Saturday, March 31, 2018

Summary of the Gaza riots, 3.30.2018 Posted by Israel Defense Forces

Michael Oren on France 24 quotes the head of Hamas:“the goal of the demonstration was to enable the people of Gaza to eat the livers of Israelis”

Nadia Charbit, France 24:

For more for an Israeli response we can cross to our guest. Michael Oren is a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s office and the former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Thank you very much for being with us on France 24.  Looking first at that huge death toll, did yesterday’s events get out of hand?

Michael Oren:

Not at all. Good to be with you and thank you. Not at all.  Hamas drove civilians towards Israel’s border in the attempt to break that border in an attempt to kill Israelis and Israeli soldiers defended  themselves, defended our citizens as they have to. Hamas bears full responsibility for this. Among those demonstrators were terrorists. Hamas has now announced that 5 of those killed yesterday were active terrorists in the organization, they planted bombs along the border, using human shields. Hamas, an organization that is recognized by Europe as a terrorist organization bears full responsibility.

Nadia Charbit:

As you said Hamas has confirmed 5 of those killed were militants. That still leaves at least 11 civilians and there are no Israeli casualties. Was live fire really a proportionate response to the protest?

Michael Oren:

Indeed, every single person killed yesterday was involved in active hostility against our troops in the attempt to break to the border and kill Israelis . The head of Hamas, just recently in the last hour  announced, Mr. Sinwar announced that the goal of the demonstration was to enable the people of Gaza “ to eat the livers of Israelis”, and I am quoting:“eat the livers of Israelis” . This was a terrorist action disguised as a civilian protest, and I can’t think of anything more cynical than using these Gazans as human shields in order to attack Israelis.

Nadia Charbit:

Now this protest is due to last 6 weeks. Will the military review its response to avoid the repeat of the bloodshed we saw yesterday?

 Michael Oren:

Our review has already been conducted and the conclusion is as it stands now is to beef up our defenses along our borders.  The incidents of yesterday were entirely justified, entirely necessary, and if Hamas keeps on using the shields of human beings  of civilians attack our border to try to break through and kill our civilians, the army will take all measures necessary  to defend us.

Nadia Charbit:

Will the military only respond on the border on the day to day basis?   

Michael Oren:

It will take all necessary measures. We are not out to hurt Gaza civilians. In my job in government I am in charge of trying to improve the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and I must tell you Hamas does everything possible to starve its own population and even the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank under Mahmud Abas has cut off all subsidies, all medical help to Gaza, and everyone is trying to use these poor people to make a point. Israel has no interest in increasing casualties there but Israel will do everything possible and necessary to defend our citizens.

Nadia Charbit:

It sounds as if you are approving the idea of collective a punishment on all Gazans. Is there no lee way to alleviate the humanitarian situation?

Michael Oren:

Well, I am in touch with a number of European governments about relieving that humanitarian situation. It is very difficult.  With Hamas refusing to allow aid trucks to go into Gaza so that Hamas can claim to the world that it is suffering . With the Palestinian Authority cutting off all aid, cutting off subsidies, cutting of salaries for 50000 workers in Gaza.  Now, Israel cannot affect that. It cannot. We have the only open border into Gaza. The Egyptian border crossings are all closed. We are ready to bring through 1200 trucks a day in food and aid. Hamas has reduced it to 400. Hamas has reduced it to 400, not Israel. So this is not collective punishment by Israel. What happened yesterday was our legitimate means to defend ourselves and we will continue doing that. But we also stand ready to try to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But frankly, it is in the hands of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Nadia Charbit:

 Michael Oren, thank you very much for having spoken to us.

5:35  to 9:44 into the video 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A real hero shines in contrast to the cowards of the European political classes

Arnaud Beltrame

TRÈBES, France—A gunman killed four people Friday in a terrorist attack that tore through roadways and a supermarket, including a gendarme who traded places with a hostage. 

“In giving his life to end the murderous escapade of a jihadist terrorist, he fell as a hero,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement on Saturday morning. “At the heart of the action, Lt. Col. Beltrame showed exceptional composure and illustrated his extraordinary military virtues,” Mr. Macron said. “He deserves the respect and admiration of the entire nation.” 

Friday, March 23, 2018

John Bolton’s tuna

This morning at the supermarket I got some extra tuna.  Just in case. Some extra food and water is good to have. I called it John Bolton’s tuna

With Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, the chance of the US and Israel attacking Arak, Isfahan, Natanz and Qom nuclear sites is increasing. 

John Bolton in LA Times: “The real choice we are faced with is dealing with the consequences of military action [against Iran] or the consequences of a nuclear Iran. 

 “The proposition being put before you tonight is that you have a choice between war and an Iran with the bomb.  You have a choice as has been said before, between war and dishonor – you will choose dishonor this evening and you will get war.  You have a choice between a war with a nuclear Iran, or a war at some point, with an Iran that is not nuclear which you stop from ever being nuclear, and hope that in stopping that regime  in embedding itself, you will give the Iranian people the best chance of overthrowing that regime. But as I say, thank God this does not rely on you or any Europeans. Because you’ve made the same mistake before and nobody should trust you to get it right this time.”

John Bolton: Mr. Trump: Withdraw From the Iran Nuclear Deal

Why Netanyahu is indispensable for Israel

Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit wrote in 2012:

“A few years ago, Netanyahu held an in-depth discussion with Middle East expert Bernard Lewis. At the end of the talk, he was convinced that if the ayatollahs obtained nuclear weapons, they would use them. Since that day, Netanyahu seems convinced that we are living out a rerun of the 1930s.”

Monday, March 19, 2018

Why Netanyahu is indispensable for Israel



Yaakov Katz writes: “But let us be clear: Israel was strong before Netanyahu, and Israel will be strong after Netanyahu.” Yet he completely misses the main point – Iran.

Being strong is not enough. An Israeli leader has to understand the nature of the Iranian threat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader who understands the nature and, consequently, the magnitude of the Iranian threat. He is the only one who was briefed by Bernard Lewis. Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit wrote in 2012:

“A few years ago, Netanyahu held an in-depth discussion with Middle East expert Bernard Lewis. At the end of the talk, he was convinced that if the ayatollahs obtained nuclear weapons, they would use them. Since that day, Netanyahu seems convinced that we are living out a rerun of the 1930s.”

Mr. Netanyahu is also the only leader in the world who quoted Mr. Lewis’s warning: “For people with this mindset, MAD [mutually assured destruction] is not a constraint; it is an inducement....”

Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon used to be the other Israeli leader who was aware of the eschatological threat from Iranian “twelvers.” Then he became a politician and started contradicting himself. So now, only Bibi is left.


Do we remember Winston Churchill for his trips on HMS Enchantress when he was First Lord of the Admiralty from October 1911 to May 1915, or do we remember him for preparing the Royal Navy for the First World War and as the man who saved the West in the Second World War?
From Young Titan by Michael Shelden, page 288:
Best of all, the yacht allowed him to enjoy longer cruises that combined business and pleasure. His Mediterranean voyage to confer with Jacky Fisher in 1912 was followed in May of 1913 by another trip to Malta and this time also to Greece. The public purpose was to review fleet operations and discuss strategy with commanders, but ample time was left for playing in the sun.

Back in Britain there were a few complaints from members of the Labour Party that Churchill was stretching the rules “by inviting his lady friends to accompany him on yachting trips at public expense”.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


AS AN expert in global terrorism, antisemitism, Middle East wars and European policy, Fiamma Nirenstein has been following the popular uprising in Iran with particular interest. Nirenstein – an award-winning journalist, best-selling author, former MP of the Italian Parliament and a fellow at the JCPA – says that just as former US president Ronald Reagan’s election and foreign policy were instrumental in the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, President Donald Trump is probably responsible for the street demonstrations across Iran that could lead to the downfall of the ayatollah-led Islamic Republic.

Nirenstein says that Europe, which has been silent on the uprisings in Iran, can no more take credit for this welcome turn of events than it could for the defeat of the USSR – or even of Hitler’s Third Reich. It is America, she asserts, that has always been at the forefront of the struggle for freedom from the bondage of dictators; it is America that always saves Europe.

Gatestone Institute: Why is it not the other way around? Europe, after all, is geographically closer to those struggles than America.

Fiamma Nirenstein: Europe's key approach always has been one of appeasement, because when you are weak, you try not to interfere too much, not say what you think. Deep in its heart, Europe probably would have liked to stop Hitler from the beginning, and see the Soviet Union collapse earlier, but it did not have the courage to voice this opinion loudly or strongly enough. The same applies to the situation with Iran today.

Gatestone: But hasn't Europe been expressing, loudly and clearly, its antipathy to fascism? And hasn't America exhibited what you call “weakness”?

Nirenstein: Europe is split. It has been both fascist and communist, and also has fought against fascism and communism – if not early enough. It therefore might suffer from guilt and humiliation relating to its past. The United States, too, seems to have guilt and humiliation relating to racism in its history. But there is a difference between Europe and America: As is the case with individuals, nations must confront and untangle their feelings. When a person does this, he becomes an adult. One could say that while America matured into adulthood, Europe never did.

Gatestone: Has Europe not changed dramatically in the past decades?

Nirenstein: Only cosmetically. Take the example of French President Emmanuel Macron. Everyone thought that he was going to be the new leader of Europe. He was the candidate who defeated the extreme Right in France, under the banner of the European Union. Everyone thought his presidency signaled the rebirth of the EU under this very young, very strong, very Western leader – one who was not anti-American and anti-Israel.

But look what has happened since his election. Faced with global realities, including Iran’s imperialism and race for nuclear weapons, Macron not only has failed to realize this fantasy; the most he has been able to do is represent the heritage of the same old Europe that it has always been.

When Washington, Jerusalem and Riyadh responded to Iranian protests against the regime, Macron said, “The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war.”

Meanwhile, French Ambassador to the UN François Delattre shamefully told a meeting of the Security Council that the events in Iran “do not constitute a threat to international peace and security,” and therefore the crisis should not be “exploited for personal ends.”

Macron called for the same old failed policy of appeasement: keeping a “permanent dialogue” open with Iran, so as not to risk sparking a “conflict of extreme brutality” and “rebuilding an ‘axis of evil.’” The implication is that those who oppose the ayatollahs are liable to cause a war. This is outrageous. It is Tehran that is spreading terrorism, building a nuclear capability, and fomenting wars all over the world. It is Tehran that has caused the immense number of refugees from Sunni or half-Sunni states, such as Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and other places, who have been fleeing to Europe to escape the Shi’ites trying to take over their countries It is simply not true that Europe has no interest in this situation; the extreme degree to which it is terrified of the brave revolution taking place in Iran against this repressive Islamist regime is surprising. On paper, such a crisis for the regime in Tehran should be a wish fulfillment for Europe; it might even benefit from a reduction in immigration.

In addition, Europe boasts of favoring human and civil rights, while Iran is a place where women are stoned, homosexuals are hanged and dissidents are imprisoned, tortured and executed.

Europe in 1959 established a whole court in Strasbourg for the protection of human rights. Europe should be very happy with the uprising against the Iranian regime. But this is not how it is behaving.

On the contrary, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, used the language of both appeasement and false moral equivalence in her statement to the press on the protests. She said, “We have been in touch with the Iranian authorities. In the spirit of frankness and respect that is at the basis of our relationship, we expect all concerned to refrain from violence.”

Gatestone: If, as you say, it is not in Europe's interest to enable Iranian-backed Shiite imperialism, because it has led to a flood of Sunni refugees, why did German Chancellor Angela Merkel respond to the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers by touting the policy of “Wir schaffen das” – “We can do it” – a phrase she said last year that she decided to stop using, due to the barrage of criticism it generated?

Nirenstein: Germany probably has more guilt than any other EU country, and rightly so, because of its responsibility for committing the worst slaughter in the history of man. It is no accident that Merkel approximated the slogan “Yes, we can” made famous by former US president Barack Obama in 2008, because Obama was not only like a European leader, but he even pushed Europe to be more Europe than Europe.

He himself sometimes acted as if he would have preferred to be European. He was anti-American and anti-Israel, as Europe has always been. More significantly, Obama relieved Europe of the great burden of having to be thankful to the United States – the country that saved it during World War II. In addition, his basic message was that America must stop feeling superior to other countries.

Gatestone: How are Europeans responding to Trump?

Nirenstein: They are horrified by him.

Gatestone: Are they horrified because he demanded that NATO members meet their financial obligations?

Nirenstein: It goes much deeper than that; it is almost anthropological in nature.

In Europe, there is a sort of aristocratic snobbery that cannot tolerate what it sees as Trump's vulgarity. When Trump told the UN that it cannot keep taking American money and then “vote against us at the Security Council,” Europeans gasped and said, “Oh, money, what a disgusting word.

It is so horrible to hear this businessman, who is not a politician, reduce everything to money. It is simply blackmail.” This is wildly hypocritical, of course, as money plays a key role in all of Europe’s attitudes and policies – not least in its apparent preference to keep doing business with Iran’s regime to hearing the Iranian people’s pleas for freedom. Europeans claim to despise politicians, whom they consider corrupt, ignorant and inefficient. Whenever elections are held in Europe, every political party attempts to recruit as many candidates as possible from the business community, because they are viewed as people who are serious about civil society and know what they are doing professionally.

The anti-Trump snobbery – like Macron’s behavior – is part of a reactionary mindset characteristic of both Old Europe and new Europe.

Gatestone: How is this mindset evident in Europe's attitude to the Middle East?

Nirenstein: The “Lawrence of Arabia” syndrome goes back to Old Europe. It is the snobbery of people who become enamored with exotic cultures. There is a romanticism surrounding the Middle East, associated with magic carpets and Aladdin lamps. But with that romanticism comes fear, as well – fear of what the great historian Bernard Lewis called the “first assassins,” invading Islamists who slit people’s throats. There is a common expression in Italian that best describes this fear: “Mamma, li Turchi” – “Mom, the Turks are coming” – which refers to the Ottomans, but it is still used today to denote fear of “barbarians” arriving to commit brutal murders. This fear has led European states to try and do business with terrorist groups. In the early 1980s, for example, Italian officials forged a secret deal with Palestinian terrorists, which culminated not in cooperation, but in a series of deadly attacks: the 1982 attack on the Great Synagogue in Rome; the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985; and, also in 1985, the simultaneous attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports.

In addition to snobbery and fear, Europeans have interests, particularly in relation to oil. This issue is only about 100 or so years old, when oil first became a crucial global commodity, and Middle Eastern countries were found to possess large quantities of it.

Then there is the matter of the sheer number of Muslims. When the Islamic nations band together in an international assembly, such as UNESCO, they have an automatic majority with the “Non-Aligned Movement” countries. The Soviet Union understood that by uniting the Third World in this way under its auspices, it would have even greater power. In the past, Europe was paralyzed in the face of this majority. It remains so, in spite of the fall of the Soviet Union nearly three decades ago.

Gatestone: Is this why Europe voted with UNESCO when it rejected the historical connection of Jews to Jerusalem?

Nirenstein: Yes, but there is an even more disturbing trend responsible for this.

There is no more important issue – other than hostility towards Israel – around which the EU is able to unite. They do not agree about the economy; they do not agree about migration; they do not agree about the nature of Islam. But they all vote together to condemn Israel. It is a theater of the same hate that they now pretend to regret. Luckily, because of Eastern Europe, this maybe starting to change.

Gatestone: What makes Eastern Europe different?

Nirenstein: Eastern Europe lived and suffered under both the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, and Communism. It is therefore both less naïve and free of guilt; Eastern Europeans do not feel the “white man’s burden.” All they want is to live free, good lives. They do not want migrants to import a patriarchal and often fundamentalist culture, as well as terrorism. Many Western Europeans cannot even admit that many migrants import terrorism.

Western Europe is also in denial about the concept of human rights and values. That is how Paris today is a city in which hundreds of thousands of its residents live in polygamous families. As a European, can you admit that you have polygamous families? No, you cannot. Can you admit that women are not safe in the streets of Denmark, Holland and Sweden? No, you cannot. The only people who acknowledge it, and that its origin is Islam, are on the Right, and this is why the right wing is growing in Europe.

This is tricky, because there are antisemites among these right-wingers, and such elements must be condemned. On the other hand, most of the right-wing parties do not hate Jews; on the contrary, the majority of them like and support Jews and Israel. The fact is that the most dangerous antisemitism today comes from the Left, and that the most dangerous antisemitism is that which is directed against Israel.

The Left thinks that the worst violation of human rights is to impose Western culture on other people – something they associate with colonialism. They do say that it is wrong to beat women, for example, and they do support implementing the law against those who violate it. But, when you allow a culture that segregates and persecutes women to flourish, you necessarily have a lot of honor killings and other behavior that is unacceptable in the West and should be unacceptable anywhere.

Gatestone: Trump has been called a racist for banning unfettered travel to the US from eight Muslim countries, unless there is a way of vetting people entering the country. What do you think of his policies?

Nirenstein: I think his policy is sound, but it is often impossible to make a distinction between innocent victims of terrorism and terrorists arriving from Middle Eastern countries. Many of the people come to Europe on boats, fleeing persecution and terrorism. Those who make it without drowning at sea are taken to shore half-naked and wrapped in blankets. They do not have documents on them for the authorities to examine. But what are you going to do? Let them drown? The problem is that in 2015, when these migrants began arriving in droves, Europe again closed its eyes, and did not consider the necessity of providing help to enable them to remain in their countries of origin.

There is now an attempt to reverse the trend of Europeans simply opening their arms to refugees, but it is too slow a process and very late to begin it.

Gatestone: How does Europe view the legal immigrants, or their children, who return to the Middle East to receive training from ISIS and other terrorist groups, in order to commit attacks in Europe?

Nirenstein: The problem here is Islam, not immigration. “Islam” is the word that Europeans must learn to utter if they intend to confront the difficult issues posed by unfettered immigration, both legal and illegal.

Gatestone: Returning to Iran, the regime in Tehran is accusing “foreign enemies” – implying America, Saudi Arabia and Israel – of being behind the current demonstrations.

Nirenstein: That is as false as it is ridiculous.

Those countries are simply conveying messages of support for the Iranian people.

This is just the opposite of how the Obama administration reacted to the 2009 “Green Revolution,” which was quickly quashed by the regime.

Gatestone: What are the chances that the current uprising will topple the regime?

Nirenstein: A revolution succeeds when the leaders and security forces of a country are broken from within, and its members begin to defect. This is how the Soviet Union fell. As soon as the leaders were weakened, the security forces and police abandoned them. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia are tightly aligned with the regime religiously, ideologically and financially.

So it is hard to imagine that there will be mass defections. Here, again, we arrive at the conclusion that Islam is the problem.

It is a problem the world over. We have to recognize that when we speak about a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, for example, it is actually between Israel and Islam – which rejects the very existence of Israel. This is why there has been no peace.

Gatestone: How do you explain, then, the recent cooperation of some Arab and Muslim countries with Israel? Can political Islam be lumped into a single category? Don't different Islamic countries have different interests?

Nirenstein: Currently, there is a strong Sunni alliance against Iran’s rampant Shi’ite imperialism, which makes Sunni states natural allies of America and Israel. But alliances in the Middle East fluctuate. Today, Egypt has an interest in being a strong ally with the West. However, just before President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power, there was a Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo, and who knows who or what will come next?

: One could make the same argument about the United States. Before Trump became president, Obama was in power for eight years, and nobody knows how long the current administration will last.

Nirenstein: The two are not comparable.

In America, the rules remain the same, no matter who becomes president. In Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, the rules change with every shift in power.

Gatestone: Why, then, would regime change in Iran really make a difference? After all, Russia today is ruled by Vladimir Putin, a KGB officer and prominent member of the old Soviet regime.

Nirenstein: Usually when a regime is toppled, it goes down with the main values it represents. This is especially relevant when talking about Iran, which is Muslim, but not Arab, and has a rich, historical Persian tradition, which includes Zoroastrianism.

Gatestone: What scenario do you envision for Iran?

Nirenstein: In general, what the world needs today is a diplomacy of truth. This is what Netanyahu has been so good at engaging in, courageously warning the US Congress and the UN against the nuclear deal with Iran, in spite of Obama's wrath.

Too many lies have been the basis of international relations. These include “dialogue” between religions to counter Islamist terrorism; the false notion of the “peaceful aspirations” of the Palestinians; the view that Turkey is a “bridge” to the Muslim world; the ridiculous view of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “moderate”; the belief in a “united Europe” as the future of the old continent; and faith in the UN as a legal arbiter for international affairs. Policies based on these lies are not only fruitless, they are dangerous. The diplomacy of truth, adopted by Trump and his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, is the only hope for stability and peace.

Ruthie Blum is the author of ‘To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’’ This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute: https:// nirenstein-interview

Thursday, March 15, 2018

USSR 1962 - Russia 2018: Soviet ambassador Zorin was lying then, Russia's ambassador Nebenzya is lying now.

Russia compared the British government to Inspector LeStrade, a "hapless" investigator from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, as it denied responsibility for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

There is little doubt that the Russians did it . The question is why do such a brazen thing? When I lived in the USSR I often asked myself whether the population really believed the lies it had been told and whether the authorities believed that the population knew  that it was all lies. And I was shocked when a fellow student explained it all to me. There are always people who serious blindly believed, but the intent of the authorities is basically this: " we know that you do not believe what we are telling you but there is nothing you can do about this." This makes the people powerless and that is the aim.It could also be that Putin wanted to get rid of the oligarchs since he expected the retaliation to be directed against them 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.

“Good morning, AIPAC. It’s always great to be here.

But as I told President Trump yesterday, it’s especially great to be in America’s capital now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Thank you, President Trump for that historic decision. Thank you for announcing another decision—to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this Independence Day. And the first ambassador to have the honor of working from that embassy in Jerusalem is a great American ambassador, David Friedman.
David, thank you for that terrific job that you’re doing. And you know who else is doing a fantastic job? Israel’s ambassador to Washington – Ron Dermer. Thank you for the terrific job you’re doing.
I want to thank Mort Freidman, Lillian Pinkus – Lillian, you don’t have to remind them how far back we go together – Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s nuclear core, everyone at AIPAC. I want to thank all of you for the work you are doing to strengthen the remarkable alliance between our two countries. Thank you.
I want to acknowledge the Israeli ministers, Israel’s representatives here in the United States, in the United Nations, the Mayor of Jerusalem, the many Members of Congress and the former leaders of countries who are here. In particular, I want to acknowledge my friend, a great champion of Israel, the former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. Stephen, stand up, please. Stephen, we never forget our friends, and you were a tremendous friend and still are.
And finally, I want to thank the 4,000 students who are here with us today. Four thousand students. Thank you for cutting class to be here. So, if any of you needs a note, you can see me later. There’s a line forming outside.
Now, what I can see is this. Well, it’s dark, but I can see something. I can see that the audience in this hall each year is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, 18,000 strong. I want to see all of you, and I can’t. I don’t want to stand behind this podium. Is it okay? What the heck—I’m the Prime Minister. Thank you, yeah, great, good to see you. Thank you. I’ll get there too. Don’t worry. Great to see you.
So today I want to ask you. You remember that great Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Well, I want to talk about the good, the bad and beautiful.
The good are all the good things that we are doing in Israel that are helping make the world a better place. The bad are all the bad things that malevolent forces are trying to do to Israel and to the world – and specifically, I’m talking about Iran.
And the beautiful – well, that I’ll leave to the last.
So first the good news: Israel has never been stronger militarily. Tremendously strong.
That’s an F35 fighter plane, the most advanced in the world. That’s an Iron Dome interceptor, and many other systems that we developed with the help of America. Thank you America; thank you successive American presidents; thank you Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike; thank you AIPAC for helping bring this about. You’re terrific. And this incredible military is buttressed by superb intelligence, unmatched in the world. Can you see me? I can hardly see you. I have to get closer. Yeah, I see you. That’s good. Superb intelligence. You know, in the last few years, Israel’s incredible intelligence services have foiled dozens, dozens of terrorist attacks across the world in dozens of countries. That plane, a plane like that could have been blown out of the sky if it weren’t for Israeli intelligence, a plane heading from Australia to the Persian Gulf. You’re boarding planes when you leave this place. You are safer because of Israeli intelligence. It not only protects Israeli lives, it protects innocent lives around the world.
And we’re able to do all this because of the extraordinary soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, men and women—just look at them—men and women, black and white, religious and secular, gay and straight, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians. They come from different backgrounds, but they’re united with a common mission: to protect the State of Israel. They keep us safe. They make us proud.
Now, I know there are quite a few veterans of the Israeli army here. So I want you to stand up. I want you to be recognized. Stand up please.
But the good news doesn’t stop merely with Israel’s strong military. It continues with Israel’s strong economy. It’s a tremendously strong economy, and I’ll tell you, we made it stronger by moving Israel to free market principles, which unleashed the spark of genius embedded in our people, into innovation, entrepreneurship. And there is a revolution taking place. This couldn’t happen at the better time. Look at the ten leading companies in 2006: five energy companies, one IT company, Microsoft. And a mere 10 years later, 2016, a blink of an eye in historical terms, it’s completely reversed. Five IT companies, one energy company left. The true wealth is in innovation. You know these companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook. Guess what? They all have research centers in Israel. All of them, major research centers. And they’re not alone. There are hundreds more. And there’s a reason, something is going on. It’s a great change. It’s—you want to hear jargon? It’s one sentence. This is a terrible sentence, but I have no other way to say it. It’s the confluence of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence, okay? Do you get that? You know what that does? It revolutionizes old industries and it creates entirely new industries.
So here’s an old industry that Israel was always great in: agriculture. We were always good in agriculture. But now we have precision agriculture. You know what that is? See that drone in the sky? He’s connected to a big database. And there are sensors in the field, and in the field there’s drip irrigation and drip fertilization. And now we can target, with this technology, the water that we give, the fertilizer that we give down to the individual plant that needs it. That’s precision agriculture. That’s Israel. Unbelievable.
You know, we were always good in water. I want you to see how good we are. So, we recycle almost 90% of our wastewater. The next country, with less than 20%, is Spain. You can see how Israel, what it does for water, what it does for the environment. So when you take these two things, agriculture and water, and the other technologies that we apply in both, we can change the world. We are. I just heard about an African woman in Africa, has to walk eight hours a day to give water to her children – four hours one way to a well, four hours back. And a young Israeli company brought in this technology that improves on Moses. You remember Moses? He brought water from a rock? They bring water from thin air. They bring water to Africa, to millions of people in Africa – Israeli technology!
And I was just recently in India. That’s my friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, great friend. I’m showing him cherry tomatoes. This is in Gujarat, India. This is Israeli technology. And what I heard there was fantastic. Famers came from the region. There’s an experimental farm there and a place where Israel gives technology knowhow to India famers. Sixty-five percent of India’s population are farmers. And one farmer after the other gets up and says: Because of Israeli technology, I’ve increased my crop yields and my income three times, four times, five times. Israel is changing the world in India, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, everywhere.
These are the old industries. Now, there are new industries. Israel is literally, how can I say this: Israel is literally driving the world. I’m talking about autonomous vehicles. Israel is a world leader in autonomous vehicles. Five hundred tech companies that sprang up almost instantaneously. And one of them, MobileEye up there on the left, was just sold to Intel for the paltry sum of 15 billion dollars. But the interesting thing is that Intel said to them, “Here are the keys to our 30 worldwide autonomous vehicle businesses. You run it.” Israeli technology is driving the world!
And one last industry – there are many more – but one more that you’re all familiar with. You have bank accounts? You should, okay? Well, you don’t want anyone hacking into them, right? Or into your cars, or into the planes you ride? You need cybersecurity. Everybody needs cyber. Israel has become a world leader in cybersecurity. Look at how much they invest in the hundreds of Israeli startup companies, tremendous companies. But here is another factor that you should now. Israel’s population is how much? Who knows? Class? Eight million? It’s closer to nine, but it’s about between eight and nine million, that’s correct. And what percentage of that is of the world’s population? Oh come on. It’s one-tenth of one percent. So, what percentage do we get of the world global investment in cybersecurity, in private investment in cybersecurity? We’re one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, and we get a whopping 20% of global, private investment in cyber. We’re punching 200 times above our weight. Not two times, not ten times, not a hundred times – 200 times above our weight. That’s very strong.
Now here’s how the dots connect. Because we have this tremendous capacity for security and intelligence, and because we have this tremendous capacity for civilian technology, for making the lives of people richer, safer, more productive, many countries are coming to Israel because they want to share with us these benefits.
And that creates the third great change, which is a flourishing of Israel’s diplomatic relations around the world. You know, when I joined the Foreign Service 105 years ago, as the DCM to this city, Washington, the number two in our embassy, I think we had about 80 or 90 countries with whom we had diplomatic relations. Now the number is 160, and there are very few countries left. By the way, what are we doing with Greenland? We got to do something with Greenland. They must have some satellite needs or something that we could do there. But we are coloring the world blue. I’ve been to Africa three times in 18 months. I’ve been to South America, to Latin America. Can you imagine in the 70 years of the history of Israel a prime minister of Israel never went south of Texas? I mean, I love Texas, but we went to Argentina. We went to Argentina, to Colombia, to Mexico. And they say come back, come back. We want more. That is changing. All these countries are coming to us: India, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, all of them, Azerbaijan, Muslim countries. First time I visited Australia – tremendous. Far away though. So we’re coloring the world blue. And you know what? The numbers… You remember people talked about Israel’s isolation? Pretty soon, the countries that don’t have relations with us, they’re going to be isolated.
There are those who talk about boycotting Israel? We’ll boycott them.
So, the good news is very good, and it’s getting better. The bad news, and that’s the bad news, is that bad things are getting worse, and they’re very bad. And when I talk about that, we have to deal with this challenge. And I’m thinking specifically: What do we do about Iran? The force behind so much of what is bad is this radical tyranny in Tehran. If I have a message for you today, it’s a very simple one: We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran!
When I last spoke here, I warned, tried to warn the world about a nuclear deal that was a threat to the survival of Israel, the security of the region, the peace of the world. I warned that Iran’s regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted. I warned that the deal gives Iran a clear path towards developing a nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. And I warned that by removing Iran’s sanctions, Iran’s regime would not become more moderate and peaceful, but more extreme and belligerent, much more dangerous.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what has happened.
Here is what Iran is doing today.
Darkness is descending on our region. Iran is building an aggressive empire: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, more to come. Now Iran is seeking to build permanent military bases in Syria, seeking to create a land bridge from Tartus, from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean. And in addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand, it’s also seeking to develop, to build precision guided missile factories in Syria and Lebanon against Israel.
I will not let that happen. We will not let that happen. We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.
Last week, we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to exterminate our people. They failed then. They’ll fail now. We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in ten years, not ever.
President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. That is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this. And the President has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions. Israel will be right there by America’s side. And let me tell you, so will other countries in the region.
As we counter Iran’s aggression, we should always remember, we should always remember the brave people of Iran: their suffering, their hopes, their courage. Women are jailed for removing their hijabs. Students are tortured, tortured and shot for advocating freedom. We stand with those in Iran who stand for freedom. Now I believe that a day will come when this horrible tyranny will disappear, will perish from the earth and at that point, the historic friendship between the people of Israel and the people of Persia will be reestablished. Today we have Haman. Tomorrow we’ll have Cyrus and friendship and peace.
My friends, as we work together to confront the bad, there is also potential to advance the good that paradoxically comes from the bad, because most of the states in our region know—they know very well, believe me—that Israel is not their enemy, but their indispensable ally in confronting our common challenges and seizing our common opportunities. That is true for Egypt and Jordan, Israel’s long-time peace partners, but it’s also true for many other Arab countries in the Middle East. Israel remains committed to achieving peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. President Trump has made it clear that he is committed to peace. I have made it clear that I am committed to peace. We appreciate the efforts of President Trump’s superb team—Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman. Thank you all. Thank you all for your hard work for peace.
But to get peace, to get peace President Abbas has to embrace peace and to stop supporting terror. Raise your hands high if you agree with me that President Abbas should stop paying terrorists who murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about $350 million dollars a year to terrorists and their families, each year. That’s about a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget. That’s an incredible number. He pays Hakim Awad. Hakim Awad is the terrorist who murdered this beautiful family of Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children, including a 3 month-old baby girl, Hadas. So he pays Hakim Awad, this murderer, and over the lifetime of this killer, he will be receiving two million dollars.
I have a message for President Abbas: Stop paying terrorists. Because what message does this send to Palestinian children? It says murder Jews and get rich. And I believe President Abbas should find better use for this money—to build roads, schools, hospitals, factories. Build life, don’t pay death. Invest in life. Invest in peace.
Israel hopes that the passage of the Taylor Force Act will make clear to President Abbas that America has zero tolerance for terror.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’ve spoken about the good and the bad – there’s plenty of both. But I want to end with a few words about the beautiful – the beautiful alliance between Israel and the United States of America, the beautiful alliance that has brought all of you here to Washington, the beautiful alliance that you work day in and day out to make stronger and to make better.
What is this beautiful alliance made of? It’s made of our shared values. That’s the well-spring of the great alliance between our two countries. And all you have to do is leave this room, leave this hall, and you walk around a few blocks from here, and you see these majestic monuments , you can learn from them all about our common values. You know, they come from a certain book, a great book, a good book. It’s called the Bible. It said that all of us are created in the image of God. And those words inspired Jefferson when he declared in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. All women too, by the way.
And that book inspired Abraham Lincoln in the darkest days of America’s Civil War. He found inspiration in the words of our greatest king, King David, when he said that the wounds of a divided America would heal and that the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous. Just as the stirring words of the Prophet Amos inspired the great Martin Luther King when he stood before the Lincoln Memorial and promised to carry on his struggle until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
They values are an inseparable part of America’s story. They’re an inseparable part of Israel’s story. And today, together, we are writing a new chapter in our common story, a story of freedom, of justice, of peace, of hope. And it is because we are inspired by the same ideas, because we are animated by the same values that America and Israel have forged an eternal bond that can never ever be broken.
Thank you, AIPAC. God bless Israel. God bless America. And God bless the Israel-America alliance.”

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Martin Sherman: INTO THE FRAY: The perils of postponing preemption

Israel is approaching a point when it must decide to destroy enemy capabilities, rather than attempting to deter the enemy from using them

Dr. Martin Sherman

Israel is approaching a point when it must decide to destroy enemy capabilities, rather than attempting to deter the enemy from using them.
To remain at peace when you should be going to war may be often very dangerous...Let us attack and subdue…that we may ourselves live safely for the future.
– Thucydides (c. 460–395 BCE)

No government, if it regards war as inevitable, even if it does not want it, would be so foolish as to wait for the moment which is most convenient for the enemy.
– Otto von Bismarck (1815–1890)

…it is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen. But the world and the Parliaments and public opinion would have none of that.. When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure…

Winston Churchill (1874-1965), House of Commons, May 2, 1935.

In the past few days, senior IDF officers have publicly warned that the chances of war on Israel’s northern border in 2018 are growing significantly –see for example here and here.

100,000 missiles just for show?

The specter of renewed fighting presents Israel with a daunting dilemma.

Since the end of the 2006 Lebanon War, poorly conducted—and even more poorly concluded—by the Olmert government, the arsenal of the Iranian terror proxy, Hezbollah has grown exponentially in both the quantity and quality of its weaponry—now reportedly over ten times its pre-war size, and vastly enhanced in terms of its precision and destructive capacity.

Indeed, no one even vaguely familiar with the brutal nature of the organization—its gory past, and chilling proclamations of future intent—could even remotely entertain the hopelessly naïve belief that it was stockpiling over 100,000 missiles just for show.

Accordingly then, the working assumption underlying Israel’s strategic planning must be that, at some stage, they will in fact, be used against Israel and its civilian population centers. Certainly, any policy discounting such a possibility as implausible would be wildly irresponsible.

As Israeli military sources point out—the likelihood of such a grim scenario has been increased by several other factors—over which Israel has little to no control.

The one is the winding down of the civil war in Syria, in which Hezbollah has been embroiled to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad, who appears to have regained control of much of the country. This allowed Hezbollah forces to begin disengaging from the fighting and to refocus their attention on the hated “Zionist entity” to the south. The other is the undisguised efforts of Iranto establish a permanent military presence in both Syria and Lebanon—including the deployment of troops and the production of weapons in these two client states—and the completion of aShia crescent, creating an effective land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean coast.

Who decides when? 
Given the assumption that, bolstered by its patron’s pervasive physical presence, Hezbollah will in all likelihood, eventually, use the vast arsenal at its disposal, the inevitable question is: Will Israel allow its deadly adversary to choose the time, place and circumstances for a major attack against it? Indeed, more to the point, can Israel afford to allow Hezbollah such a choice?

To grasp the consequences of permitting Hezbollah the chance of a large-scale first-strike, it is necessary to understand that the organization now poses a much graver threat than that of an asymmetric war with a guerrilla army, as it did in the past. Thus, a study published in July 2017 by a well-known security studies institute warned:

“…military buildups by Iran and Hezbollah – in Syria, and the production of high quality weapons in Lebanon – could mark the start of a new era... and could be seen as an attempt by Iran and Hezbollah to create a symmetrical strategic equation with Israel, if not more than that, i.e., achieving the capability to inflict significant damage to critical military and civilian systems in Israel”.

Accordingly, Hezbollah has become as a strategic danger to Israel, and while on its own it is clearly unable to invade and conquer large tracts of territory, it is eminently capable of wreaking massive damage on Israel’s civilian population and its strategic infrastructure.

“Unprecedented threat to infrastructure…”

Both the sheer numbers and greatly improved precision of Hezbollah’s weaponry, relative to 2006, could pose an almost insurmountable challenge to Israel’s missile defense systems. For now, not only would a far greater number of missiles be launched, but far fewer would be off target, and could therefore be left to fall un-intercepted, causing neither damage nor casualties…

Thus, the previously cited study cautions: “the threat represented by even a small number of precision missiles that breach Israel’s countermeasures and strike critical systems, such as electricity generation, could be unprecedented. The picture is similar with regard to other critical systems, such as national electricity management; natural gas infrastructure; sea water desalination (only five facilities supply about half of Israel’s drinking water); and many other examples from civilian and military fields.”

As the authors, former government minister, Gideon Sa’ar, and experienced Israeli air force veteran, Ron Tira, point out: “Israel is exceptionally vulnerable to attack by precision weapons, as on the one hand it is an advanced Western country dependent on sophisticated technologies, and on the other it is small, with very concentrated infrastructures and very little redundancy.”

The effects of the accompanying civilian casualties, the disruption of vital services and socio-economic routine—and consequent corrosive impact on public morale of such an assault are difficult to overstate. Indeed, there are certainly liable to be far-reaching and irreversible ramifications for the future resilience of the county—which must be averted at all costs.

Degrading deterrence?

Moreover, if a surprise precision missile attack were launched at Israel’s major air bases, even if the aircraft were left unscathed, damage to runways and infrastructure could render them inoperative—thus crippling, or at least severely curtailing, Israeli ability to retaliate.

After all, the very perception of the feasibility of such a scenario on the part of the enemy could, in itself, erode Israeli deterrence, based as it is—at least in conventional contexts—largely on airpower. This might well prompt the enemy to launch such an attack, in the belief that, if successful, it could then proceed to bombard the country with relative—albeit temporary—impunity.

Indeed, the very concept of ongoing deterrence, as the term has been used in the enduring Arab-Israeli conflict, in which large-scale military clashes flare up regularly, typically after a tense interbellum of several years, should be critically examined. In the intervening period between fighting, Israeli sources attributed the relative calm to the effectiveness of Israeli “deterrence”.

However, Israel’s adversaries, whether Hamas or Hezbollah, have not been deterred in the sense that they have had their will to engage in combat broken. Quite the reverse. Not only have they emerged from each engagement still spoiling for a fight, but after a period, they have emerged with new and vastly enhanced capabilities to be employed in the next round of battle.

So rather than being deterred, both Hamas and Hezbollah have merely been forced to regroup, rearm and redeploy—ready to attack when the time appears opportune.

But for the grace of God?

Certainly, with regard to Hezbollah, claims that it has been deterred, rather than compelled to regroup, rearm and redeploy—seem, to be charitable, unpersuasive. After all, what adversary, if deterred, proceeds immediately to expand their offensive capabilities by over a thousand percent?!

Indeed, it is an open question as to whether Hezbollah—had it not been enmeshed in the Syrian civil war in 2014—would have joined Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in a coordinated bombardment of Israeli cities to overwhelm the defensive capabilities of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

It is an equally open—and ominous—question as to whether it will do so in a fourth round of fighting in Gaza—something numerous pundits consider unavoidable.

Regarding the situation on the northern border, several pundits have advocated a process of limited strikes on specific targets to foil the Iranian buildup, and convey the message that Israel will not tolerate such developments—and will not finch from escalation to prevent them.

This, however, is a prescription that is very likely to fail, increasing dangers, rather than diminishing them. Indeed, given manifest Iranian resolve and proven difficulty in breaking Hezbollah’s will to fight, it is liable to lead not only to the hardening of targets— for example by converting them from surface to underground sites—but to familiarizing the enemy with Israel’s methods and capabilities.

So what then, should Israel do to confront the emerging strategic peril in the north?

Deterrence vs. preemption: the doctrinal clash

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have been warning for years that successive Israeli governments have been backing away from confrontations in which Israel can prevail, thereby risking backing the country into a confrontation in which it may not—or only do so at exorbitant costs.

Such a situation may well be brewing on the northern border today—with Iran at the gates in Syria, with Hezbollah deploying in the Golan, with a massive arsenal in the Lebanon trained on much of the country, and with the possibility of a coordinated attack in the south from Gaza. And if Israel waits until Iran can spread an effective nuclear umbrella over its Judeocidal proxies….?

Simple common sense and survival-based logic would seem to mandate one course of strategic action to contend with these ominous developments: Massive preemption to destroy the enemies’ ability to attack, not deter them from doing so.

In this regard, it is important to gasp that there is a doctrinal clash between the ability to attain effective deterrence and to achieve successful preemption. After all, in order to deter adversaries, one needs to convince them that they will suffer unacceptable damage were they to attack. But to convey such a message, one needs to reveal one’s capabilities to wreak such devastation—for otherwise, how could one’s potential attacker be convinced not to attack?

By contrast, successful preemption typically calls for surprise to overwhelm the enemy with an unexpected assault—which requires concealing one’s capabilities so that the enemy cannot make preparations to thwart them.

The choice of which of these somewhat antithetical doctrines to adopt may soon be upon Israeli policy makers.

1967 triumph vs 1973 trauma

In weighing this strategic dilemma, Israel’s leadership will, in effect, have to decide whether they are willing to risk sacrificing Israeli lives to appease the deity of political correctness. For in the past, restraint has often proven ruinous.

So the choice is between incapacitating the enemy while you can; or continuing to deter the enemy—until you can’t!

In making this decision, it may well be instructive for today’s policymakers to look back at the nation’s history and compare the triumph preemption brought in 1967, to the trauma wrought by deterrence failure in 1973.

Seen in this light, the lesson seems unequivocal… Or is that just me?

 Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies