Navigating The Coming Chaos and Understanding Israel’s Direction

The political stalemate in Israel continues to drag on, with most people assuming there will be a third round of elections. What is going on and how does the root of this current crisis stem from the creation of the State?

There is no question about it, the present political quagmire between the so called right-wing block and the left-wing block is directly rooted in the way Israel’s political system was designed from the outset. The challenges in Israel are systemic and understanding this will enable real change and rectification across the national fabric.

We understand that the vessels for the Redemption of the Jewish people and in return the entire world were meant to manifest in a particular manner as to enable the Divine light of the Infinite to flow into the universe, thus rectifying and repairing the world. When those of us who were meant to take hold of these vessels passed up on the opportunity, the vessels fell into the wrong hands.

These hands belonged to the socialist wing of the Zionist movement who succeeded in building the beginning of the bureaucratic apparatus of the state in a way which allowed them to remain in control. With the six million Jews of Europe burnt up and the Jews of Middle Eastern origins broken once they moved to the transit camps within the State, permanent control seemed to be inevitable. However, something miraculous happened along the way.

In 1967, Israel won the Six Day War receiving the Biblical heartland of the Jewish people. This reinvigorated the Religious-Secular debate and inspired the real beginnings of Israel’s Jewish renaissance. A few years later, another unforeseen event took place: The Likud’s Menachem Begin of the Irgun together won a sweeping election after the near disaster of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. This brought the Left’s most “hated” enemy into the premiership for the first time. Worst of all for the Left, the Sefardim (Jews of Middle Eastern origin) who had been economic slaves to the Socialist elite, broke ranks and supported the rightwing camp. This political partnership has for the most part stayed intact.

This ended the Left’s overt control of the State. However, the Israeli Deep State is run by the Left’s bureaucratic control of the military and courts.

Where Are We Now – A Third Revolution?

With Jews returning to a traditional lifestyle increasing year in and year out as well as the Arab-Israeli peace initiatives floundering due to a realization that “Land for Peace” does not work, the Begin revolution that upended Israel has now led the political super structure into proverbial brick wall.

Ultimately, the traditional blocks of the Left and Right are now implacably butting heads as the Israeli Arab parties have essentially required someone to shift one way or the other. Traditionally, this has been Avigdor Liberman’s role. However, since the Palestinian-Israeli peace plan appears to be frozen indefinitely, Liberman’s views on Secular-Religious issues have become the new divide in the political landscape.

Chaos Leads to New Order

Israel’s present situation is untenable. While there are many long term solutions to reconfiguring the political structure, none of those will be implemented in the current climate.

Iran is surrounding Israel, while the State budget cannot be past in a caretaker government. The IDF needs upgrades and no new foreign policy initiatives can be undertaken. There will be a war sooner rather later. With the vacuum in politics, coupled with an external threat, the chaos coming will lead to a new paradigm.

The current vessels of the State were built within the darkness of the Bundist and self-loathing Jewish socialist leadership at the beginning of the State. This leadership was vicious and determined to root out any vestiges of Jewish roots of Israel’s raison d’etre. The coming chaos provides a unique opportunity to rectify the vessels of sovereignty and redemption, uplifting from the darkness from which they came.

Expect many surprises along the way.

Liberman: “Iran won’t be allowed to get nuclear weapons”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke out againt Iran’s growing presence in Syria and southern Lebanon. He stated e.mphatically that “Iran won’t have nuclear weapons. The State of Israel is determined not to allow nuclear weapons for Iran.”

In terms of the situation to Israel’s north, Liberman said “It is bad,” referring to the missile threat from Hezbollah and the growing Iranian control on the Syrian-Israeli border.

With the Russia back Shiite axis clearly coming out ahead in the Syrian civil war, the threat from Iran has grown significantly. Although Russia has promised not to let Iran become a danger to Israel, the opposite has occurred and the fanatical Shiite regime has assumed an ever more threatening position.

Last month Iran sent its first UAV into Israel, which sparked a reaction from Israel destroying many of the forward bases it had built in Syria.  Despite the strong stance taken by the IDF, Iran contiues to expand seemingly realizing that Israel is increasingly on its own.

Options for Israel

Israel has little options for dealing with the growing Iranian presence.  With hundreds of thousands of missiles pointed at it by Hezbollah and a joint Syrian-Iranian threat of invasion into the Golan, Israel has to make sure its moves are considered very carefully.  The Syrian-Iranian alliance is fully backed by Putin, which creates a serious strategic challenge to Israel.


PACKERS CORNER: Time to Legalize Havat Gilad

Tonight is the Yahrzeit of my Grandfather, of beloved memory, Huna Leib (Lionel) ben Aharon (Packer). Anything good that comes from this installment is dedicated to the spiritual elevation of his precious soul. He was a wonderful man and an even better Grandfather!

Speaking of death, the carnage in northwest Syria continues and seems to only be getting worse. While the Turkish army is making slow but steady progress against the Kurdish defenses, it seems more attention should be focused on the Syrian “rebels”. They are not only fully participating in the fighting, but many videos and pictures have emerged of terrible atrocities they are committing. If this surprises you, I suggest you move from Antarctica to somewhere with access to some form of worldly information. Its difficult to envision the Kurdish forces hanging on, but we can hope and pray. No country is currently more involved in attacking the Jewish Presence in Jerusalem than TURKEY! That my surprise some folks, but evidence is everywhere here in the Old City.

The saga of officially recognizing Havat Gilad as a legal community continues for another week. Now the Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, promises there will be a final cabinet vote on Sunday. To help understand the significance of this potential move, I have included a picture of a map of the area. If one looks closely, Havat Gilad sits in between the Jewish communities of Kedumim and Yitzhar.

On this specific map and in most “peace plans”, the yellow and black line is that of the proposed security fence/possible future Israeli border. Kedumim in inside the line, but Havat Gilad and Yitzhar are outside. By recognizing Havat Gilad, everything gets closer to Yitzhar. Yitzhar sits on the north side of the arab village of Huwara. This is quite a hostile area for Jewish motorists to traverse to get to the nearby Jewish Communities of Yitzhar, Bracha, Itamar and Elon Moreh. Similar to the Hevron area farther south, there is no real possibility for a contiguous “palestinian state” if the Jewish presence remains in this area. The current Israeli Government has promised to build a bypass road around Huwara. If that happens, based on previous similar examples (think/google Tekoa and the “Lieberman Road”), development should skyrocket. Starting to understand why Havat Gilad is so important? If not, pm me. I love the attention.

Investigations of the Prime Minister continue and the Government Coalition remains obscenely stable.

This week, Poland is claiming not to be historically anti-Semitic and not to have been involved in the killing Jews in the Holocaust. Not really sure what to say about this other than to simultaneously think of every dumb polack joke I have ever heard. Those folks got a real talent.

Finally, there’s a whole to do about the planned upcoming deportation of African infiltrators from Israel back to Africa. Personally, I don’t see why the black hebrews can’t be thrown in (out) as well. In short, people who live far away from and are not personally affected by them think we should let them all stay, because why the hell not?  And those who live with/interact with them, vehemently want them to go. Seems to be a recurring pattern. I would like to make a suggestion: those advocating for the infiltrators to stay should threaten to go to Africa with them, in real solidarity, if they get deported. Even better, they should sign legal paperwork guaranteeing it. Or would they prefer to wax self-righteous all the while preaching from their exclusively ashkenazic high income ivory towers. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what they decide.

Liberman’s new home demolition initiative: The point and the pointlessness

For its long term survival and security Israel needs strategic coherence, not haphazard tactical machoism.  

There is no difference between an attack that ends in murder and an attack that ends with serious injury. In both cases the homes of the terrorists must be destroyedDefense Minister Avidgor Liberman, Oct 29, 2007.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman instructed the Defense Ministry’s legal team to explore avenues that would extend the ability of the IDF to destroy not only the homes of terrorists who have murdered Israelis, but also of terrorists who have severely wounded them. Currently home demolitions are restricted to cases of terror attacks that result in the death of Israelis.

Is incompetence reason for clemency?

In justifying his proposal, Liberman claimed that Israel’s policy of home demolitions has proven itself an effective deterrent against terrorism, and there is no reason to distinguish between the different types of attacks whose purposeful intent was the slaughter of Israelis.

Prima facie, this contention has a sound ring of logic to it. After all, why should the murderous intent of one terrorist be treated less harshly simply because the harm inflicted was—despite that intent—less “successful” than those of another nefarious perpetrator?

After all, if home demolitions are, as Liberman claims, an effective measure in reducing the mortal danger to Israelis, why not apply it to any terror attempt—whether successful or not? Indeed, one might well ask, why should the efficiency of Israel’s counterterror operations be a mitigating factor in dealing with any thwarted would-be Judeocidal butcher?

But perhaps even more to the point is this: If home demolitions are in fact an effective terror deterrent, then perhaps even more than the actual perpetrators, who murder or maim their victims, this measure should be applied to those who plan, finance or incite such atrocities.   

Indeed, given that frequently, the perpetrators themselves are willing to sacrifice their lives in the commission of their brutal acts, it could well be that the threat of having one’s residence razed might have greater deterrent effect on those responsible for planning, funding and inciting such acts—and who do not seem to share such a manifest death-wish as their more dispensable kinsfolk.

Correctly conceptualizing the conflict

Critics of home demolitions, in general and certainly of any expansion of its application such as advanced by Liberman, in particular, allege that, as it entails inflicting punishment on the families of the perpetrator for acts they did not commit, it is inherently unfair. Accordingly, its use should be prohibited or at least severely curtailed.

While this characterization might be factually true, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it is operationally (and ethically) irrelevant.

It should be almost self-evident that to arrive at some kind of durable resolution of the conflict and the lasting cessation of violence, the conflict must be correctly conceptualized. This is not a prescription for abstract theorizing detached from the harsh and harrowing realities of day-to-day experience. Quite the opposite. Unless the conflict is correctly conceptualized, no effective policy can be devised to contend with it –and certainly not to end it. Indeed, just as a disease cannot be properly treated if incorrectly diagnosed, so a conflict cannot be correctly addressed if it is incorrectly conceptualized.  

Little analytical acumen is required to draw the conclusion that the conflict between Arab and Jew over control of the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives: A Jewish collective and an Arab collective—for which the Palestinian collective is its operational spearhead.

In this regard, during a November 2015 address, then-defense minister, Moshe “Bogey” Yaalon, aptly characterized the conflict as a clash of collectives, describing it as: “…predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills.”

Accordingly, the conflict, as one between collectives, cannot be individualized. One collective must prevail, the other be prevailed upon. Only then, after such a decisive outcome, can the issue of personal misfortune or injustice within the collectives be addressed.

Collective punishments for collective conflicts

If the clash is essentially one between collectives with conflicting societal wills, then clearly, for one collective to prevail over the other requires breaking the will of the rival collective.

Consequently, any wrongdoings perpetrated in the name of the Palestinian collective must carry a price, for which the collective pays – for if not, it will have no incentive to curb them.

In this regard, it must be kept in mind that the Palestinian population is not, as some might suggest, a hapless victim of the terror groups, rendering it blameless for the atrocities committed in its name. To the contrary, it is the very crucible from which such groups have emerged. By its own hand, by its own deeds and declarations, it has made it clear that it will not—except on some temporary, tactical basis–brook any manifestation of Jewish political independence or national sovereignty “between the River and the Sea”.

Indeed, a July 2017 survey by Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research, found that within the Palestinian collective, there is virtually unanimous endorsement of the acts of terror perpetrated against the Jewish collective and similar sympathy and support for perpetrators. According to its findings, “an almost total consensus rejects pressure on the PA to terminate payments to Palestinian security prisoners [i.e. jailed terrorists- MS]” and “91% are opposed to the suspension of PA payments to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails; only 7% support such measure.  

Putting home demolitions in perspective

Accordingly, in the context of a clash between conflicted collectives, the issue of the “collective nature” of punitive measures should not be considered grounds for their preclusion.

After all, this was never a consideration in, say, Serbia, where markets, hospitals, buses, bridges and old age facilities, to name but a few civilian targets hit in high altitude bombing sorties in the US-led NATO attacks in the Balkans War of the 1990s.

Moreover, as polls repeatedly show, terror attacks against Israelis are not something foisted on a reluctant peace-seeking Palestinian population, but are in fact, widely embraced by it—reflecting nothing more (or less) than vox populi.  

Seen in this light, home demolitions and the extension of their imposition on perpetrators of non-lethal terror attacks (or even planners and facilitators of such attacks) are entirely appropriate if they:

– militate towards diminishing dangers to which members of the Jewish collective are exposed; and

– diminish the will of the Palestinians-Arabs, as a collective, to carry out assaults against Jews (as a collective).

However, unless integrated into a wider conceptually coherent strategic policy, home demolitions, like any other operational tactics, such as targeted killing, are unlikely to be effective in any meaningful way. This is particularly true if the affected family members are allowed to receive aid to quickly rebuild an alternative abode and financial compensation for their kinsman’s commission of the act for which their home was demolished.

Lack of strategy stymies tactics

Indeed, while it might be possible to present data showing that harsh punitive and/or preventative measures—whether house demolitions, administrative detention or targeted killings—may have reduced the frequency of terror attacks, even their most fervent proponents will be forced to admit that they have not been able  to terminate such attacks. And certainly they have been unable to break the terrorists’ will to undertake them.  

Nor will they ever be able to do so, if they remain detached from a wider strategic blueprint, which draws on the awareness that in the ongoing clash between two collectives with irreconcilable core aspirations, only one can prevail.

This calls for Israel to cease relating to the Palestinian-Arab collective as a prospective peace partner, and to begin relating to it as it relates to itself—as an implacable enemy.  Only then can a coherent, comprehensive and logically consistent strategy be fashioned in which Israel ceases to sustain an inimical collective by gradually ceasing to supply it with goods and services it needs for its existence. In applying such a strategy, a clear distinction should be made between the belligerent Palestinian-Arab collective and non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals.

The former must be unequivocally and unmercifully vanquished and dismantled. The latter must be provided with the means to seek a better, more secure life elsewhere in third party countries, outside the “circle of violence” and free from the clutches of the cruel corrupt cliques who, for decades, have wrought nothing but disaster and devastation upon them.    

Strategic coherence not haphazard tactical machoism

Only once such a strategic approach is adopted, can various operational tactics –such as an enhanced demolitions policy—be effectively incorporated into it as tools to achieve strategic goals. Until that happens, until Israel foreswears any aspirations of reaching some consensual arrangement with the Palestinians, harsh tactical measures will always, to some degree or other,  be at cross purposes with ostensibly more benign strategic objectives. Until that happens, Israeli policy will be plagued by internal contradictions that hamstring its implementation and the effectiveness of its operational tactics, making it appear disingenuous and devious—and an easy target for international acrimony and opprobrium.

Surely it is high time for the national leadership to grasp these almost self-evident truths and demonstrate an awareness that for its long term survival and security, Israel needs strategic coherence, not haphazard tactical machoism.  

HEBRON RISING: Israel Elevates Status of Biblical City’s Ancient Jewish Community

Hebron’s upgrade will have a direct and almost immediate effect on the “peace process.” The message is clear: Judea and Samaria will not be handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

Seemingly in conjunction with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments last night that “Judea and Samaria will be Israel’s forever,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman elevated the official status of the ancient Hebron community to that of a separate municipality from their Palestinian Authority counterparts.

The move is significant for the simple fact that all Jewish neighborhoods will be united under one municpal board. This board will have the independent right to buy property in Hebron, essentially pushing forward private avenues to redeem more of the city and continue to return it to Jewish hands.

Yishai Fleisher, Official Spokesman for Hebron said the following:

“The City of the Patriarchs is also the city of the Sons: We want to thank the Justice Minister, Defense Minister and his Deputy, the Attorney General and the Legal Advisor for the Judea and Samaria Area for their hard work, which has led to the regulation of normal life and municipal services for the Jewish community in Hebron.”

This status change essentially opens up Hebron for development in a way that it never has had before.  Seen as a place of extreme conflict between Jews and Arabs, the Hebron Jewish community has worked hard to open the ancient city and grave site of the Jewish people’s Patriarchs and Matriarchs to a wider array of Jews and Israelis.

Liberman’s announcement can be seen as a quiet game changer for Hebron and Israel’s permanent control of its historic Biblical Heartland.

Rabbi Ben Packer’s lecture titled the Tipping Point, filmed two years ago which can be viewed below is an important road map to why decisions like the upgrade for Hebron are game changers.

Both Bibi Netanyahu’s statement yesterday and Liberman’s announcement today appear to be born from the realization on the part of the White House that the Palestinian Authority has all but torpedoed “Peace” negotiations with Israel.

Whether or not Trump gave his approval is perhaps secondary. What is important to note is that Israel appears to be moving forward in holding onto Judea and Samaria for good.


Why Did Bibi Freeze the Qalqilya Plan?

The vaunted Qalqilya plan which would have seen a doubling of the size of the Palestinian controlled city of Qalqilya just 10 miles from Tel Aviv appears to be permanently frozen by the security cabinet yesterday.  This was Liberman’s plan. It originated with him and he pushed it, but it ran into a solid brick wall when Bibi Netanyahu decided to freeze when he saw he did not have enough votes to pass it or the story goes.

Liberman vs. Bibi vs. Bennett

The jockeying on the right over the Qalqilya plan began a few weeks ago, Liberman’s move was published with the seeming approval of the Prime Minister. Then it was released that the Prime Minister had no knowledge of the plan. At first this seemed crazy. How could Prime Minister Netanyahu not know of something of this magnitude, but then it was found out that the Civil Administration itself under the guidance of Defense Minister Liberman okayed the plan before it was brought to Netanyahu tossing a hot potato into the government.

It was at that point that the right flank of the Likud led by Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin along with Naftali Bennett of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) demanded the plan frozen.

Whether or not Bibi Netanyahu planned this, the results are clear. Liberman has become discredited on the right and Bibi has been able by shelving the plan show the base that he is still with them.  This enables the Prime Minister to hold onto the righ tof the Likud, which if the plan went forward he would have lost to Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. He is most certainly still bleeding seats to them, but the damage is contained for now.

What’s Next for Judea and Samaria

Yesterday I wrote on the connection between Mohammed Dahlan and Liberman’s drive to build in Qalqilya.  As much as there is a need for some sort of organizing strategy in Judea and Samaria, its lack of a concrete plan does not take away from the maneuvers by the UAE and Egypt from effectively sending Gaza on its own trajectory through the imposition of Dahlan onto Hamas.  This, like I wrote yesterday is akin to declaring Palestine in Gaza only. It may not be what those of us on the right want, but it appears to be the Sunni axis strategy to resolving the conflict in the near term.

Afterall, everyone from Saudi Arabia to Egypt know and admit behind the scenes that they need Israel far more than the PA. Without Gaza connected to negotiations, the solution in Judea and Samaria is some sort of application of Israeli sovereignty.  There are many options out there such as the Bennett Plan, or the One State Solution Plan offered by Caroline Glick.

Liberman appears to be playing both sides. On one hand trying to show the Americans he is amicable to a deal, while passing that deal off to the cabinet as some sort of need by Israel to take care of the locals within the PA.

Bennett is Pulling the Prime Minister to his Position

The uproar over the Qalqilya plan shows just how strong the Center-Right really is.  This is far more than just Knesset seats.  The Prime Minister acknowledges that there is no real appetite for a handing more of Israel to the Palestinian Authority.  He needs to hold the appearence that he is not battling with Bennett and the Likud over these issues or he will risk splintering his coalition before its time.

According to reports, Bibi has agreed to open a discussion on land usage in Area C (the area Israel has under its full control within Judea and Samaria).  This discussion is the first of its type and will begin the deeper evaluation of how to ensure that it is Israel who ends up the sovereign within Area C if not all of Judea and Samaria.

Dahlan, the Qalqilya Plan and the Coming Two State Solution…It’s Not What You Think

The rumor mill keeps swirling about major changes in the Middle East.  Two major moves seemingly separate indicate a major shift is underway in Israel, specifically in its relationship to Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

Gaza: Turkey and Qatar Out, UAE and Egypt In

As the Qatar-Saudi rift deepens, the Gaza Strip under Hamas continues to suffer under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade.  While Abbas has sought to bring the group to its knees, Egypt and the UAE, two countries that stand with the Saudis against Qatar (and its ally Turkey) have used the situation to impose their will on Hamas in Gaza. According to muliple media reports, the Egyptians and the UAE are pushing for Mohammed Dahlan to take over the Gaza Strip as head of some sort of Gazan leadership council.

With Hamas on the ropes they have little room but to agree to Dahlan returning in a way that makes him the defacto “Head of State” of Gaza.  Dahlan is now the Hamas groups key to opening the strip up to goods and electricity.  Given the animosity between Dahlan and Abbas, it would seem that the Palestinian national movement would be split if Dahlan actually does become leader of the strip.

Qalqilya Building Plan Portends a Coming Israeli Annexation

While Gaza goes its own way, the Israeli government is taking steps to assume more and more direct authority in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank). Rightwing leaders have been up in arms over the proposed expansion plan of the city of Qalqilya, but perhaps there is another reason for the expansion.  Expanding Qalqilya is only negative for Israel if Qalqilya remains controlled by the PA, but what happens if there is something else going on. Afterall who would be crazy enough to expand a Palestinian city that lies only 10 miles from Tel Aviv unless there was something else going on.

The following comments by Defense Minister Liberman indicates there is:

“6,300 houses will be built.” Lieberman pointed out that “While 19 terrorists have come from Hebron, in the last wave only one ramming attempt came from Qalqilya. These are the sticks and carrots. The housing units are already being marketed, there is no room for debate.”

Speaking of the arrival of Donald Trump’s emissary to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, Liberman noted that “Greenblatt is coming to promote an agreement with the Palestinians, but I have my doubts when I look at the Palestinian Authority and its leader, and their refusal to condemn the murder of a policewoman –I ask, where is their good will? With such intentions it is doubtful whether it is possible to advance a [peace] process.”

Lieberman is suggesting that it is the Israelis not the Palestinian leadership who are relieving the plight of Qalqilya. If Israel wants to control Judea and Samaria they seemingly must actually care for the people there. Only if the government is moving to some form of annexation does the Qalqilya expansion plan make sense.

Gazal Equals Palestine, “West Bank” Rolled into Judea and Samaria

The plan that appears to be taking shape is that Dahlan will essentially become the defacto ruler of Gaza.  Supported by the UAE and Egypt he will lead a Gaza that is independent of Fatah and Ramallah. Without Gaza included in a future deal, the ability to annex Judea and Samaria, including all the area where Palestinian Arabs live appear to be doable. Once you subtract the population of Gaza from the total population of Palestinian Arabs West of the Jordan River, Israel will still have a comfortable 70/30 Jewish majority.

The nature of annexation is not clear, but the fact that it is Israel who is determining Area A housing solutions mean the ball has already dropped.  The question will only be if and when Dahlan takes over Gaza, will he be able to cut Hamas’ outsized control down to size or will the Islamist group prevent him from exerting real authority.


Hezbollah’s missiles will not rust

If we aren’t indifferent to Hezbollah’s expansion of its capabilities, what are we planning to do about it?

Last month IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi made a stunning revelation. Hezbollah and Iran are transforming the terrorist group into a military force capable of independently producing its own precision weapons.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Halevi reported, “We are seeing Hezbollah building a domestic military industry on Lebanese soil based on Iranian know-how. Hezbollah is producing weapons systems and transporting them to southern Lebanon.”

Halevi added, “Over the past year, Iran is working to establish infrastructure for the independent production of precision weapons in Lebanon and Yemen. We cannot be indifferent to this development. And we aren’t.”

Not only is Hezbollah building a missile industry. It is deploying its forces directly across the border with Israel – in material breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006, which set the terms of the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Under the terms of 1701, Hezbollah is prohibited from operating south of the Litani River. Only the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and UNIFIL – the UN’s peacekeeping force – are supposed to be deployed in southern Lebanon.

According to Halevi, operating under the cover of a phony environmental NGO called “Green Without Borders,” Hezbollah has set up observation posts manned with its fighters along the border with Israel.

In Halevi’s words, with these posts, “Hezbollah is now able to operate a stone’s throw from the border.”

In a media briefing on Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman discussed Halevi’s revelations. Liberman said that the security community “is absolutely aware [of the missile plants] and is taking the necessary action.”

“This is a significant phenomenon,” Liberman warned. “We must under no circumstances ignore it.”

Perhaps in a jab at his predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, who years ago argued notoriously that Hezbollah’s missiles would “rust” in their storage facilities, perhaps in warning to Hezbollah, Liberman added, “The factories won’t rust and the missiles won’t rust.”

So if we aren’t indifferent to Hezbollah’s expansion of its capabilities, what are we planning to do about it?

Whatever answer the IDF decides upon, Israel is already taking diplomatic steps to prepare for the next round – whoever opens it.

Last month Israel filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council against Hezbollah for setting up observation towers along the border and manning them with its fighters.

Not surprisingly, UNIFIL and the Security Council rejected Israel’s complaint. Ever since six UNIFIL soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb in 2007, UNIFIL has turned a blind eye to all of Hezbollah’s operations in southern Lebanon. As to the strike for which the complaint to the Security Council began setting the conditions, what purpose would it serve?

In a future war, Israel shouldn’t aspire, for instance, to destroy Hezbollah as a fighting force. The goal, in my opinion, should be to destroy or neutralize as much of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and its missile assembly plants as possible. If possible, Israel should also seek to destroy Hezbollah’s tunnel infrastructure along its border.

The first question is whether the threat justifies action. The answer, in my opinion, is clear enough. Over the past 11 years, Hezbollah’s missile arsenal has become an unacceptable and ever-growing strategic threat to Israel. Whereas in 2006 Hezbollah’s missile arsenal numbered some 15,000 rockets, today it fields approximately 150,000.

In 2006, at the height of its missile offensive against Israel, Hezbollah lobbed some 120 missiles a day at Israeli territory. Today it can shoot some 1,000 to 1,200 missile a day at Israel.

And it isn’t only the quantity of missiles that make them an insufferable threat. It’s also their quality. Whereas in 2006 Hezbollah attacked Israel with imprecise projectiles with low payloads, today Hezbollah reportedly fields precision guided, long-range missiles like the Yakhont and Fatah-110.

The Yakhont missiles can imperil Israel’s interests in the Mediterranean, including its offshore natural gas installations. The Fatah-110s, with a range of some 300 kilometers, threaten metropolitan Tel Aviv and key military installations. Both missile types are capable of carrying payloads of hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

To be sure, in the 11 years since the Second Lebanon War Israel has also massively upgraded its military capabilities. Last week air force chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said the force today can inflict a level of damage on Hezbollah in two days that it took it weeks to inflict in 2006.

The question is not whether Israel has the ability to respond to a Hezbollah assault. Given the lethality of Hezbollah’s arsenal, it would be reckless to assume that Israel can easily absorb an opening volley of missiles.

But battle losses aren’t the only consideration Israel needs to take into account. For instance, there is the US. How would the US respond to a war?

As far as the Trump administration is concerned, the picture is mixed. On the one hand, President Donald Trump and his advisers are much more supportive of Israel than predecessor Barack Obama and Obama’s advisers were.

Under Obama, not only could Israel have expected the US to oppose an attack against Hezbollah’s missiles, but there is reason to believe that the Obama administration would have supported Hezbollah against Israel.

This is the case for two reasons. First, Obama’s team made clear that his most important foreign policy goal was to develop an alliance with Iran.

Second, and in support of Obama’s goal of courting the Iranians, his administration repeatedly leaked details about IDF strikes against Hezbollah weapons convoys traversing Syria en route to Lebanon. These leaks worked to Israel’s detriment and to Hezbollah’s advantage by ratcheting up the danger that Israel’s strikes at Hezbollah convoys would lead to an undesired escalation of hostilities.

At a minimum, Israel can expect that the Trump administration’s response to a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon to be as tolerant as then president George W. Bush’s administration’s response was to Israel’s military actions in the 2006 war.

Bush and then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice immediately called for a ceasefire. But in the early stages of the war, they also supported Israel and blocked anti-Israel resolutions from being brought before the Security Council. Their support for Israel began to weaken as the war dragged on and the IDF ran into trouble achieving significant battlefield gains.

Today, the Trump administration is divided on issues surrounding Israel. Trump’s White House advisers, led by Steve Bannon as well as Vice President Mike Pence and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, are likely to support a war with Hezbollah. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are likely to demand that Israel stand down.

One way to diminish opposition within the administration to a war is to highlight the depths of Hezbollah’s control of the Lebanese government and of the Lebanese military. The latter is particularly significant.

The foreign and defense policy establishment in Washington, with which Tillerson and Mattis are aligned, insistently continue to back the Lebanese Armed Forces, despite the fact that it is demonstrably subservient to Hezbollah.

As recently as May, the US sent assault rifles to the LAF, in its latest batch of military assistance. The strategic recklessness of continued US weapons transfers to the LAF was laid bare last November. US-made armored personnel carriers, identical to the type the US has provided the LAF, participated in a Hezbollah military parade in Syria.

Indeed, barely a week goes by without new evidence of the LAF’s subservient position to Hezbollah. This week, for instance, 150 LAF cadets toured Hezbollah’s military museum with Lt.-Col. Ali Ismail, who serves as the head of the LAF’s intelligence directorate in Nabatiya.

As for Iran, it is hard to know how it would respond. There is a low likelihood that Iran would strike Israel directly with ballistic missiles in the event of a war with Hezbollah. Iran views Hezbollah’s missiles as a means to deter Israel from attacking Iran – not the other way around.

Iran’s most likely immediate response to a war would be to deploy its foreign militia to Hezbollah’s side in Lebanon. Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah publicly asked Iran to send him foreign fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.

Nasrallah’s request, and the likelihood that Iran will grant it in short order, are another reason why war will eventually happen. Israel shouldn’t stand around while Iran sends thousands of fighters to Lebanon to join the next war against it.

As for the Saudis and Egyptians and their allies, they have been clear that they view Iran and Hezbollah as a greater threat than Israel. Indeed, last year they declared Hezbollah a terrorist group. In 2006, they supported Israel until it began getting bogged down.

In a future war, if Israel is able to quickly deliver a serious blow against Hezbollah, the Sunnis would likely applaud it. So it boils down to capacity.

If the IDF can conduct a quick, effective operation against Hezbollah that would destroy, degrade or neutralize a large portion of its missile arsenal and its missile assembly plants, then the benefits of moving forward, in my opinion, outweigh the costs.

Originally Published in the Jersualem Post

New Report: This is How European Governments Defend Terrorists in Israel’s Supreme Court

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg: “Foreign government-funded lawfare is a dangerous subversion of democracy”

A new report released by the Im Tirtzu movement exposes the industry of foreign government-funded lawfare that works to provide protection for terrorists in court. The report focuses on the NGO “HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual,” which submits dozens of petitions to the Supreme Court on behalf of terrorists and their families.
The report surveys the activities of HaMoked over the past two and a half years, during which the NGO has submitted nearly 60 petitions to the Supreme Court on behalf of 48 families of terrorists responsible for the murder of 50 people.
According to Im Tirtzu, the report aims to raise public awareness about the phenomenon of foreign-government backed NGOs operating in Israel’s Supreme Court in order to alter Israeli policy, specifically in regards to state-sanctioned home demolitions as a means to deter terrorism. The flood of petitions submitted to the Supreme Court hampers the ability of the IDF and Defense Ministry to operate.
This sentiment was echoed in 2016 by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: “There is currently a war of legal attrition being waged by international bodies funded by other international elements, including European countries.”
According to the report, from 2012-2016 HaMoked received over 15,500,000 NIS from the European Union, United Nations, and 11 European governments: Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.
In addition, from 2008-2012 HaMoked received nearly 3,000,000 NIS from the New Israel Fund, and in 2014, HaMoked received 3,300,000 NIS from a Palestinian foundation based in Ramallah.
In the most recent wave of terror, HaMoked petitioned the Supreme Court against the home demolitions of the murderer of the Henkins, the murderer of Malachi Rosenfeld, the murderers of Danny Gonen, the murderer of Yeshayahu Krishevsky, the murderers of Aharon Banita-Bennett and Nehemia Lavi, the murderer of Baruch Mizrahi, the murderer of Taylor Force (an American tourist), the murderer of Shlomit Krigman, the murderers of Hadar Cohen, the murderer of Hallel Ariel, and the murderer of Rabbi Miki Mark.
HaMoked has also filed petitions against the home demolitions of the terrorists who murdered Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel in Gush Etzion, and the terrorists who murdered Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Calman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Chaim Rotman and Zidan Saif in the attack on a Harnof synagogue.
Devorah Gonen, the mother of Danny Gonen who was murdered by a terrorist while hiking near the village of Dolev in 2015, said: “We feel as if our loved ones were murdered a second time. This is a dangerous snowball; today they are defending terrorists in court and I fear that the next step will be even more extreme. It is sad that we need to beg in order to end this absurdity in which an Israeli organization defends, and at times justifies, those who murdered our loved ones.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said that the findings of the report highlight the need for the Israeli judicial system to adopt a new approach in dealing with political NGOs that serve the agendas of foreign governments.
“The judiciary needs to toughen its stance against foreign government-funded organizations that utilize their extensive bank accounts to harm the State of Israel,” said Peleg. “Increasing transparency and applying heavy court fees on these organizations, which for all intents and purposes act as foreign agents in the Supreme Court, are only some of the measures that need to be taken in order to protect Israel’s legal system.”
Peleg concluded: “European governments should stop undermining the sovereignty of the State of Israel – the sooner the better. Providing assistance to terrorists and their families not only encourages terror, but poses a real threat to democracy.”