click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Battle Plans

Battle Plans

Israel's next war has begun.


The next Middle East war -- Israel against genocidal Islamism -- has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago, with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim; now, with Hezbollah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. Ultimately, though, Israel's antagonists won't be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites.

The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power--and to run the Palestinian educational system--will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too.

For the Israeli right, this is the moment of "We told you so." The fact that the kidnappings and missile attacks have come from southern Lebanon and Gaza -- precisely the areas from which Israel has unilaterally withdrawn--is proof, for right-wingers, of the bankruptcy of unilateralism. Yet the right has always misunderstood the meaning of unilateral withdrawal. Those of us who have supported unilateralism didn't expect a quiet border in return for our withdrawal but simply the creation of a border from which we could more vigorously defend ourselves, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding. The anticipated outcome, then, wasn't an illusory peace but a more effective way to fight the war. The question wasn't whether Hamas or Hezbollah would forswear aggression but whether Israel would act with appropriate vigor to their continued aggression.

It wasn't the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel's tepid responses to those attacks.

So it wasn't the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel's tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing our political leaders -- including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert -- when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against any attacks emanating from Gaza after Israel's withdrawal. That policy was not implemented -- until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility, and that is the real meaning of this initial phase of the war, both in Gaza and in Lebanon.

Still, many in Israel believe that, even now, the government is acting with excessive restraint. One centrist friend of mine, an Olmert voter, said to me, "If we had assassinated [Hamas leader] Haniyeh after the first kidnapping, [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah would have thought twice about ordering another kidnapping." Israel, then, isn't paying for the failure of unilateral withdrawal, but for the failure to fulfill its promise to seriously respond to provocations after withdrawal.

Absurdly, despite Israel's withdrawal to the international borders with Lebanon and Gaza, much of the international community still sees the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of war: Just as Israel holds Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, so Hamas and Hezbollah now hold Israeli prisoners. One difference, though, is that inmates in Israeli jails receive visits from family and Red Cross representatives, while Israeli prisoners in Gaza and Lebanon disappear into oblivion. Like Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who was captured by Hezbollah 20 years ago, then sold to Iran, and whose fate has never been determined. That is one reason why Israelis are so maddened by the kidnapping of their soldiers.

Another reason is the nature of the crimes committed by the prisoners whose release is being demanded by Hezbollah and Hamas. One of them is Samir Kuntar, a PLO terrorist who in 1979 broke into an apartment in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, took a father and child hostage, and smashed the child's head against a rock. In the Palestinian Authority, Kuntar is considered a hero, a role model for Palestinian children.

The ultimate threat, though, isn't Hezbollah or Hamas but Iran. And as Iran draws closer to nuclear capability -- which the Israeli intelligence community believes could happen this year -- an Israeli-Iranian showdown becomes increasingly likely. According to a very senior military source with whom I've spoken, Israel is still hoping that an international effort will stop a nuclear Iran; if that fails, then Israel is hoping for an American attack. But if the Bush administration is too weakened to take on Iran, then, as a last resort, Israel will have to act unilaterally. And, added the source, Israel has the operational capability to do so.

For Israelis, that is the worst scenario of all. Except, of course, the scenario of nuclear weapons in the hands of the patron state of Hezbollah and Hamas.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

This article originally appeared in the New Republic.


July 12, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 29

(29) bob, July 27, 2007 7:32 PM


Lets face it,your outnumbered ,instead of major battles,knock out there revenues, start with irans oil fields,half at first, if they start the missle attacks, wipe out the other half! the arabs,have no other products to export but rugs, we can do without them,I,dont like the rugs anyway! Lets not forget many Christians pray for the peace of israel daily including arabs etc. Israel, will not have peace, until you knock the socks off the bad guys surrounding you! How about using some of the secret weapons we know you have,! Based on the bible, Israel will never lose, but it will be close in the last battle!

(28) Paul D. Bary, July 31, 2006 12:00 AM

UN upset

UN upset over 56 civilian casualties which hezbollah put in the line of fire.Yes it is sad but it happens.Nobody wants that.Hezbollah knowingly sending rockets into civilian territory.I remeber the world trade center where we lost over three thousand civilians.I believe the muslim,Arabs all chanted,prased,and laugh.So i guess what there saying its ok for muslim,s to kill civilian,s and other muslim civilians or put civilians in the line of fire.But if a none muslim country accedently cause,s civilian lost in a war they never started they want jihad.Now they say any country supporting Israel will suffer to that also meaning civilian lives.What makes them so special.They say Islam is a peaceful religion hmmm says in Islam book if your not a Islam your less then a dog a Infedel.killing an Infedel is nothing.Now does that sound peaceful to you.And the 72 virgins if i die fighting come on are people that ignorant.Sorry if that offends anybody

(27) edee wolfenberger, July 19, 2006 12:00 AM

Israel has been at war with Islam for decades. Islam was in Germany during the ww2. the war has simply accelerated again. same war, same reason...

(26) Paul D Bary, July 19, 2006 12:00 AM

I,ll Tell You

One Israel didnt pick the time Hezbollahs did when they went into Israel and killed and kidnapped two soldiers.Two the infrastructures was Hezbollah,s and on them.Three they hit bridges,roads,airports trying to keep them from taking the soldiers out of lebanon.More or less why did the Hezbollah,s pick the tourist season.The Lebanese government is responsable.They allow a terroist group to build strong on the boarder to Israel instead of disarming them.There are always causalities to war wake up its a war.Now open your eye's.News media should never be in the war but on the side lines.War is War,Its not a pretty sight.From time to time it has to be done.In WorldWar II americans had over 5 millon soldiers.We lost thousands on a foreign land.Millions of Jews died for no reason.We stepped in for therighteousness,Freedom,and the right to exsist as free people every where.

(25) Deborah Courage, July 19, 2006 12:00 AM

What are we waiting for?

I am so angry.I am so angry I can barely type with these trembling fingers.They tremble with anger, deep anger.Israel, do it now. Attack Hamas and hezbollah now and wipe them off the face of this planet. They do not belong here, with us,with decent peaceful peoples of all nations. Squash them as you would a roach crawling on the floor.How much longer will you, Israel hold strain? How much longer will you, Israel stand by and watch them murder us until we are no more? Unleash your weapons, every single one and remind them that there will be NO MORE HOLOCAUST! NEVER AGAIN!I am sick of watching the slaughter of our people! Aren't you????Now we face annihilation and we are supposed to "hold strain"? NO! We shall not!Either we destroy them now or we can begin digging the trenches the nazis dug for our families 60 years ago.I want to live, I want my people to live.For that to happen, Israel must look into herself and realize that Hamas, iran, Syria,Hezbollah all have one agenda: to take away that life.Do it now Israel - fight to the end,until there is one victor standing, and with G-d's help,at the end, WE will be standing.G-d save us.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment