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.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.