Archive for the ‘Rocket attack’ category

Israeli hysteria magnifies Hamas rocket threat

April 15, 2016

Israeli hysteria magnifies Hamas rocket threat, DEBKAfile, April 15, 2016

epa01962019 A Palestinian Hamas masked militant stands near a Hamas flag as he takes part in protest and a military parade in central Gaza Strip, 11 December 2009. Israeli settlers vandalized a mosque in a northern West Bank village early 11 December, spray-painting hate slogans in Hebrew and setting ablaze bookshelves and a carpet, Palestinian police and the Israeli military said. Palestinian police spokesman Munir Jagoub told the German Press Agency dpa that the fire in the grand mosque in the village of Yasouf, south-west of the city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, caused heavy damage to the library, where copies of the Holy Quran are kept, as well as to prayer rugs and the wall. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER I

A Palestinian Hamas masked militant stands near a Hamas flag as he takes part in protest and a military parade in central Gaza Strip, 11 December 2009.

Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Musa Abu Marzuk led an SOS delegation to Tehran last month in a desperate effort to persuade Iran to end its boycott and renew the flow of funds and weapons to the Gaza Strip. But on April 4, the delegation returned home empty-handed.

This was a last-ditch effort since the Palestinian fundamentalist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip is flat broke.

Since March 1, it has been forced to slash by two-thirds the wages paid to members of its military wing, the Ezz-a-din Qassem Brigades: each fighter now takes home $200 instead of $600 per month, and officers used to earning $1,000 must be satisfied with $350.

Since March 1, it has been forced to slash by two-thirds the wages paid to members of its military wing, the Ezz-a-din Qassem Brigades: each fighter now takes home $200 instead of $600 per month, and officers used to earning $1,000 must be satisfied with $350.

DEBKA’s military and intelligence sources add: The terrorist group has moreover halted recruitment for lack of funds to pay, accommodate or train new fighters.

The cash crunch has also hit the Hamas government. Most of Gaza’s municipal services are suspended because city officials have not been paid.

Iran’s boycott on military and financial assistance to the Gaza Strip was clamped down in mid-2015 over Hamas’ refusal to line up behind Iran’s unqualified endorsement of its allies, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Since then, Hamas has spared no effort to end the shutdown. Its leaders even tried asking their friend and ally, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, to intercede on their behalf with his masters in Tehran. Nasrallah pulled some strings, suggesting that his group would be allowed to renew military and intelligence operations in Gaza to make it worthwhile for Iran to restore its support.

But that proposition like all previous applications was thrown out.

This time, the Hamas visitors were initially received by high Iranian officials, including Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, and Ali Larijiani, chairman of the Shura Council. Abu Marzuk asked them to put the case for ending the boycott before Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

After the Palestinian officials cooled their heels for two weeks, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Al Qods Brigades, finally gave them a hearing.

But, according to DEBKA’s Iranian sources report, he told them bluntly that no more largesse would be forthcoming from the Islamic Republic until Hamas publicly declared its support for Syrian President Assad and ordered its fighting assets in Lebanon to join Hizballah’s military campaign in support of the Syrian ruler.

This confrontation has broad ramifications over and above Iran’s relations with the Palestinian terrorists.


1. Tehran demonstrated that its support for Assad is absolute and brooks no opposition. This should dash any hopes underlying the US-Russian understanding for a political resolution of the Syrian conflict that Assad would at some point agree to hand over power to a broad coalition.

Iran is ruthless in bending all its allies and dependents into toeing its line in defense of the Syrian ruler

2. Gen. Soleimani has resurfaced after a five-month disappearance from public view. Rumors abounded that he had been seriously wounded in a Syrian battle, or else fallen into disfavor with Khamenei and cast aside. His reappearance in Tehran with the Hamas delegation means he has been reinstated to the command of Iran’s forces in Syria and the role of operations coordinator with the Russian military.

3. After Iran’s door was slammed in their faces, Hamas leaders reluctantly tried patching up their tattered ties with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi.

But a delegation to Cairo found Egyptian military and intelligence officials as tough-minded as the Iranians. Hamas terrorists were put on notice that, to mend relations, they would have to prove their good faith by cooperating with Cairo in the war against the Islamic State in Sinai. Specifically, the Palestinian terrorists must hand over to the Egyptian army all the intelligence data they had accumulated on the ISIS networks in Sinai with whom they were playing ball.

Though insolvent, Hamas decided it could not afford to comply with Egypt’s terms for assistance. As DEBKA’s sources explain, breaking up with the Islamic State affiliates in Sinai, would also snap Hamas’ last remaining conduit for the receipt of smuggled funds and weapons from Islamist sources in Libya.

Having burned their boats to Tehran and Cairo, the Palestinian terrorists have run themselves into a dead end.

Hysteria regarding the threat posed by Hamas resurfaced in Israel this week, even though the terrorist organization’s military strength is gradually disintegrating mainly amid a cash crunch that nobody in the Hamas  political or military leadership has been able to resolve.

It all started from a briefing given by the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, to military correspondents following a defensive exercise in the Gaza border area.

Afterwards, the heads of the Israeli defense establishment commented on the threat posed by Hamas using clichés that have been familiar to the Israeli public for years. Perhaps the most common one is “Hamas is not interested in an escalation now… but.” Another one is “Israel and the IDF are not interested in an escalation now…but.”

One of the heads of the Israeli local councils in the Gaza border area added that he was not surprised by recent comments by senior IDF officers on the strengthening of the Hamas. “The statements that Hamas operatives are continuing terror operations can only surprise those who are detached from reality,” he said.

Amid the terrorist organization’s weakness, Israeli hysteria is helping Hamas conceal its true situation from the Palestinian public.

Anti-air missiles in ISIS hands also imperil Saudi, Jordanian and Israeli skies

November 5, 2015

Anti-air missiles in ISIS hands also imperil Saudi, Jordanian and Israeli skies, DEBKAfile, November 5, 2015


The Ansar al Sharia terrorist organization in Libya, which attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and murdered the American ambassador in 2012, has the very missiles capable of shooting down large airliners flying at high altitudes: Russian-made ground-to-air Buk missiles, which have a range of between three and 42 kilometers. This ultra-violent Islamist terror group has very close operational ties with ISIS-Sinai, and very possibly smuggled the missile system into Sinai from Libya.


The British Cobra (emergency cabinet) decision of Wednesday, Nov. 4, not to send airliners to or from Sharm El-Sheikh, where 20,000 British tourists are stranded, further strengthens the assumption that the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 was downed over Sinai Saturday by a terrorist missile. It confirms that air traffic over Sinai and landings at Sharm are under threat from the ground – else why leave a large group of Britons under virtual siege in the Egyptian Red Sea resort? London said that the suspension of flights to Sharm was “indefinite.”

Moscow early Thursday accused London of being moved to this action out of hostility to Russia rather than security concerns.

Downing Street released a statement Wednesday saying: “As more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.” This statement was criticized by Egypt as “premature” – not a good omen for the conversation Prime Minister David Cameron is due to hold with his visitor, Egyptian president Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, later Thursday.

The British government has therefore stubbed toes in Moscow and Cairo without coming up with an emergency plan for evacuating its citizens from Egypt, whether overland to Cairo by bus or by sea aboard ships picking them up at the Red Sea resort and sailing through the Suez Canal.

This lack of initiative is a sign of confusion and uncertainty.

So far, the drawn-out deliberations and prevarications by officials in several countries regarding the crash of the Russian plane are meant for one purpose: to gain time for doing nothing about ISIS in Sinai. Neither the US, Russia or Britain is ready to send forces to the peninsula to confront the terrorists head-on.

The Ansar al Sharia terrorist organization in Libya, which attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and murdered the American ambassador in 2012, has the very missiles capable of shooting down large airliners flying at high altitudes: Russian-made ground-to-air Buk missiles, which have a range of between three and 42 kilometers. This ultra-violent Islamist terror group has very close operational ties with ISIS-Sinai, and very possibly smuggled the missile system into Sinai from Libya.

A number of intelligence agencies are aware of this and so a flock of leading European and Persian Gulf airlines lost no time in rerouting their flights to avoid Sinai straight after the Russian air disaster.

By causing this disaster, the Islamist terrorists coolly aimed for four goals:

1.  Retaliation for Russian intervention in Syria

2.  An attempt to destabilize the regime of Egyptian President Fattah Al-Sisi

3.  To show up the inadequacies of the 63-member coalition that the US formed in its effort to fight ISIS

4. To parade before the world the Islamic State’s operational prowess, its ability to shoot down the large passenger planes of the world’s biggest powers.

For five days, intelligence and flight safety experts dismissed the claim of responsibility that ISIS issued on the evening of October 31, maintaining that it was not to be taken seriously because no proof had been provided to support the claim – as if the charred fragments of the plane spread across tens of kilometers of desert were deniable.

In the second of its three messages, ISIS repeated its claim Wednesday, Nov. 4, promising details of how it downed the plane at a later date.

While more and more Western governments are coming around to accepting that the Russian airliner’s crash was caused by an explosive device, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources repeat that they cannot rule out the possibility of a missile. The argument made on Wednesday in Washington and London that terrorist organizations do not have missiles capable of downing such planes is are simply incorrect.

ISIS-Sinai’s possession of an advanced ground-air missile system does not only endanger planes in the peninsula’s airspace, but also those aircraft flying over the Suez Canal as well as parts of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. One of the Egyptian president’s main purposes in his London visit was to try and persuade Prime Minister Cameron to join an Egyptian military operation against Ansar al Sharia in Libya and so eliminate a major prop and arms supplier for ISIS-Sinai. He does not hold out much hope of success.

After Blasting Israel, State Department Doesn’t Immediately Condemn Afghan Hospital Bombing

October 6, 2015

After Blasting Israel, State Department Doesn’t Immediately Condemn Afghan Hospital Bombing, Washington Free Beacon via You Tube, October 5, 2015


Jihad, Iranian-style

August 21, 2015

Jihad, Iranian-style, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, August 21, 2015

The new twist in the controversy surrounding the nuclear agreement is an argument over the veracity of a report on a side deal giving Iran the right to inspect its own nuclear facilities for potential violations. The idea is so preposterous that it must be true, judging by the rest of the top-secret document on which the U.S. Congress is going to vote in September.

But as the debate heats up over whether the deal furthers or hinders Iran’s nuclear weapon capabilities, an equally serious issue keeps being marginalized. This is the more immediate and tangible danger posed by Iran’s terrorist proxies, and the sudden financial and ideological boost the deal is providing them.

The reason it is crucial to keep an eye on their activities is that they constitute Iran’s global army — the boots on the ground, so to speak — who perform the legwork necessary for the ultimate aim of regional and global jihadist hegemony. Their role is to set the stage for that time in the not-so-distant future when Iran’s power and reach are so extensive that its leaders won’t need to waste their nuclear warheads by firing them.

This is where Israel comes in. As the only democracy in the Middle East, an ally of the West and a Jewish state, it has key strategic value. It is like the central card in a house of cards, whose removal topples the whole structure.

It is also tiny and surrounded by rogue states with an endless supply of Muslim would-be “martyrs” willing to die in the “holy” endeavor to take it down.

On Thursday, Israel received its latest message to this effect, when four rockets, launched from Syria, landed in the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist organization was behind the attack, which spurred Israel to retaliate.

Also on Thursday, Israel deployed anti-missile Iron Dome batteries in the south of the country, in the areas between Ashkelon and Ashdod, as well as in Beersheba. This was in response to threats of rocket fire by Iran-baked terrorists in Gaza — whose excuse was the worsening condition of hunger-striking Palestinian terror suspect Mohammed Allan.

A review of recent Iranian rhetoric and activity, released by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, puts all of the above in context.<

Last month, the General Assembly of Islamic Resistance Ulema (scholars) held a weekend conference titled “Unity for Palestine.”

At the gathering, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said, “We believe with certainty that Israel, this cancerous tumor, is headed for extinction, and that Palestine and Jerusalem will be returned to their people. It is only a matter of time and is linked to the will, action, jihad, and sacrifices of the Ummah [Islamic nation], according to the principle: If you achieve victory for Allah, Allah will lead you to achieve victory.”

From Iran, Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, secretary general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, agreed.

“Annihilation of the Zionist regime is a sure thing and Quranic pledge,” he said, adding that it is important to unify “Muslims in countering the regime of Zionism and the arrogant world.”

Muhammad Hasan Zamani, a former Iranian cultural attache in Egypt who heads the Department of International Islamic Madrasas (educational institutions) for the General Assembly of Islamic Resistance Ulema, reiterated this position.

“Israel must be erased from the map of the world,” he said. “These are the golden words Imam Khomeini, may God have mercy on him, uttered.”

Sheikh Abdel Halim Qadhi, a professor at Zahedan University in Iran, said, “The holy Quran makes it known that Jews are the enemies of Islam and the Muslims and their holy places and rites. … Jihad is the most powerful and only way to liberate Palestine and defend Jerusalem. … God loves those who fight in his way.”

Earlier this month, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei published “Palestine,” a 416-page tome devoted to the issue of Israel’s inevitable demise, with a blurb on its back cover calling the author the “flagbearer of jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”

This week, Khamenei gave an abbreviated version of this on Twitter: “We spare no opportunity to support anyone #FightingTheZionists,” he wrote.

At the same time, a clip produced by the Islamic Revolution Design House, a media outlet associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, began to circulate on YouTube. The minute-and-a-half animated video depicts an Islamist invasion of Jerusalem.

The brief silent film shows soldiers from the Revolutionary Guards, Shia Badr, Hezbollah, Hamas and Qassam Brigades, clad in military gear and keffiyehs, marching to and standing on a hill overlooking the Temple Mount, as thousands upon thousands of additional terrorists amass.

An inscription in Farsi on a black screen at the end says: “Israel must be erased from the annals of history, and the youth will definitely see that day when it comes.”

Lest anyone imagine the mullahs pulling the strings in Iran don’t mean business, all one has to do is observe how they are executing their grand plan, part of which is the nuclear deal with the “Great Satan” and the other P5+1 countries. Among these is Russia, which confirmed on Wednesday that it will supply Iran with four upgraded batteries of S-300 surface-to-air missiles as soon as the deal is finalized.

Such missiles give Iran the extra benefit of being able to stave off attack. At that point, will it really matter if Iran is in charge of its own inspections?

Kerry says sinking of Iran deal would be ‘ultimate screwing of ayatollah’

August 5, 2015

Kerry says sinking of Iran deal would be ‘ultimate screwing of ayatollah,’ Jerusalem Post, August 5, 2015

(It’s as pro-Israel as the Obama administration gets. Please see also, Daniel Greenfield’s comments here. — DM)

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US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Singapore. (photo credit:STATE DEPARTMENT)

The secretary rejected Israel’s criticism of the nuclear agreement, saying that the deal “is as pro-Israel” as it gets.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told The Atlantic on Wednesday that if Congress were to shoot down the Iran nuclear agreement, it would be “the ultimate screwing” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Kerry made the remarks in an interview with The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg.

The secretary rejected Israel’s criticism of the nuclear agreement, saying that the deal “is as pro-Israel” as it gets.

Reneging on the nuclear agreement, which has the support of the major world powers, would constitute a setback for Washington and justify anti-American animus in Iran.

“The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them,” Kerry said. “[Having Congress vote down the nuclear pact] will be the ultimate screwing.”

“The United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”

Kerry also commented on the vociferous opposition to the deal expressed by Israel, which the secretary referred to as “visceral” and “emotional.” He was adamant that the agreement was positive for Israel’s geopolitical standing.

“I’ve gone through this backwards and forwards a hundred times and I’m telling you, this deal is as pro-Israel, as pro-Israel’s security, as it gets,” Kerry said. “And I believe that just saying no to this is, in fact, reckless.”

Kerry said that he was “sensitive” to Israeli concerns over Iran’s long-term aims, but he rejected arguments made by Jerusalem that the Islamic Republic was planning its annihilation.

“I haven’t seen anything that says to me [that Iran will implement its vow of wiping Israel off the map],” the secretary said. “They’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”

“I operate on the presumption that Iran is a fundamental danger, that they are engaged in negative activities throughout the region, that they’re destabilizing places, and that they consider Israel a fundamental enemy at this moment in time,” Kerry said. “Everything we have done here [with the nuclear agreement] is not to overlook anything or to diminish any of that; it is to build a bulwark, build an antidote.”

The secretary said that the nuclear deal is even more imperative if Israel’s fears that Iran is plotting its destruction are true, since the agreement neutralizes Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khameni publishes book on how to eliminate Israel

August 2, 2015

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khameni publishes book on how to eliminate Israel, American ThinkerThomas Lifson, August 2, 2015

Ayatollah Ali Khameni has published his version of Mein Kampf, a 416 page book outlining his strategy to eliminate Israel, which he describes as  “a cancerous tumor.” Although it is currently available only in Iran, an Arabic translation is underway, and sooner or later it will achieve wide readership in the Muslim world. The Obama administration is no doubt hoping it will achieve no notice in the United States until after the Iran deal is voted upon, because the plan advocated will be immensely aided by its implementation.

Amir Taheri of the New York Post obtained a copy from Iran:

Khamenei makes his position clear from the start: Israel has no right to exist as a state.

He uses three words. One is “nabudi” which means “annihilation.” The other is “imha” which means “fading out,” and, finally, there is “zaval” meaning “effacement.”

Khameni does not call for wiping out Israel with a nuclear bomb. He states that one of his fondest desires is to pray in Jerusalem. Instead, his plan is one of terrorism and pressure, keeping Israel from fighting back against Iran, the sponsor of terror, with the implicit threat of nuclear retaliation.

 What he recommends is a long period of low-intensity warfare designed to make life unpleasant if not impossible for a majority of Israeli Jews so that they leave the country.

His calculation is based on the assumption that large numbers of Israelis have double-nationality and would prefer emigration to the United States and Europe to daily threats of death.

Iran has many allies in this effort, including the BDS movement in the United States. Cripple Israel economically, and her economically productive people will leave. Make the political cost of supporting Israel high. That will pave the way for an internationally-sponsored plebiscite engineered to produce a Muslim state:

Under Khamenei’s scheme, Israel, plus the West Bank and Gaza, would revert to a United Nations mandate for a brief period during which a referendum is held to create the new state of Palestine.

All Palestinians and their descendants, wherever they are, would be able to vote, while Jews “who have come from other places” would be excluded.

Double standards are inherent in Islamic thinking. Any land that once fell under Muslim control belongs to Muslims by right. So Israelis who only boast a few generations in Israel are excluded, while Arabs whose families once lived in Israel generations ago are automatically qualified.

Khamenei does not mention any figures for possible voters in his dream referendum. But studies by the Islamic Foreign Ministry in Tehran suggest that at least eight million Palestinians across the globe would be able to vote against 2.2 million Jews “acceptable” as future second-class citizens of new Palestine. Thus, the “Supreme Guide” is certain of the results of his proposed referendum.

With a $150 billion war chest, thanks to the Obama deal, and the prospect of oil exploration and other business expansion in Iran, there will be plenty of money available to subsidize Hezb’allah, Hamas, and other terror attacks against Israelis and Jews (such as the attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires).

Khamenei boasts about the success of his plans to make life impossible for Israelis through terror attacks from Lebanon and Gaza. His latest scheme is to recruit “fighters” in the West Bank to set up Hezbollah-style units.

“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip,” he boasts.

Far from a spittle-flecked madman, Khameni is coldly calculating, and explains a plan that is already underway with considerable success. And he has many allies in this country, some of them in high places.


Islamic State at Israel’s Gate

June 12, 2015

Islamic State at Israel’s Gate, Front Page Magazine, June 12, 2015

(According to Israel National News

Late on Thursday night “color red” rocket sirens were sounded in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, as well as throughout the Ashkelon Coast regional council.

At least one rocket was identified as having been fired from Gaza, but IDF officials said it is believed the rocket exploded inside Gaza. No rockets were found in Israeli territory.

— DM)


All this is happening while the Obama administration, by the president’s own admission, has no clear strategy to defeat ISIS. At the same time, President Obama’s “strategy” to deal with Iran is to make concession after concession in order to secure any nuclear deal he can, including the possibility of providing Iran with relief from sanctions that were imposed for non-nuclear related reasons such as Iran’s support for terrorist activities

In short, Israel is facing Iran-backed Hamas from the south, Iran-backed Hezbollah from the north, and an expanding Islamic State presence north and south of Israel and within Israel itself. And that is before Iran gets its hands on a nuclear bomb and the Islamic State has enough radioactive material to build its own weapons of mass destruction.


Jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) are carrying on the rocket war against Israeli civilians from where Hamas left off. Following several rocket attacks in the last several weeks for which the Islamic State has taken credit, rockets launched from Gaza Thursday night exploded in the Ashkelon area.

Israel is still holding Hamas responsible for the attacks as the governing authority in Gaza.

“The IDF understands that Hamas wants quiet and is making an effort to prevent the shooting, but the State of Israel still sees Hamas as responsible for what happens in Gaza,” said Sami Turgeman, head of IDF’s Southern Command.

The Israeli military responded with measured attacks on Hamas facilities, while at the same time trying to avoid setting off a wider war at this time.  But Israel’s hand is being forced by the Islamic State, which is evidently working assiduously to supplant Hamas as the authoritative Islamic power in Gaza. The Gaza branch calls itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade. It is cooperating with another ISIS-affiliated group operating in the Sinai Peninsula, which calls itself Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

According to a June 8th report by Debkafile, “Islamic State operatives in the Gaza Strip have been helping themselves to Hamas rockets in recent weeks after furtively penetrating the factory teams operating the group’s production and assembly lines… The jihadis then secretly passed the stolen rockets to their squads for launching against Israel.”

On June 7th Debkafile noted in more general terms Hamas’s loss of control in Gaza in the face of Islamic State infiltration: “The terror infrastructure Hamas built over many years in Sinai has been taken over by ISIS, and its control of the Gaza Strip is slipping, as yet more radical and violent organizations eat away at its authority and seize control of the rocket offensive against Israel.”

Thus, even as Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel and is trying to re-build its arms stockpiles with Iran’s help, it is engaged simultaneously in its own battles with the Islamic State. Hamas has arrested some ISIS supporters and bulldozed a Sunni mosque believed to have been used by ISIS affiliated jihadists, while Hamas’s own facilities have come under attack by ISIS affiliated jihadists. Hamas also claimed in a message to Israeli authorities, routed through an Egyptian intermediary, that jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State were deliberately trying to spark a renewed war between Israel and Hamas.

The Islamic State is also trying to position itself to challenge Israel from the north. Israeli TV Channel 2 reported last week that the Islamic State is moving forces in the direction of the Golan Heights and the Israeli border.

Moreover, ISIS is developing an increasing presence within Israel itself. Recruits, influenced by ISIS’s slick social media promotions, are attracted to ISIS’s self-declared purer Islamic ideology. Hamas is apparently too “moderate” for these jihadists’ tastes.

“Dozens of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join insurgent groups.” Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency said in a statement released last January 4th. Israel had announced that it managed to crack one Islamic State cell on its soil and arrested its alleged members. An Israeli security official described the cell as “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Last July, the Islamic State previewed its intentions in a statement that it issued regarding jihad against Israel:

As for the massacres taking place in Gaza against the Muslim men, women and children, then the Islamic State will do everything within its means to continue striking down every apostate who stands as an obstacle on its paths towards Palestine. It is only [a] matter of time and patience before it (Islamic State) reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric Jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees – the trees of the Jews.

Arutz Sheva reported that a spokesperson for the Islamic State, Nidal Nuseiri, urged patience as the Islamic State wanted first to consolidate its control over Arab Muslim lands, but “reaffirmed that conquering ‘Bayt el-Maqdis’ (Jerusalem) and destroying the State of Israel is central to the group’s jihad.” Thanks to President Obama’s dithering, the Islamic State is well on its way to achieving such consolidation in Iraq and Syria, while spreading to Libya.

At least three questions arise from the emergence of ISIS as a direct threat to Israel. Will Israeli military and security forces, either on their own or in concert with Jordan and Egypt, take on ISIS directly, including going after ISIS’s command and control centers with far more firepower than the Obama administration has used thus far?

To what extent will Israel be willing to outsource military operations against ISIS affiliates in Gaza to Hamas, much as it has outsourced some security operations to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank? Major-General Turgeman tried to cast Hamas as the lesser of two evils, since, he claimed, “Israel and Hamas have shared interests, including in the current situation, which is quiet and calm and growth and prosperity.” Hamas “does not want global jihad,” he added. This is a truly incredible assertion coming from an Israeli military leader about a group willing to put its own citizens and their homes in harm’s way in order to launch their own thousands of rockets against Israel. What happened to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concise description of Hamas and the Islamic State as “branches of the same poisonous tree?” This just further demonstrates how completely insane the Middle East has become.

Finally, how successful will Iran be in exploiting the chaotic situation in Gaza, positioning itself as it has in Iraq as an enemy of ISIS, while further bolstering Hamas to Israel’s detriment?

All this is happening while the Obama administration, by the president’s own admission, has no clear strategy to defeat ISIS. At the same time, President Obama’s “strategy” to deal with Iran is to make concession after concession in order to secure any nuclear deal he can, including the possibility of providing Iran with relief from sanctions that were imposed for non-nuclear related reasons such as Iran’s support for terrorist activities.

In short, Israel is facing Iran-backed Hamas from the south, Iran-backed Hezbollah from the north, and an expanding Islamic State presence north and south of Israel and within Israel itself. And that is before Iran gets its hands on a nuclear bomb and the Islamic State has enough radioactive material to build its own weapons of mass destruction.

Op-Ed: Core Synergies in Israel’s Strategic Planning

June 9, 2015

Op-Ed: Core Synergies in Israel’s Strategic Planning, Harvard Law School National Security Journal via Israel National News, Prof. Louis René Beres, June 9, 2016

(Rather “high brow,” but well worth considering seriously. — DM)

Significantly, the most insidious synergy of all could involve a rudimentary failure to understand that belligerent enemy intentions ultimately depend for their efficacy upon confused, partial, or inadequately thoughtful Israeli responses.


To best serve Israel, the country’s strategic studies community should favor more conceptual or “molecular” assessments of expected security perils. Going forward therefore, it will not suffice for this community to operate in ways that are roughly comparable to the purely reportorial activities of journalists and pundits, that is, of ordinary observers who focus exclusively on current personalities and events. With this timely warning in mind, the following brief essay explains and argues for a specifically enhanced Israeli consideration of enemy “synergies.”

For the most part, the concept of synergy is already familiar to capable scientists and scholars. It signifies, above all, that the usually binding axioms of geometry can sometimes be overridden by various intersecting phenomena. Applied to Israel, this concept suggests that certain identifiable threats to the Jewish State should no longer be considered as wholly separate or discrete, but instead, as more-or-less interpenetrating and mutually-reinforcing.

The most obvious and portentous example of pertinent synergy for Jerusalem is represented by Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood.[1]

At first, any such talk of “synergy” may sound needlessly pretentious, or at least more contrived, concocted, or complicated than is really the case. In medicine, after all, it would already seem plain that the dangers of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol together must exceed either one behavior without the other. This is because the synergistic effect is presumptively much greater than those consequences ascertained by merely adding these two injurious activities together.

For Israeli planners, the still-widely-unrecognized synergy between Iranian nuclearization and “Palestine” should finally be treated with a more emphatic intellectual regard.[2] Notwithstanding the declared assumptions of virtually all acknowledged national strategists, Iran and Palestine,[3] as “negative force multipliers,”[4] do not represent thoroughly separate or unrelated hazards to Israel. To continue to assess each one independently of the other would be a serious conceptual error. It would be to consciously obscure what is potentially most revealing and most ominous.

Israel’s main security policies must involve carefully nuanced considerations of active defense, as well as of deterrence, preemption, and war-fighting. The country’s multilayered missile defenses are central to national survival. As long as incoming rocket aggressions from Gaza, West Bank, and/or Lebanon (Hezbollah) were to remain “only” conventional, the inevitable leakage could still be tolerable. But once these rockets were fitted with chemical and/or biological materials, such porosity could quickly prove “unacceptable.[5] This means, among other things, that the projected harms of rocket attacks upon Israel would depend not only upon the inherent dangers posed by a particular weapon system, but also upon the ways in which these individual harms would intersect.[6]

Once facing Iranian nuclear missiles, Israel’s “Arrow” ballistic missile defense system would require a fully 100% reliability of interception. To achieve any such level of reliability, however, would be impossible. Now, assuming that the prime minister has already abandoned any residual hopes for a cost-effective eleventh-hour preemption against pertinent Iranian nuclear assets , this means that Israeli defense planners must prepare instead, and longer-term, for stable deterrence.[7]

Theory is a net. Only those who cast, can catch.[8] Because of the expectedly corrosive interactive effects involving Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, for example, Israel will need to update and refine its existing theories of deterrence.

Looking ahead, there are various antecedent issues of theoretical concern. For one, Israel’s leaders will have to accept that certain more-or-less identifiable leaders of prospectively overlapping enemies might not necessarily satisfy the complex criteria of rational behavior in world politics. In such partially improbable but still conceivable circumstances, assorted Jihadist adversaries in Palestine, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, or elsewhere might sometime refuse to renounce certain still-contemplated aggressions against Israel.[9]

By definition, these irrational enemies could exhibit such more-or-less plausible refusals even in anticipation of fully devastating Israeli reprisals. But, would they still remain subject to alternative threats or forms of deterrence? And might an entire state sometime exhibit such non-rational orientations, thereby becoming, in essence, a suicide terrorist writ large?

These utterly core questions can no longer be ignored. Sooner rather than later, and facing new and prospectively incalculable synergies from Iranian and Palestinian aggressions, Israel will need to take appropriate steps to assure that: (1) it does not become the object of any non-conventional attacks from these enemies; and (2) it can successfully deter all possible forms of non-conventional conflict. To meet this ambitious but indispensable goal, Jerusalem, inter alia, absolutely must retain its recognizably far-reaching conventional superiority in pertinent weapons and capable manpower, including effective tactical/operational control over the Jordan Valley.

In this connection, a Palestinian state could make Israeli military and civilian targets more opportune for Iranian rockets. It could simultaneously undermine the Jewish State’s critical early-warning systems.

Maintaining a qualitative edge in conventional war-fighting capacity could reduce Israel’s overall likelihood of ever actually having to enter into a chemical, biological, or even nuclear exchange with regional adversaries. CorrespondinglyIsrael should plan to begin to move incrementally beyond its increasingly perilous posture of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity.”[10] By preparing to shift toward prudently selective and partial kinds of “nuclear disclosure” – in other words, by getting ready to take its “bomb” out of the “basement,” but in carefully controlled phases[11] – Israel could best ensure that its relevant enemies will remain sufficiently subject to Israeli nuclear deterrence.

In matters of defense strategy, truth may emerge through paradox. Israeli planners, it follows, may soon have to acknowledge that the efficacy and credibility of their country’s nuclear deterrence posture could sometime vary inversely with enemy perceptions of Israeli nuclear destructiveness. However ironic or counter-intuitive, enemy views of a too-large or too-destructive Israeli nuclear deterrent force, or of an Israeli force that is not sufficiently invulnerable to first-strike attacks,[12] could substantially undermine this deterrence posture.

Here, too, carving “Palestine” out of the still-living body of Israel (whatamounts to the unhidden Palestinian Authority plan for a “one state solution”), could impact the Iranian nuclear threat, and vice-versa. Once again, Israel’s defense planning must account for possible and prospectively prohibitive synergies.

Also critical, of course, is that Israel’s current and future adversaries will always acknowledge the Jewish State’s nuclear retaliatory forces as “penetration capable.” This suggests forces that will seem “assuredly capable” of penetrating any Arab or Iranian aggressor’s active defenses. Naturally, a new state of Palestine would be non-nuclear itself, but it could still present a new “nuclear danger” to Israel by its probable impact upon the prevailing regional “correlation of forces.”[13] Palestine, therefore, could represent an indirect but nonetheless markedly serious nuclear threat to Israel. Here, yet again, is an example of the need for Israeli planners to think synergistically.

More remains to be done. Israel should continue to strengthen its active defenses, but Jerusalem must also do everything possible to improve each critical and interpenetrating component of its nuanced deterrence posture. In this bewilderingly complex and dialectical[14] process of strategic dissuasion, the Israeli task may require more incrementally explicit disclosures of nuclear targeting doctrine, and, accordingly, a steadily expanding role for cyber-defense and cyber-war.

Even before undertaking such delicately important refinements, Israel will need to more systematically differentiate between adversaries that are presumably rational,[15] irrational, or “mad.”[16]

Overall, the success of Israel’s national deterrence strategies will be contingent, inter alia, upon an informed prior awareness of enemy preferences, and of specific enemy hierarchies of preferences. In this connection, altogether new and open-minded attention will need to be focused on the seeming emergence of “Cold War II” between Russia and the United States. Any such emergence, of course, could have meaningful effects upon both Israeli and adversarial military postures.[17]

If, within a pattern of “Cold War II,” a newly-formalized state of Palestine does not find itself in the same ideological orbit as Iran, the net hazard to Decision-makers will then need to explore and acknowledge what amounts, paradoxically, to a geometry of chaos. Israel could still exceed the sum of relevant intersecting threats. While attempting to survive amid growing regional disorder, therefore, Israel’s leaders should learn to understand the profound strategic limits of normal “geometry”—where, quite mundanely, the whole is always expected to equal to the sum of its parts—and to augment an enhanced understanding with certain new geometric orthodoxies. In essence, these decision-makers will then need to explore and acknowledge what amounts, paradoxically, to a geometry of chaos.

Still, even this long-hidden geometry could reveal a discernible sense of symmetry and form, including the precise shape of certain critically interwoven enemy threats. Wherever the belligerent whole might add up to more than the sum of its constituent parts, Israel’s leaders could discover lethal hazards of adversarial synergies. Significantly, the most insidious synergy of all could involve a rudimentary failure to understand that belligerent enemy intentions ultimately depend for their efficacy upon confused, partial, or inadequately thoughtful Israeli responses.

When Pericles delivered his famous Funeral Oration, with its meticulously elaborate praise of Athenian civilization, his geostrategic perspective was applicable to more than the particular struggle at hand. Recorded by Thucydides, Pericles had expressed confidence in a military victory for Athens (a confidence, of course, that turned out to be misplaced), but also grave concern for any self-imposed limitations along the way: “What I fear more than the strategies of our enemies,” he had warned, “is our own mistakes.” However unforeseen, there is a vital lesson here for present-day Israel: In observing enemy preparations for war and terror, never forget that the ultimate success of these preparations will depend upon Israel’s selected responses.

There exists an overarching or determinative synergy between certain individual or intersecting enemy preparations and Israel’s own prepared policies and reactions.

In all world politics, but especially in the Middle East, we are present at the gradual unveiling of a “big picture,” but the nucleus of meaning—the essential truth of what is taking place—involves what is left out. For the foreseeable future, Israel’s enemies will continue with their ardent preparations for every form of war and terrorism. Unaffected by any civilizing expectations of international law of comity, these calculated preparations will proceed largely on their own track, culminating, if left suitably unobstructed, in new and ever more serious aggressions against Israel. The Jewish State must remain vigilant of such an emergent “big picture,” but also of every imaginable intersection or pattern of intersections between its component parts.

Always, Israel’s leaders and planners must reflect, core dangers to national security are profoundly synergistic.

Always, Israeli policy must recall, these fundamental dangers are potentially much greater than the additive sum of their  respective parts.

Always, Jerusalem must insightfully recognize, even a bewildering geometry of chaos has potentially meaningful sense and form.

Always, it must be Israel’s consuming task, to discover this synergistic truth.


[1] There are other still more complex synergies that need to be examined. These concern, especially, the intersecting roles of ISIS and al-Qaeda, including pertinent sub/state-state relationships with Syria, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Also worth exploring, in this connection, is the plausible escalation of “Cold War II,” a broadly transforming context of world politics that could create a “synergy of synergies.” Although all such bewildering hypotheticals may be intimidating or annoying to scholars and policy-makers, there remains no reasonable explanatory alternative to taking them into account.

[2] Rabbi Eleazar quoted Rabbi Hanina, who said: “Scholars build the structure of peace in the world.” See: The Babylonian Talmud, Order Zera’im, Tractate Berakoth, and IX.

[3] Once a Palestinian state were created, it would more likely become subject to destruction by assorted Arab forces, than by Israel. Plausibly, in this connection, ISIS forces fighting their way westward across Jordan could quickly arrive at the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), and make fast work of any now indigenous Hamas/PA national “army.” In such dire circumstances, the citizens of “Palestine” would assuredly rue the day of their recently-declared “independence.”

[4] This is a term that will likely be favored by the generals, over synergy.

[5] See, on this issue: Louis René Beres and (Major-General/IDF/Res.) Isaac Ben-Israel, “Think Anticipatory Self-Defense,” The Jerusalem Post, October 22, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “The Limits of Deterrence,” Washington Times, November 21, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iran,”Washington Times, June 10, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iranian Nuclear Attack,” Washington Times, January 27, 2009; and Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Defending Israel from Iranian Nuclear Attack,” The Jewish Press, March 13, 2013. See also: Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/ret.) John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran?” The Atlantic, August 9, 2012; Professor Beres and General Chain, “Living With Iran,” BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Israel, May 2014; and Louis René Beres and (Lt.General/USAF/ret.) Thomas McInerney, “Obama’s Inconceivable, Undesirable, Nuclear-Free Dream,” U.S. News & World Report, August 29, 2013.

[6] Here, it warrants mention that Palestinian statehood could represent an enlarged set of risks to Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. Already, in 1991 and 2014, this small reactor came under missile and rocket attack from Iraqi and Hamas aggressions respectively. For authoritative assessments of these attacks and related risks, see: Bennett Ramberg, “Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel’s Plutonium-Production Reactor,” Arms Control Today, May 2008, pp. 6-13.

[7] With particular reference to nuclear deterrence, the primary function of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be dissuasion ex ante, rather than revenge ex post.

[8] This convenient metaphor is generally attributed to Novalis, the late 18th-century German poet and scholar. See, for example, introductory citation by Karl R. Popper, in his The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959). Ironically, perhaps, Novalis’ fellow German poet, Goethe, had declared, in his early Faust fragment (Urfaust): “All theory, dear friend, is grey. But the golden tree of life is green.” (Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie, Und grűn des Lebens goldner Baum.)

[9] See, on this point: Louis René Beres, “Religious Extremism and International Legal Norms: Perfidy, Preemption, and Irrationality,” Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 39, No.3., 2007-2008, pp. 709-730.

[10] See: Louis René Beres, “Like Two Scorpions in a Bottle: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist in the Middle East,” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 8, No. 1., 2014, pp. 23-32; Louis René Beres, “Facing Myriad Enemies: Core Elements of Israeli Nuclear Deterrence,” The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Vol. XX, Issue 1., Fall/Winter 2013, pp. 17-30; Louis René Beres, “Lessons for Israel from Ancient Chinese Military Thought: Facing Iranian Nuclearization with Sun-Tzu,”Harvard National Security Journal, 2013; Louis René Beres, “Striking Hezbollah-Bound Weapons in Syria: Israel’s Actions Under International Law,” Harvard National Security Journal, 2013; Louis René Beres, “Looking Ahead: Revising Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East,” Herzliya Conference presentation, 2013; March 2013; IDC, Herzliya; Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/ret) John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran?” The Atlantic, 2012.

[11] On identifying alternative nuclear disclosure options, see: Louis René Beres, “Israel’s Strategic Doctrine: Updating Intelligence Community Responsibilities,”International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring, 2015, pp. 89-104.

[12] On Israeli submarine basing measures, see: Louis René Beres and (Admiral/USN/ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine-Basing,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel,” Washington Times, September 5, 2014.

[13] See: Louis René Beres, “Understanding the Correlation of Forces in the Middle East: Israel’s Urgent Strategic Imperative,” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs,Vol. IV, No. 1 (2010).

[14] Dialectic formally originated in the fifth century BCE, as Zeno, author of the Paradoxes, had been acknowledged by Aristotle as its inventor. In the middle dialogues of Plato, dialectic emerges as the supreme form of philosophical/analytic method. Here, Plato describes the dialectician as one who knows best how to ask and answer questions. This particular knowledge – how to ask, and to answer questions, sequentially – should now be insistently transposed to the organized study of Israeli security issues.

[15] Israelis, like Americans, are inclined to project their own dominant sense of rationality upon adversaries. Acknowledging that western philosophy has always oscillated between Plato and Nietzsche, between rationalism and irrationalism, we have all routinely cast our psychological lot with the Greek thinkers and their inheritors. Significantly, however, Israel is now up against a steadily transforming ordering of the geostrategic universe; now, Israel’s strategists might sometimes be better advised to read Dostoyevsky and Kafka, than to dwell too fixedly on Platonic rationalism.

[16] “Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman,” inquires Luigi Pirandello, “with one who shakes the foundations of all you have built up in yourselves, your logic, and the logic of all your constructions? Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather, with a logic that flies like a feather.”

[17] On this point, see: Louis René Beres, “Staying Strong: Enhancing Israel’s Essential Strategic Options,” Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, June 13, 2014.


IDF Rehearsing for Nightmare Scenario: 4,000 Killed in Days

June 7, 2015

IDF Rehearsing for Nightmare Scenario: 4,000 Killed in Days, Israel National News, Gil Ronen, June 7, 2015

Security forces are currently rehearsing and preparing for a scenario in which Israel’s enemies launch a “carpet” missile attack that Iron Dome will be unable to counter, due to the sheer number of missiles involved, Arutz Sheva has learned from knowledgeable sources that wish to remain anonymous.

In this scenario, up to 4,000 Israelis will be killed in the first days of the attack, which could happen as early as this summer.

“Iran is seeking to cover Israel with intense fire,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned in a special briefing for journalists at the week’s end.

“In Lebanon, the Iranians are inserting the most advanced weapons in the world, and strengthening Hezbollah, so that it can hit any spot in Israel,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying in the daily Makor Rishon. “They are trying to build a second front in the Golan, and of course, in Gaza.”

‘Earth-shaking shock’ 

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak also sounded dire warnings last week, regarding Hezbollah’s ability to deal a heavy blow to Israel, and Israel’s unpreparedness for this.

“Our rival is serious, and we have no room for smugness on any front,” he said. “We must not be smug and take our superiority as something that is self-evident and supposedly God-given. Superiority is the result of serious work. We have not really dealt with 100,000 rockets, and we have not started to deal with the matter of their accuracy. When the rockets are accurate, it is not more of the same thing. It is something completely different.”

“The country has no choice but to reach conclusions,” Barak warned. “One cannot deal with this challenge by deploying in all of the places, from which [anti-missile] missiles can be fired. These things are very expensive: Iron Dome and Magic Wand, Arrow and Super-Arrow are expensive projects.

“One cannot exaggerate the importance of safeguarding security,” he added, “and one cannot exaggerate the earth-shaking shock that can take place when it turns out that we did not prepare and we did not understand the urgency and practicality of challenges of this sort, and the need to translate clear thought to conclusions, and we will find ourselves [in a situation where] citizens suddenly discover that one cannot walk slowly and lackadaisically to the bomb shelters, knowing that nothing can happen, as we did in during Operation Protective Edge. These things must be done now, we must not wait.”

Israel’s Revenge Is That “We Are Still Here”

June 7, 2015

Israel’s Revenge Is That “We Are Still Here” The Legal Insurrection, June 7, 2015

My wife and I are back, after an intense two weeks in Israel.

From the Lebanese to Gaza borders, from the Mediterranean Sea to Judea and Samaria, from the cool evenings of Jerusalem to the heat of the Negev Desert, from an apartment in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to Bedouin villages in the north and south, from university campuses to military bases, from faculty to students, from Jews to Muslims … I can’t say we saw it all, but we saw a lot.

I’ve documented most of our big events in daily posts, with the exception of our emotional meetings with the families of Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, students killed in the 1969 Supersol supermarket bombing by Rasmea Odeh; that post is coming, but I still have new photos, documents and information I have to work through.

Here are my 5 Big Takeaways from the trip:

1. Our Revenge Is That “We Are Still Here”

Near the start of our trip, we visited Moshav Avivim straddling the Lebanese border, where we met Shimon Biton, a survivor of the 1970 bazooka attack on a school bus by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Biton, who was six and one-half years old, lost his father in the attack, and himself was shot point blank range by the terrorists when they realized he survived the bazooka attack.  Ten days before we met Biton, he was reunited for the first time in 45 years with the nurse who helped save him.  (Featured Image)

When we asked whether he ever wanted revenge, Biton told us that the revenge was that “we are still here and building for another 70 families.”

Moshav-Aviviv-Shimon-Biton-e1432683043370[Shimon Biton, Moshav Avivim, Israel]

When we related that story to numerous people we met along the rest of the trip, heads vigorously shook up and down.  It struck a chord, since almost every Israeli has a relative or friend impacted by terror.

Despite several decades of terrorism, particularly intense during the Second Intifada, and a world campaign against it, the People of Israel are still there.

The will to resist is underestimated.  Israel has a longer-term view, and a history.  It will not give in to boycotts, or Obama, or outside pressure that puts its security at risk.

2. “I don’t like Bibi, BUT….”

For whatever the reason, most of the people with whom we interacted self-identified as center-left or left.

There was no shortage of criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: He’s egotistical, he doesn’t keep his tough promises, he is only interested in his own political survival, he’s a liar, his pre-election comment about Arab voting was shameful, and so on.

Yet with only a couple of exceptions, the negative comments always were followed with a big BUT.

Benjamin-Netanyahu-at-Western-Wall-post-election-2015-e1426681806959[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Western Wall after 2015 election victory.]

But he is the only Israeli politician who has the stature to handle the world pressure; but I don’t envy the position he is in with so many forces against us; but [opposition leader Yitzhak “Bougie” Herzog] Bougie is weak and no one will fear him; and so on.

These opinions pretty much were reflected in polling and the election results — Many people may not like Netanyahu, but he is the only Israeli politician capable of standing up for Israel in a hostile world.

3. I don’t like Obama, no BUTs about it

Polling in Israel shows Obama is hugely unpopular.  Our anecdotal interactions with Israelis confirmed that polling.

I  can’t recall anyone, from left to right, who had anything nice to say about Obama.  The most consistent theme was that Obama is naive and weak, and that naivitee and weakness had resulted in disaster in the Arab world as it encouraged the most aggressive Islamist elements.

They see Syria falling apart with al-Qaeda or ISIS groups likely to control large parts of the country; or if not, then Iran in control. There are no good outcomes for Israel’s Golan Heights border. Along the Lebanese border there is Hezbollah, and in Gaza Hamas and increasingly even more radical Salafist-ISIS groups.

Against this background of being surrounded by a sea of increasing threats resulting from Obama administration policy, not a single person thought the Iran nuclear deal made any sense, or trusted the Obama administration on it.

In other words, Israelis live in the real world, not the world of Obama’s delusional hope.  And they don’t appreciate Obama taking risks with their lives.

4. Are we really that popular in the United States?

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was a frequent topic of conversation, almost always brought up by us as part of describing the type of coverage at Legal Insurrection.  This coincided with what I consider an irrational panic the past two weeks in the Israeli press and political discourse about BDS (more on that in a later post.)

I tried to explain that there is a complete disconnect between the BDS movement in the U.S. and the vast majority of Americans.  Gallup and Pew polling shows Israel at or near historical highs in terms of Israel’s favorability both abolutely and relative to favorability of Palestinians.  The gap between those who pick Israel over Palestinians when the question forces a choice, also is historically high.

Virtually every Israeli we met was shocked that Israel is actually so popular in the United States.  Even Israelis who have extensive American contacts and visit the U.S.

That’s not all so surprising.  Both the U.S. and Israeli media focus on the negative, though for different reasons.  The U.S. media long has had in implicit anti-Israel bias, compounded by the rise of left-leaning new media, while the Israeli media competes for readers with a “sky is falling” outlook.

(added) Israel’s enormous popularity among Americans is a strategic asset.  That strategic asset needs to be used more effectively to minimize the damage from the narrow but influential slices of the American population — radical faculty, some students, and mainstream journalists — who have explicit or implicit anti-Israel biases. The American people as a whole are the “Israeli Lobby.”

5. The Next War is Only a Matter of Time

While we were in Jerusalem, Israel underwent a national defense drill, including sirens warningof incoming rockets.

Our tour along the Gaza border, particularly near Sderot, also reflected preparation for the next round of rocket fire through reinforcing key civilian infrastructures, such as schools.

Sderot-Israel-bomb-shelter-street-e1433110130989[Sderot, Israel, street bomb shelter with “Shalom” grafitti]

There was a pervasive feeling that the calm cannot last.  And sure enough, while we were there and just after we left, rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel by Salafists suffering from a Hamas crackdown, and groups competing with Hamas for control.

That’s the logic of the region in which Israel lives: Radical groups retaliate against each other by firing rockets at … Israel.

The next war is coming.  Every Israeli knows it. It’s only a matter of time.

*  *  *  *  *

Those are my big takeaways.  I hope you enjoyed the coverage.

We will be back in Israel, hopefully next year.