Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The answer is, of course, yes. Israel’s 8 million citizens are at risk.
Before you get too doubtful, let’s make it personal. You have a neighbor a couple of houses down the street. He keeps firing his shotgun into the air, walking up and down the sidewalk wearing grenades pinned to his belt, and waving a sign that calls your name and promises to murder you and your family.
The police won’t do anything but tell the guy not to be so ugly toward you.
Question: Will you get your guns cleaned and loaded? Will you know that once he kicks in your door and gets to your daughter’s downstairs bedroom it will be too late and take action against the guy, or will you hunker down and ask your neighborhood watch committee, consisting of effeminate men and old maids to take care of your safety.
Don’t “poo poo” this scenario. We both know it is realistic in comparison to Israel’s situation.
I don’t want war. On the other hand, I don’t want to be sitting in Jerusalem when the first nuke hits Tel Aviv or Haifa, or next door in the German Colony.
In Israel people are sweeping out the bomb shelters, getting used to fitting their gas masks and pondering the sound of gunfire and rockets landing.
The two pieces to follow will give you some interesting news, including the fact that Avi Dichter, the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet (similar to our FBI), has resigned the Knesset where he had a secure seat in Kadima’s Party and joined the Netanyahu government as the Homefront Defense Minister. Avi Dichter and Netanyahu served together in Sayeret Matkal, the IDF General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (similar to our Army Special Forces), responsible for some of the most daring operations in Israel's history.
Articles begin here:
New homefront defense minister may provide crucial vote on Iran
Mati Tuchfeld, Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon and Maya Cohen
MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) is all but certain to become Israel's next homefront defense minister. In a late night meeting between Dichter and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the former Israel Security Agency chief and public security minister agreed to tender his resignation from the Knesset on Tuesday and quit Kadima - the party to which he has belonged since entering politics in 2005.
After Dichter's resignation takes effect on Thursday, he will officially be sworn in at the Knesset plenum as homefront defense minister. As Dichter will not have any voting rights in the Knesset he is unlikely to alter the coalition's standing, but his vote may be crucial in the event that Netanyahu asks the government to approve a military strike on Iran.
Dichter's past statements suggest he would not object to an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear installations and has recently said Israel should shore up its military capabilities for such a scenario, Army Radio reported Monday.
Before meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday, Dichter met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at his Tel Aviv home.
The Kadima MK has flatly rejected the idea of leading a group of seven would-be Kadima renegades who would splinter from the party. Instead, Dichter opted to leave the party and allow it to retain the Knesset seat he will vacate. Dichter will replace Matan Vilnai, who left his post at the Homefront Defense Ministry to become Israel's ambassador to China in early August.
At a ceremony welcoming new immigrants to Israel on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, "No other government has spent as much on homefront defense as my government."
He praised Dichter and said the former ISA chief had contributed a great deal to the state of Israel, "and will continue to do so in his new capacity; he will now have an important task to carry out for the sake of Israel's security."
Dichter and Netanyahu served together in Sayeret Matkal, the IDF General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, responsible for some of the most daring operations in Israel's history.
Dichter also commented on his new post, writing on his Facebook account Tuesday, "After much thought, I decided on Monday to accept the prime minister and defense minister's offer of becoming homefront defense minister."
As his move elicited some unhappy responses from fellow Kadima memebers, Dichter said his plans and considerations had been well known for some time.
"I did not hide my thoughts from anyone, not the MKs, not the party activists, and not from Kadima voters," Dichter wrote. "Party politics and personal considerations played no role in my decision. Over the past 42 years, ever since I was drafted to the IDF, my first choice has always been to serve the state to the best of my ability. Now, as Homefront Defense Minister, I believe I will be able to serve best. The current circumstances convinced me that it would be inappropriate for me to retain my Knesset seat, which I won because of Kadima voters and party members, and therefore I decided to give back my seat to Kadima and resign from the Knesset ... I put the country first, ahead of personal gain."
One Kadima MK told Haaretz Tuesday that Dichter chose to make his move after realizing that he had failed to get the support of seven MKs to defect with him (under Knesset rules, defectors must enlist at least seven MKs, or a third of the faction, in order to declare a new Knesset faction). The MK said his only option of entering the government was to resign and enter the government as a professional minister with no party affiliation.
Other Kadima MKs belittled Dichter for defecting, telling Army Radio Tuesday that it had become his only option since he allegedly tried to split the party or stage a coup that would oust party leader MK Shaul Mofaz form the party chairmanship, but failed on both fronts. A Dichter associate rebuffed those statements, saying Tuesday, "Had he wanted to, he would have formed a group of eight MKs to join the Likud."
Last month, Dichter lashed out at Mofaz for his decision to bolt from the short-lived unity government with Likud, and their relations have reportedly been strained ever since. But despite souring on Mofaz, Dichter refused to take part in former Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi's efforts to create an independent faction that would re-enter the government.
Netanyahu and Barak consider the appointment of someone of Dichter's stature — whose credentials on defense-related matters would rarely be questioned — as paramount when it comes to the homefront defense portfolio. They also preferred to have this position filled by a cabinet member from outside the Knesset, presumably as a means of winning across-the-board support for homefront preparedness efforts. Dichter's appointment may suggest he shares the same views as Netanyahu and Barak on Israel's Iran policy. Dichter has also been one of the biggest proponents for Kadima to join the Likud-led government over the past three years.
Political analysts believe Dichter will eventually join the Likud party. But if he wants to win a Likud Knesset seat he will have get a spot high up on the party's Knesset candidate list when primaries are held. Netanyahu has already said that the party would not secure guaranteed seats for anyone on the list.
Dichter is the latest high-ranking Kadima member to leave the party. Hanegbi left the party last month after a political mutiny in the party he had orchestrated fizzled when several MKs got cold feet and refused to defect. Former IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz left the party in July over what he viewed as the party's failure to bring about the mandatory draft for the ultra-Orthodox.
PA is part of the problem, not the solution
by Ruthie Blum
The worse Israel’s security situation becomes, the more its citizens grasp at any straws they can that offer droplets of delusion provided by pacifist-leaning pundits.
This makes some sort of psychological sense. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that, although much improvement had been made in the preparedness of the homefront, the far greater and more immediate concern to all of us was the Iranian nuclear threat, the public started becoming nervous. In the last two days alone, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people approaching the designated stations to pick up their gas mask kits. And talk of locating or cleaning out bomb shelters — as well as loading up on canned goods and other supplies — is in the air.
Furthermore, it does not seem at all clear which type of missiles we are on the verge of having to escape, or from which direction. Though the origin of all can be traced to Iran, Israelis make a distinction between Hamas or Hezbollah rocket attacks and a full-fledged war with the Islamic republic. To add a new — albeit expected — twist to the mix, Egypt is now officially Israel’s enemy again, and Syria is amassing chemical weapons.
Such a situation is not conducive to calm — other than the misleading kind found in the eye of a hurricane. Netanyahu’s response is to warn the country’s foes, and assure the populace, that he is willing and able to be proactive on Iran, while hinting to the mainly pro-Israel U.S. Congress that he may need to take military action before the presidential election in November.
Rather than rally around the prime minister, Israelis are afraid that he is being both too easy on the trigger and irresponsibly loose-lipped about it.
This does not mean that they prefer passivity, however. On the contrary, being sitting ducks for events beyond their control is antithetical to the Israeli mindset.
The trouble is that when such an unpleasant sensation is aroused, the tendency is to turn to liberalism for solace. It is comforting, after all, to imagine that there is something Israel can do diplomatically to reverse regional processes that pose military threats. The alternative is to accept that a lot of people are likely to die in the near future if Netanyahu means what he says. That the idea behind this is to prevent a much higher death toll in the longer run doesn’t seem to register.
What does gain traction is the notion that Israel can and should take action, by doing anything it can to create a Palestinian state. As senior fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs Alon Ben-Meir writes in Monday’s Huffington Post, “Those inside the Netanyahu government who suggest that now is not the right time to seek a peace agreement with the Palestinians because of the regional turmoil and the existential threats that Israel now faces are both misguided and disingenuous. On the contrary, given the threats from Iran and its surrogate Hezbollah and the potential consequences of a failed state in Syria, it is a particularly critical moment for Israel to forge peace with the Palestinians.”
Indeed, he argues, “It is up to Israel not to allow past experiences to blur its vision for the future and it must now chart its own future course by ending the occupation under specific ‘rules of disengagement’ with the Palestinian Authority.”
It’s up to Israel to forge peace? And it shouldn’t let “past experiences” get in the way of this?
What about ongoing experiences? Should they, too, not “blur Israel’s vision” while determining its policies?
On Aug. 2, an editorial in the Palestinian Authority’s official mouthpiece, the newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, had this to say about “forging peace”: "Will this state [Israel] continue to exist or not? This is precisely where the inevitable death of 'Israel' lies; the insecurity of its inhabitants concerning the possibility that it will continue to exist ... I do not say [it will be] tomorrow or the next day, but in keeping with how much we ourselves — the real Palestinians — help it to shrink, to wither and to fade from the land of Palestine, like the remnants of all previous occupiers."
This is one of many examples of the PA’s anticipation of the demise of Israel, as quoted by Palestinian Media Watch. What it proves is something that has been obvious to those of us who are more afraid of further suicidal territorial withdrawals than of attempting to cripple Iran’s atomic-bomb capability.
War may be hell, but annihilation is worse. Israelis now need to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and stop fantasizing about peace that does not exist. It is time to acknowledge that the PA is part of the global problem, not a solution to it.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring,'” now available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.