Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Report: Nasrallah to Meet Assad, Iranian Security Chief in Syria - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
- July 27, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel's Citizen Army Goes to War
Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hizballah - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
Christians Fleeing Lebanon Denounce Hizballah - Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times)
IDF Sets Up Security Zone in Northern Gaza to Block Tunnels into Israel - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
International Aid Goes to Pay Hamas Salaries - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Truth Always Hurts - Andrew Bolt (Melbourne Herald Sun-Australia)
Inside Hizballah's Decision-Making - Magnus Ranstorp (Counterterrorism Blog)
Just What Israeli "Atrocity" Are We Talking About? - Editorial (Vancouver Province)
New FBI Division to Focus on Terrorist WMDs - Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
Choosing between a Shoe and a Husband - Rana Saed (Ha'aretz)
650 French Jews Emigrate to Israel - (Bloomberg)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush said Thursday: "The Middle East is littered with agreements that just didn't work. And now is the time to address the root cause of the problem. And the root cause of the problem is terrorist groups trying to stop the advance of democracies. Hizballah attacked Israel. I know Hizballah is connected to Iran. And now is the time for the world to confront these dangers."
"My goal is...to hopefully end this as quickly as possible, and at the same time, making sure there's a lasting peace - not a fake peace, not a fake, you know, kind of circumstances that make us all feel better, and then, sure enough, the problem arises again." (White House)
British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced growing pressure to distance himself from his U.S. ally over the Middle East as he headed for talks with President Bush in Washington on Friday. As he did during the Iraq war, Blair has sided squarely with Washington over the conflict between Israel and Hizballah, putting himself at odds with Arab nations and European allies by refusing to call for an immediate cease-fire. Blair has said he wants the killing to stop now but argues that a cease-fire will only work if conditions are first put in place to ensure both sides respect it. (Reuters)
Hizballah's display of coordinated attacks and small-unit action is surprising the world community and making Western nations think twice about agreeing to put peacekeeping troops between the militant Lebanese Shi'ite group and Israeli forces, military analysts say. Retired Army Maj.-Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, said that persuading Western nations to send troops to southern Lebanon would be a "hard sell."
"Few nations want to confront Hizballah because the terrorist group has an unquenchable lust for martyrdom fueled by a radical Islamic ideology," said retired Army Lt.-Col. Robert Maginnis, a military analyst. "I'm not optimistic about the so-called peacekeeping effort. NATO could do the mission, but the French will veto, and besides they already have their hands full in Afghanistan and the Balkans. The European Union is a good candidate, but because members have cut rather than increased their military budgets for more than a decade, they are unlikely to jump on the alternative."
There is still the memory of Hizballah suicide bombers blowing up a Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 American service members. Some in the Pentagon doubt Hizballah would ever cede its territory to foreigners or live by any agreement that prevented it from attacking Israel. The White House has downplayed the chance that any U.S. troops would return to Lebanon as peacekeepers. (Washington Times)
See also Four Nations Indicate Willingness to Join Force for Securing Lebanon - John King
France, Italy, Turkey, and Norway show a willingness to join an international peacekeeping force for Lebanon, according to diplomatic sources familiar with discussions at Wednesday's emergency Mideast summit in Rome. (CNN)
Tal Levi and Mark Schon, both 27, are reservists in an Israeli artillery unit that is bombarding southern Lebanon. They have no doubt whatsoever that what they are doing is justified. "What would you do if Italy was bombarding Paris and it said it couldn't do anything, that the attacks were by a group it can't control?" asked Levi. "We don't have any choice. No other country would tolerate this accumulation of forces on its border," he said. Both are from Haifa, the port city that has been a main target of the rockets Hizballah has been raining down on northern Israel. They are here to "protect their families." Their views are typical not just of Israeli troops but of the entire nation. A recent opinion poll showed that Israelis are almost unanimous in their belief that the Jewish state's massive offensive against Hizballah is justified. (AFP/Yahoo)
Maj. Roi Klein, 31, a Golani brigade deputy commander, was killed Wednesday at Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon. Two soldiers who were with him said Klein threw his body over a hand grenade, sacrificing his life for the sake of his soldiers. In the last seconds of his life, he was heard to shout the "Shema Yisrael" prayer. He lived in Eli with his wife, Sara, and his two children, Gilad, 3, and Yoav, 1. (Newsday/Los Angeles Times/Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Dr. Danny Yaakovi, a doctor from Yakir, was murdered Thursday and his body was found in the trunk of his burned car near Kalkilya in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
Hizballah terrorists in Lebanon fired over 100 Katyusha rockets at northern Israel on Thursday. Thirteen people were injured as rockets fell in Haifa, Nahariya, Rosh Hanikra, Kfar Vradim, Granot, Peki'in, Ma'alot, Carmiel, Majdal Krum, Kiryat Shmona, Yesod Hama'ala, Safed, Tiberias, and Rosh Pina. 98 people remain hospitalized. (Ha'aretz)
See also Rocket Barrage Hits Northern Israel on Friday - Hagai Einav (Ynet News)
A Palestinian terrorist who arrived at a roadblock near the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem Thursday opened fire at Border Guard officers, injuring two. The officers fired back and killed the Palestinian. (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed next to a kindergarten in a community south of Ashkelon Friday morning. Two children were lightly wounded and eight more people suffered shock. The kindergarten building was damaged. (Ynet News)
See also Palestinian Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fired three Kassam rockets towards Sderot Friday morning. On Thursday night, five rockets were fired towards Sderot and the western Negev region. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There have already been cease-fire agreements with Hizballah in south Lebanon - in 1993 and in 1996 - that were not worth the paper on which they were written. Even withdrawing from Lebanon down to the last millimeter, as confirmed by the UN, did not prevent Hizballah from continuing its attacks, abducting and killing Israelis, shelling Israeli towns, building up a huge array of rockets and missiles, courtesy of Iran and Syria, and digging in very deep along the border. Should Israel's strategy for ending the war repeat the same scenario? That would be a recipe for suicide.
The strategy for ending the war with Hizballah must state that the outcome will be deemed positive only if Hizballah is dealt a major blow, feels that it has paid a steep price, and is isolated in the Arab world. Only that kind of ending will not cause more serious danger in the future. Israel's goal should be to eliminate Hizballah's military deployment in south Lebanon, including its fortifications. (Ha'aretz)
A premature peace must be resisted, for Israel's sake, for Lebanon's sake, and for the sake of the broader war against Islamic extremism. In crushing Hizballah, Israel is carrying the water of the West and of the moderate Arab regimes, which recognize that the growing power and influence of Iran, Syria, and their Islamist surrogates threatens their existence as well. The current fighting has revealed that Hizballah is armed with missiles far more powerful than previously thought. That makes pushing it back essential to Israel's defense. The writer is editorial page editor of the Detroit News. (Detroit News)
Israel went to war to remove Hizballah's strategic missile threat on its northern border. An Israeli victory over Hizballah may offer the Lebanese people another window of opportunity to become a democratic sovereign state free from the fear and tyranny Syria and Iran, via Hizballah, have imposed on it. Radical Islam is nurtured by its perceived successes, as it is poisoned by its perceived failures. The Israeli counteroffensive in Lebanon is one of the last stations at which the seeming runaway train of radical Islam can be stopped or certainly slowed in its tracks. (Jerusalem Post)
Twice during my four years as secretary of state we faced situations similar to the one that confronts us today. In June 1993, Israel responded to Hizballah rocket attacks along its northern border by launching Operation Accountability. After several days, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asked me to use my contacts in Syria to seek their help in containing the hostilities. We never knew exactly what the Syrians did, but clearly Hizballah responded to their direction. In April 1996, when Hizballah again launched rocket attacks on Israel's northern border, the Israelis countered with Operation Grapes of Wrath. After Shimon Peres sought our help, we launched an eight-day shuttle to Damascus, Beirut, and Jerusalem that produced a written agreement that succeeded for ten years in preventing a wholesale resumption of hostilities.
Based upon my experience in helping bring an end to the fighting in the Balkans, the Europeans are unlikely to participate in a multinational enforcement action until the U.S. commits to putting its own troops on the ground. Finally, Syria may well be a critical participant in any cease-fire arrangement, just as it was in 1993 and 1996. The writer was U.S. Secretary of State from 1993 to 1997. (Washington Post)
Morality and War
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah, apologized to the families of two Israeli children who were killed by a Hizballah rocket that hit the Christian holy city of Nazareth. He called them shahids, martyrs, even though they did not choose to die at the hands of Hizballah terrorists. The apology was issued because they were Israeli Arabs and not Jews. Hizballah's rockets are aimed at Jews, and earn cheers whenever they kill a Jewish baby or grandmother. No apologies there.
The so-called Arab-Israeli conflict represents the first instance since the Holocaust that Jews, as Jews, are being specifically targeted by an international organization that seeks recognition as a legitimate power. Hizballah has threatened to attack Jewish targets outside of Israel as well. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Louise Arbour, and many within the European Union are condemning Israel for its reasonable military actions to prevent these racist murders. They insist that there is a moral equivalence between the anti-Semitic targeting of Jews by Hizballah and the defensive actions directed by Israel at military targets. (Christian Science Monitor)
The criticism that Israel is using "disproportionate force" is just silly. No country operates on the principle of responding to aggression with no more force than was originally used against it. During World War II, Germany sunk a lot of American ships and declared war on us, and in return we flattened its cities, killed, or captured hundreds of thousands of its solders, and occupied its land. That was hardly a proportionate response. Hizballah places its rockets in homes, knowing that Israel cannot hit back without creating collateral damage. If Israel has to operate under a code of ethics that renders civilian deaths unacceptable, then it automatically loses.
Israel says attacks on Lebanon's civilian infrastructure are an attempt to prevent Hizballah from transporting the captured soldiers to Iran and to prevent Iran and Syria from resupplying Hizballah. Where Israel has bombed civilian areas, it has been in an attempt to strike Hizballah's rockets. (Los Angeles Times)
British pathology now runs so deep that the hostility towards Israel's activities in Lebanon is currently far more pronounced than in much of the Arab world. The BBC in particular has turned into the Beirut Broadcasting Corporation, reporting the war almost entirely from the perspective of a Lebanon that is entirely innocent and victimized.
All this with scarcely a nod at the scores of Israeli dead and hundreds of casualties, or the thousands of Israeli refugees being taken in by families in the south of the country. And despite the fact that those Israeli casualties are being specifically targeted for death, whereas the Lebanese casualties are the inadvertent victims of attacks directed against Hizballah terrorists. Hizballah is using the civilian population as human shields, deliberately siting its rockets and other weapons in the basements of apartment blocks, schools, and mosques. (melaniephillips.com)
Israel did not go to war because of the two kidnapped soldiers, though their redemption is and must remain a priority. The war came about because of Israel's need to eliminate the missile attacks on its population in the north and incursions into its territory by Hizballah. Because the international community did nothing about Hizballah's control of southern Lebanon, despite UN Security Council Resolution 1559, the terrorist group accumulated 13,000 rockets, some reportedly with a range of 125 miles. Had Israel not acted when it did, Damascus and Tehran would have undoubtedly elevated the quantity, quality, and range of missiles, with chemically tipped weapons surely part of the future mix.
By making it well-nigh impossible for Israel to hit its military infrastructure and arms without harming civilians, Hizballah calculatedly created an impossible dilemma: to avoid imposing civilian casualties in Lebanon by leaving Hizballah missiles intact and leaving Israeli citizens vulnerable, or taking out Hizballah missiles with civilian casualties. Israel observes the first responsibility of a state - to protect its people from outside attack. And, in the process, it tries its best to minimize the damage to the Lebanese. It is Hizballah that is ultimately responsible for what has happened, and it was an illusion to talk about a normal, independent Lebanon as long as a terrorist group, armed to the teeth by two of the most dangerous states on the planet, held sway in the south of the country. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Ha'aretz)
Protests against the IDF offensive operation in Lebanon don't come to terms with what we learn from war ethics literature. After IDF forces withdrew behind the international border as part of a settlement validated by UN resolutions, all use of force against them, including the killing and kidnapping of soldiers, is not legitimate. (Ha'aretz)
Some insist on distinguishing between Hizballah and Hamas. While Hizballah is an operational extension of the Shia Iranian revolution, Hamas, they argue, represents the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. In fact, Hamas represents the undoing of Palestinian national aspirations. For Hamas, a Palestinian state is merely a means to an end: the resurrection of the medieval caliphate and the transformation of the Middle East into a single Islamist state. In rejecting mere nationalism, Hamas is returning the Palestinians to their pre-national consciousness, when Palestinians were part of an amorphous Arab or Muslim identity. The first casualty of the jihad, then, has been a viable Palestinian national identity, and, with it, the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. (New Republic, 26Jul06)
Let's face it: Aside from fighting for themselves, the Israelis are also fighting for us. For the Iranians, Israel is the first front in the war against the West, and they supply Hizballah to do their fighting for them. The introduction of easily launched rockets and more advanced long-range missiles across the borders of Israel is an augury of what other countries could soon face internally: India, for example, and Russia, too. One day, and soon, ethnic and sectarian terrorists - operating out of relatively self-contained regions or smaller population centers - will catapult projectile weapons into adjoining cities and areas. The countries so attacked will not respond any more gently than Israel has. (New Republic)
Iran is at an all-time high in its regional influence. Arab nationalism and cooperation is at an all-time low. Most Arab states, except for Syria, are nervous about Iran's power and the domestic threat of Islamist rivals. The democracy movement is close to dead, unable to compete with the demagoguery. Courageous reformers watch in horror as their worst nightmares seem to be coming true.
The Palestinians are increasingly radicalized, having rejected any possible peaceful solution with Israel and now following an extremist Islamist leadership. Any serious peace process isn't just dead for the moment - it is years from even beginning. (Jerusalem Post)
"Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. "In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hizballah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."
There are two ways to deal with this challenge, said Eran Lerman, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence who is now director of the Jerusalem office of the American Jewish Committee. "One is the air power school of thought, the other is the land-borne option....The air force concept is very methodical and almost by definition is slower to get results. A ground invasion...is quicker, but at a much higher cost in human life and requiring the creation of a presence on the ground."
"A big invasion is not suitable here," said Moshe Marzuk, a former head of the Lebanon desk for Israeli Military Intelligence who now is a researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. "We are not fighting an army, but guerrillas. It would be a mistake to enter and expose ourselves to fighters who will hide, fire off a missile, and run away. If we are to be on the ground at all, we need to use commandos and special forces." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Why did Hizballah invest so much time and energy in creating a network of rockets and missiles that is the densest in the world (at least in terms of weaponry per square kilometer)? After all, its leaders knew that Israel would never threaten Lebanon. Eventually Hizballah (installed as Lebanon's formal regime?), in collaboration with Iran, would have launched a war of annihilation against Israel. Should the confrontation with Hizballah have been delayed until Iran had already acquired nuclear weapons?
The IDF is not fighting a small guerrilla organization. It is dealing with a trained, skilled, well-organized, highly motivated infantry that is equipped with the cream of the crop of modern weaponry from the arsenals of Syria, Iran, Russia, and China, and which is very familiar with the territory on which it is fighting. In such a showdown, the going is very slow, and, sadly, you must also pay a heavy price in terms of casualties.
The first Lebanon war in 1982 achieved its goal: the Palestine Liberation Organization's removal from Lebanese soil. (Ha'aretz)
Israel hasn't deterred its enemies since 1967. Israel deterred neighboring countries as long as those countries had no interest in instigating a war they didn't really need. Since 1973 Syria has been deterred from outright war with Israel in the Golan Heights, but has been fighting Israel from Lebanon, first using Arafat's Fatah group, then moving on to Hizballah. Against non-political entities like the Palestinians or Hizballah, deterrence is less effective.
So what should we strive for? Instead of deterrence - attrition. Attrition means unremitting pressure on an enemy, in all areas and using all possible means. This pressure should not be subject to negotiation, except for temporary tactical needs. The results of the first and second intifadas point to the fact that Israeli society can withstand attrition no less than the enemy, perhaps even better. The writer is an IDF brigadier general (res). (Ynet News)
Serving as a reserve spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces in the north of Israel, when I told a European radio station that Haifa has a mixed Jewish/Arab population and that, as we speak, many of them were sitting in bomb shelters together, hiding from Nasrallah's rockets, the interviewer snarled at me. I was surprised this information could be so irritating. I didn't dare tell him about the guy who came up to me in downtown Haifa, showed me his bombed shop front, and told me he was an Arab who wants the IDF to destroy Hizballah. On the road from Rosh Pina to Kiryat Shmona, it's "Apocalypse Now" without the really good soundtrack. Hizballah rockets explode at regular intervals on either side of the road. Plumes of thick black smoke spiral up and the smell of explosive is in the air.
As we get to Zarit, an IDF officer tells us we have to get the press out immediately - a sniper is shooting at the village from the Lebanese side of the border. Driving back down to Haifa, we watch as, in the distance, Nahariya takes two direct Hizballah rocket hits. Back at the hotel, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy cowers in a doorway and British Foreign Office minister Kim Howells is rushed off by security as the sirens go off again. As the wailing continues, I can barely hear an editor from the German Bild, who phones me to demand why the IDF is acting aggressively. (Ynet News)
With a deeper understanding of what it means to face the enemy head-on than most of us will ever have, Israel's disabled veterans in the Tel Aviv area are opening their Beit Halochem center, their homes, and their hearts to 150 families of other disabled veterans who live throughout northern Israel and who have come under daily fire from Katyusha rockets from Lebanon. The sports halls, normally used for wheelchair basketball, etc., are being turned into sleeping accommodations with mattresses provided for some 400 people. Beit Halochem Centers, which are supported in the U.S. through the Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans, are rehabilitation and treatment centers throughout Israel for soldiers and victims of terror. (IMRA)
Katyusha World: Surviving in the Age of Very Short-Range Missiles - Daniel Henninger (Wall Street Journal)
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