Saturday, May 25, 2019

Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security: No Illusions, No Despair

A new national security plan says avoid risky diplomatic escapades and prepare for war.

At a much darker hour in Jewish history, prior to the UN vote in 1947, David Ben-Gurion said: “We hold no illusions, but do not despair. For us Jews, and particularly Zionists, two things are forbidden: easy optimism and sterile pessimism.”

That dictum, “no illusions, no despair,” is the headline of a national security policy plan for Israel’s new government that will be released next week by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS).

At the basis of the plan’s 14 concrete policy recommendations is the assumption that Israel must be ready for war on three fronts against an Iranian-led coalition. This means preventing the emergence of an Iranian war machine in Syria and Iranian long-range missile bases in Iraq; presenting a credible capacity to strike Iranian nuclear targets and the ability to withstand an intense missile war; and preparing ground forces capable of swift maneuvers and attaining decisive outcomes (“mowing the grass”) in the two Palestinian arenas.

All this will test the cohesion of Israeli society, the strength of the IDF, and Israel’s diplomatic agility. Therefore, say JISS fellows, the new government must nurture a spirit of unity and national purpose by building a policy consensus as broad as possible.

Among other things, this means avoiding risky diplomatic escapades like unilateral withdrawals from parts of the West Bank, withdrawals that would unnecessarily and unjustifiably tear the country apart while feeding unrealistic Palestinian expectations – without any real diplomatic reward for Israel.

“Indefinitely managing the conflict with the Palestinians is not a cowardly choice by hapless political and military leaders, but a rational choice,” write the JISS fellows. “Especially when the Iranian challenge looms larger than ever on Israel’s horizons.”

To this I add: Judicious conflict management requires a steady hand at the helm of state, and self-confidence in the justice of Israel’s long-term interests. Most of all, it requires patience.

As for the extension of Israeli law to settlements in Judea and Samaria, here too the JISS plan urges restraint. “No action should be taken until the Trump administration peace initiative has been exhausted; and even then, Israeli moves should adhere to the contours of broad national consensus” (meaning the settlement blocs, the Jordan Valley and other key strategic areas).

The big exception to this rule is Jerusalem. Israel’s national security requires control over Jerusalem and its very broad environs. Reinforcing Jerusalem should be a high priority, with the government acting to bolster the Zionist majority in the city by massive building in the E-1 quadrant (despite Palestinian and European objections) and linking the city to Ma’aleh Adumim and eventually to the Jordan Valley.

The plan also recommends that Arab parts of the city be governed more firmly and fairly. This means that resolute action needs to be taken against radical elements who seek to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, and against foreign elements (like Turkey and the European Union) who undermine Israel’s sovereignty in the Jewish people’s historical capital. At the same time, the government should encourage greater integration of eastern Jerusalem Arabs in Israeli life through investment in infrastructure and education.

JISS FELLOWS say that Israel should welcome the so-called “Deal of the Century” about to be unveiled by Washington and agree to negotiate on its basis. The reason for this is simple: Hopefully, the Trump plan will upend stale “common wisdom” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and offer more realistic contours. (This is often termed EKP – the “Everybody Knows Paradigm” for Israeli-Palestinian peace, something like the “Clinton Parameters.”) In any case, Israel must be ready for a security deterioration if, as expected, Palestinian leadership rejects the American initiative.

Other diplomatic and defense recommendations in the JISS plan are to prioritize relations with Egypt and Jordan while seeking new partnerships in the Arab world; exact a price for Erdogan’s provocations and bolster alliances in the eastern Mediterranean; preserve bipartisan support for Israel in the US; maintain active dialogue and deconfliction channels with Russia; act boldly to find European anchors to negate hostile attitudes in Brussels; tread carefully amidst rising tensions in Asia; and enhance Israel’s diplomatic toolbox.

The latter point bears elaboration. JISS fellows give very high marks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for greatly expanding Israel’s global diplomatic standing, including enhanced ties with Russia, China, India, Eastern European countries and African and South American countries. But capitalizing on Israel’s opportunities in the international arena requires a strengthening of the professional Israeli foreign service.

This should include appointment of a full-time foreign minister; a return to the Foreign Ministry of professional units dispersed among other ministries; the allocation of additional budgets for diplomacy; the enhancement of MASHAV (Israel’s foreign aid agency) and the integration of Israeli (and Jewish) NGOs in aid projects overseas; and training cadres of professionals who can communicate with an increasingly attentive audience in the Arabic-speaking world.

The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security was established in 2017 to express a realist strategic worldview. It promotes the Jewish people’s historical connection to the Land of Israel “as a central component of security and national identity,” and advances “pragmatic policies that keep Israel strong and will lead to stable diplomatic arrangements in the long term.”

Among its leaders are Prof. Efraim Inbar, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow), Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Golan, Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, Mrs. Micky Aharonson, Dr. David Koren, Dr. Joshua Krasna, Dr. Yossi Mansharof, Dr. Emmanuel Navon, Dr. Uzi Rubin, Dr. Jonathan Spyer, myself and others.

My sense is that the Israeli public has long hankered for expert analysis that would validate its healthy conservative instincts in matters of war and peace. The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security is the answer to this need. Thus, it is not surprising that the key word in the JISS national security plan is “caution.”

Israel is a strong country and its strategic position is better than ever. Nevertheless, it still faces significant security challenges, primarily from the Iranian regime and its proxies, alongside a violent and intractable conflict with the Palestinians. Therefore, the IDF must be geared for war. This is the ultimate test for Israeli society, too.

The writer is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, His personal site is


My comment:

I am not sure if I fully agree with “JISS FELLOWS say that Israel should welcome the so-called “Deal of the Century” ”    As I wrote from my mamad three weeks ago, while I could hear the booms of the exploding scuds:

“So the real question is how does the Trump Peace Plan deal with the fact that the followers of Islamic ideology would always try to impose their Shari’a law on everyone else?”

I would wait for the “Deal of the Century” to be unveiled first.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Shadow Strike

The right book to read vis-à-vis US-Iran tension

Shadow Strike is immensely readable and although much of the info had percolated down to the general public during these last 12 years, it well describes the politics of the Bush administration’s reluctance to bomb the reactor themselves.

It shows how ignorant some members of the Bush administration were about Israel’s predicament and that is especially true of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Vice President Dick Cheney seems to have been the most supportive of Israel, but he could not convince President Bush to attack the reactor himself.  John Bolton comes out as the only one who sensed that Syria was interested in nuclear weapons. We should remind everyone how wrong Joe Biden had been in attacking Bolton on this issue.   

The book also demonstrates how obsessed both the American and Israeli side were with the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process – the desire to construct the political perpetuum mobile  without them first doing their homework on Islam as both a religion and an ideology. Not that much has changed in this regard since.

I detect a certain positive bias towards the main protagonists Olmert, Barak, Peretz, Livni, Dagan, Ashkenazi, Yadlin and Halevy while the gibe is against Netanyahu for having two weeks after the strike congratulated Olmert on the successful strike and disclosed that Israel had done it.  In addition, Katz seems to take Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi’s side when they blocked Netanyahu and Barak’s order of placing the IDF on high alert and ready for the imminent attack on Iranian nuclear sites, a decision the consequences of which are still felt today with Secretary of State Pompeo cancelling his visit to Greenland and the cover of The Economist showing a photo of USS Abraham Lincoln and the headline “Collision course”

I learned about the balagan Israel is capable of.  

“On the plane [from Pyongyang], Halevy was surprised to run into Eytan Bentsur, the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry who had just wrapped his own visit to Pyongyang for talks with the North Koreans  on a similar topic .

It was a classic case of uncoordinated Israeli bureaucracy”

And what about Iran?

Yaakov Katz writes: “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, for example, has a significant nuclear arsenal but Israel does not consider the possibility of launching an attack there. Why?

Meridor, one of the participants in the fateful 2010 Security Cabinet meeting, told me that for Israel to consider preemptive action against another country’s nuclear program, two criteria have to be met: the country has to be one of Israel’s enemies  and also have the potential to one day consider using a nuclear weapon against it . Syria fit both. Pakistan does not.”

Iran fits both too. Perhaps Meridor should be reminded what Bernard Lewis said:

 “In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction), would have no meaning.  At the End of Time, there will be general destruction anyway.  What will matter is the final destination of the dead-- hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement...”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Collision course - MAD as Albert Wohlstetter put it in 1958

Secretary of State Pompeo cancelled his visit to Greenland and the cover of The Economist says Collision course. Time to reread Albert Wohlstetter: The Delicate Balance of Terror


"On the whole, I think the burden of the criticism of deterrence has been the inadequacy of a thermonuclear capability and frequently of, what is not really deterrence at all, the threat to strike first. But it would be a fatal mistake to confuse the inadequacy of strategic deterrence with its dispensability. Deterrence is not dispensable. If the picture of the world I have drawn is rather bleak, it could nonetheless be cataclysmically worse. Suppose both the United States and the Soviet Union had the power to destroy each others' retaliatory forces and society, given the opportunity to administer the opening blow. In this case, the situation would be something like the old-fashioned Western gun duel. It would be extraordinarily risky for one side not to attempt to destroy the other, or to delay doing so. Not only can it emerge unscathed by striking first; this is the only way it can have a reasonable hope of emerging at all. Such a situation is clearly extremely unstable. On the other hand, if it is clear that the aggressor too will suffer catastrophic damage in the event of his aggression, he then has strong reason not to attack, even though he can administer great damage. A protected retaliatory capability has a stabilizing influence not only in deterring rational attack, but also in offering every inducement to both powers to reduce the chance of accidental detonation of war. Our own interest in "fail-safe" responses for our retaliatory forces illustrates this. A protected power to strike back does not come automatically, but it can hardly be stressed too much that it is worth the effort."

"A deterrent strategy is aimed at a rational enemy."

Monday, May 6, 2019

Why is only Austria's Parliament discussing the Iranian threat? What about the Knesset?

The Jerusalem Post


Bassam Tibi

"If there is going to be a repeat of the Holocaust, it will not be in Europe - here people have matured - but in the Middle East."

The prominent German-Syrian Islam expert Bassam Tibi warned Austria’s Parliament on Friday that the Islamic Republic of Iran may carry out a second Holocaust against Jews in Israel.

During a memorial for the victims of Nazism, Tibi said: “When an atomic bomb is planned from Iran in the direction of Israel, that is a Holocaust. And who denies that must be penalized like every Holocaust denier.”

Tibi told Austria’s political class, including Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, “If there is going to be a repeat of the Holocaust, it will not be in Europe – here people have matured – but in the Middle East.”

Tibi, who was born in Damascus in 1944, relocated to Germany in 1962, and studied in Frankfurt with two leading German-Jewish philosophers, Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, he said in his speech “Adorno and Horkheimer changed my life.” He said later he had to flee the brutal Hafez al-Assad dictatorship in Syria.

A political scientist, Tibi has taught at Harvard University, Cornell University and the University of Göttingen.

He told the audience that whoever is against antisemitism must be “against all forms of antisemtism,” and that “today’s antisemitism not only comes from the Nazi corner but also comes much more from the Arab region as immigrant antisemitism in European Islamic communities.”

Tibi said contemporary antisemitism “often appears as criticism of Israel, which is personified as the ‘world Jew’ that needs to be wiped out.”

“We must fight Islamic antisemitism,” he continued. Tibi criticized the parallel between Islamophobia and antisemitism, declaring it “pure ideology,” and lamented that if one speaks about Islamic antisemitism, “You run risk of being labeled an Islamophobe.”

Tibi, who has written extensively about modern antisemitism, said “Jewish life is in danger in Europe,” adding “Many Jews are leaving France because they say it is more secure in Israel.”

In addition to highlighting the rise of Islamic antisemitism, Tibi noted growing left-wing antisemitism, citing the ongoing Jew-hatred scandals within Britain’s Labour Party.

Tibi also said the Muslim Brotherhood is a highly dangerous organization, noting that its Egyptian founder “Hassan al-Banna was  calling for the destruction of the Jews in the 1930s. That is terrorism.”

Tibi stressed that one must differentiate between Islam and Islamism.

On a side note, Tibi mentioned that in the US he met the late Middle East historian Bernard Lewis, commenting that “the Jewish historian was my mentor and friend,” and terming Lewis the “greatest historian of Islam.”

He credited Lewis’s book “The Jews of Islam” as a critical work for his knowledge about the Middle East. While in the US, he said he felt most at home with the American Jewish community.

Austria along with the European Union has refused to join US sanctions against Iran’s regime. The United States government classifies the Islamic Republic of Iran as the top state-sponsor of terrorism. Austria has also refused to outlaw the terrorist entity Hezbollah’s military wing. Hezbollah’s aim is the destruction of Israel.

John Bolton's clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime

Statement from the National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton

 Issued on: May 5, 2019

In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.  The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Be’er Sheva under rocket attack, n+1st time!

How long will this go on for? How many years must we go through this? 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2018, now yet again!?  

I am fed up!  I am fed up with everyone's lack of courage to say the truth about Islamic ideology and their followers whom Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls “Medina Muslims” (who “see the forcible imposition of Shari’a as their religious duty”), as opposed to “Mecca Muslims” (i.e., “Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly, but are not inclined to practice violence”).

For centuries many have been trying to construct the perpetuum mobile - the perpetual motion machine - but without any success. Why have they all failed? Because the perpetual motion machine would violate the laws of thermodynamics.    

For decades many have been trying to come up with a Middle East peace plan. Why have they all failed? Because Middle East Peace, as defined by Western democracies, would violate one of the basic tenets of Islamic ideology – jihad. Islam is not only a religion but a political ideology as well. After all, Ayatollah Khomeini said: “Islam is politics or it is nothing.” 

So the real question is how does the Trump Peace Plan deal with the fact that the followers of Islamic ideology would always try to impose their Shari’a law on everyone else?