Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Balance of Terror

Our old friend Jackie Hugi sent us his latest article. Not so sure I agree with him though. Iran is the new Mid East superpower and we have to think of our policies against that backdrop.

Ma’ariv (p. B3) by Jacky Hugi (op-ed) -- Israel was up in arms once again. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before the UN General Assembly and made promises, as he is wont to do, about the End of Times. “The Zionists have no way of saving themselves from the gutter that they and their supporters have dug for themselves,” he read, and established that the Zionist regime was on a steep slope and that the day of its crash was imminent. Israel, once again, found itself reeling and confused when faced with the whip lashes dealt by the little man from Tehran. President Shimon Peres wasted a great part of his speech at the same podium to rejoin Ahmadinejad’s Shana Tova best wishes. The most decorated soldier in IDF history, Ehud Barak, in the heat of coalition talks, described the Iranian president’s speech as “hateful remarks” and an “insane incident.” The newspapers, as usual, reported about the “horror show” and the surfer commenters stormed their keyboards.

For ten years Israel has been engaged overtly and covertly in a supreme effort to damage the Iranian nuclear program. The average Israeli is commanded to fear, but if you ask him what is so terrible about it, he won’t always be able to provide you with a good answer. The IDF’s hands, say high-ranking officers, will be tied on the day Tehran obtains a nuclear weapon. If that is the case, it is our right to know how that conclusion was drawn and what its significance is. Will every military operation, every assassination or raid in an enemy country, provoke a nuclear attack on Israel? Nuclear weapons do not necessarily afford their owners protection from conventional attacks. Syria and Egypt knew about the existence of Dimona and nevertheless launched a major offensive against Israel in 1973.

If you don’t have a persuasive argument that is devoid of electoral calculations, don’t scare us for nothing. We still remember Saddam Hussein’s chemical weaponry capabilities, by virtue of which you persuaded us all to wear gas masks, only to learn later that their effectiveness was questionable. The more veteran Israelis still remember the terror that gripped the young country in 1958 when Cairo and Damascus announced that they were uniting into the United Arab Community, which collapsed and was forgotten of after just three years. And those who argue that the Iranian regime is too insane to allow for its future actions to be predicted, is invited to stand in the central city squares in Amman, Riyadh or Damascus. From there, Israel appears no less wild, violent and occupying.

There are some people who latch onto Ahmadinejad’s statements about the imminent end of Israel to deduce that Iran intends to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. That is a blind assessment that needs to be proven convincingly. Until explained, it will remain pure demagoguery that exploits the existential fears of the Jewish people. There is a clear balance of terror between the two countries: the Iranians know that if they attack Israel with nuclear weapons they will be leaving themselves prone to a counterattack in kind. And if that is a mistake and the IDF hasn’t been able to manufacture an option of responding, then we have a much bigger problem than the Iranian threat.

Israel will continue to exist even in the face of a nuclear Iranian. If there are any existential dangers that it faces, then their seeds were planted long ago within Israel and not way out yonder in the Persian Gulf. The campaign against the Iranian nuclear program has been inflated far beyond its true proportions by a military establishment that has forgotten the advantages of smart raids, a political leadership that accepts the military’s perspective in full and a media that puts out explosive headlines because of marketing needs and not because they stem from a professional point of view.

The time has come for Israel to set aside its obsession with Ahmadinejad in order to address more urgent problems in education and values. If it is nevertheless hard to kick the security habit, the generals and their employers are kindly requested to provide satisfactory answers to the residents of southern Israel. Once the truce with Gaza is over, the entire area will be vulnerable to the rockets in the Palestinian factions’ arsenals. Hamas has Grad rockets, which are Katyusha rockets for all intents and purposes. Anyone who continues to promote the Iranian spin while Ashkelon is being showered with rockets is liable to find that he is entirely irrelevant.

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