These are indeed difficult times requiring painful decisions over issues such as how to placate the Obama administration in order to forestall a breakdown in US-Israel relations and avoid international efforts to force us to revert to the 1949 armistice lines.
But when it comes to matters of defense, there are clear lessons to be learned from the past.
Yet, in addition to Wednesday’s monstrous attack opposite the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, there is a horrible sense of déjà vu as we observe the rapid escalation of Hamas missile launches which had been reduced as a byproduct of Operation Cast Lead.
One is even tempted to compare the current situation with what happened 10 years ago when the crude and limited-range Kassam rockets were first launched against us and contemptuously dismissed by leaders as primitive missiles with little capacity to incur serious damage or casualties.
In a Jerusalem Post
column at the time, I predicted that if we avoided tough measures to curtail these “primitive” rocket attacks, the international community would become accustomed to regarding Palestinian missile launches against our civilians as the norm.
When the government would ultimately be obliged to act, a world accustomed to Israeli passivity against such attacks, would accuse us of over-reacting.
Unfortunately, that is precisely what happened. Each time we responded, we were accused of disproportionality.
Moreover, the situation deteriorated to such an extent that we were left with no alternative but to mount a full scale war against Hamas in Gaza for which the international community condemned us.
IT IS thus alarming to observe the government again prevaricating, issuing empty threats and bombing primarily empty buildings in Gaza in response to increasing attacks.
This has climaxed in recent weeks, with 50 missiles raining down over the Negev over the weekend and the deployment of lethal Iranian grad rockets. Israelis living in the southern region were destabilized and a few were even injured.
Moreover, this is the first time that instead of trying to blame “unauthorized groups,” Hamas felt sufficiently confident to brazenly accept direct responsibility for the missile launches.
Yet, according to media reports, the security establishment relates to these outrageous breaches of international law and attacks on Israeli civilians as “low level confrontation” and reassures us that Hamas was not seeking a “major” conflict. And when civilians located adjacent to rocket-launching areas became casualties we once again apologize rather than condemning those responsible.
Obviously, the deterrent established in the wake of Operation Cast Lead “is eroding rapidly and we are again reconciling ourselves to large areas of Israel being subjected to “low level” missile attacks without reacting with tough military responses.
We should be under no illusions. Limiting our responses in order to meet
Western expectations of “proportionality” serves no purpose. The lesson
learned from Cast Lead was that any action we undertake to defend
ourselves will at best be condemned as disproportionate but more likely
as war crimes. One need only compare the absence of international
criticism to the innocent casualties from Western bombardments in Libya
in contrast to the cynical and hypocritical condemnations of Israel
during Cast Lead, despite the far greater efforts of the IDF to minimize
A MAJOR motivation for the attacks by the Iranian proxy Hamas is
undoubtedly to divert attention from Iran’s internal problems and its
ongoing nuclear project. There is also the desire by Hamas leaders to
deflect domestic public opposition to their rule. But above all, Hamas
is testing our resolve and seeking to identify to what extent we will
remain restrained because of our concern not to antagonize or embarrass
the Americans who are pressuring us not to be “spoilers” during this
period of turmoil sweeping the Arab world.
This is surely one time when we must demand that our prime minister
display decisive leadership, gather his cabinet and insist this will be
one of the rare occasions when all ministers must display unity and
speak with one voice, proclaiming to the world that failing to employ
deterrence is a prescription for disaster.
The opposition should be co-opted to create a united front and there is
little doubt that Kadima supporters will demand that the party support
such a policy.
Our embassies must be instructed to inform all nations that we will
remain neither passive nor act with restraint. If Hamas continues
launching lethal missiles against our civilians, we will severely punish
them. We should emphasize that we seek quiet and stability on our
borders. But if our citizens are targeted once again, not by terrorist
splinter groups but by Hamas, which has exclusive jurisdiction over
Gaza, it will be made to pay a bitter price. We will resume targeted
assassinations and, while endeavoring to minimize civilian casualties,
will be obliged to inflict massive reprisals on its infrastructure.
WE MUST make it clear in advance that Israel will no longer adhere to
the tit-for-tat formula and that we will respond with overwhelming
force, not because we seek revenge but in order to deter future attacks.
This is not behaving disproportionately but is rather striving to
employ deterrence to protect our civilians and avoid a new full-scale
conflict. Such behavior is fully consistent with international law and
our obligation to defend our citizens from outright aggression.
The time to bite the bullet is now. If we fail to reinforce deterrence
immediately, the long-term price may be far more severe than any
worldwide condemnations that will result.
We will be adopting a moral position which will undoubtedly be condemned
by those with no love for Israel. But any country seeking to deny our
government the right to protect its civilians will stand exposed as
Ideally, this strategy may serve to stabilize the borders and avoid
another war. On the other hand, if Hamas has a desire for martyrdom, we
will be obliged to once again confront them full on. I am no military
strategist, but it would surely be preferable for us to face this
situation now, before Hamas manages to acquire more deadly weaponry that
will undoubtedly reach Gaza under a future Egyptian regime.
We would also be in a better position to confront the terrorists today,
prior to the stabilization of the new Arab governments – which are
likely to be even more hostile to us than their predecessors.
A short response to Rabbi Marc Schneier
Contrary to Rabbi Schneier’s
, I support Muslim-Jewish dialogue – with the caveat that the
Muslim partner is willing to unequivocally condemn terror and global
Yet Schneier’s principal partner and sponsor is Russell Simmons, the
hip-hop mogul who idolizes Louis Farrakhan, the vile anti-Semitic leader
of the Nation of Islam.
Schneier boasts of his association with the Islamic Society of North
America [ISNA]. He fails to mention that it was founded by members of
the Muslim Brotherhood, has a long history of promoting fundamentalism
and anti-Semitism, and remains an unindicted coconspirator for financing
Of late, ISNA portrays itself as moderate, and occasionally issues
statements condemning terrorist excesses. Yet at its conference it
featured speakers spewing anti-Semitism, supporting Hezbollah and
endorsing books which compared Israelis with Nazis, backed Hamas and
promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
This body essentially represents a component of the Wahhabi lobby in the
US. It should not qualify as a body with which any reputable Jewish
leader should be associated, and it is thus a disgrace that Schneier
lends his name to legitimizing such an organization.
Schneier alleges that he enjoys the support of the World Jewish
Congress. Yet the WJC secretarygeneral Michael Schneider informs me that
Schneier was notified that he could not speak on behalf of the WJC at
the New York demonstration against Peter King’s proposed public hearings
on radicalization of the Muslim community in the US. The WJC also
declined to join his board, and does not fund him.
When Schneier proclaims “today I am a Muslim too,” the least he should
do is call on his Muslim associates to condemn the anti-Semitism,
persecution, murder, religious cleansing and denial of human rights to
non-Muslims that prevail in many Islamic states.