As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the opportunity a few weeks back to hear an unofficial briefing on the current strategic picture for Israel, given by a major in the IDF. Here is the intriguing summary of what he shared.
First, the Major pointed out the strategic importance of Israel’s location. That area serves as a connecting point on land between several continents, and on water as a connecting point between many choices of shipping routes.
Second, many common enemies of Israel and the USA (Turkey, Iran, Russia) see the area as of key importance to their ambitions. If our enemies think the area is crucial to their goals in world politics and military action, then shouldn’t it matter to the USA as well? Apparently not – at least, not until Trump was elected. The Major pointed out that when a USA aircraft carrier recently made port call at Israel earlier this year, it was the first time in 17 years. And if America does not put its carriers in an ocean region, then it certainly does not see the region as important.
The Major pointed out that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are all nations playing at being an empire. Russian leader Putin has made comments lamenting the downfall of the Soviet empire, Turkey talks about a return to the days of the Caliphate (when they were the capitol of an empire ruling the known world), and Iran makes references back to the ancient days of Persia, when the Iranian ancestors ruled the known world.
Turkey may have access to the Mediterranean Sea, but Iran and Russia both are trying to gain permanent territorial access, both for economic purposes and for military benefit.
Further, Iran is working to build up a nuclear arsenal with global reach. ICBM’s are not for dominating a local region, but for laying claim to global superiority. Iran’s ambitions toward Israel are not the end of their goals, anymore than Hitler’s were when he began conquering his neighbors. These nations have global ambition, and Israel is merely a stepping stone.
Israel prides itself on having the most ethical military in the world, yet it is routinely portrayed in mainstream media as an unpredictable aggressor without a conscience.
The Major pointed out that Israel has the only air force in the world for which pilots are forbidden to fire a missile unless an alternate target consisting of an empty field is available as a back up. That way, if they launch and civilians suddenly enter the primary target area, the pilot already has a viable place in which he can safely waste the weapon with no harm.
Further, Israel has the only military in the world with a team fluent in the enemy’s language, for whom their sole purpose is that if the military is planning a strike into an enemy area, the team calls every local resident in the target zone to warn them with 24 hour advanced notice of the coming attack and advise them to flee the area.
Does this mean that sometimes the enemy gains enough advance intel to remove the target and foil Israel’s tactical goals? Yes, definitely. Does it mean that the air force sometimes wastes weaponry because the enemy brings civilians into a target area? Yes, definitely. But Israel accepts these tactical fumbles in order to maintain the higher goal of being the most ethical military force in the world.
And yet the mainstream media, particularly in America, talks about Israel’s aggressiveness in colonizing the region. One look at the map shows that they are a lousy colonial power, because they’ve barely expanded at all despite their military strength.
The bias is even further highlighted when in a recent ceasefire, American headlines trumpeted, “Ceasefire ends as Israel returns fire on terrorists shooting rockets into their territory.” So, the ceasefire didn’t end when the terrorists returned to pummeling Israeli territory with rockets, but when Israel defends itself only then the ceasefire is violated?
The Major talked about challenges in Israel, particularly dealing with Hamas and Hezbollah. One thing he pointed out was that assessing the threat of an enemy consists of assessing their capability and their intent. Assessing capability is the easier part by far. One of the biggest concerns in America right now is that we would really, really love to get a clear assessment of the intent of the madman currently ruling North Korea.
For Israel, Hamas has as a founding principle, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Hezbollah is far more dangerous due to military grade training given to all of its members. The Major pointed out that Hezbollah is a direct agent of Iran, not an indirect one. The difference is that a direct agent takes orders, the indirect agent does what they want and the related party indirectly benefits. And Iran has clearly stated their goals to completely eliminate Israel, therefore Hezbollah is dedicated to that end.
Right now, Israel’s Iron Dome defense protects it from the majority of incoming rockets fired by Hamas and supplied by Hezbollah. The last batch of rocket strikes sent in over 4000 rockets in a period of five weeks, and the Iron Dome deflected most of that. But the two terrorist groups are working together to significantly upgrade their abilities with a goal of launching several thousand rockets per day, which would definitely exceed the Iron Dome defensive capabilities.
Right now, Israeli forces have the luxury of time, thanks to their defensive capabilities. That luxury of time means they can take time to go the extra step and perform as the most ethical military force in the world. But when thousands more rockets than they can defend against begin slaughtering civilians, there will no longer be a luxury of time for decision making, and responses will have to be spontaneous and aggressive.
And if Israel has been vilified in the mainstream media while succeeding at being the most ethical military force, what are they going to look like when they are forced to start reacting faster and more decisively? It’s going to be a PR nightmare for any of Israel’s allies, such as the Trump administration.
In my last mention, I shared the answer I was given about the Major’s observations regarding the powder keg effect of “states containing many nations, and nations without a state.”
One other interesting question and answer regarded the history of the words “Palestinian” and “Palestine.”
I have heard of pro-Israel defenders denying that there is any such thing, despite the testimony of displaced people identifying as such.
The Major’s answer was fascinating because he did not deny the terms, but actually embraced them and give a brief history lesson about their origins and changing meaning.
In the latter days of the Roman empire, one of the last emperors was so furious with the Jews after another uprising that he actually stripped the name Israel from all maps and documents (after crushing them militarily). The region still needed a name so he gave it a Latin name meaning “Land of the Philistines.” The Latin word is the one from which today’s “Palestine” is descended.
Not too many years later, after the collapse of the Roman empire and the rise of Christendom in the medieval era, the territory came to be known as “The Holy Land” and marked on maps as “Terra Sancta” even into the early 20th century.
However, as the West secularized and rejected God, they couldn’t have a country labeled on maps as “The Holy Land.” So they went back to the last previous name for the territory before Terra Sancta – Palestine.
At the founding of modern Israel, the Arabs preferred to identify as Arab, while Christians and Jews and other non-Arab elements of the population identified as Palestinian. Once Israel was founded, the Jews took on the identity of Israeli’s and the Arabs took the identity of Palestinian.
So these are real terms, but the recent anti-God trend of the West has led to these terms today no longer meaning what they meant less than a century ago.