I The European Union tests Israel’s resolve and desire to survive II Israel/US Letting their Guard Down

I The European Union tests Israel’s resolve and desire to survive II Israel/US Letting their Guard Down

I European Sanctions Against Israel

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

“Israel Hayom” (Israel’s most widely read daily paper)
July 19, 2013,

There are no free lunches in personal and national struggles, especially when it comes to the Jewish people, and certainly not in the Middle East.

Successful struggles require defiance of pressure, which has been an integral part of the Jewish people and the Jewish State from time immemorial. In fact, defiance of pressure has ensured the survival of Judaism and the Jewish people.

During the last 65 years, Israel benefitted significantly by resisting pressure, stronger than that imposed by the European Union: the effective US military embargo and the threat of economic embargo in 1948, suspension of the transfer of advanced US military systems and joint military exercises, etc.

It was Israel’s defiance of pressure which facilitated the establishment of Israel in 1948; the annexation of western Jerusalem and parts of Tel Aviv, the Galilee and the Negev in 1949; the reunification of Jerusalem and construction of Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem in 1967; the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981; the application of Israeli law in the Golan Heights in 1981; the settlement of 375,000 Jews in Judea & Samaria and 250,000 Jews in eastern Jerusalem since 1967; etc.

Resisting pressure has secured the survival of the Jewish State, the bolstering of Israel’s posture of deterrence, the enhancement of Israel’s role as a unique strategic ally of the US, which can be trusted on a rainy day.

From 1948 through 1992, Israeli Prime Ministers, usually, fended off US pressure to make “painful concession,” and therefore enhanced respect toward Israel, dramatically expanding US-Israel strategic cooperation. Sixty-five years of independence have demonstrated that numerous forms of pressure on Israel have just been hurdles on the road to globally unprecedented growth: economically, militarily, technologically, scientifically and demographically.

A government that sacrifices strategic goals in order to avoid pressure strays away from the legacy of Israel’s Founding Fathers. A government which fails to defy pressure and assume a tactical, short-term, limited cost, required to retain independence of political/diplomatic action and to advance strategic, long-term, essential goals, forfeits the trust of its citizenry and the respect of its allies and the international community.

Succumbing to European pressure would radicalize the Palestinian position, generate further pressure and reduce the slim chance for peace. This would ignore the post World War II European precedent of Land-for-Peace, with belligerent Germany being punished by transferring land to its victims: France, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 2013, Europe is eager to punish the intended victim, Israel, by transferring land to the belligerent Arabs, hence rewarding and encouraging belligerence.

Giving in to European pressure would reward “Better Red than Dead” Europe, which violates economic sanctions against Iran, while imposing sanctions on Israel, the only democratic, capable, reliable and unconditional ally of the Free World.

Retreat in the face of European pressure would ignore the implications of the stormy, chaotic Arab winter, and overlook the unprecedented surge in hate-education, terrorism and non-compliance since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords. This retreat would transform Jerusalem into an enclave connected to the coastal plain by a 2-4 mile wide corridor. It would reduce Israel to a 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered by the Judea & Samaria mountain ridges, which dominate Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructure.

It would relegate Israel from a national security producer to a national security consumer, depriving the US of Israel’s unique national security contributions.

Shabbat Shalom and have a pleasant weekend,

II Israel Is Letting Its Guard Down

Wall Street Journal, JULY 19, 2013


If finally compelled to do so, Israel is able to destroy the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, even if at breathtaking risk. Whether or not Israel succeeds on that front, it faces yet another existential military problem, less immediate and on a different register, in regard to which it has made the wrong choice.

Though history may never repeat itself exactly, it does have affection for certain themes. One of these is that of a nation suicidally disarming because it rests upon the laurels of the past, or believes in the satisfying delusion that by intellectual formulation it can safely predict the future intentions and capabilities of rivals and enemies. (Not unlike the US) jsk

Prior to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel was so intoxicated by its brilliant victories in 1967 that (substituting excessive confidence for military prudence) it was very nearly destroyed. After shattering Israel’s defenses, the Egyptian army halted only because of Israel’s nuclear deterrent, after which the tide of war turned only because of an extraordinary American resupply effort authorized by President Nixon, something that would hardly have been a certainty with a President Obama.

Because Israel is understandably tired of war and wants to tend its vineyards, and because its military, like America’s, has come down with a potentially fatal case of think-tankitis, the government believes that, as recently expressed by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, “Wars of military versus military—in the format we last met 40 years ago in the Yom Kippur War—are becoming less and less relevant.” Accordingly, Israel plans to cut its already diminished defense budget by more than one dollar in 20; release a large proportion of career officers; and reduce further the numbers of its planes, tanks and warships. The military will be shaped to fight Hamas, Hezbollah, and intifadas rather than the armies of Egypt, Syria, and whoever might join them.

The fallacy of this course is that, despite persistent internal troubles and external conflicts, the Arab confrontation states have coalesced at unlikely times and in unlikely circumstances. In 1948, obsessed with throwing off European domination and asserting independence, they nonetheless combined to make war on a nascent Israel, nearly wiping it out. In 1967, war hysteria from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf reached such a frenzy of self-actualization that virtually no observers were confident that Israel would prevail—until it did. In 1973, against nearly all expectations, Egypt (always at the verge of bankruptcy) and Syria (always engaged in repression) nearly put an end to the Jewish state.

Although the divisions and travails of the Arab world retard coordinated action against Israel, the Arab world at times addresses these very problems by going to war against Israel. Egypt’s army is now preoccupied, but hardly exhausted or depleted. If the Syrian regime holds, its army will be lean, habituated to action and endowed with advanced Russian weapons. And other Arab and Islamic states, their militaries swelling and at rest, cannot be excluded from the strategical calculus.

Were Turkey to become sufficiently Islamist, which it may, its vast and modernizing armed forces would be a nightmare for now overconfident Israeli planners. Saudi Arabia’s air force (soon 380 combat aircraft, primarily F-15s) is rapidly gaining on Israel (441 combat aircraft) in quantity and quality. Were the Saudis to take a Muslim-solidarity time-out with Iran and join Egypt, Syria and perhaps even Turkey to defeat Israel in an air war, it would mean Israel’s death?

Yes, Israel’s adversaries know of its nuclear weapons. But if the Iranian nuclear program succeeds? If Saudi Arabia, in reaction, develops its own nuclear weapons? Or if jihadists take over Pakistan and its substantial nuclear arsenal? Then, having stalemated Israel’s nuclear deterrent, the confrontation states—if they could achieve air superiority—would need only gnaw on Israel with ground forces for as long as it might take. Is it therefore time for Israel to slow the growth and development of its air force?

The diminution of Israel’s tanks is nothing new. Ten years ago it had 4,000 in active inventory, now 480. Supposedly, nowadays only retrograde armies have them. Britain and France, for example, have token forces of 227 and 254 respectively, whereas Syria has 5,000. This is because “smart” weapons carried by infantrymen, light vehicles and aircraft can make quick work of tanks. However, with air dominance, such weapons cannot be launched at one’s tanks by enemy planes. With appropriate heavy artillery, also much out of fashion, and tanks equipped with anti-personnel ammunition, infantry is similarly disempowered. Thus freed, the tank is an agile combination of mobile artillery, armored fighting vehicle and personnel carrier able to execute the broad strategic movements that win conventional wars. This is especially true in the deserts of the Middle East or on the plains of Central Europe, where the field of maneuver is hospitable to quick and decisive strokes.

Israel’s leadership is canny, as the country’s survival attests, but it doesn’t always know best. Prior to the near-defeat of 1973, a number of Israeli analysts had strong indications of impending catastrophe. Among those who refused to heed correct and timely advice were David Elazar, the Israeli military’s chief of staff at the time, Moshe Dayan, minister of defense, and Golda Meir, the prime minister.

After the war, Elazar was forced to resign, Dayan suffered a nervous breakdown, and Meir’s government fell, because so nearly did Israel. In relying upon beliefs of the moment and conceptualizing away the threat, they had foresworn the extra margin of safety that was their duty to uphold. Forty years later, Israel must not make the same mistake.

Mr. Helprin, novelist, senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and graduate of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, served in the Israeli infantry and air force. His latest novel is “In Sunlight and In Shadow” (Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).



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