Israel naturally reacted with force to the provocations engineered by Iran and Syria, aimed to divert international pressure from Iran and their development of nuclear weapons. There is little doubt that Hezbollah’s offensive, directed from Iran, was meant on one hand to divert attention from an impending UN Security Council consideration of sanctions against the Teheran regime, and on the other, show Sunni Muslim jihadists that Teheran is not forsaking its "Muslim brothers" in the struggle against the "Infidel enemy."
America’s failure, under President Jimmy Carter, to deliver a painful military response to Iran’s 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Teheran, and the subsequent holding of U.S. diplomats as hostages for 444 days, emboldened Iran to initiate its covert terrorists attacks against the U.S. In 1983, the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut was blown up by Iran’s surrogates-the Hezbollah, killing 241 U.S. Marines. The same year, Hezbollah bombed and destroyed the U.S. embassy in Beirut with scores of U.S. casualties. The Iranians perceived the U.S. as a "paper tiger" following America’s hasty withdrawal from Lebanon. Washington’s lack of resolve against the Hezbollah terrorists and restraint in the face of Iranian provocations encouraged the Ayatollahs to proceed with terrorist attacks against Americans and U.S. interests worldwide including the U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Special Forces in Somalia, etc.
Similarly, Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 gave Hezbollah both a military and a political victory. Hezbollah’s takeover of positions previously held by Israel and Christian militia allied with Israel along the Lebanese-Israeli border was perceived in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region as a victory for Hezbollah. It empowered the Hezbollah both domestically within Lebanon’s political structure, and externally, as a model for Palestinian terrorists to emulate. It also served as a testament to the profitability of terrorism.
Hezbollah then challenged Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Arafat and his Palestinian Authority to reject compromise and "ending of conflict" and, instead, seek victory in an armed struggle. At the July 2000 Camp David Summit that brought President Clinton, Arafat, and Barak together, Arafat, heeding Hezbollah’s challenge, chose to launch a terrorist war against Israel - the Intifada. Hezbollah was able to tease the Palestinian "fellow Muslims and Jihadists" with their success in "driving Israel out of Lebanon" and explained that the Palestinians had even better reasons and resources to "throw the Jews out of Palestine."
The Jews of Israel did not submit or surrender to Arafat’s murderous campaign. Israel contrary to Hezbollah’s assumptions "did not crumble," instead, Israelis elected a "tough soldier" - Ariel Sharon. While Sharon initially unleashed the Israel Defense Forces on the Palestinian terrorists, he did not finish the job, in the words of former Chief-of Staff Moshe Yaalon "The Palestinians had to be made to understand that they were defeated."
Israel’s failure to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure and deal severely with the continued Hezbollah provocations since May 2000, made the current crisis inevitable. The Sharon government’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza empowered Hamas and gave it victory in the Palestinian elections of January 2000.
Sharon’s apparent ideological motivations to end Israeli "occupation" by expelling 8,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria gave the Hamas the same claim to victory that Hezbollah hailed following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
Israel, being self absorbed, and with a cultural and political milieu dominated by leftist elites, who behave as if they were in Paris, London and Manhattan, and not in the Middle East. These political and media elites, failed to understand that in the Middle East restraint invites aggression, that concessions are seen as weakness. Scandinavian countries, France, Britain or Switzerland are not faced with existential struggles and can thus afford the language of political correctness, appeasement, and unilateral concessions, Israel on the other hand, does so at its own peril.
The government of Ehud Olmert must understand that Israel’s enemies see its restraint as weakness, and the direct consequence of that has been a loss of deterrence. Both Prime Minister Sharon and his successor Ehud Olmert allowed Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and an assortment of other Palestinian terrorist groups, to fire over 1,000 Kassam rockets and mortar shells at Israel’s Western Negev communities in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel’s restraint response of firing artillery shells into empty field hardly intimidated the Palestinian terrorists…
In the final analysis we must remember the lessons of World War Two - our implacable enemies, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, were able to emerge as democracies only after their total defeat. Nazi Germany with its deadly ideology of master race and world dominance could not be brought to the negotiation table. Nor were the Western powers able to affect compromise with such an ideological enemy. Britain and France also learned that appeasement could not seduce the Nazis. Total destruction of the Nazi war machine and its state apparatus enabled us to witness a free and democratic Germany emerge.
Only the complete defeat of Palestinian terrorism and its infrastructure in the Israeli context can bring the Palestinians to the negotiation table and give peace a chance. Similarly, America must overthrow the state-sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, and perhaps Saudi Arabia if we are ever to hope for a terrorism-free world and a stable Middle East.
The current Israeli operation in Lebanon must be allowed to achieve a decisive goal - the elimination of Hezbollah - Iran’s terrorist operational arm. Otherwise, Iran’s fanatical Muslim leaders will drive the region and the world into total war. The one word the Bush Administration should refrain from using at this time is restraint. Half measures by Israel will only invite escalated aggression in the future.