"NEVER AGAIN!" That has been our post-Holocaust rallying cry: never again will we go quietly towards our own destruction. In recent years the cry had gotten weaker and with dread in my heart I’d begun to suspect that we were, indeed, headed towards that place of "again."
But now it turns out — praise G-d — that we really do mean it. When push comes to shove we will not sit still as our enemies come to annihilate us.
I have been astounded at the resilience of Prime Minister Olmert in this matter. Whatever happened before, whatever may happen later, credit must go where credit is due. So far, he has not backed down, has not agreed to premature negotiations, has not caved to international concerns about Lebanese civilians, has indeed indicated that we will continue until our goals are met.
During the Cabinet meeting today, he said: "…the IDF has all the time and the flexibility to carry out its mission. The army’s operations are being carried out with no restraints."
Continuing, he said, "I don’t remember many periods in the past during which the IDF and the political echelon enjoyed good contacts and such a transparency in their relations. We shall not hide or blur anything. This is our only way."
To the uninitiated this may seem a simple and obvious statement. But in fact it reverberates with significance. For some years now, the political echelon — bowing to what was politically correct and showed "conciliation" — has held back the defense establishment rather than allowing the military to pursue its recommended actions. Major-Gen. Yaakov Amidror, who served as Deputy Chief of IDF Intelligence, addressed this very syndrome just days ago, when revealing that the IDF knew of Hezbollah’s build-up, but was constrained by political elements from attacking; Israel had assured the international community that we would not shoot first.
If now the IDF and the political echelon are on the same page, we have entered a new time. "Never again" is at bottom what fuels our fight now.
Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet this morning, Iran is involved "up to its neck" with Hezbollah.
Similarly, Middle East News Line today reports that Iran has been planning this war with Israel for six months and has been training Hezbollah:
"Western intelligence sources said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps held a series of exercises with Hezbollah on the use of new weapons and techniques. The sources said IRGC also prepared arsenals of medium-range rockets and missiles in the Bekaa Valley and Syria to sustain any war with Israel.
"’Iran’s IRGC planned this war carefully throughout 2006,’ an intelligence source who monitors Iran said. ‘IRGC sent weapons and hundreds of volunteers through Damascus in a war designed to contain several stages.’"
"The sources said…the Hezbollah conflict was planned in cooperation with Damascus, which agreed to the emergency deployment of Iranian troops in Syria."
There have been claims (by Ehud Olmert, among others) that Iran is doing this to distract the world from the issue of its nuclear development. Others (including Caroline Glick) have suggested that Hezbollah acted now to come to the aid of Hamas in Gaza. But what seems clearest is that president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is moving to make good his threat to eliminate Israel; last October he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," and has repeated this threat at various times since. "Never again."
I have, similarly, been astounded at the support provided of late by the Bush administration. The president has come around in a manner that I — judging by his previous statements and actions, as well as background information — had never expected. Bush understands that a ceasefire too soon is simply not a good idea. At least for now, he is encouraging us to continue (with the requisite caution regarding Lebanese civilians). Sec. of State Rice is due here tomorrow, but, we are advised, will not be pushing for a ceasefire yet. In her briefing yesterday she said:
"We do seek an end to the current violence and we seek it urgently. More than that, we also seek to address the root causes of that violence so that a real and endurable peace can be established.
"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo, allowing terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the
region. That would be a guarantee of future violence. Instead we must be more effective and more ambitious than that."
Less and less do I have patience with the hue and cry regarding innocent Lebanese civilians and what we are doing to them. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing their homes, it’s true. International humanitarian assistance will be needed for them, it’s true.
But let’s look a bit deeper here. Why are they fleeing? Because Israel gave them warning to get out of the way, instead of just bombing them.
Not only that, Israel will cooperate fully in allowing that humanitarian assistance to get to them.
Are they "innocent"? Surely, some are. But not all. A cache of weapons was found in a mosque. Would anyone claim that the people who attended that mosque were uniformly ignorant of how their place of worship was utilized? Nor is this one mosque unique in this regard.
And a reporter from BBC (hardly a pro-Israel news outlet) has now admitted witnessing the use of a private home by terrorists: "It is difficult to quantify who is a terrorist and who is a civilian." Uh huh… He’s beginning to get the picture.
Syria is sending out mixed messages. On the one hand threatening Israel that if IDF troops come too near the Syrian border, Syria will enter the war (although there has been no amassing of troops on the border with Lebanon for that eventuality). On the other hand, offering to engage in dialogue with the US to stop the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad told Reuters today that "Syria is ready for dialogue with the US based on respect and mutual interest."
This is a joke. The US is having nothing to do with Syria — there are, for example, no plans for Rice to meet with Syrian officials — because Syria is recognized as part of the problem. "Mutual respect," indeed.
I’d say that in the face of current (unofficial) discussions as to whether Israel should bomb Damascus, Syria, a paper tiger, is running a tad scared. It is my impression that Israel would prefer to avoid taking on yet another front.
In our north, the attacks continue: more deaths, more wounded (dozens in Akko alone), Haifa hit hard again with rockets more powerful than Katyushas, fires are ignited by landing rockets.
Information indicates that the two soldiers abducted into Lebanon are in good health; Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh has reportedly confirmed this.
In south Lebanon, the IDF continues to move in its operation to comb villages that are Hezbollah strongholds.
Defense Minister Peretz today told visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that Israel would accept a temporary international force on the border under the umbrella of NATO. This is not official Israeli gov’t policy, as far as I know. NATO certainl
y is preferable to UN forces; but even NATO forces should be used only after Israel has been given the time to deal with Hezbollah — NATO isn’t going to do this either.
Tomorrow perhaps more on the stance of the UN.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/23/posted-july-23-2006.html