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.
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.