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Israel on High Alert By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, June 03, 2009

At 11 o’clock Tuesday morning, Israelis heard eerie-sounding nationwide sirens for the third time this spring. The first time was on April 21—Holocaust Day. The second was on April 28—Remembrance Day, the day Israel remembers fallen soldiers.


Both of those occasions have to do with the past. The sirens on Tuesday, though, had to do with possible future—possible near-future—crises or calamities. But they all disconcertingly mingle past and future, remembrance and warning.


The sirens on Tuesday sent people to underground bomb shelters, including schoolchildren who were shown 20-minute films on what to do in case of an attack. It was part of unprecedented, week-long drills and preparations, including simulated missile strikes—both conventional and WMDs—on all parts of Israel for rescue and medical personnel.


It’s no secret to Israelis what the drills are about. As Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said Monday evening, “every citizen in the State of Israel must know that anywhere in the country, at any time, an emergency scenario can materialize, and one must know how to act…We are preparing ourselves for the most severe incident.”


Also on Monday the head of Military Intelligence’s research division, Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran “would have enough enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear bomb by the end of the year,” and that “the Iranian clock is ticking faster than the clock of international dialogue.” Or as Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi recently told the same committee, “There is a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran which will undoubtedly fail….”


The situation regarding the Iranian allies and proxies that surround Israel is no more reassuring. Hamas in Gaza, Baidatz reported, is “successfully continuing the smuggling,” while Hezbollah in Lebanon “has deployed north and south of the Litani, with missiles which could reach deep inside Israel.” It is the upcoming Lebanese elections, Baidatz said, that are keeping Hezbollah quiet for the time being—along with Tehran’s desire to retain Hezbollah for leverage in case of an Israeli strike on Iran.


As for Syria, the fourth member of the alliance, its Scud-D missiles can hit Israel anywhere with conventional, chemical, or biological warheads, and its relative passivity since the 1973 Yom Kippur War has not kept it from relentlessly building up offensive and defensive capabilities against Israel.


Finally, there is the larger geopolitical picture. It includes North Korea’s open mockery of the Obama administration with its nuclear test and threat to test-launch a missile that can reach Alaska, and Iran’s similar contemptuous defiance with its test-launch of a missile that can reach Europe. And against these stands the administration’s impotence or dogged belief in dialogue with fanatic aggressors—coupled with a mounting confrontation with Israel over the real fly in the ointment: Jewish housing in Jerusalem and other places where this administration deeply and fervently believes, if it deeply and fervently believes anything, Jews are not supposed to live.  


At such times, the sirens are redolent not only of past calamities but of the blindness and insouciance to evil that enabled them—whether the blindness, mainly, of others leading to the Holocaust, or the blindness and self-deception of Israel itself leading to a tragedy and near-calamity like the Yom Kippur War. The drills this week are testament that this time Israel—in contrast to others—is not blind nor fooling itself. It will not let Iran go nuclear, and it will contend with the threat alone if it must.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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