Sunday's news was of Israel's liquidation of a prominent Hezbollah officer, the son of an even more senior Hezbollah officer who Israel liquidated some years ago. Along with him went five other Hezbollah and six Iranian combatants, including one general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The Hezbollah officer was said to be planning attacks on Israeli civilians in the Golan. We do not know if the others were part of a targeted group, or just happened to be in harm's way.

Also in the news was the arrest of several Israeli Arabs who had identified with ISIS, and were preparing to leave the country to pass through Turkey in order to fight in Syria or Iraq.

Both items reflect the weight of Israel's investment in intelligence, which has given the country a leg up on Europeans and Americans, and makes this a safer place than any Western European country or the US.

Intelligence comes from a variety of sources. In the nature of the business, commoners do not know very much. Yet we hear stories from the media, from individuals who know and hint about their activities, and from some of our own experiences that--with a bit of imagination--allow a partial description of what is likely to be happening.

Some of it comes from technology. We may presume that all of our phones are subject to screening. Should we speak or text in ways that fit an algorithm, or make contact with someone on a list, then we might come in for closer attention and follow up from a human being.

Intelligence from informants may begin with someone from a target community who has fallen afoul of economic, sexual, family, or other personal behavior that is forbidden, and may be fatal if revealed. Or it may come from someone who has been shunned, insulted, or simply feels different. Or wants money. 

It's dangerous business. Individuals thought to have provided information to the Zionist devils are not accorded a defendant's rights. Even a suspicion may produce torture and execution on a crowded street, meant to demonstrate the risks in being a traitor. At least some of the people killed have been innocent, and were targeted only because they were convenient for someone with power. or wanting power.

Whatever the means Israel uses to get information, the results are impressive, as shown by knowing the precise location of a targeted individual, and putting an attack helicopter, armed drone, exploding telephone, or some other weapon at the right place and time.

Ethnic profiling plays a part in intelligence gathering and the maintenance of security. It may not be politically correct in the eyes of the naive, and it may insult the innocent who are picked for special scrutiny at an airport, but it's efficient in keeping little old Jewish ladies from taking off their shoes for inspection

Commentary in the Israeli media after the latest liquidation has been quick and varied.

Some has questioned the wisdom of the action, and are certain that it will bring a costly response from Hezbollah and/or Iran.

Another view begins with the phrase from the Talmud, often heard in connection with Israel's aggressive mode of defense. "If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first." 

Hezbollah may have the capacity to reach all of Israel's cities with its rockets, and perhaps even to capture settlements in the Galilee and liquidate their residents. However, Israel's capacity to bring wreck havoc among Hezbollah and Lebanon's infrastructure is vastly greater. 

It's a tough region. Israel has sought to keep its own actions measured and appropriate, with signals to its adversaries that they do the same.

Both Hezbollah and Iran are threatening Israel with an Apocalypse. It may take a while for Hezbollah and Iran to decide what to do, if anything, plan and implement. There may be serious action in Israel, and Israeli responses in Lebanon, Syria, and/or Iran. Or maybe only a limited attack on an Israeli target, an overseas Jewish facility, or a tourist site visited by Israelis or Jews.

That's what we think about in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that Israelis suffer from the high costs of national defense and the personal threats that come from being always in the focus of those who want to kill or only to criticize, sanction, and downsize.

Some of the enmity comes from classic anti-Semitism, with stereotypes that Muslims acquired from an earlier generation of Christians, who got them from an earlier era of Greek domination (See Josephus  Against Apion). Some comes from fatigue with this "shitty little country" that is so often in the headlines and so often condemned that it must be doing something wrong. Some comes from great power calculations that the Jews have done well, and must suffer a bit in order to appease the far greater numbers of Muslims. Some comes from the naivete of individuals who get to the top of western governments, think they know the secret of solving Israel-Palestinian issues that have eluded others over the course of a century, then blame Israel when they fail.

Israelis recognize the ambivalence in their situation. We have made life unpleasant for Arabs, who make life unpleasant for us. Jewish morality allows us to claim that we have not produced social pathologies equivalent to those suffered by Native Americans or African Americans.

Some years ago, when the style of Arabs inclined to violence was to attack individual Jews with knives, we told our young children to avoid insulting Arabs, but to be careful. If they sensed an Arab walking behind them, it would be best to step aside in an unobtrusive manner and allow the Arab to walk ahead. 

A Jewish source records 3,728 instances of death by terror between from 1920 through 2014 among people associated with Israel or the pre-state yishuv Other sources record many more deaths from Muslim against Muslim terror elsewhere in the Middle East. Only in one year since 1920 did the incidence of Israeli terror deaths approach the incidence of traffic deaths. Those statistics show that Israel scores well according to common ways of measuring traffic safety, better than many western European countries, the US and Canada. During several recent years, the incidence of Israelis dying as a result of traffic accidents has been in the range of 40-50 times those dying from terror.

Like others, Israelis must be careful when driving and when crossing the street, and they must be avoid places known to be troublesome. Thanks in large part to those who gather and act in response to intelligence--neither of whom do things considered nice in polite society--this is a safer place than many others.

 


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