Thursday, March 07, 2019

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

Balagan: chaos, total disorder, huge mess. Borrowed from Russian.

The incendiary and explosive balloons continue to be sent across our southern border, and the Hamas special “night unit” continues to burn tires and throw explosives over the fence, as well as to cross over into Israel, attack soldiers, and try to get at civilians. We continue to “respond” by bombing or shelling empty installations.

We are careful not to kill them, because we are told that if we kill them, their honor will require that they kill us in return; this will lead to an escalation. They want that, we are told, because there is humanitarian crisis in Gaza, primarily because their rivals in the Palestinian Authority have been cutting salary payments to PA officials in Gaza who either work for Hamas or don’t do anything. If there is an escalation, the crisis will get worse and the UN or other outside forces will step in and give them money, which they will spend on weapons or tunnels anyway.

Until recently, Israel has allowed Qatar to send millions in cash to Hamas, because nothing makes them madder than running out of money.

If there is an escalation, Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, and even Iranian forces in Syria will coordinate their efforts, there will be a two- or three- front war, and we would suffer a lot of casualties although we would “win.” That would be giving them what they want, we are told.

There is a news report that is emblematic of the insanity surrounding our relations with our Palestinian Arab enemies. It seems that the Israel Prison Service has been unable to stop the smuggling of cellular phones into facilities where Hamas terrorists have been imprisoned, so they are installing jamming devices. But – get ready for this – the IDF has asked them to suspend the work because of “its possible impact on the situation in the territories.”

At the same time the Iranian regime is trying to upgrade Hezbollah’s rockets with precision guidance kits. We are acting against it, insofar as the Russians allow, but likely we are simply slowing it down, not stopping it. Iran is also working to establish Shiite militia forces in Syria and Iraq, and of course proceeding with its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. We are certainly taking action, overt and covert, in these areas too, but again these operations are only capable of slowing the process, not stopping it.

Meanwhile, here at home the waqf and radical Muslims are trying to further erode the remains of our sovereignty on the Temple Mount. We proved to them last year that we were not prepared to defend it, when they forced Israel to back down from installing metal detectors and cameras at the entrances to the Mount in order to prevent any more of our policemen from being murdered. My prediction is that we will back down over this latest provocation too.

And then there is the illegal Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, which even the Supreme Court says should be removed, which Bibi has solemnly promised to remove, but which we apparently can’t demolish because the Europeans wouldn’t like it.

Is your head spinning? Mine is. One wonders if we have a plan, or if we only react. One thing stands out in all of this: Israel, supposedly the eighth-strongest power in the world, militarily and economically (after the US, Russia, China, Germany, UK, France, and Japan), acts like she has no better option than to lie down and take it. Little by little, her sovereignty and security erodes. We don’t seem to have the will to confront these problems when they are manageable, and they only grow more intractable with time.

There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, there’s the normal human propensity to put off trouble. Dealing with the root of the problems today would be disagreeable, more disagreeable than accepting their manifestations. Of course, tomorrow it will be worse, but tomorrow is not today and maybe something will change before then (someone more cynical than I might say, “it will be someone else’s responsibility, tomorrow.”)

Our Prime Ministers and their cabinets and generals are not supposed to think this way. They are supposed to think like good chess players, carefully laying the groundwork for their future actions, while systematically evaluating all the paths that the enemy might take, and developing contingency plans for them. Last week I played chess with my 9-year old grandson, and I relieved him of his queen because he was concentrating too hard on what he was about to do to me. By the time he becomes Prime Minister, I hope he will know better.

We can’t just blame our leaders. They are operating in a political system that pits an Attorney General and Supreme Court with undefined and arbitrarily broad powers against the PM and his government. So when they try to do something like make a deal with private companies to exploit newly-found and highly strategic natural gas reservoirs, suddenly the Court can stick its nose in and upset everything, as happened in 2016. Or they are stymied when they try to find some solution to deal with an illegal influx of tens of thousands of migrants, as happened in 2014 (most of them are still here, having children whose first language is Hebrew).

But while the legal establishment still hasn’t intervened directly in strategic military matters, the Attorney General, State Prosecutors’ Office, and police have driven the Prime Minister crazy with criminal investigations for pretty much the past 4 years (he was interrogated by police for several hours at a time at least 12 times in connection with various accusations against him and his wife). The charges have ranged from stupidly trivial to serious, but the overall impression is that they are out to get him on something, anything. Even apart from the political aspects of the legal assault – the Attorney General announced his intention to hold a pre-indictment hearing last week, a month before the election – it’s hard to believe that the PM has had much time to ponder his next moves in the multiple geostrategic games he is playing with Hamas, Iran, and others.

Then there is the perennial problem that minor parties that happen to hold the balance of power in the coalition can paralyze or even bring down a government because of one rabbi who is angry over something.

Other pressing matters, like the massively funded European campaign to intervene in our politics and policies, and to help the Palestinian Arabs create facts on the ground in Judea and Samaria, have proven difficult to deal with decisively, possibly because too many Knesset members benefit directly or indirectly from the influx of Euros.

One thing that we do not seem to have to deal with today is the pressure from an American administration for more and more concessions to the Palestinians, for the sake of an impossible peace. This could change after our election in April, when the Trump megadeal will be revealed. But I don’t think so – my feeling is that the Trump Administration is far more sympathetic to Israel than the last few, and will not try to impose a solution that we can’t live with.

On the other hand, the American election is not so far off, and the Democratic Party in the US is less friendly toward Israel today than even in the days of Obama. If Trump is not re-elected and the next administration is headed by a left-wing Democrat, the Obama period will look like a picnic in comparison. We’d best end the balagan while we can.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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