Friday, June 27, 2008

Israel's Truce With Hamas Is a Victory for Iran.



The Wall Street Journal Online  June 19, 2008

Proponents of an Israeli-Palestinian accord are praising the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that went into effect this morning. Yet even if the agreement suspends violence temporarily -- though dozens of Hamas rockets struck Israel yesterday -- it represents a historic accomplishment for the jihadist forces most opposed to peace, and defeat for the Palestinians who might still have been Israel's partners.


The roots of this tragedy go back to the summer of 2005 and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The evacuation, intended to free Israel of Gaza's political and strategic burden, was hailed as a victory by Palestinian terrorist groups, above all Hamas.


Hamas proceeded to fire some 1,000 rocket and mortar shells into Israel. Six months later Hamas gunmen, taking advantage of an earlier cease-fire, infiltrated into Israel, killed two soldiers, and captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit.


Hamas's audacity spurred Hezbollah to mount a similar ambush against Israelis patrolling the Lebanese border, triggering a war in which Israel was once again humbled. Hamas now felt sufficiently emboldened to overthrow Gaza's Fatah-led government, and to declare itself regnant in the Strip. Subsequently, Hamas launched thousands more rocket and mortar salvos against Israel, rendering parts of the country nearly uninhabitable.


In response, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) air strikes and limited ground incursions killed hundreds of armed Palestinians in Gaza, and Israel earned international censure for collateral civilian deaths and "disproportionate" tactics. Israel also imposed a land and sea blockade of Gaza, strictly controlling its supply of vital commodities such as a gasoline. But the policy enabled Hamas to hoard the fuel and declare a humanitarian crisis.


Israel never mounted the rolling, multi-month operation that the IDF had planned. Traumatized by his abortive performance in the Lebanon War, hobbled by financial scandals, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert balked at a military engagement liable to result in incalculable casualties and United Nations condemnations, but unlikely to halt Hamas aggression.


Like Hezbollah in 2006, Hamas won because it did not lose. Its leaders still walked Gaza's streets freely while children in Sderot and other Israeli border towns cowered in bomb shelters. Like Hezbollah, which recently wrested unprecedented powers from the Lebanese parliament, Hamas parlayed its military success into political capital.


The European Parliament demanded the immediate lifting of the Gaza blockade, and France initiated secret contacts with Hamas officials. A minister from the Israeli Labor Party, Ami Ayalon, went a step further by calling for Hamas's inclusion in peace talks -- a recommendation soon echoed by Jimmy Carter and the New York Times.


The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire yields Hamas greater benefits than it might have obtained in direct negotiations. In exchange for giving its word to halt rocket attacks and weapons smuggling, Hamas receives the right to monitor the main border crossings into Gaza and to enforce a truce in the West Bank, where Fatah retains formal control.


If quiet is maintained, then Israel will be required to accept a cease-fire in the West Bank as well. The blockade will be incrementally lifted while Cpl. Shalit remains in captivity. Hamas can regroup and rearm.


The Olmert government will have to go vast lengths to portray this arrangement as anything other than a strategic and moral defeat. Hamas initiated a vicious war against Israel, destroyed and disrupted myriad Israeli lives, and has been rewarded with economic salvation and international prestige.


Tellingly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who once declared Hamas illegal, will soon travel to Gaza for reconciliation talks. Mr. Abbas's move signifies the degree to which Hamas, with Israel's help, now dominates Palestinian politics. It testifies, moreover, to another Iranian triumph.


As the primary sponsor of Hamas, Iran is the cease-fire's ultimate beneficiary. Having already surrounded Israel on three of its borders -- Gaza, Lebanon, Syria -- Iran is poised to penetrate the West Bank. By activating these fronts, Tehran can divert attention from its nuclear program and block any diplomatic effort.


The advocates of peace between Israelis and Palestinians should recognize that fact when applauding quiet at any price. The cost of this truce may well be war.


Mr. Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2008).


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Iran's 'Nightmare Scenarios' Are Mulled in Washington.



The New York Sun, June 24

WASHINGTONAn attack on the U.S. 5th Fleet, exploding Saudi oil refineries, and a Hezbollah operation against a soft target in the Americas, Asia, or Europe. These are scenarios America's intelligence analysts are now poring over as Israel signals its preparedness to deal with Iran's race for the A-bomb.

The disclosure Friday in the New York Times of Israel's aerial training mission earlier this month over the Greek Mediterranean prompted America's intelligence chiefs to task analysts with developing contingency plans — or what one called "nightmare scenarios" — if the Israelis were to send their F-15s and F-16s to Iran's known nuclear enrichment facilities. While the training exercise was known at the time to American intelligence, the fact that Israel and America chose to make the mission public escalated the already high tensions between Tehran and Jerusalem.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, speaking on Al-Arabiya television over the weekend, said an Israeli attack on Iran's enrichment facilities would turn the Middle East into a "ball of fire." Interviews with current and former national security officials in America suggest that Washington and its allies in the Middle East are bracing for unconventional and conventional attacks from Iran in response to such an Israeli action.

Possible scenarios include:

* A terrorist attack on the Saudi oil port of Ras Tanura, an export point for oil bound for Asia. Saudi and American officials have in the past disrupted Al Qaeda plots on the facility, such as an attack on the Abqaiq oil processing plant near Dammam, Saudi Arabia, that killed two guards.

* A naval assault on the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf. Iran still has warships equipped with Russian-designed Shkval torpedoes that it could fire at American vessels. Another possible attack would be suicide boat sorties similar to the one that bombed the USS Cole.

* The commencement of a new round in the war between Hezbollah and Israel, with Hezbollah firing its Shihab missiles into Haifa and possibly the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv.

* Hezbollah or Iranian intelligence terrorist operations on soft targets, such as shopping malls and community centers, in third countries and possibly even America.

* A renewed effort to stir an uprising in Iraq through Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army or the special groups controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

While Europe, America, and other allies increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran, Israel is privately making it clear that it seeks to prevent Iran from even testing a nuclear device, as North Korea did in 2006. Most Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran's enrichment tests at Natanz have increased the odds of Iran mastering the technology necessary to create a test explosion.

In February, the director of national intelligence, Admiral John Michael McConnell, told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that Iran could be between six and 12 months away from mastering the technology needed for a nuclear device but not a warhead or bomb. Later in that hearing, he conceded that weapons analysts differ on the matter, providing a range of dates for nuclear fuel cycle mastery between 2010 and 2015, and adding that America's knowledge of the matter was incomplete.

The former deputy commissioner for counterterrorism for the New York City Police Department, Michael Sheehan, said his office had prepared for an Iranian response in New York the last time "there was a lot of saber-rattling on this," in 2005. He outlines some of his thinking in his new book, "Crush the Cell: How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing Ourselves."

In an interview, Mr. Sheehan said: "We very much considered how would the Iranians potentially respond to an American or Israeli attack. My thinking then and now is that Iran, in my view, is very rational. They will react in a very carefully and considered way, and I believe they will react with some sort of direct action by Iranian intelligence services or through a surrogate like Hezbollah."
Mr. Sheehan, who also served as one of President Clinton's ambassadors for counterterrorism, said that both the FBI and the NYPD have expelled Iranian intelligence officials from New York. He said he would not disclose details of possible targets considered in 2005, and he stressed that the faction of Hezbollah that carries out attacks in foreign countries, such as Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia or the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, is controlled by Iranian intelligence and not the political party and militia in Lebanon known as Hezbollah.

Asked whether Iran would attack the U.S. 5th Fleet, Mr. Sheehan suggested that the Iranians would be beaten, noting that the Navy would be on the highest alert should Israel attack Iran. A former chief of the Iran-Hezbollah office at the FBI's counterterrorism division, Kenneth Piernick, yesterday said he would guess that the Iranians would attack targets in the Persian Gulf.

"It seems to me the Iranians would have a greater power thrust closer to their borders. Our folks in Iraq and the Gulf will have their hands full. The Strait of Hormuz would be a target. They have made their demonstrations there in the past," he said. He added: "I would imagine my former colleagues are looking at Hezbollah's capabilities, but I have been away from the bureau for too long to speak on that now."

Mr. Piernick left the FBI in 2002.

In the past, Admiral McConnell has testified that Hezbollah has operatives in America. The network from Hezbollah was first disclosed in a series of federal prosecutions against the group's illicit fund raising. In some cases, individuals who were primarily raising money for the organization were found to have trained with the organization at the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

A former senior counterterrorism official for both Presidents Clinton and Bush, Roger Cressey, said yesterday that it might not be in Hezbollah's interest to do Iran's retaliatory bidding. "As much as Iran is Hezbollah's state patron, it is unclear whether Hezbollah would take operations at the behest of Iran inside the United States," he said. "That is not necessarily in Hezbollah's state interest right now."

A more likely scenario, Mr. Cressey said, would involve Hezbollah operatives attempting to terrorize softer targets in South America, Europe, or East Asia.

"There are other targets they could hit," he said. "You can't discount those scenarios."


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



Darkness at the End of the Tunnel - Penetrating the Iranian underground.

by Gabriel Schoenfeld
Weekly Standard, 06/30/2008

Israel has just carried out a major aerial exercise, putting a hundred or so F-15s and F-16s into the skies over the eastern Mediterranean, evidently a rehearsal for a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. The move follows the statement earlier this month by Shaul Mofaz, Israel's deputy prime minister, that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program is "unavoidable." Israel almost certainly knows the location of some of the critical nodes in the Iranian program that it must hit if it is to set the Iranian effort back by several years. It also possesses the technology to assure that its bombs will fall close to or on their targets. But would such a strike succeed?

We cannot know the answer, and neither can the Israelis. The question calls attention to what might be called the ongoing Counterrevolution in Military Affairs.

The Revolution in Military Affairs was based upon silicon, in particular the computer chips that make for precision-guided weapons. In the 1980s, the United States developed the technology to drop munitions near enough to their targets to ensure a high chance of destruction. In World War II, the circular error probable--the radius of a circle into which a projectile will land at least 50 percent of the time--was more than half a mile. Today, thanks to GPS systems and laser- and infrared-guiding devices, the radius is less than two dozen feet. Almost any given target can be knocked out by the use of just one or two conventional bombs.

In the face of the threat of such efficient destruction, Iran has not stood still. Some of its countermeasures are themselves based upon computerized systems, including highly effective Russian-made surface-to-air missiles that Iran is set to take delivery of this fall. But Iran is also employing a far older means of warfare: deep burrowing.

Subterranean combat is familiar to all students of military affairs. During the Civil War, soldiers with coal mining experience dug a 511-foot-long tunnel some 50 feet beneath the Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia. The terminus was filled with 8,000 pounds of gunpowder, and the blast killed between 250 and 350 Confederate soldiers. (The operation ended in disaster, however, when the Union troops who had rushed into the crater to follow up the attack were slaughtered by Confederate troops firing downward from the rim in what was described as a "turkey shoot.")

More typical, though, is defensive digging. In Berlin, beneath an otherwise unremarkable Chinese restaurant, are the ruins of the most notorious underground facility in history: the Führer bunker. Adolf Hitler held court here in the last phase of World War II, and it was in the bunker that, on April 30, 1945, together with his new bride, he ingested cyanide. As an engineering feat, the Führer bunker was not particularly impressive; Hitler's honeymoon grave was a mere 28 feet underground.

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the USSR constructed a vast network of tunnels under Moscow, including a 17-mile secret subway line to Vnukovo airport, to ensure that the leaders of the Kremlin would survive a nuclear strike. Some of these underground facilities were hundreds of yards deep and could accommodate thousands of people, sustaining them in compartments impervious to chemical and biological attack. It required a totalitarian system to marshal the manpower and resources to remove such an immense quantity of soil and rock.

Today, however, tunneling is far cheaper and easier. In the early 1990s, the Chunnel, the 30-mile rail tunnel connecting France and England, was built using drilling machines that hewed out a 30-foot diameter circle of rock at the remarkable pace of 164 feet a day. Modern drills are huge, multi-million-dollar pieces of machinery. They operate with a circular disk on the front end that holds steel teeth, which cut into the rock as the plate rotates. A conveyor system pulls the spoil backward, while workers follow up, erecting a reinforced lining for the excavated structure. Narrower diameter tunnels than the Chunnel can be carved into solid rock at the staggering rate of 650 feet per day.

The military significance of all this cannot be overemphasized: Ultra-deep shelters for critical military facilities can be made formidably resistant to attack. It is exceedingly difficult to discern from the surface where tunnel ventilation shafts are located or in which direction a tunnel proceeds. One has only to consider the trouble Israel has had finding tunnels dug by Hamas out of the Gaza Strip that are just a couple of yards below the surface. Another difficulty is determining exactly what military activities are being conducted in any given tunnel.

What is more, if tunnels are dug to a sufficient depth in the right kind of rock--a thousand or more feet into the earth--they are extraordinarily difficult to breach. Even a medium-yield nuclear weapon detonated above ground may not be powerful enough to do the job. Reportedly acting with help from North Korea (and as Emanuele Ottolenghi notes in the July-August Commentary, employing imported European machinery), Iran has built dozens of underground bunkers to house its missile and nuclear programs.

The United States (and presumably Israel) is urgently developing ways to neutralize such targets. Concepts range the gamut from munitions that deliver a powerful shock into the adjoining bedrock to nonlethal methods for introducing a foul odor into the underground chambers, rendering human habitation unbearable.

The problems posed by tunneling seldom come in for public discussion. This happened most recently in 2005 when Congress shelved a Bush administration plan merely to study development of something called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), amid talk it would ignite an arms race. RNEP was a weapon that would have served as a deterrent to any regime thinking it could buy invulnerability by digging deep. Its defeat was ironic because only a few years earlier, without a peep from Congress, the Clinton administration pushed through the innocuously named B61-11 bomb, which had strikingly similar characteristics, though it tends to break apart when boring into certain types of geological formations in which a hardened target might be located.
Whatever the fate of the RNEP, nuclear weapons were never the best answer to the tunneling problem given the prohibitive political costs of ever employing them. More practical would be the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound package under development jointly by Boeing and Northrop Grumman that is the largest conventional bomb ever built. Precision guided like everything else these days, it would be the ideal weapon to rattle--and perhaps pulverize--a target like Iran's underground uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz.

In one of his recent outbursts, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called Israel a "stinking corpse," destined to disappear. Such outrageous language coming--not for the first time--from the head of a state seeking nuclear weapons, has made the Iranian nuclear program all the more ominous. The day is clearly growing closer when the West is going to either face the challenge or, if it permits the ayatollahs to acquire nuclear weapons, suffer a strategic setback with a range of predictable and unpredictable consequences. The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, still in the testing phase, cannot be fitted to the bays of American bombers a day too soon.

Gabriel Schoenfeld


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


...but somebody has to do it.


By Hillel Halkin 

The Jerusalem Post, Jun. 24, 2008

So now it's official. The Israeli air force is in an advanced stage of training to attack Iranian nuclear installations. If the massive overflight of the eastern Mediterranean by Israeli jets earlier this month was indeed the "dress rehearsal" for such an attack that it has been called, it was a rehearsal to which the public was invited - or at least, the intelligence agencies of the countries that tracked the operation on their radar screens.

You don't, of course, conduct such an operation when you have already decided to strike; at that point, the more secrecy, the better. You conduct it when you don't want to strike and think your only hope of avoiding it is to convince the world that you will do it unless you are given a good reason not to. This month's air maneuvers, it might be said, were Israel's plea to the world to be shown that such a reason exists.

But the world is not going to oblige. The same countries that were too short-sighted and greedy to do anything significant about stopping the Iranian nuclear-bomb program ten, five, or two years ago, when oil prices were low and Iran were vulnerable to economic and diplomatic pressures, are not about to lift a finger now. Even a year ago, when climbing oil prices had already ruled out the economic feasibility of an embargo on Iranian oil, a sudden freeze on Iran's assets and funds by Western governments could have caused the Iranian leadership to think twice. Now, while these governments have predictably wasted yet another year by jawing toothlessly away about the need for sanctions, Iran has reportedly transferred most of those assets and funds elsewhere.

NOR IS President Bush likely to leave the White House in a blaze of penetration bombs by ordering a last-minute American attack on Iran. The Republican Party wants to win the November election, and the president knows that Americans fighting in another Middle-Eastern country and $200-or-more-a-barrel oil is not going to help. Bush has talked more bravely about stopping the Iranians than any other Western leader, but what he has not done until now will not be done before his term is over - unless, that is, he chooses to do it between the elections and his successor's inauguration in January, which would be a historically unprecedented use of lame-duck power that is hard to imagine.

And John McCain? If elected, he might be Israel's last chance of not having to go it alone. But McCain himself doesn't know at this stage what he would do, and he is currently behind in the polls. Barack Obama would be only slightly more likely to attack Iran than Vladimir Putin. He has already made it clear that he would rather talk to the Iranians than fight them, and they will be delighted to discuss with him any subject he chooses while the centrifuges go on spinning in Natanz.

Of course, even a President Obama, let alone a President McCain, might be supportive of an Israeli attack should it take place. In general, as evidenced by the muted international response to the Israeli air exercise, the list of countries that might not mind seeing Israel stick it to the Iranians is a long one. Besides the US, it might include quite a few European states and even some Arab ones. As long as they themselves don't have to run the risk of a) military failure, b) retaliatory Iranian missile and terror attacks, and c) being blamed for astronomical oil prices, plenty of governments would permit themselves a hidden smile of satisfaction while voting to condemn an Israeli attack at the United Nations.

ISRAELIS HAVE every right to feel anger at such hypocrisy. True, a nuclear Iran would be more of a menace to them than to others, but it would be a menace to nearly everyone. There is something genuinely revolting about a world that preaches the need for peacefully dissuading the Iranians from developing atomic weapons while knowingly practicing a policy that in the end leaves Israel no choice but to send its planes into the air.

Israelis also have the right to feel fear. A lot could go wrong with an attack on Iran. Iranian targets could be missed or insufficiently damaged; dummy objectives could be hit while the real ones are kept secret in the earth; Israeli planes could be shot down and Israeli pilots taken hostage; Israeli towns and cities could come under heavy missile and rocket fire not just from Iran, but from Lebanon, Gaza, and even Syria; Israeli casualties could run into the many thousands.

Anyone who thinks that Israel is straining at the leash to get at the Iranians has not the slightest conception of its society. Israelis are good and scared of attacking Iran, as they should be. They are just even more scared of an Iran that could annihilate them, as Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they would love to do.

But Israelis also have the right to feel pride - pride not only that they have one of the few air forces in the world with the military capability to stop Iran, but also that history has chosen them, even if they would rather it had chosen someone else, to be in the front ranks of the campaign.

Even now, it is not too late for them to hope that they will have partners. And if it is not a hope that has much to lean on, at least this time Jews can lean on themselves.

Hillel Halkin


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Jordan is Palestine" Plan is Receiving Attention.


by Hillel Fendel

Jordan is in an uproar over the revival of the "Jordanian option" - the thesis that Jordan is the true home to the "Palestinians."  Reports that a top advisor to US Presidential candidate John McCain is promoting this idea have led to a flurry of press reports in the Arab media, as well as a denial from Jordan's King Abdullah himself.

Some officials in Israel and the United States, however, feel it's the only way to prevent the formation of a Palestinian state.
The King responded defensively to the option, declaring in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper last week, "This country was made to stay. Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine."
"Palestinian Homeland" = Jordan
However, he also added another sentence that has given observers pause, wondering if he meant something else.  

"The Palestinian nation has the right to a state and independent identity on the areas of Palestine," said King Abdullah II. "The Palestinians will not accept any substitute for their homeland Palestine."
Though Arabs today call Israel "Palestine," MK Benny Elon (National Union) told IsraelNationalNews that in this case, "the words 'Palestinian homeland' can mean Jordan as well... Certainly Abdullah himself remembers that the original Palestine includes Jordan - but perhaps he assumes that everyone else does not."
Elon was referring to the fact that the area of Palestine, as recognized by the League of Nations and the British rulers nearly 100 years ago, includes what is today Israel and Jordan.  King Abdullah's remarks, therefore, can mean precisely the same idea that Elon has been promoting: The Arabs of Judea and Samaria should be "annexed" to Jordan.
Anxieties in Jordan
The idea has been making waves in Jordanian and other Arab media as well.  The English-language The National, published in Abu Dhabi, reported this week that the news that a top advisor to John McCain had raised the idea - even though the advisor, Robert Kagan, later denied having done so - has "brought to the forefront hidden anxieties in a country that hosts the largest Palestinian refugee population."  The paper reports that 1.9 million refugees and their descendants currently live in Jordan - nearly a third of the country's population.  Some reports state that the refugees comprise half of Jordan's populace.
"There is a conspiracy to revisit this option ['Jordan is Palestine']," The National quotes Mohammad Abu Hdeib, who heads the Jordanian parliament's Arab and international affairs committee, as saying. "Such a scenario would be an end to the Jordanian state. It also contradicts international resolutions that call for an independent Palestinian state."
Precisely, says MK Elon: "We have to find a way to stop the trend to form a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, because it is simply dangerous and ineffectual."

Elon: Stop the Danger-Fraught Two-State Solution!
For years, Elon has been promoting a peace plan called The Right Road to Peace, or the Israel Initiative, as an alternative to the accepted Roadmap two-state solution.  "The establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the West Bank) will only prolong the Arab-Israeli conflict and exact a heavy toll in human life," Elon explains. 

His plan's website elaborates on this point, explaining that forming such a state will not solve the "real problems that perpetuate the conflict: The Palestinian demand for the right of return of refugees to areas within the State of Israel, the rehabilitation of the refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and the nature of the Palestinian state and its borders.  Within a short time, these unresolved problems will resurface and draw the region into yet another war."

The plan to give the Arabs of Judea and Samaria citizenship in Jordan is the "only way to re-route diplomatic talk away from the dangerous Roadmap." 

Elon said his plan enjoys the strong support of US Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kansas), "who has been actively promoting it.  He spoke to [US Secretary of State] Condoleeza Rice about it, and when she said it has no chance of being accepted by the Arabs, he went to Jordan - and found that the situation was not as simple as she said."

Elon explained that Jordan is very wary of having on its western border a Hamas state, which a future Palestinian state is likely to become. "Jordan also has an increasingly extremist-Muslim Iraq to contend with on its eastern border - a very uncomfortable situation for King Abdullah," he continued.  Elon noted that the Jordanian monarch dispatched his former Prime Minister Abdel Salam al-Majali to discuss the plan with the Israelis. 

"If Jordan knows that the plan is serious, and has the support of the United States, and that it can work, it will support it," Elon said.

Hillel Fendel


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gaza Cease Fire: Slow Murder?

By  Ami Isseroff

Humans have a great capacity for accommodation. After you work in a barn for a while, you don't notice the smell. This normally adaptive capability can be lethal.

For example:

The most dangerous aspect of hydrogen sulfide results from olfactory accommodation and/or olfactory paralysis. This means that the individual can accommodate to the odor and is not able to detect the presence of the chemical after a short period of time. Olfactory paralysis occurs in workers who are exposed to 150 ppm or greater. This occurs rapidly, leaving the worker defenseless. Unconsciousness and death has been recorded following prolonged exposure at 50 ppm.

Consider the Oslo accords. Palestinians were supposed to put an end to terror. Grandiose pronouncements and handshakes on the White House lawn announced a new era. Then there were a few little "incidents" - a stabbing here, a Molotov cocktail there. Israel did not react, because these "trivial" incidents could not be allowed to upset the march of worldhistorical inevitability and progress. Then there were more incidents, and yet more, until buses were exploding in Jerusalem and people were exploding in Dizengoff square. Each new level of violence and breaking of the peace was just a tiny bit beyond the last, so that at any stage, it didn't seem to be "good form" to leave the game or to react and feed the "cycle of violence." To be sure, there were always warnings that "the next time" or "if the terror does not stop" Israel will have to act to defend its citizens. Eventually, we got to the so-called Second Intifada. That too developed gradually. As each suicide bombing and atrocity was only a bit worse then the last, it never seemed that there was sufficient provocation to react. This mode of gradual escalation is ideal for a terror campaign. By its nature, terror is intermittent. The initial objective of terror is not immediate physical conquest, but rather to create fear that disrupts normal life. It is a form of intermittent negative reinforcement, and therefore it is very effective. One terror attack a month can be as effective as ten, because you never know when the next one is coming.

It took a series of barbaric bombings in March 2002 to finally bring a response by Israel. The bombings and the terror however, had become a way of life. The world got used to the idea that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to blow themselves up in Israeli discotheques, pizza parlors and hotels. The terror was the "accepted" reality, and therefore Operation Defensive Wall and the security fence that stopped the terror were stigmatized as "aggression" and "human rights violations" and a "land grab."

Now Israel has embarked upon a brand new "cease fire" with the Hamas rulers of Gaza. This arrangement begins with an "acceptable" level of mayhem. Gilad Shalit, abducted from Israel, remains in captivity. The smuggling of arms, which was supposed to have been stopped, continues. Israel warns that if the smuggling continues, it will not keep the cease fire. PM Olmert announced that the IDF will act if the smuggling continues. But the smuggling has gone one for two years and the government has continuously threatened to "do something," never setting a deadline for when they would "do something." By this time, both the smuggling and the threats to stop it have receded into the background noise.

The "cease fire" is only a few days old, but already, the Hamas have turned up the level of the Hydrogen Sulfide gas in the chamber. Palestinians fired a mortar shell into Israel. Just one little mortar shell. Nothing to get upset about, surely. The truce is still holding. Actually, that means that Israel is observing the truce, while the Hamas are doing what they please. There is no sign that anyone in the Israel government was in any way perturbed by this little mortar, or thought that it is necessary to react, to protest, to warn, to set down a red line. How many such mortars a week will be "an acceptable level of violence?" Will we allow five mortars, but invade Gaza if there are six? How many mortars would you allow to fall on your town?

Israel has also allowed the game to be set up in a complicated way that almost guarantees that the truce will degenerate. The truce does not include the West Bank - in theory. Therefore, Israel is free to strike at terrorists in Nablus. But the Islamic Jihad in Nablus, which agreed to honor the cease fire, only agreed to honor it if Israel refrains from striking in the West Bank. Of course, Israel carries out arrests in the West Bank because the Palestinians never implemented an essential part of the Oslo agreement, the Wye accords and the roadmap - to disarm terrorist groups and arrest terrorists. That is another aspect of the insane modus vivendi that was accepted by gradual accommodation.

The Oslo accords were supposed to bring peace. Instead, through gradual accommodation, they devolved into a nightmare setup where Israel makes concessions in return for increased terrorist attacks. In a few months, we may find that the "Gaza Truce" deal involved Israel giving up the right to defend itself in Gaza, in return for continuing terror attacks and arms smuggling. What a great deal!

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi the madman.


There is a madman, the dictator Qadhafi, ruling a country of 1.775.000 square km and a population of about 5.300.000 and possessing tremendous oil reserves. For that reason he is mostly dangerous ! If it was not so sad that this madman is very powerfull, he would be the joke of the day. He doesn't bother with facts as you can observe by opening :