Beyond the Cusp

December 16, 2018

Wherever Israel Turns there are Threats

 

Though the media is largely ignoring many of these events, they are still plaguing Israel and those who love her. There are still rioting on the Gaza border pressed on continuously as the new normal with Hamas. The Hamas tunnel systems were thwarted so incendiary kites and balloons were the response. They claim they love the land more than the Jews ever will and are willing to burn it to ashes to prove it. Israel simply nurtures the land and grows crops and establishes discoveries which are helping humanity all over the world with the problems of fresh water, growing crops in arid lands, using water gained from treated sewage to grow crops, medical cures, software for office, security software, facial recognition systems which can detect criminals in crowds such as airports and other advances in virtually every endeavor all for the improvement of our world. But that is but a small area, the border with Hamas in Gaza, what about the rest of the region?

 

In the north on the border with Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have uncovered another series of infiltration tunnels coming from within the region presumably patrolled and kept terrorist-free by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as per UNSC Resolution 1701, which brought the last Hezballah-Israel conflict to a close. There was to be a buffer region in southern Lebanon (see map below) where Hezballah was not to be permitted to place weapons, build bunkers, dig tunnels into Israel or place rockets. It is needless to point out, but that presumed effort has been a mitigated disaster. Hezballah has built up the region with bunkers, tunnels, launching positions concealed underground or in people’s homes, built ambush sites also often using people’s homes and increased their rocket inventory to approximately one-hundred-fifty-thousand rockets plus a percentage have been upgraded with precision guidance packages provided by Iran.

 

Map of UNIFIL Demilitarized Region

Map of UNIFIL Demilitarized Region

 

These modified rockets are now comparable to missiles; actually, they are missiles capable of striking within a few meters of any target in Israel. That is considered to be an existential threat by Israel and suitable warnings that this must not continue or else Israel may be forced to perform an extensive intervention. With their ranges and sizes, many of these rockets and missiles are capable of striking all of Israel (see table and map below). Unfortunately, such a threat from Israel is mostly, if not completely, ignored, as Israel is no longer considered a force to be feared. This is due largely to the crippling limitations placed on the IDF soldiers to such a point that they often delay before shooting, something which has proven excessively detrimental and cost Israel far too many lives. One example of such restraints was exceedingly evident during the rioting on the Gaza border where after allowing the troops to use their discretion, they imposed their being required to receive approval to engage targets unless their lives were under direct threat. The airstrikes by Israeli pilots also required approval even when given a specific and known Hamas positions as either an observer aircraft or drone was required to inspect the target and immediate vicinity before the mission could be concluded. Often, the pilots were instructed to return with their munitions still onboard because there was an innocent within the area considered to be potentially injurious. Hamas have often placed women and children on the rooftops of their most important positions and place their main command and control bunker underneath the main hospital in Gaza City.

 

Hezballah Rocket & Missile Threat

Hezballah Rocket & Missile Threat

 

The recent past has reignited the terrorism from the Shomron by Arabs who are ruled by the Palestinian Authority (PA). One attack almost murdered a mother in her thirtieth week of her pregnancy. Her unborn child was removed by cesarean section and valiant efforts were made to save the child, but the infant died after four days, him never even having been held by his mother. This closes the loop where the only border where Israel can claim they have peace is the one it shares with the Mediterranean Sea, and please do not let the world know or they might just start to launch more Gaza Flotillas attempting to break the legal blockade of Hamas by Israel. That also brings us to the other problem which Israel faces, the United Nations and much of the world where anti-Semitism is being expressed as anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism. We had the perfect ignominy of the United Nations General Assembly which was brought to the fore by the recent vote refusing to condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and the border violence which has gone on for over three-quarters of a year which we covered in this article. Within Europe, anti-Semitism has become rampant, increasing to the point that some of the political parties have refused to condemn the growing anti-Semitism within their ranks, even that of people of prominence of the party. But this trend is far from isolated to Europe.

 

In the United States, anti-Semitism has increase by near or over fifty-percent every year for the past half-decade. The recent elections placed a new member in the United States House of Representatives, from Michigan named Rashida Tlaib, who celebrated with a Palestinian flag and proclaimed her support of the Palestinians and her ill will for Israel. But it is not necessary to take our word for this, please check out what we state independently, we would be proud to have these things validated. One thing which one would need to find is my friends from long ago to validate that I had been warning my fellow Jews outside of Washington DC that anti-Semitism was rising and that a future would come probably in our lifetime that Jews would face extremely difficult situations in the United States and that at a turning point the bulk of one of the political parties would turn against the Jewish People. I also told them that I was going to retire in Israel and they did not believe that either. What can one say, such doubters.

 

There has been talk within Israel about reestablishing the Israeli deterrence so that the terrorists would refuse to continue their animosity and then we can all coexist in a period of peace. There has been no debate about exactly what form such an action would require in order to reestablish an Israeli deterrence. There have been hints such as the near immediate house demolition of every terrorist’s home regardless of other family (which would never get past the Supreme Court), immediate shutdown of any area from where a terror attack originated and the only sensible suggestion of reestablishing checkpoints throughout the Shomron. Despite the idea of reestablishing checkpoints, especially random checkpoints guided by intelligence, being a great idea to make the Shomron a safer place, Israel cannot place checkpoints within Gaza or Lebanon currently without first taking these regions through military action. Were Israel to take action to destroy the infrastructure built-up in southern Lebanon to deter Hezballah would simply return Israel into occupying southern Lebanon and all Hezballah would do is set-up new infrastructure just north of any IDF held positions. This would simply move the threat further from the Israeli public but would also place IDF soldiers at risk holding ground where the people are largely hostile. This is a ‘tried that, did not work,’ situation.

 

Then there is what to do about Hamas. This is where something can be done which would change the dynamics. Any action to change the map concerning Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all of their supporting terror infrastructure would first require being prepared to defend such actions. This would start with the considerations and guarantees provided to the Israeli government as part of the deal to engage in the grand experiment which became the Gaza Disengagement. First thing is that this was a grand idea cooked up by the United States State Department and proposed to President George H. W. Bush by Secretary Condoleezza Rice. The intent was to provide a region completely free of any and all Israeli presence in which the PA could demonstrate their ability to operate a civilized society with jobs, government services, power generation, economic development and a normative society. President Bush promised that the United States would provide cover in the United Nations should it become necessary for Israel to retake Gaza because it became a terrorist threat. By the end of 2007, Hamas had taken control over Gaza in a bloody coup and cemented their rule by discarding any PA officials they did not control off rooftops of many of the tallest buildings. From that point forward, Gaza has been a terrorist base exactly as the rightwing leadership of the Nationalist, Zionist and Religious parties within Israel had warned. The agreement Israel made was that should Gaza turn into the terrorist base it has become, Israel would be entitled to retake control of Gaza, clear out the terrorists and their supporters, and resume Israeli rule. Does anybody honestly believe that the world would not act as if it were on fire should Israel actually retake Gaza? Of course the world would go berserk, the United Nations would be holding sessions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, UNICEF and the rest of the usual suspects. The European Union would be writing denunciations faster than their stenographers could write. Almost every other organization and most governments would all be lining up to take their shots at Israel for their temerity to act on a guarantee made them back in 2005 which the world was made aware of at the time. All of this is not even beginning to understand the reaction of the Arab and Muslim worlds. One would believe that the end of the planet was at stake.

 

Here is the catch when discussing Israel retaking Gaza and exactly what Israel takeover of Gaza would entail and require. First, the Israeli leadership would need to wear sound suppressing headphones for an extended period of time in order to have any peace. Second, Israel would need to have an indisputable reason such as almost five-hundred rockets launched into Israel out of Gaza in a twenty-four hour period. Since Israel just suffered exactly such an attack, allow us to divert and review. Israel was warned by the United Nations that this barrage was entirely just a reaction to the infiltration of an intelligence gathering team which was caught and engaged by Hamas forces resulting in one dead Israeli officer, one injured Israeli soldier and six dead Hamas fighters. Israel would just need to suffer this outburst as Israel deserved whatever Hamas desired to throw at her. The European Union seconded this feeling and probably threatened some punitive reaction were Israel to react with any change of the situation. Israel was permitted to react by launching rockets at Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets providing they were empty. There would be no tolerating anyone further in Gaza being killed in these exchange of fire, but if Israelis died, well, that would be acceptable. The United Nations in conjunction with Egypt, and rumored Turkey, arranged for Hamas to cease firing the rockets and simply continue the rioting along the Gaza border which Israel would need to continue to pretend that farming and other activities within a number of miles of the border were to never to survive planting or normative operating conditions as the launching of explosive and incendiary objects into Israeli territories surrounding Gaza. This would also extend to forests and wildlife reserves within these regions. What other nation in this world would tolerate such a situation? Not even the United States would tolerate this even if it were restricted to these devices being launched solely from the Baja Peninsula.

 

The reality is that Israel retaking control of Gaza might actually be the least invasive action which would provide some degree of deterrence. The problem is that Hezballah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas are actually under the direction of Iran. Should Iran decide that it desired for Israel to suffer some degree of difficulty, they could simply tell Hamas, Islamic Jihad and/or Hezballah to attack Israel to whatever degree desired. Iran has attempted to also engage and bring the PA and its terrorist groups including the PLO, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and whatever others which exist in an Iranian attempt to completely encircle Israel with terrorist allies. Iran already has IRGC troops stationed in Syria as well as some in Lebanon which have launched rockets and anti-tank missiles at the IDF forces stationed on the Golan Heights, which should tell one about the degree of deterrence Israel currently projects. The ability to project deterrence by Israel would require some drastic action which would leave no doubt that things have changed in a determinable manner witnessing that Israel was not going to continue to suffer terror attacks without responding with the liberal application of military force altering the ability for such activities being able to continue. Israel would need to make it apparent that any terrorist attack would engender a response so severe that any further terrorist activities would require rebuilding the terror infrastructure from scratch. There are two regions which would come to mind first and foremost, the Shomron and Gaza. This would mean the removal of terrorist governments of either the PA or Hamas, depending on which region provided sufficient threat demanding such an intense reaction. Should the terror attacks continue as almost daily attacks in the Shomron, that could cause the Israeli leadership to decide to extend Israeli rule to all of the Shomron and remove the PA leadership and security forces sending them to whatever nations will accept them, as long as it is as far as possible from Israel. Another barrage of five-hundred rockets in a day from Gaza would be another stimulus for Israel to retake Gaza.

 

The world does not need get themselves into a lather, the current Israeli government would not be taking such steps in the near future. It is even doubtful that the Israeli government which will be making the next coalition would take such steps, as that government will either be very similar to the current government or far more left-leaning. Short of a general war being initiated by Arab nations, Iran or a general coordinated terror assault, Israel is unlikely to take any drastic actions which would result in a change in the separate regions under the different terrorist rule, the PA in the Shomron, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Hezballah with the IRGC out of Lebanon along with possibly Syria. The chance that the Arab and Muslim worlds will decide that Israel is permitted to live in peace is improbable without a very serious change in their attitude. There are only two reasons such a decision would be reached; a Renaissance in Islam where the Mecca Quran takes precedence over the Medina Quran which drives Islam in the modern day or Israel uses such an application of military force serving as a deterrence with lasting effects. When or exactly what takes place to cause either of these reactions we will have to leave up to our readers to dream-up. The same goes for when such a wondrous event or set of events will occur. Anyone who has thought that this cannot happen too soon, we feel your thought path and join your enthusiasm.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 26, 2018

There are Correct and Incorrect Means to Haredi Enlistment

 

The IDF is in a bit of a jam and the political arena is not being helpful. The bit of a jam is over the IDF refusal to promote Brigadier General Ofer Vinter, a Kippah wearing, religious Zionist officer. Those in the religious Zionist community are left wondering if perhaps his religious observance and Zionist philosophy were behind this refusal. On the other side of the equation is that Brigadier General Ofer Vinter was not exactly a normal officer in some critical ways. He was not much of a supporter of the containment mentality of the official brass in the General Staff and was more of the kind of personality that when given an objective would clear a path by cutting a wide swath to his goal. Where this philosophy is to be lauded on the battlefield and much endeared him to his troops, it does not fit well with cool-headed planning of distant goals. There was also the pressure from the left in Israel who became enraged when it was revealed that when commanding the Givati Brigade during 2014 Protective Edge engagement against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Vinter wrote in his battle orders that his unit “was fighting an enemy which defiles our God,” words used by David against Goliath, and ended with the Jewish Shema prayer. None of his officers or enlisted troops was upset by this including the secular soldiers and all stated that this gave them greater strength of purpose and was quite uplifting. I was an infantryman and being given spiriting and uplifting words before an engagement is exactly what one desires from their commanding officers, but that was lost on those desiring making political hay. Still, Brigadier General Ofer Vinter was also seen as not having the best managerial style and was said to even have shortcomings and though he was a creative warrior, he left behind a disorganized staff headquarters. This was likely what weighed heavily in this decision but that is likely to be ignored by those who supported his promotion from the religious Zionist community. After all, it is not like there have not been Kippah-wearing officers in command positions before as the picture below from the taking of the Western Wall during the Six Day War depicts.

 

IDF Rabbi with Celebratory Cigar and Torah Scroll Entering Old City

IDF Rabbi with Celebratory Cigar and Torah Scroll Entering Old City

 

What does this have to do with Haredi enlistment will soon become evident. The Knesset is once again wrestling with writing a new draft law as the Supreme Court has set aside the last law claiming it was discriminatory. The Supreme Court has apparently been attempting to force the Knesset to draft Haredi youth in the same exact manner as they do everybody else. That is all well and good except that has not been the law in the past and Haredi has, for the longest time, been completely deferred from being drafted. We applaud the efforts to move the Haredi community to become more engaged with normative lives within the Israeli community if for no other reason than because they are an increasing percentage of the population and it has become necessary for them to lead more normative lives as it will soon be impossible to provide for them entirely as they rise in proportion to the rest of the society. The thought is if they are drafted, they will become more exposed to the remainder of Israeli society and more of them will find work and lead what is a normal life rather than spend all of their time studying Torah. Leaders in the Haredi community have largely opposed any attempt to take away what they believe is their special character as the new priesthood representative of the Kohanim in ancient Israel. They ignore that they already present a higher percentage of the total population than the Kohanim ever were in ancient Israel and as such are becoming too large a strain on the economy. The problem is changing the rules from the former extreme to the other extreme is not exactly the most efficient or productive means of making this change and there are other factors as well.

 

One would think that the IDF would be working to make selected units more accommodating for Haredi to serve while not forcing a lifestyle situation which is unacceptable to their teachings and way of life. Unfortunately, the IDF has been doing exactly the opposite. They have made some combat units which had been exclusively male into coed units, which is something which the Haredi will fight against being forced into serving. There have been a number of public events where women were presented and would sing, something that the very religious men are forbidden from attending, where the religious men were told they could not briefly leave the presentation until the women’s singing presentation was completed. These cases were brought to the attention of the General Staff who decided that these commanders were within their right to force these men to remain for the women’s presentation as to allow them to leave would be upsetting to the women. You can see where this is headed. There has been a growing suspicion that the General Staff are against making any allowances for the very religious at the same time as the political front is trying to force some of the most stringently religious into serving in the IDF. If you want to bring the Haredi into the IDF, might not it make sense to create an atmosphere where they would not be offended right out of the gate?

 

Where they could make a soufflé, the General Staff is making scrambled eggs and claiming it does not make a difference, they are still eggs. That will not go well and if the IDF cannot make room for the Haredi to remain within their comfort level, then their rabbis will advise refusal to serve, which some already have done. Should the Haredi refuse draft notice en-masse, the political class had better also make a budget for a very large prison in which to hold these draft resisters. Writing a draft bill which demands that all Haredi of draft age be enlisted into service will serve neither the IDF nor the Haredi community. There must be a deferment allowance for a number of Torah scholars whose study of Torah would provide benefit beyond esoteric benefits as described in prayers that they bring peace to the world. Even the idea that their study of Torah will bring peace to the world, thus far it does not appear to be working which means either they are not doing it correctly or something else is definitely wrong. One complaint we have heard is that should one drive through the Haredi community during the day, they would see numerous young Haredi males simply out and about and in coffee bistros and engaged in many activities which do not appear to be Torah study. We have not tested this theory, but have seen pictures which give it credibility. Perhaps there can be found a middle ground where those Haredi who graduate from their Yeshiva with exemplary grades and have shown a propensity for original thought and interpretation of Torah to be granted deferments. The percentage and grade expectation for this along with a requirement for letters recommending their deferment from at least three of their teachers could be arranged with the Haredi Rabbinate. But forcing the entirety of the Haredi to suddenly be drafted is completely untenable.

 

IDF Crest Insignia

 

There is another side to this as well, and it too has to do with the budget. The IDF takes a large slice of the budget which makes complete sense when we look at the rioting currently occurring on the Gaza border and the potential for threats from Syria and Lebanon. It is a well-established fact that Israel need be on a war footing at all times with a ready reserve to provide support and bolster the numbers of in uniform soldiers often at a moment’s notice. But the IDF is currently fully manned according to reports we have read and in some fields has more recruits than are necessary even during times of active conflict. Even the infantry ranks are well manned, especially in the most elite corps. Simply put, currently there is no crying need for additional forces, especially in the numbers drafting all Haredi would provide. Thus this does not need to be done as if there were some emergency requiring such an increase in manpower for the IDF. Would the effect of providing more reserves prove advantageous? Well, of course, but not to the effect that such a move would provide and one must also weigh the cost societally. Angering an entire sector of society which would also produce ripples through other areas is not exactly prudent. Yes, the Haredi need to be brought into the mainstream. This can be performed intelligently starting with having certain changes in their education system introducing additional STEM course requirements to at least introduce them to some of the more useful tools for joining the mainstream preparing them for having a decent chance for finding employment. To bring about radical change, there are two ways of doing so. There is the gentler and less likely to cause adverse opposition way or the way my uncle taught me to swim by throwing me into the deep end of the pool. Do the members of the Knesset really desire to take the sink or swim route or the coax and offer incentives route. The problem is some are using this political football to try and bring down the coalition and force elections. That is another side which has nothing to do with Haredi, Torah study or anything but the religion of the left to destroy anything which they do not control. But that is for another time with an issue which is not so socially charged.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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