From time to time I report with a sort of tongue-in-cheek attitude, making fun. I hope and trust all of my readers understand that this simply feels to me like the best way to handle certain statements and policies. When the news is ludicrous, I try to laugh in order to stay sane (a hard task these days). But the bottom line is that it isn’t really funny because we’re looking at existential issues.
This is the case with the "ceasefire" we are maintaining unilaterally at the border with Gaza. I want to return to this today, and I’m not laughing.
Today the news is that Olmert is going to meet with top security officials to reassess our current policy with regard to the "ceasefire." Meanwhile, Olmert has made this statement: "For a number of weeks I have had to use my authority in order to prevent a reaction against Kassam firing that continues despite the cease-fire, but it is clear that it will be impossible to stop this for a long period if this continues."
What we’re looking at here is the paradigm of the very troubling way in which Olmert operates. It is proper in a democracy that the political and not the military echelon makes the major military decisions. But when the political leader is sorely amiss in his judgment, as is Olmert, there are at least a couple of problems created. One is that the morale of the IDF is undermined.
A second is that our deterrence power is shot to hell. I reported yesterday on the readiness of Syria to take chances on going to war with us because of how we conducted ourselves in Lebanon. This is serious business. Precisely the same thing occurred in Lebanon as is occurring now, in the sense that the prime minister restricted military operations recommended by the IDF there too. It is likely that the Palestinians launching those Kassams are laughing at us, and that terror groups watching this reluctance to act are encouraged.
Olmert has made comments about how we are "strong enough" to restrain ourselves. In this instance, I think this is garbage. Those who shoot at us ought to be hit hard in return. Those who contemplate hitting us ought to know that they will be hit hard if they proceed. But, as was just reported in Ha’aretz: "The current orders are not to shoot at the militants even if they have been clearly identified as preparing to launch rockets against Israel." And in spite of seven Kassams launched yesterday, Olmert has not yet changed this order. It’s no wonder I try humor from time to time, for this makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Our guys spot terrorists preparing to launch a rocket at Israel, and they are required to let them do so. It’s difficult to imagine the frustration. Olmert’s answer to this would be that the soldiers don’t have the "big picture."
We are facing a war in the coming months (about which more below). It will likely be on at least two fronts at the same time: from Lebanon and Gaza; Syria may also get into the act.
We are going to get hit harder because of how Olmert is conducting himself now. That, for me, is a pretty big picture.
So, what is going on and why does Olmert act this way?
We’ll put aside here all sorts of theories, which may or may not have credibility, regarding Olmert’s desire to keep Israel weak. What seems to be the case is that he is operating with the philosophy — a painfully mistaken philosophy — that the international community will save us. His serious error in judgment is evidenced by what is transpiring in Lebanon. He restrained our forces, who wanted to really win, in order to cooperate in a ceasefire that brought in international troops that have looked the other way (not operating at night because it’s "dangerous" — another joke) while Hezbollah has been getting weapons from Syria.
Olmert is itching to be the good guy, the one that representatives of that international community can pat on the head. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is visiting here and during the course of a joint press conference praised Israel’s restraint. "I’m very glad to see that Prime Minister Olmert is committed to the ceasefire in Gaza," he said. That puts us way ahead, doesn’t it? This praise follows similar statements from leaders in Britain, Germany and Italy.
As I see it, Olmert’s policy represents "galut" thinking: the mentality developed by Jews during the course of 2,000 years of living in diaspora without power or adequate means of self-defense. Always there was the tendency to not make waves, not attract negative attention. Often with solid reason, for we were at the mercy of the rulers of whatever country we happened to be in. But now there is an Israel, and the policy of Israel for many years was, and should continue to be, that we are responsible for our own security. We take care of ourselves. Only in recent years has this policy been weakened to a troubling degree.
The IDF says Hezbollah is almost back to full strength — almost back to where it was before the Lebanon war. It is being assumed that it is only a matter of time until we are hit from the north. A senior IDF officer from the Northern Command has told The Jerusalem Post that over the past four months Syria has been transporting advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, sometimes on a daily basis, not even covertly, but "out in the open."
Extensive IDF training is now going on in preparation for this war. It includes training battalions in urban warfare, which would indicate that this time we will draw on ground forces necessary for a victory.
Olmert is now strongly denying the news report that I carried yesterday regarding having sent Daniel Abraham as an envoy to speak to the Syrian ambassador to the US. There are sufficient means for contacting the Syrians should he want to, said Olmert’s office — there would have been no reason to involve Abraham. This simply means, at this point, that we don’t know what actually happened. Abraham was here and did meet with Olmert a little over a month ago; that much was conceded.
For the record, Abraham (actually a billionaire and not just a millionaire) is founder of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, which took pride in hosting Mahmoud Abbas in the US on his first trip after he was elected PA president. He is also closely allied with the Peres Foundation and clearly adheres to the Peres theory that investment in Arab ventures will help bring peace. It should be noted that it was Abraham who allegedly bought a home from Olmert for a price inflated 30% over market value, thereby sparking charges of his having paid a bribe (which charges are under investigation).
If it did transpire that Abraham told Olmert that the message from the Syrians was "positive and moderate," this background information would be helpful in providing perspective.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/12/21/posted-december-21-2006.html