No subject carries greater weight now, for Israel or for the western world, than the threat of Iran — both Iran’s involvement in promoting terrorism via proxies, and in its plans to go nuclear.
Israel has a new Deputy Minister of Defense, Ephraim Sneh. His appointment was an Olmert concession to Peretz in return for Peretz’s willingness to accept Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party into the coalition. Sneh, a physician, achieved the rank of brigadier-general during his career in the IDF; his experience, which includes civil administration of Judea-Samaria and command of the South Lebanon security zone, is considerable. This might be considered a relief, when one considers how inexperienced Defense Minister Peretz is.
Is there someone in charge now who actually knows what he’s doing? Well…
Sneh has given an extensive interview to The Jerusalem Post, which ran on Friday. And, indeed, he had the strongest words yet from an Israeli government official with regard to Iran: Sanctions probably will not work, he said, and so Israel must be prepared to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear capability "at all costs." He is concerned about Israel "living under a dark cloud of fear [of] a leader committed to its destruction." OK!
"I consider it [a preemptive military action against Iran] a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort." He will not discuss details of what Israel might do — "I prefer fewer declarations and more deeds."
In order to prepare for the next round with Iran and its proxies, he says that the 2007 budget must include sufficient funds to allow the IDF to achieve "unquestionable victory" (the "first national goal for Israel") and that defenses against long-range ballistic missiles must be improved.
Clearly, Sneh hit a nerve, because Iran has complained to the UN about his "threats." Iranian UN Ambassador Muhammad Javad Zarif submitted the written complaint to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council. Is this not the ultimate in moxie? Coming from a nation whose president has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. That was on Friday. Today an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman warned, "If Israel decides to act foolishly and attack us, the Revolutionary Guards will respond within seconds with force and destruction."
What Sneh said about Iran is being reflected in other quarters. "An Israeli military official" has told the Sunday Times (London) that Israel must now prepare for full scale war, with focus on Syria and Iran, and not the Palestinians. The IDF has formed a new infantry brigade to respond to Syria’s commandos, and is reportedly putting together a unit of three brigades to do "deep cross-border operations" into Syria and Iran.
But not everything Sneh said was equally encouraging — to put it mildly. Seems he is very close to Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, and that he also recommends negotiations with the Palestinians. "We didn’t even start trying." Come on!
The majority of Palestinians support Abbas, Sneh claims, because they understand that Hamas does not give them a future. Maybe he received this information directly from Abbas. But the polls I’ve seen put Fatah and Hamas neck-in-neck, which means 50% of the population still supports Hamas. They like the terrorism and the threats against Israel and the refusal to recognize Israel. Build their economy, says Sneh, echoing Shimon Peres. This will draw the people away from Hamas.
Seems to me I just wrote about this, but I suspect I will have to address it many times yet. There can be no assumption, when dealing with radical ideology, that it can be trumped by a rise in standard of living. This is rehashed and outworn Marxism. (The Saudis involved in 9/11 were affluent and educated.) Our presence here is an offense to the Arabs. The Palestinians want us gone. We can help them with economic development and we can cooperate in joint ventures, at the end of the day their hostility to us will take precedence for them and they will seek to undermine us. I provide two examples I’ve given before: Terrorists aim at the crossings that permit goods to come through to their fellow Palestinians; damaging us is more important to them then helping their own people. And in Gaza when we pulled out we left behind greenhouses they might have used for agricultural ventures — yet they preferred to destroy them in a fit of joyous hatred. (Have you never seen that joyous hatred in a news video?)
Allow me to point out that they seem to have money for weapons. If the Palestinian focus was on building the nation peacefully, their resources would be plentiful. It’s just going to other purposes because they have other priorities.
Sneh says, "The real rift in the region is between the quartet of evil — Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas — and all the rest." Terribly simplistic and not consistent with the facts, even though this seems to be the prevailing wisdom in certain quarters. Fatah (the so-called moderate party of Abbas) is deep into terrorism and stockpiling of weapons in Gaza; Fatah is receiving help from al-Qaida cells in the Sinai. Fatah in Lebanon assists Hezbollah by doing such things as allowing them to build bunkers on their bases (did you know there were Fatah bases in Lebanon?) where they can store their rockets.
No neat lines can be drawn — not the sort of lines Sneh is eager to draw. The Fatah charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
A major difference between Fatah and Hamas is one of style: Hamas is "in your face" with its desire to destroy Israel. Fatah plays the game in a more sophisticated fashion, while holding dear the same ultimate goals. Fatah is party to the PLO "strategy of stages."
Negotiate with them? Heaven help us.
But then, we have (indeed, Heaven help us!) the Prime Minister making similar statements. Olmert is now in Washington DC and will be meeting today with various government officials, including Condoleezza Rice, prior to his meeting with President Bush tomorrow. He has given an interview to Newsweek-Washington Post, in which he said, "You can read my lips: ‘I’m ready for territorial compromise and I haven’t changed my mind.’"
The snake. After the Lebanon war he gave the distinct and deliberate impression that he had abandoned the notion of relinquishing territory. The Israeli populace wasn’t for it, certainly. And so he surreptitiously tabled his intentions, only to bring them forward again now. He never intended anything else.
Reports are that — incredibly, insanely — he would be willing to surrender 90% of Judea-Samaria. Of course there is all of the requisite talk of the Palestinians needing to abandon terror first. But this is game-playing, it’s nonsense. With all that’s stockpiled in Gaza? With all of the malign intentions already made clear? They’re going to abandon terror?
Make no mistake about it: Hamas is in charge in the PA. The PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar has just given a statement to Asharq al-Awsat, in London. "All of Palestine is our land," he said. "We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land … This is a holy land."
The Palestinians, he declared, "sully the dignity of Israel with our feet."
The greatest danger would be if Hamas declared a hudna (something they might be convinced to do for the greater good), and the Israeli government accepted this
as a relinquishing of terror and a sign that it was time for territorial concessions.
A hudna is a temporary cessation in hostilities that provides an opportunity for strengthening forces for renewed attack. A hudna does not require surrender of weapons, dismantlement of weapons factories or stockpiles.
In a speech delivered in recognition of the second anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, Mahmoud Abbas has declared that he would adhere to "Arafat’s path." One of the things he vowed not to relinquish was the fight for the "right of return." This very immoderate position, if achieved, would itself destroy Israel.
Abbas is still talking about a unity government, now to be formed by the end of the month. PA Prime Minister Haniyeh has said he might leave his post in order to facilitate matters — i.e., present a facade of moderation — so that the international forces might resume assistance to the PA. We’ll see…
The US has vetoed the draft of a resolution in the Security Council condemning Israel for the deaths in Gaza. Said US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, the draft is biased and doesn’t deal with Palestinian terror.
As a result of the US position, four terror groups have now announced open season on the US, saying that US interests are “a legitimate target for Palestinian organizations and any Muslim or Palestinian around the world… [the US veto] renders America a legitimate target…all Americans, regardless of status or position, will be targeted."
I hope that appropriate agencies and persons in the US will take note of this. Among the groups are two — including Al Aqsa Brigades — that are Fatah affiliated. Remember Fatah? This is the moderate party of Mahmoud Abbas.
How much does it take before people see the light?
The news is so oppressively grim, but I end with a message of hope:
MK Effie Eitam (National Union), distressed about the fact that there is no opposition to topple the government, has appealed to the Likud party either for a merger or serious cooperation to achieve that end. In the present crisis, cooperation for the sake of the nation is most important, he says. Bless him, bless him, bless him. Let his efforts yield results.
"Right now, the public is quiet, despite the revulsion they feel for this government; they feel there is nothing they can do in the current political constellation. There is great anger and disgust, but it is not being manifest. The sense is that the public is like a coiled spring, ready to burst and act – but they need a leadership that will guide and encourage it. Today, the heart of the people is with the national camp, and our opinions and those of the Likud are in the center of the consensus."
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/12/posted-november-12-2006.html