Israel employs combination of deterrence and diplomacy to keep enemies off balance.
The winds of war are once again brewing on Israel’s tense northern border. A series of Iranian inspired provocations in Syria and Lebanon are creating the perfect storm for outbreak of hostilities and full-scale conflagration.
On Tuesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun met with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at the presidential palace in Baabda where the three discussed Israel’s construction of a border wall and alleged violations of Lebanon’s maritime rights. Following the meeting, Aoun’s office released a belligerent statement accusing Israel of undermining stability and threatening Lebanese action “at various regional and international levels to prevent Israel from building the cement wall…and from the possibility of infringing on Lebanon’s oil and gas wealth and its (territorial) waters.”
Midweek, Lebanon’s so-called Higher Defense Council released a statement calling on Lebanon’s armed forces to confront Israel’s “aggression” on land and sea. Contemporaneous with the HDC statement, Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah issued pamphlets and a video threatening to attack Israel’s offshore gas rigs.
Lebanon can best be described as a dysfunctional, failed state. It has long ceased to be an independent, sovereign nation having abdicated nearly all its power to Hezbollah, which means that Lebanon has essentially been transformed into a pawn of the Islamic Republic. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Lebanese analyst Hanin Ghaddar insightfully pointed out that Hezbollah used to be considered a state within the Lebanese state. Today, it is Lebanon that is a small state within the Hezbollah state.
That analysis is wholly accurate. Lebanon’s army, a once venerated Lebanese institution that was considered a unifying force and above politics is now nothing more than an auxiliary force for Hezbollah. President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri are thoroughly corrupt and have been bought and paid for by the mullahs. Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has little power and is kept in line by implicit threats to his life. His father, Rafic, was murdered in 2005 by Hezbollah operatives acting on behalf of Syrian intelligence agents.
Iran, through its proxy Hezbollah, is using Lebanon’s corrupt and subservient government as a vehicle to initiate belligerent rhetoric and actions against Israel using contrived Israeli border transgressions as a pretext. Lebanon’s claims are of course entirely without merit. Israel has been beefing up its border with Lebanon by constructing a series of berms, cliffs, electrified fencing and concrete barriers as an effective means of preventing Hezbollah border infiltrations. Despite Lebanese claims to the contrary, these fortifications are entirely within Israel’s borders.
Moreover, Israel has made efforts to settle the maritime dispute and establish firm maritime borders through diplomatic means. However, Hezbollah controlled Lebanon has steadfastly refused to negotiate with the “Zionist entity.” Lebanon recently broke the status quo, advertising a tender to energy companies to search for natural gas in the so-called Block 9 area of the disputed zone. In response to this overt provocation, Israel moved forward with a bill to unilaterally delineate the maritime border.
So why has there been a sudden uptick in aggressive rhetoric from the Lebanese side? Israel has been constructing fortifications along the border for some time without provoking too much protest from the neighbors to the north. In addition, while the maritime dispute was always on simmer mode, it never reached the boiling point of where it is today. There are two likely answers.
As the civil war in Syria winds down, and Iran consolidates its position in that war-torn country, its emphasis is shifting westward toward Israel. Resources which had previously been expended in Syria can now be deployed against Israel. Hezbollah’s raison d’être is to wage war against the Jewish State but for the last six years, the group has been focused on killing fellow Muslims. Hezbollah wants to once again reposition itself as a leader of the so-called “Lebanese resistance.”
In addition, it is no secret that Iran is currently experiencing a period of distress. Widespread demonstrations that wracked the country in late 2017 and early 2018 caught the mullahs entirely by surprise and have left them shaken. They were only able to suppress the popular protests through sheer ruthlessness and brutality but they have not managed to extinguish the flame entirely. The embers of resistance are still burning. With increasing regularity, brave Iranian women have taken to the streets and publicly removed their hijabs in overt defiance to the repressive theocratic authorities. This form of protest would have been unfathomable in the recent past. Clearly, Iran is nearing a precipice and its repressive leaders need to deflect attention away from domestic woes. Nothing accomplishes this better than by steering the population to the Muslim world’s proverbial boogey man, Israel.
Despite this new level of belligerence, the prospect of war breaking out this year in the north is still low. In the summer of 2006, Hezbollah undertook an adventure against Israel that cost them dearly. In 33 days of fighting, the terrorist group lost 1,000 fighters and much of its infrastructure. It took them years to recover, and only with the infusion of billions of dollars poured in from Tehran. To put things in proper perspective, in five years of fighting in Syria, Hezbollah is believed to have lost just over 2,000 men killed. The level of firepower that Israel can bring to bear against Hezbollah is unfathomable and Hezbollah and its paymasters in Tehran are cognizant of this.
This potent level of deterrence should keep the terror group in check, at least in the short term. Moreover, Israel has conveyed messages to Tehran through Russia that an Iranian buildup of forces next to its borders is unacceptable and represents a red line that if crossed would trigger an immediate Israeli military response. The Russians are certainly no friends of Israel but they do understand that Iranian provocations against Israel run counter to Russian interests. Therefore, we can expect Putin, who holds considerable sway in Syria, to pull the reins on Iranian recklessness and adventurism.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.