freedom fighters. Unfortunately, as long as the terrorists continue to attack we Jews can't worry about what others say about us, but need to defend ourselves to the best of our abilities.
Chirac will you please try to be more human, why don,t you answer yourself if Paris where hiting by rockets, lauching from terrorist ,(30thousand miles) from your border.
please.. have a heart.
I hate to spread bad news, but we are in World War III. It is civilization vs. islamofanatacism, and it is being fought on every continent except Antarctica. Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan are merely the front lines, but the conflict exists everywhere. What will determine its outcome? Which way sane Muslims jump. They either wrest control of their religion from the lunatics, or stand by in fear and silence while non-Muslims attempt to do their job. It is politically correct to state that the "vast majority of Muslims are peaceful...blah, blah..." It is however, not accurate. Oh, it's true in the U.S., sure, and a little less so in Europe. But large swaths of Pakistan, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan and numerous other countries are infected with the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism. So worldwide, there may still be a majority of Muslims who are sane, but by no means is it a "vast majority." I wish it were. WW III has begun. It's going to be a long war, with an enemy that excels most at sneak attacks and using human shields.
Hitlerism?? Why is it that America can overtake a huge ocuntry like Iraq without blinking an eye because some terroists took down the WTC? Why is it that America can attack any country it likes if they feel they are a threat? Israel is protecting itself, its people and its land. This is biblical not so easy to understand, modern politics dont apply here, the Jews and the Arabs both know it. America forced democracy down the mounths of nations who couldnt care less if thier women can vote or to have elected officials, the arab mentality is not the western mentality. My father (who was born in Morrocco) once gave me some simple solid advice...
Arabs prefer to have a heel on thier neck, the minute you take it off they lose control, they respect those who stand up for themselves and will attack those who show signs of weakness. By Israel attacking Lebanon and Gaza they are showing the arabs that they demand respect. This is a family war, we are cousins and we have been fighting since the days of Abraham. For the first time ever i had a tinge of respect for George Bush when he said it like it is to Mr. Blair, he knows who is behind this, and he asked that they control thier people...
When it comes to the policy towards hamas I think Israeli policy was disastrous to say the least.
Almedinaj wantd, does want , to open a new batle front against israel and stir trouble.
And Israel did almedinaj a favour. Instead of isolating Hamas Israel should have engaged hamas and actually support Anye Hamas. Pictures of a smiling Olmert shaking Hands with a similing Anye would have send shockwaves throughout the islamic world. Anye shaking hands with a Zionist ? Israel should have insisted in a cease fire in exchange of help to anye.
This would have been a huge victory against Syria and Iran. Instead Israel choose the hard line approach - Isolate Anyeh , confront the gunmen militarly. Today Nasralah is one of the most popular persons in Gaza. Syrian, Iran influence did grow. Almedinaj is rubbing his hands.
Israel lost the chance to score a political victory against Iran , and compromised the chance of eventually spliting Hamas isolating Meshal the Hamas Leader in Syria.
Besides the policy of punishing the Gaza civilian population is morally wrong.
As uniformed as she is, at least Esther had the right I idea to post her response here. That is not always the case. I got email from two zionist apologists who don't have the nerve to post in an open debate.
A NY banker Mr. M.F. wrote me but he had nothing to say but "LOL". No attempt to argue any point. He would be a joke, except that he is implicitely defending Israel's crimes against humanity. But that is typical of the arrogance of such racists. For some reason this moron included his banking work address. Was that supposed to impress me?
The Israeli government and military are doing exactly what fascist dictator Milosevic did in Bosnia and Kosovo. NATO resolved the problem by bombing Serb military installations and supply lines and government offices. NATO should do exactly the same thing to Israel to stop its crimes against humanity.
Then Israeli government and military leaders should be arrested and taken to the War Crimes Tribunal to be tried for their mass murders like Milosevic and his henchmen.
Next there was a Ms. Mimi whose main argument is "as a holocaust survivor". So what? Who cares? That has absolutely nothing to do with the jewish occupation of Palestinian land by Israelis and jewish oppression of Palestinians.
From the beginning zionist has been a racist colonialist ideology. It was invented by white racist Europeans who in typical 19th century thinking accepted the idea that white people were superior and had the right to take land from dark people. Herzl and Hitler had the same idea of a chosen people, only their chosen were different.
Zionism was invented before the holocaust and even before nazism. So those things cannot be used as defense of apartheid Israel after the fact. Zionists were invading and terrorizing Palestinians before Hitler came to power.
But nowadays, people like Ms. Mimi like to play the professional victim. For her apparently the holocaust somehow eternally justifies Israel's crimes against humanity. Never mind that the Palestinians had nothing to do with it. There is no business like Shoah business.
As Ms. Mimi said in her email, "Ignorance is dangerous very dangerous." Only it applies to zionist true believers. They swallow zionist myths and lies hook, line, and sinker.
But why do these two cowards have to email me rather than debating in the market blog of ideas?
Rather than bash Zionists for all past and future acts, why dont you discuss the current situation? Israel has a long list of enemies that have tried to destroy her. Israel has gone to war with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, etc..As history has proved, Israel wants Peace so bad that they give up land for a handshake and a promise for peace. Israel does not want to occupy Gaza, the West Bank or Southern lebanon, as it is a huge financial and military burden. Israel battled the PLO (who was one of the original groups to call for Israel's destruction before Hezbollah or Hamas ever did) in Lebanon for years but ultimatley left Lebanon with a UN asurance that they would have a secure border. Israel has tried to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank many times, asking for a promise of peace in return..every time they appeared close to a deal Arafat would change his mind and come up with a reason to reject the deal. Finally, Israel has decided to simply withdraw on its own. First in Gaza and then in the West Bank. Now that Israel has completely withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza, and with plans to withdraw from the West Bank they get attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah. Unfortunately the Lebanese and Palastinian civilians often pay the price for the actions by these groups.
You have written so many lies and distortions of history that it's hard to know where to start.
First of all Israel existed thousands of years ago as the homeland of the Jews. The Romans re-named Israel Palestine which has no connection to the Arabs. Jews were the first people to be called Palestinians.
A Palestinian country or people have never existed. Several decades ago the Arab immigrants living in Israel started calling themselves "Palestinians" to falsely claim indigenous roots to Israel which they definately don't have.
There has never been a "Palestinian" language, culture, or society. It's all an Arab myth and is believed by stupid people like yourself.
Your racial analogy is absolutely ridicoulous! More than half of the Jews in Israel have always lived in the Middle East and are definately not "White" like you claim. How about the many Arabs who are light-skinned?
The Arabs are occupying Jewish land and should leave. Jews are the indigenous people of Israel and have every right to live in their homeland. End of story!
I would like to add that I'm not Jewish or White but an educated person who doesn't believe the lies of the Arab Islamofacists like you.
This is very interesting, reading all these comments on what is happening in the Middle East, especially Israel's part. Everyone has advice, everyone is analyzing. I have a message for Israel, whom I dealy love. Why do I love Israel? As an American Christian, Israel is like a cousin to me. Israel is God's Chosen Nation. We Christians identify with Israel because it is the nation He would send his Messiah to. My Christian church flies an Israeli flag along with the American flag, to remind church members that we stand with Israel and we pray for Israel.
My advice to Israel is given in love: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14.
There is no way on God's planet that Israel can fight and win a war against Islam without God being on her side. I don't care what kind of military or stamina Israel has. You cannot win without God. Think about it.
Jeff, Patti, and Daisy illustrate the usual absolute ignorance of people who support Israeli terrorism.
It is hard to find a single historical fact in their posts. For example, "Israel wants Peace so bad that they give up land for a handshake and a promise for peace. Israel does not want to occupy Gaza, the West Bank or Southern lebanon, as it is a huge financial and military burden. Israel battled the PLO (who was one of the original groups to call for Israel's destruction before Hezbollah or Hamas ever did) in Lebanon for years but ultimatley left Lebanon with a UN asurance that they would have a secure border. Israel has tried to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank many times, asking for a promise of peace in return."
Israel has never wanted peace. Israel installed over 2OO,OOO racist settlers in the West Bank and has never proposed evacuating them.
Hezbollah and Hamas are defending and trying to recuperate their land. There is no land of Israel. Everything jews have in Palestine they have stolen from the Palestinians. Zionism is entirely a white European racist ideology. Jews have no right to any land in Palestine. Any claim to issues of 2000 years ago is ridiculous. It is based on a piece of superstitiou mythological garbage called the bible or the torah.
All you zionist groupies should read some history and archeology. A good place to start would be "The Bible Unearthed" by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman.
For more contemporary history, you should read Norman Finkelstein. But as zionist true believers don't seem to like to read, they could watch this video conference by Finkelstein.
But I suspect that Israelis and their fifth columnists in America and elsewhere prefer to live with zionist myths and lies.
A minoritity of Hezbolla deputies is controling the so called democratic lebanon government.
hezbollah, Hamas, and al qaida are brothers in terror
they are taking their own civilian people as human shields in order to attract the world media and gain sympathy for their cause.
their members are raised with hate and hosted in the arab world where dictatoships of mollahs such as Syria and Iran are responsible of this agression against Israel and instability in the region .
Israel has withdrawn from gaza and southern lebanon,
no country in the world has never given back back won territories to its ennemies .
self defence is an undipusted right and morale for israel to protect its population.
most of the people of lebanon aspire peace and prosperity,
unfortunately a group of tyrans and terrorists is holding them as hostages and innocent victims are on both sides.
i can't hardly imagine Paris, london or new york being striked and rocketing like northern of Israel day after day without a single reaction of self defence.
The IDF is doing a remarkable job
G.. bless Israel
DAN Paris, France
Gee, Dan, how nice of Israeli terrorists to withdraw from land they never had any right to be in in the first place!
Israel has never ever acted in self-defense. It has always engaged in wars of agression. NATO should bomb Israel back to the stone age where it belongs.
If I weren't an atheist, I would godd__n Israel for its racist crimes against humanity.
I don't know if this forum is now closed or not, but in any case my last post was not presented.
In the meantime I got this lovely email from fanatic zionist fool Daisy. Why do these idiots not just make their comments here?
subject: "Respond to my comments Idiot!" That has a certain convincing ring to it.
Then for the message,
"It's obvious you are mentally ill and one of the most uneducated people I've encountered but you are actually funny in absurd way with your crazed rantings and lies about Israel. You are truly psychotic and need help!
A proud Gentile Zionist"
All the charm I expect from a typical racist zionist(a pleonasm).
I thought I had already responded to her nonsensical ravings. Zionism was invented by white racist colonialist Europeans who believed into the whiteman's right to take any darkman's land. Don't believe me? Read Richard Cohen in the Washington Post,
"The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself."
He is too kind. Israel is not a mistake it is a crime against humanity. In my disappeared post linked to some pictures of Israel's war crimes in Lebanon. Apparenty, that didn't make the cut. But you can find them if you look up "fromisraeltolebanon".
Your posts ar typical of how most propoganda influenced islamists think. They are all taught from the time they can think that jews are their enemy and will believe anything. Patti, Daisy and Jeff are absolutely right. You are rediculously uneducated and are making statements by the seat of your pants. There is nothing worse then making and uneducated statement. Back it up with fact!!! Read "From Time Immemorial" written by Joan Peters, one of the worlds most reverred authorities on the history of the middle east conflict. Study the immigration habits of the arabs and census report after the "Belfore Declaration" (or do you not know what this is? I suggest you find out. Look at the Dehimi Jews and what the word means. Look it up. HOW WERE THE JEWS TREATED IN ARAB LANDS!!!
Above all, read the Bible. Having done all this and more; then you are qualified to make an educated comment.
To the educated individuals who have done their research, I pray for the peace of Isreal and pray that you too will ask "G" for his guidence and help. The Bible is 100% accurate and every thing it says will happen has and will into the future. "G" is true to his word.
"G" bless, and that includes you too bernarda.
Suzanne, Ontario Canada
Let me begin by saying i am athiest, and have grown up with both jewish and muslim friends. There is indeed a severe problem with radical islam, there is no question that it needs to be addressed. There is also no question that Hezbollah kill civilians, and Israel kill civilians. There is a question, however, of how to prevent further death and whether Israel's military action is appropriate.
Greater minds than mine seek to answer the first, i shall not try. The second question, however, let us consider.
Does Israel have a right to self-defense? Yes. Do they have the right to attempt to destroy Hezbollah? Yes. Does the government of Lebanon have a responsibility to deal with extreamist forces in its country? yes.
But. Consider this from the government of Lebabnon's perspective. Their civilians are dying, public anger is GROWING against Israel. What will happen if the governement take Israel's side? Civil unrest certainly, Hezbollah may even seize power.
Israel is making more enemies, not defeating them. Every child, husband, wife that dies creates several family members who swear revenge. Every civilian death makes it seem that Israel have not declared war on Hezbollah, but on Lebanon, and men will rise, if this is the perception, to defend their country.
Only dialogue can solve this crisis, Israel refusing a ceasefire only creates more enemies and make dialogue harder. Lebanon also need to act, but Israel should make the first step towards peace, because islamic extreamism means that Lebanon cannot. Israel needs to step back from its actions, further killing will only endanger israel, not protect it. Killing for peace is futile. Only the harder route, education, diplomacy, co-operation has any chance of success. Some argue that this isn't possible, but if bombing Lebanon won't work why not at least try the only method that has SOME chance of success
There is not only a terrorist war being fought by Arabs against the Isaelis, but an even more damaging propoganda war by the rest of the world.
Arab rulers have rejected every peace offering that Israel has ever offered. Even for land concessions, the leaders of those countries have never been happy and have preferred to let their people live in refugee camps, instead of holding or let alone agreeing to honest peace talks. It is in their agenda to keep the plight of the so-called Palestinian people as-is in order to garner worldwide support for the destruction of Israel. That is their final goal, absolute and final destruction of the only true peaceful country in the region.
Anti-semitism is at its highest point right now. The worldwide media wants to fill your head with lies about Israel, the same lies that have been told since 1947 and before. I encourage any person to read about the politics of the region and see who is in the right here. It is very obvious who wants peace and who does not, who is protecting a just society and who is trying win a religiously fanatical yet racially motivated and one-sided war. The truth speaks for itself.