Israel Resource Review 28th July, 2006


Dr. Michael Widlanski

July 28th, 2006

Hizbullah's television station Al-Manar launched an unusually anti-Semitic attack on Israel this morning, when a featured commentator claimed that Jews were instructed to kill women and children.

"What does their Torah say: it says kill all men, women and children and even animals," said the Hizbullah commentator, Ghassan Matar, identified as a former member of the Lebanese parliament.

"That is what their Israeli Zionist god, their racist god 'Yahweh' orders them," sneered Matar, the gray-haired commentator, gesturing broadly with his hands.

His words were an apparent reference to Biblical commandment for retribution against the tribe of Amalek which staged an unprovoked attack on the Children of Israel after the exodus from Egypt [Exodus 17: 8-16, Deuteronomy 25: 17-19]

Jews are commanded to remember Amalek's deeds and to "erase" Amalek, but many Jewish biblical commentaries state that the tribe of Amalek has ceased to exist, and that the commandment is a reminder of how to deal with terrorists who stage unprovoked attacks on innocent people.

Matar, who was wearing tinted eye glasses and a short-sleeved yellow jacket, said that Israeli conquest of some villages in southern Lebanon would not bring it victory.

Hizbullah and its television station Al-Manar are well-known for anti-Jewish themes including the broadcast of programs based on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"—a paradigmic anti-Semitic tract first developed by the Russian Czars and then distributed by the Soviets.

However, today's effusion seemed to be indicative of some of the tension felt by Hizbullah personnel in recent days — perhaps because of rising casualties — which has produced more vitriolic attacks on Judaism, America , and "moderate" Arab states, as well as the usual assaults on "the Zionist Enemy."

© 2006 Michael Widlanski Associates.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose recent doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times ,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post

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Nazareth and the next war

We are not done yet with the current war in Lebanon and clear signs of the next war have become very apparent and from a city seldom in the news. Nazareth is an old city in Israel's Galilee.

It has a population of roughly 60,000 Arabs, with less than 35% of them of the Christian faith. Nazareth is not located right below the Lebanese border, and it is not in the West Bank or any other disputed territory. Nazareth is located between Haifa and Tiberias.

Nazareth has managed to remain below the radar for the greater part of Israel's modern conflicts, Intifadas and violent clashes. Nazareth in all truthfulness is not even mentioned in Bible (in the Old Testament that is). It is not mentioned in the Talmud nor in the Apocrypha, not even in early rabbinic literature. In the Bible, 12 towns and 6 villages are mentioned as part of Zevulon's territory, 45 cities in the area are mentioned by Josephus (37 c.e. – 100 c.e.), and 63 towns of the Galilee are mentioned in the Talmud, yet Nazareth is not mentioned once.

Nazareth became known through the New Testament, (compiled 300 years after Jesus) were it suggests that his parents, Joseph and Mary were residents of this town. Nazareth, according to the New Testament is where Jesus grew up and prior to that it was the site of the Annunciation, which is when one of God's angels told Mary that she would mother Jesus.

Nazareth became a Christian holy site, yet has now been dominated by Muslims who have turned a new page for this mystical city.

Nazareth has become the key to understanding what Israel's next war will be like. And the bright clue came about this week when two children playing in the street were killed by a direct hit of a Katyusha rocket propelled by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Mahmoud, 7 and his 3-year-old brother Rabia were playing soccer when the rocket hit.

Sheik Abu El-Walid Ghazalain stood by the lifeless bodies of these two young children and said to the press: "Israel has killed these two." The Hezbollah has been pounding Israel with rockets for two weeks causing deaths, injuries and enormous destruction, but this Sheik, the spiritual leader of Nazareth's Arabs blamed Israel for the war they did not start. "Israel could have avoided this," said Abed Taluzi, 45, the father of the two children. "It could have been solved through negotiations." The children's aunt who was standing nearby when they were struck said: "I would sacrifice my life for (Hezbollah leader) Hassan Nasrallah. I hope victory will come to the Arab nations,"

These are all Israeli citizens. These are the Arabs the left claims like Israel and deserve our respect.

Mathew Wagner from the Jerusalem Post quoted Sheikh Abdel Salam Manasra, another spiritual leader of Nazereth and Secretary General of the High Suffi Council in the Holy Land, as he equated Zionism with idolatry. "Just as it says in the Bible that there were Jews who worshipped Ba'al [a type of ancient idolatry] so too there are Jews today who are Zionists," said Manasra. "You are not a Jew as you should be if you [support] Zionism," he added. "Zionism is a bad thing." Manasra rejected the idea that Israel was a Jewish state or a homeland for the Jews.

These are the "model" citizens of co-existence (sic).

This week another model Israeli citizen of Nazareth was in the news. Professor Razi Peleach, a geography teacher was arrested in the north of Israel while taking pictures of military installations, and spying for the Hezbollah. Professor Peleach, a man of peace no doubt (sic). "The Arabs of the West Bank want and deserve their own country," says Peace Now. "But the Arabs that live inside Israel just want equality". Is that so? Is that what they want? Nazareth, a relatively quiet Arab Israeli city is the key to understanding the Arab mentality . . .

Zeev Shemer Ramat HaGolan ISRAEL

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Rafi Ginat, Yediot Ahronot
editor-in- chief

There are occasions on which the moral dilemma, difficult and painful as it may be, requires that a decision be taken. In genuine moral dilemmas there is no easy or good decision. For example, which is better: to allow the best of our fighting men to be killed in order to prevent deaths in villages in southern Lebanon and be the most moral army in the world, or to wipe out villages which harbor Hizbullah terrorists, save our boys' lives and be considered less moral?

Which is the right thing to do: to use limited forces and thereby prolong the fighting, increase the number of rockets raining down upon us and the number of civilian casualties on our side, or use deadly fire power , feel less moral and bring the decisive hour and the cessation of hostilities nearer? The basic dilemma is very simple: is it right to pay a high price in blood and money in order to gain the moral high ground when faced with an enemy who cares nothing for morality.

Europe, which invented the double standard, describes us in any case as child murderers and town destroyers, while shedding crocodile tears over the bitter fate of Lebanon-a country which has always provided an acquiescent base for terrorism, against which it has never taken any action beyond saying, "it's not me, it's him".

The knights of the double standard don't bat an eye at the thousands of Katyushas which have been raining down on the heads of residents of the north, destroying their homes and their lives. The self righteous who bewail the destruction of the Hizbullah building in Beirut contemplate the ruins of Cohen's house in Haifa in silence.

As far as they are concerned, we are never right and never moral. Whatever we do, we are the baddies. For this reason, what they say and do is irrelevant to questions of morality. This dilemma, therefore, is one we have to work out among ourselves, and only among ourselves.

When we fight against a terrorist organization which, like its patron, declares over and over that its objective is to wipe us out, is it not both logical and legitimate that we should arrive at a moral compromise with ourselves? Is it not right that we take a conscious decision to lower our moral standards in order to strike at an enemy whose morals bear comparison with those of horse thieves and drug dealers?

I have no problem with being less moral in my own eyes if this can save the life of a single boy in Golani. For myself, I'm prepared to hail down hellfire on the Hizbullah terrorists, their aides, their collaborators, all those who turn a blind eye to them, and everyone who so much as smells of Hizbullah-and their innocent bystanders can die instead of ours. In the wake of the Bint Jbeil disaster we can't afford the moral luxury of surgical operations which end up in the surgical ward in Rambam Hospital. We are in the middle of a war, and we have to win this war by trampling Hizbullah underfoot and everything it represents. We have to strike hard-and we can allow ourselves to feel good about it.

We have to put aside the bewailing and the self flagellation on the part of all manner of frustrated film directors and self-declared cultural heroes. We have to ignore the reflections and the impertinence of those broadcasters whom the camera and the microphone inflate to the dimensions of a super-chief of staff.

We have to look the soldiers and their commanding officers in the eye, thank them and let them do what they best know how to do. And they do know. You'll see.

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Senior Israeli intelligence officer: 'Our strategy isn't working'
Aaron Sichel

Israel's current strategy for countering Hezbollah activity in southern Lebanon "is not working…[and] should be changed soon" according to an Israeli military intelligence officer.

The officer's remarks echoed sentiments expressed by a growing number of military sources and analysts following a day that saw the loss of nine Israeli soldiers to Hezbollah attacks, and a record number of Hezbollah rockets—130—slamming into the Jewish state from Lebanon.

Lt. Col. (res.) Moshe Marzook spoke in a wide-ranging interview that covered topics including counterinsurgency, Lebanese politics, and Iranian geopolitical strategy. Marzook, also a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center university near Tel Aviv, maintained a diplomatic tenor when discussing civil-military relations in his country.

However, he claims Israeli soldiers have been forced to employ ineffective tactics by inexperienced political leaders and a cadre of senior officers who are unsure about whether to employ overwhelming force.

"I hope that our strategy is going to change, [and] that our government will take the Hezbollah situation with the seriousness it demands," said Marzook. "But right now there are a lot of discussions about what to do…. There's an endless debate about whether or not to use [Israel's military] power."

Marzook says the Israeli government has now missed strategic opportunities. "Look, at this point we've already lost one opportunity to destroy Hezbollah, and that's because we didn't go in using all of our forces. In [Hezbollah stronghold] Bint Jbail the army was using some artillery guns. But it's not enough. Instead, we needed to be using air power after we warned the Lebanese [civilians] to get out.

"Only after a massive aerial bombing should we have sent ground troops in for mopping-up operations." Marzook says the strategy has gone in reverse, but also emphasized, "in Israel we're a democracy, and the army is totally subordinate to the political echelon, so we do the most we can with what the politicians give us."

Politicians out of their league?

Dr. Michael Widlanski, a professor and frequent advisor to Israeli security and foreign policy agencies, says Israel's current strategy is a non-starter for defeating Hezbollah. "The problem for the military is that they're not being allowed to do what the country knows they need to do—and there are already a lot of rumblings both in and out of government about this war being mishandled by Olmert and [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz."

"Instead of attacking Hezbollah at, say, four points simultaneously, and forcing them to reveal their capabilities and intentions and throwing them off balance, the army now is striking Hezbollah at a single point, and then falling back, and then assessing that battle, and then they start discussing where to go next.

"It's slow, it's disordered and it's not very effective," says the analyst.

Lt. Col. Marzook says Hezbollah strongholds "like Bint Jbail need to be demolished. They need to be hit without any ambiguity at all, so that Hezbollah clearly understands" that Israel will not permit them further shelter in Lebanon. "I think we need to do it, or there will be more and more casualties in this fight."

In a biting analysis in Thursday's Jerusalem Post, Israel Air Force (IAF) Col. (res.) Dr. Shmuel Gordon describes the Olmert administration as "ignorant" about counterterrorism.

Throughout military history, there have been gaps between doctrine and reality. In the current case, the gap is particularly large, created by the [Israeli] government's ignorance of the appropriate strategy. The cabinet is ignoring, or simply doesn't understand, the principles of modern counterterrorism, especially those relating to air power.

Gordon claims the IAF's current operations "do not even come close to conforming" to proper strategy, and advises the IDF General Staff to "acquaint" Israeli politicians with the nature of air power.

The dovish Ha'aretz newspaper asserted Friday that "the IDF must act with greater force" in Lebanon, and complained that Israeli politicians and senior military commanders "look as if they have been frozen in a huge ice cube."

"The political failures are continuing," asserts Marzook. "I hope the politicians will accept that this is a war we must win. That message is coming now from the media, from the society, and even from some politicians."

Caught between PR and the people?

"In reality," says Widlanski, "Olmert isn't yet able to admit that disengagement didn't work. That's why rockets flew into Israel from Gaza for 10 months without Olmert stopping them. In Lebanon, Hezbollah's been fortifying itself since the IDF withdrew six years ago.

"In both cases, a strong military response would have been seen as a de facto admission that withdrawal is an unfruitful strategy.

"Now Olmert's sent in the IDF, but only when Hezbollah forced him to—and he hasn't gone in [with] full force, and the army isn't happy about that."

"One explanation," says Widlanski, "may be standard PR issues—Olmert appears terribly afraid of bad headlines on CNN.

"But there's also electoral PR. [Olmert's] Kadima Party was founded last year for a purpose: to further the withdrawal platform of Ariel Sharon. If that platform is no longer usable, then Kadima has no clear raison d'ętre."

"In the end, even if the majority of the electorate thinks disengagement is a strategic failure, Olmert may not be able to admit it."

"There is a general problem that has gotten worse since the late '90s and [former Prime Minister Ehud] Barak's tenure," says investigative journalist and professional community organizer David Bedein. "There's a wider gap now between the citizenry and the leadership, and there's often a feeling that policy is driven by advertising professionals—that some leaders base national security decisions on the advice of their PR team. In a crisis like this, those feelings will come home to roost.

"What's happening now in Israel is that almost two million people, in a country of seven million, can't go to work and can't sleep in their homes," says Bedein. "The country's third largest city (Haifa) is deserted. That's an upheaval for Israel's national psyche and it happened overnight. There's a lot of anger because of that. If people sense that the leadership is aloof or isn't moving rapidly to fix the situation, then the alienation and anger will increase."

When asked why Israel's political leaders would marshal "insufficient" forces to counter Hezbollah, Marzook responded: "They are afraid of public opinion and criticism…. There's a debate inside the government and the army, and much of the government looks to the West, to America, and to [newspaper] opinion pages."

Clarifying goals

Marzook says Israel's current goals are simple. "We only want one thing from Lebanon, and that is a stable northern border. Whether they want normal relations with us or not, we have only one claim on Lebanon: It must be responsible for its own territory.

"We don't see the Lebanese government or population as the main problem here—we want a diplomatic solution with the Lebanese government. The main problem is Syrian and Iranian interference," which the officer says is motivated by broader geopolitical aims. "Syria has always viewed Lebanon as a province of Greater Syria."

"Iran's goal is to become the superpower in the Middle East. They care about Lebanon, and about Israel, because they see these lands as Iran's gateway to the West, and as the doorway that guards the entrance to the Middle East. Iran wants free passage through this gateway, and it is also warning the West: 'You will only travel here with our permission.'

"If the West really wants a democratic state in Lebanon," says Marzook, "it will have to put together a real international force and expel the Syrian and Iranian controllers…. We are not going to take the entire Lebanese problem onto our shoulders—Israel can't solve all of the West's political problems on our own."

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Abbas's PBC TV: Palestinian who who tried to kill policemen . . . a martyr
David Bedein

On Thursday, July 27th, an armed Palestinian approached a police checkpoint manned by Israeli policemen and national guardsmen. The armed man opened fire, seriously wounding two of the policemen. He was then killed by another policeman. PBC TV, under the administration of Machmud Abbas, in its news telecasts on Friday, describes the dead assailant as a "hero and martyr" to the Palestinian cause.

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