Israel’s survival and military dominance in the region is not inevitable. We, as a people, must grasp that humbling and harsh fact if Israel is to survive.
1. Hezbollah is Watching
The next war may be against the Iranian proxy Hezbollah from the north. With over 100,000 more advanced missiles than Hamas’ arsenal, today’s Hamas onslaught may look like a popgun in comparison to the lethal power of Hezbollah. Its tunnel networks are probably more complex than the ones in Gaza. Earlier this year I interviewed a physician leading a NGO in South Lebanon who told me that missiles were embedded in people’s homes in every village he visited in Hezbollah-controlled Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is closely watching to see if the international community forces Israel to stop its military actions before its mission is accomplished. Hezbollah will strategize accordingly.
2. Ben-Gurion International Airport
The lesson of the 36-hour closure of Ben-Gurion airport is that, if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, the airport may be closed permanently. If the Palestinian Authority does not or cannot stop Hamas and other terrorists from launching shoulder- fired missiles from Palestinian-controlled territory less than a mile away, Israel’s economy could be shattered. Still worse, if Israel unilaterally disengages from the West Bank, it is more likely to turn into “Hamastan” within a month, i.e. Gaza on the West Bank.
3. Hamas in the next war
Hamas will be more dangerous and harder to contain in the next war. It is already developing drones that could target Dimona, the Israeli nuclear reactor and the Kirya, the Israeli Pentagon. We already have evidence that Hamas planned a major ground operation to terrorize and kill thousands of Israeli civilians. The only question is, will they coordinate with Iran, ISIS, or Hezbollah?
Media bias against Israel will never end. The American people are enigmatically sympathetic to Israel but at the same time ill-informed about the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This makes Americans particularly susceptible to anti-Israel distortions and lies. The need is for pro-active public relations instead of posthoc reactions to distorted media and diplomatic attacks. For example, groups like “Saving the Children” in England, who falsely charge Israel with targeting children, need to be actively confronted in public, not ignored until they do something adverse.
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer modelled the right approach on CNN on July 22. He challenged host Erin Burnett about omitting facts necessary to establish context, and gave specific examples she could not dispute.
In this war, the mainstream media does not challenge Hamas’ defenders. You would never know that the “siege” against Gaza is of Hamas’ own making from international reporting. The media ignore the fact that the borders were open for trade and commerce until Hamas decided to continually fire missiles into Israeli civilian areas.
If Israel publicly offered a 100-year cease-fire for a complete demilitarization of Gaza enforced by NATO, it could change the debate.
5. The Boycott Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS)
As BDS gains steam, Operation Protective Edge is no help against this non-violent legal warfare against Israel. Many in Europe and the progressive far Left correctly believe that BDS is a more effective way to destroy Israel than bullets and missiles.
6. Demonizing Israel favored ahead of economic interests
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that, in exchange for a cease-fire, the West would help relieve the economic blockade of Gaza. Israel understands what Kerry and many in the West refuse to acknowledge.
The cement for tunnels could have been used to build housing. The 30,000 greenhouses Israel gave to Gaza in 2005 to support an economic revival in the Strip were destroyed because anti-Jewish animus trumped economic self-sufficiency. The West must understand that although economics might matter on a personal level in Gaza, it is secondary for the Hamas leadership to their primary goal of destroying Israel.
7. A Gaza security barrier
Israel needs to capitalize on the lessons learned from the West Bank security barrier and consider some type of extreme barrier around Gaza – and include the Philidelphi corridor in the south – to prevent the use of tunnels for importing arms and missiles and mounting terror attacks. A moat, 70-foot-deep and a kilometer-wide, should be considered. Other needs include tools for advanced seismographic analysis to find tunnels.
However, such defenses are based on fighting “the last war,” Hamas will develop new, more sophisticated strategies against Israel. The real problem is that Israel lacks HUMINT (human intelligence) in Gaza.
HUMINT – not the security barrier – keeps the West Bank quiet.
8. The future of Europe
Europe has become a leader in delegitimizing Israel and boycotting its goods. With its growing Muslim population, England, France and other EU nations find it convenient to boycott Israel. They throw Israel under the bus and side with the terrorists, abdicating their moral responsibility to remember their 2,000- year history of pogroms, Crusades, Inquisitions and Holocaust.
9. Western naiveté
The West literally has been fooled by the Arab and Muslim world thousands of times. Will the necessary lessons be learned from this war? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Israel must realize that its Western “allies” will not understand that their ideas of co-existence have no following in this part of the world. They are late to the game in not realizing that the Sunni-Shi’ite war animates all the Middle East conflicts. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of minor importance in the context of the Sunni-Shi’ite war.
10. Differentiating between anti-Israel progressives and pro-Zionist liberals
In the next war, the American Jewish far left will again blame the occupation and settlements for violence, no matter the root cause and true etiology of hostility. We need to distinguish between pro-Israel liberal Zionists and anti-Israel progressives, and pro-Israel Zionists need to lead the charge by distinguishing themselves from the anti-Israel progressives.
11. Israel’s new friends
As the West distances itself from Israel, Israel will continue to develop new strategic relationships with China, India, Korea, Russia and Japan, Israel’s future economic partners. In the next war, they could be invaluable allies.
Final Exam: In this part of the world, you can never placate an enemy. Please discuss.
The author is founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.