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A New Day of Mourning By: Abraham H. Miller
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Tsh’a b’Av is the Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of the ancient Jewish temples, which both fell on the same day of the calendar.  Last year, Tsh’a b’Av fell on August 14, the day Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza.  This year August 14 marked the day when Israel’s cabinet accepted the UN’s cease fire in the current war.   

Because Judaism follows a lunar calendar, Tsh’a b’Av this year fell on August 3.  I, nonetheless, believe that this year’s Tsh’a b’Av marks not only the end of the sacred temples but, with the withdrawal from Gaza and now the acceptance of the cease-fire, the beginning of the end of Israel itself. 

Einstein defined insanity as trying the same thing repeatedly and then expecting different results.  There is nothing in the peace agreement that hasn’t been tried and that hasn’t already yielded disastrous consequences for Israel.

A multi-national force already sits on the Israel/ Lebanon border under UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon).  Through UNIFIL’s watchful eyes, Hizbullah replaced Fatah as the dominant force in southern Lebanon and then built a series of strategic bunkers under homes, mosques, schools  and hospitals in order to wage war against Israel.  These bunkers were supplied with months of rations and even air conditioners. 

As Dr. Mounir Herzallah, writing in the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, (quoted by Walter Reich in the New York Sun), notes, “ Laughing, a local Sheikh explained to me that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them [from civilian locations] or if they attacked rocket depots, they would be condemned by world opinion because of dead civilians.”  

In southern Lebanon, UNIFIL watched as Hizbullah installed its ordinance in the midst of a human shield of Lebanese civilians.  The bunkers, along with civilian homes, were equipped with some twelve thousand missiles and launchers.  The Hizbullah forces that occupied the bunkers were supplied with some of the best weapons and gear Iran and Syria could muster.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL sat around and literally drank tea with Hizbullah.  In one case, UNIFIL soldiers actively participated in the kidnapping by Hizbullah forces of three Israeli soldiers from Israel on October 7, 2000. 

The UN first strongly denied and then later meekly acknowledged that UNIFIL had film that was related to the kidnappings. The UN refused numerous Israeli requests for the footage, claiming that it would provide intelligence about Hizbullah. 

The new force will involve France, a country that lacks the political will both to protect its own Jews on the streets of Paris and control its own Muslims from engaging in an orgy of riots in Paris’ suburbs. 

One of its seasoned diplomats, Daniel Bernard, referred to Israel has a “sh***ty little country,” and managed to keep his post until the French socialists were voted out of office. Next to the average sober French politician, an inebriated Mel Gibson looks like a Judeophile. 

On the eve of the implementation of the cease-fire, France has announced that it has no intention of disarming Hizbullah.

The pieces of the agreement essential to Israel’s security are unraveling even before the cease-fire begins. 

Maybe the moral clarity of France is best summed up by the fact that the first American aircraft intercepted by a missile in the current war in Iraq was brought down by a French-made Roland missile sold to Iraq during the arms embargo.  These are the allies with whom the American left wants George Bush to consult. 

But these are the people to whom Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will entrust the security of Israel.

Then, of course, there is the army of Lebanon, a military that has been molded over the last decade by Syria, a military that is forty percent Shi’ia, a military that has let Iran’s Revolutionary Guard take over its coastal radar system to destroy an Israeli warship, and a military that is seething with hatred toward Israel as a consequence of this last war.   

This is hardly a force for stability.  Given a choice between shooting a Hizballah force trying to cross into Israel and looking the other way, the Lebanese army will…?

At the same time, as France was countermanding the intent of the UN resolution concerning Hizbullah, Lebanon’s cabinet announced it too has postponed indefinitely any consideration of disarming Hizbullah.

Just weeks after Israel left Gaza, Hamas launched some forty missiles into Israel.  Years after leaving Lebanon, Israel faces not a rag-tag militia but a well-trained, well-supplied, well-fortified Iranian army, which was built up while UNIFIL was watching.

The current cease-fire is the means by which Hizbullah will come back stronger and more adept than ever.  The multi-national force will offer Israel the same protection given to the Rwandan Tutsis, and the Muslims of Srebrenica, and with the all the grace and integrity found in the administration of the Iraqi oil-for-food program. 

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a man who has castigated Israel for the faux incident at Qana and has remained characteristically silent about Hizbullah raining indiscriminate death on Israeli civilian targets, will be the ultimate arbiter of how the cease-fire is implemented.

Hizbullah will use the cease-fire to arm with new, better and longer-range rockets.  Its fighters will have learned how to build better bunkers.  Thousands of Muslim youth will flock to its banner from all over the world to achieve the glory of martyrdom.

In the next war, and there will be a next war, Hizbullah will rain death on Tel Aviv itself.  A better-armed and trained Hamas will open a second front from the south. A vulnerable Israel will find its air superiority threatened by modernized Saudi, Syrian, and Egyptian air forces.  Once Israel is bogged down in a two-front war where the IDF is put in a defensive posture, the surrounding Arab states will smell blood and react accordingly. 

Why are the Saudis buying advanced aircraft and rapidly modernizing their air force?  Is it because they fear an invasion from Yemen?  Or do they think that America would not protect the oil kingdom from Iran?   

Olmert’s continued move toward convergence, withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, will lead to a Palestinian state that will be able to import arms and build up the capabilities of its military.

The difference between Fatah and Hamas is that Fatah aspires to defeat Israel by incremental land accretion and deception.  Hamas is unwilling to even conceal momentarily its intention to destroy Israel.

Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times, believes that a culture that exports potato chips cannot defeat a culture that exports microchips.

Friedman is wrong.  A culture that is willing to die beyond another culture’s willingness to kill will always win. That is precisely how Lee Duc Tho taunted Henry Kissinger at the “secret” Vietnam peace talks in Paris—our ability to die is beyond your ability to kill us.

Olmert, sustained by liberal American Jews who believe it is better to sacrifice Israeli soldiers in the streets of Beit Jalay than carpet bomb the place, will have his peace, one reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain holding a paper fluttering in the wind with Adolph Hitler’s signature on it. 

Is there anyone who believes the UN would be calling for a cease-fire if Hizbullah were advancing toward Haifa?  

Israel can only survive by becoming what it once was, a modern version of Sparta.  Instead of yielding land for the illusion of peace, Israel needs strategic depth and a Hizbullah and Hamas so weakened that their benefactors will find it nearly impossible to resurrect them in the immediate future.

Indeed the lesson of this conflict should be equal to the lessons Israel taught Egypt in 1973:  Israel is here to stay.  War is so costly that as much as you hate us, compromise and conciliation leading to peace—however cold and repugnant—is the only way out of the cycle of bloodshed and the destruction of generations.

There is no doubt that the Islamic fanatics will be incapable of buying into that kind of outcome, but the message could give courage to more rationale players who would be unwilling to let their future be determined by those who would rather embrace death than life. 

After all, the spread of Islamic fanaticism is a relatively new phenomenon in the Middle East.  These societies are not without long traditions of political secularism.  Those currents still exist.  They need to be given an incentive to come forward.

Israel’s unmistakable defeat of Hizbullah and Hamas would provide that kind of political re-examination of the consequences of pursuing fanaticism in the Arab world.

Certainly the rubble of Germany and Japan buried fascism and imperialism and provided the buttresses for the rise of liberal democracies.  So too might have the rubble of Beirut and Gaza.

But Israel has elected leaders who don’t possess the political will, imagination, or determination to defeat their enemies. In America, liberal Jews rally for peace when they should be rallying for victory.

At the Jewish Community Center in Berkeley, Cindy Sheehan spews her leftist conspiracy theories tinted with anti-Semitism before an attentive Jewish audience. The scene is pathetically reminiscent of doomed aristocrats applauding Moliere on the eve of the French Revolution. 

The course for the destruction of the Third Temple, as the modern State of Israel has become known, was set when Jewish liberals saw Mahmoud Abbas as the answer to the crisis; when Gaza was vacated so rockets could be fired at Ashkelon, and now, with the accepting a cease fire, where the French and Lebanese have shown no interest in disarming Hizbullah. 

Indeed, in the first hours of the cease-fire Hizbullah fighters are already returning to villages from which the Israelis made them retreat.

Years from now, observant Jews will remember Tsh’a b’Av as the time to mourn the destruction of three temples, the last being the Jewish state itself.

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Abraham H. Miller is emeritus professor, University of Cincinnati. He has written extensively on the Middle East for both academic and popular venues.


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