Home Ed: 35: July/2010

Ed: 35: July/2010

Israel: The Case for Optimism

As I travel around the world, I often encounter strong pessimism about Israel's current situation and future prospects. I want to give everyone some good news. Contrary to widespread perceptions, Israel's strategic situation and prospects are currently pretty good, despite all the genuine problems. Moreover, time is on Israel's side.

The Islamist revolution will be televised

Even though I'd watched thousands of hours, the rhetoric that I saw on al-Manar really shocked me. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. They call for an Islamic republic. They call for the killing of coalition troops, including Australians, in Iraq and Afghanistan on a daily basis. They call for the destruction of the State of Israel, throwing all the Jews into the sea.

Editorial: The Truth About Gaza

There could be few greater blows to peace hopes than an unconditional lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Empowered by Iranian funds, expertise and armaments, Hamas would become much better able to take on both Israel and the PA, with its reputation vastly enhanced. Hezbollah in non-blockaded Lebanon, now armed with Scuds and other advanced weaponry, would be the model.

Essay: Rational Action

One of the few points on which there is wide agreement is that for deterrence to work, the leaders of the nations that command nuclear arms must be rational. The same holds for terrorists who may acquire nuclear arms one way or another. In effect, a small cottage industry has developed of popular authors and researchers who argue that both heads of states and terrorists do act rationally, and thus – fearing retaliation from other nuclear powers – they will not employ their nukes.

Scribblings: Listening to Abbas

It is worth noting one more thing that Abbas said in Washington, not to the Jewish leaders this time to but to President Obama. According to Haaretz (June 13), he reportedly told the President he is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas. Analysts have been saying as much, despite what the PA says in public. Informed observers should be aware that, privately, Mahmoud Abbas reportedly wants the Gaza blockade to remain, as the analysts allege.

Media Microscope: Reporter or Activist?

When asked to respond to a statement by Israeli spokesman Mark Regev that Israel was happy to take and deliver the humanitarian aid, it seemed McGeough had to remind himself he was meant to be a journalist, rather than one of the activists.

Asia Watch: Stormy Seas

As elsewhere, the Israeli military confrontation of activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla's MV Mavi Marmara on May 31 put Israel at the centre of fiery rhetoric in Southeast Asia over recent weeks. In Indonesia, demonstrations were staged in Jakarta and regional cities over several days.

Collateral Damage

There is general agreement here that Israel has made mistakes before and during its navy's May 31 fatal clash with the flotilla's main vessel some 100 kilometres into the Mediterranean, southwest of Tel Aviv. However, there is also general agreement that the broader picture is about tectonic movements that Israel in no way caused, and whose damage it must prevent. In the narrow military sense, the IDF concedes it walked into an ambush, when it landed a minimally armed and vastly outnumbered commando squadron into a mob wielding iron bars, axes, clubs and knives. The subsequent battle, which left nine of the boat's 600 passengers dead and eight of the 50 commandos who confronted them wounded – caught Israel off guard militarily, politically and strategically. The military failure, Israeli experts generally agree, was not in terms of the battle's management once it had erupted. On the contrary, for a small unit that boarded the ship incrementally with the naïve plan of paintballing a crowd of presumably non-violent activists, the troops' performance was actually impressive. The speed, poise and efficiency with which they shifted to battle mode were proof that the IDF’s naval commando is as resourceful and well trained as he is widely assumed to be. The problem was in the intelligence.

Hamas, now here to stay

Hamas will be in power in the Gaza Strip for a long time. Who is going to remove it? It is a client of Iran. Certainly it is under embargo for arms but it does function a lot like an independent state for daily practical purposes. It will return to war against Israel at the first opportunity. It teaches its people to kill Jews and wipe Israel off the map and to be terrorists. That doesn't mean all Gazans support it, but those who don't can do nothing about it. Moreover, the Hamas regime receives indirect aid, due to the Palestinian Authority paying much of its civil service and Western projects designed to help Gaza's people.

Turkey, Israel and the West

Ever since the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed power in 2002, Turkish foreign policy has made a 180-degree turn. The country's once-strong ties with the United States and Israel have been weakened, and entry talks with the European Union have stalled while Ankara has come to the defence of the Iranian nuclear program and Hamas. The reason for this shift is simple: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government believe that Samuel Huntington was right, that there is a clash of civilisations. Only they are on the side of the Islamists, not the West.