During the Six Day War I listened to Egypt's broadcasts boasting about the superiority of its military and threatening Israel with annihilation. Very quickly we found out that the boasts were covering up utter incompetence and collapse and that the threats were empty. For the next decades Israel learned to disregard Arab boasts and threats and took Eastwood's advice--it would not say much but would strike creatively, often preemptively and, most important, decisively. That gave Israel an effective deterrence. And from the West it got respect.
It was during the 2006 war with Hizb'allah that a change in Israel's behavior became visible: it became more like the Arabs'. Ehud Olmert and Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff, kept threatening that Israel would smash Lebanon and return it several decades back to its state of destruction during the civil war. Israel air force did some of that, but it proved insufficient and by the time it bungled sending the troops in it was politically too late and the US/UN forced a retreat with Hizb'allah hurt, but not destroyed. It also invited international condemnation and Hizb'allah, now controlling Lebanon, is a much more serious threat.
Since then Israel seems to have adopted the talk rather than act approach. For example, for years terrorists in Ghaza regularly bombarded Israel with rockets and other projectiles. Netanyahu, Barak, as well as other political and military leaders issued frequent threats but did not take action consistent with the seriousness of those threats. This prompted the terrorists to intensify their attacks, causing more and more property and human damage. Ultimately they forced a reluctant Israeli government to conduct the Cast Lead operation which ended up undecisively, just like in Lebanon, under US/international pressure. And it got Israel the Goldstone Report, which was worse than the condemnations over Lebanon.
Of course, the bombardments from Ghaza continued, with increasingly long ranges and recently intensified to a level similar to that preceding Cast Lead. Israel repeats the same routine: it issues strong threats, but it ends up just bombing tunnels and empty Hamas buildings.When it manages to kill a few terrorists, Hamas claims they were civilians, inviting international condemnation. The rockets continue to fly.
Here's, for example, Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon:
We've know this from before Cast Lead. If that's what you need to do, do it, don't talk.Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Saturday said that "Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization whose aim is to destroy Israel," adding that the Gaza-based group's regime should be toppled. "Only the collapse of Hamas rule in Gaza will stop the firing," referring to the launch of two Grad rockets towards Ashkelon overnight Friday. "There is no other solution," Ayalon added.
There's other things Israel has been doing lately that, taken together with the approach described above, is dangerously self-defeating. Here's one example:
MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) and MK Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima), speaking at another cultural event in Yehud on Saturday, said it is the government's responsibility to pay any price in order to secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Schalit.Pressuring the government publicly to pay any price is a stupid thing in a negotiating context, worse so if it is for domestic political purposes. Yet neither Shalit's family, nor the public and Israeli politicians supporting them seem to get this obvious fact through their heads and at the very least conduct their exchanges in private. That's the main reason why Shalit lingers in captivity and why the price will continue to climb until Israel folds.
The two added, the prime minister needs to make this difficult decision, perhaps the toughest decision in recent times - to release murderers with blood on their hands - so that Hamas releases Schalit, Israel Radio reported.
Or consider this from the Investigative Project on Terrorism (Flotilla Leaders Defiant as Israel Seeks to Avoid Conflict):
Turkey said Thursday it rebuffed an Israeli request to help stop activists from sailing in a flotilla that aims to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza next month."We listened to the message given by the Israeli side and told them this is an initiative by civil society," a Turkish foreign ministry official told Reuters.Here's the civil society they are referring to:
At an event held in Southern Turkey last week, Yildirim told to an audience of over 1,000 people that "The Mediterranean does not belong to Israel... Just because we have had shahids [martyrs], we are not fearful... We will not step back... Let all know this: Until the blockade on Gaza is lifted... and until our march to al-Aqsa is completed, this sea intifada and land intifada will continue! "Yildirim continued: "We say this with no hesitation: Our problem is Zionism – which, like a virus, has infected all humanity!"Did anybody in Israel's leadership expect any other response from Islamist Turkey, that has made it so clear over and over again that it is no longer a friend, but an enemy? What, other than signaling weakness, did they think that such a request would achieve?
Islamists are mortal enemies of civil society. Empty threats, concessions and begging will achieve the exact opposite of what they are intended to achieve: they signal weakness and invite pouncing. Treating islamists as if they were members of Western civilized society is a self-defeating and suicidal strategy. It is sheer stupidity.
If Israel expects to get understanding and support from the West for this behavior, I'm afraid it is an illusion. The West is in steep decline and is itself in enemy appeasement mode. Together with decadence and bankruptcy, there are clear indications that even if it wanted to, it could not defend stand up to enemies, the most important being Iran and its nuclearization.To see the impotence, consider first this from UPI:
NATO planes flying combat missions over Libya are starting to run out of bombs, officials said Friday. Only six countries are involved in the operation and other members of NATO remain reluctant to become involved. That means the United States, which turned over bombing runs to NATO at the beginning of April, will probably have to resume them to keep the effort going if Moammar Gadhafi remains in power, The Washington Post reported.It's actually much worse than that as per Steven Metz (Swan Song). After proving in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq that NATO was unwieldy and "remained, for all intents and purposes, the United States plus junior partners"
...for the third time since the end of the cold war, NATO has accepted a major mission and then demonstrated that it does not have the unity of purpose or the military capability to perform it. At least, not without the United States dominating. Meanwhile, the United States has not fully grappled with the idea that NATO may have outlived its usefulness: Its costs may outweigh the contribution it makes to American security, and the notion that the U.S. needs to remain heavily involved in European security seems less and less evident.
In other words, the US--involved in three messy wars from which it cannot extricate itself without losing--is practically alone (the UK went into the Libyan operation after it had drastically cut its military and dismantled almost its entire naval capability).
If you want to understand the West's appeasement mode, there you have it. If it cannot deal with Libya--Libya, mind you!--can you imagine it taking on Iran with any credibility? This explains, for example, why Obama and Clinton use the language of "Ghadaffi should do this", "Assad shouldn't do that", as if just saying so is sufficient for them to obey. Somewhere I read that this is not power, but the illusion of power.
In these circumstances the West cannot be appeased by Israel. Israel is the price this pathetic West has decided to pay to the Islamists in the hopeless delusion that they will treat the West kindly on its way down. Good luck with that.
Israel is essentially on its own . If it continues with this strategy, it commits suicide.
UPDATE: Here's Max Boot (Qaddafi Makes Merry, NATO Falters) on the West Israel tries to appease:
UPDATE: Regarding Shalit--would you say the following two items are related:President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron, and President Nicolas Sarkozy have published an op-ed today that only highlights the incoherence of their approach to Libya. They write:Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government.So we’re not going to remove Qaddafi by force but we are going to insist that he leave? So far he has refused to budge. What, if anything, are we prepared to do to force him out?
Peres: I'm optimistic Gilad will return home alive
To mark Pessah, president visits captive's parents at their tent outside PM's house for 1st time; "the entire nation is united in bringing Schalit home."
Hamas: Schalit deal will only go ahead 'on our terms'
Group's leader in Gaza says "occupation must understand that all its attempts have failed over past 5 years.