Monday, July 31, 2006
1. That Hezbollah did it to entice Israel to attack Syria.
2. That with calls within Syria by religious and opposition leaders to open a front on the Golan, Syria detonated this device to show Israel that "they are around".
With the break in major air and rocket action in the north, the conversation has shifted to
In the Wall Street Journal there is an interview with Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt who seems worried about the pedestal that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is being put on:
"It is the Syrians, however, who feed Mr. Jumblatt's anxieties. As he surfs the Internet at night--a pastime for which he is known to depart early from dinner parties--he can read the mounting calls in the U.S. and at the U.N. to bring Syria into a deal to control Hezbollah. For the Druze leader, this has existential implications. It could mean a Lebanese homecoming for an Assad regime that wants his head. '
In a WSJ editorial is subtitled "The Strange new respect for
They start off: "When Bashar Assad succeeded his father, Hafez, as president of
The editorial ends with this comment:
There is one diplomatic approach to
"In order to prevail against
"No one wants to see the current conflict widen, but the worst possible outcome would be a cease-fire imposed by the world that allowed Hezbollah to survive as a potent military force. Equally bad would be a cease-fire that allows
It has to do with the fact that there are two countries in the
So why is it that everyone from the west (including the Israeli left) is so adamant on negotiating with and rehabilitating this ugly regime?
A computer program produces the names for Israeli military operations. For AI enthusiasts they ought to check out how IDF programmers gave their programs a sense of humor. After first announcing that the operation was called "Fair Wage" – our "Defense" Minister is a long-time union hack, it later changed the name to Operation Change of Direction – obviously knowing in advance that Prime Minister Olmert would change goals, tactics and pronouncements on an almost daily basis.
I went to sleep with the announcement that
The main question is why the change of heart in the
I just hope the IDF program doesn't change the name to Operation House of Cards.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
When we re-started this blog we promised to give a bit of a personal look at the situation and I wanted to update readers.
Lt. "C", George's son who is in an elite unit of the Paratroopers was supposed to start a Company Commander course the first Sunday of the war. It was delayed and C. forced his way into an active unit and was in
My own son and his friends have been unsuccessful in convincing the army to send them up north which is a good thing since those in the Central Front have been instrumental in stopping numerous terrorist attacks in the center, frustrating the Hezbollah-Hamas desire to attack the Israeli home front in the north, south and center. These troops also stopped the gang that killed Dr. Yaakobi last week.
It seems that morale is high amongst all the soldiers with the possible exception with those who have not been selected to go up north.
1. We wrote yesterday that: "In Hezbollah we have an organization that combines the 'best' of terrorism and an organized military. They have rockets and missiles instead of jets and helicopters and babies and young mothers instead of armored personnel carriers and tanks".
2. Perception is victory in a guerilla war and the perception has already been formed irregardless of the facts that may or may not be uncovered.
The tragedy of Kfar Kana where the Israeli Air Force apparently bombed a building full of civilians living next to what
The second time was last night when Condi has visited and told us that a cease fire is necessary and by the way, do you remember that we said that the status quo ante is unacceptable? Well, that still holds, but lest you thought that you be in a better condition than before Hezbollah aggression, now you must give back Shebaa Farms and agree to French troops that will protect the right of Hezbollah to rocket your northern cities when they deem it necessary.
Now, we are facing the lose of nerve a third time as Ha'aretz is sure to demand that we unilaterally stop shooting so the "world will not hate us". The Lebanese have upped the ante and we will be expected to withdraw all forces and stop shooting without having received anything in return.
For the sake of the War on Terror and for the sake of War of the North we can't let one tragedy lead to another - a victory for
Yesterday, one of the questions we asked had to do with letting the terrorists on the
The appearance of weakness on any of the three fronts will encourage our enemies on the other ones. This is one war and it must be fought as one war. Relentlessly, forcefully and with one aim in mind – victory.
Yossi Beilin on the other hand, thinks that not only should we reward Hezbollah for their agrression, but Syria, too. He thinks that we should reward Assad, Jr. by opening negotiations with him - meaning, negotiate to return all of the Golan while we are at our weakest. I guess it makes sense - if we are to surrender, why not surrender to the daddy.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
2. If Bint Jbail was an objective military victory for Israel was it a subjective military victory for Hezbollah?
3. Is Condi's emergency visit to Israel tonight in order to impose a cease fire on Israel as the NY Times alludes or to present and not pressure Israel as Israel TV Channel 1 said tonight?
4. If a cease fire is imposed will this be considered Iran's first victory in its first mideast war?
5. Can we trust a French led military force to prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israel?
6. Can we trust a French led military force to prevent the resupply of Hezbollah from Syria?
7. Can we trust a French led military force to prevent the rebuilding of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon?
8. Are we being aggressive enough in the West Bank to prevent Hamas and other terrorists from re-grouping?
9. Is there any pressure from any source for Amir Peretz to resign?
10. After the first few days there was talk of a national unity government. Where has that talk gone?
Friday, July 28, 2006
In Hezbollah we have an organization that combines the "best" of terrorism and an organized military. They have rockets and missiles instead of jets and helicopters and babies and young mothers instead of armored personnel carriers and tanks.
The second organization is the Joint (American Joint Distribution Committee) which this week, with the help of the youth of Kfar Saba (including the OOS children), packed up 5,000 boxes of materials for children to play with in the shelters. That has been a major problem for parents, as you can well imagine.
Thanks to both organizations and to those who are supporting them.
The Israeli elite, from Chief of Staff to politicians to the "correct" opinion setters at the Ha'aretz editorial page have forgotten that victory in war, especially against a guerilla army is as much determined by perception as by the battle field results. One army's victory is not necessarily another's defeat. And sometimes victory is humiliation. Any sense of hesitation is taken as weakness and the Israeli delay in land operations since bloody Wednesday (and another Golani attack has been pushed off at least three days according to Golani troops) has been taken as a defeat in spite of the Chief of Staff's claim to have seriously weakened Hezbollah leadership and military capacity.
General Halutz, in his news conference yesterday, changed the "We will Win" boast of the Prime Minister in front of the Knesset last week to, essentially, "we will not lose". Whereas the original promise was to stop the rocket attacks on the north and to destroy the military capacity of Hezbollah, now the mission is to weaken their military capacity and to minimize rocket attacks.
The Arab world goes with winners – that has been obvious from the last 60 years. The myth of needing the Arabs to have pride of (even a pretend) victory in order for them to come to recognize
The Times writes: "At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.
Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.
The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington."
The government tried to turn its decisions on a limited reserve call up and no change in the scope of the war into a militarily tough stance. But the Israeli people and more important, the Arab people across the
With apologies to Teddy Roosevelt, Olmert and Peretz seem to "talk loudly and carry a small (but noisy) twig".
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Our second trip up north (pictures below), this time to Sefad and Hatzor Haglilit made its way up the Coastal Highway to Hadera and on through Wadi Ara and Afula until we took a pit stop at the perfectly timed Tzomet Golani. If you have stayed at Kibbutz Lavi or traveled to Tiberius from the west, you have passed through that famous Israeli crossroads.
From there one group went to Qiryat Shemona and the other (us) to Sefad through Rosh Pina. We arrived at around to empty streets and closed stores. I have been in Sefad in the dead of winter when there are no tourists at all, but it has never been as strange as this. Inns, hotels and restaurants were shuttered but in the distance we saw the smoke from a fire that was the result of this morning's katyusha attack. This is a mystical and artistic town, yet an artist and a mystic would have had a tough time coaxing the muse out of her shelter today.
We loaded up our cars, delivered boxes of food without being interrupted by sirens and blasts, although we did get to deliver food to a building that suffered a direct hit a few days ago.
Back to repack the cars run for cover from at least 5 katyushas whose blasts we counted and took our trip down to the mountain to that ever depressing town (in spite of the rustic name) Hatzor Haglilit. This town was not as empty as the others we had visited although ten minutes after we left another attack started – with no injuries.
I am not sure where this whole thing is going but the people up north are holding up particularly well. They seem to taking things with a bit of humor. Alluding to the fact that often the blasts come at the same time or even prior to the alarms, one person said that the alarms are not warnings but notices that you are survived this attack.
And congratulations to those who have donated the air conditioners for the shelters – they are a big help for them in this long hot summer.
Smoke from a morning attack
Taking a break and hoping for victory
All packed up
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Often, criticism from the press about the tactics and methodology that the IDF is using in the current war is really a criticism of the government and its directives to the IDF. Veteran military reporters (like Roni Daniel of Channel 2, as well as many others) are either veterans of the IDF themselves or good friends with many of the senior officers, or both. The officers often use them (willingly, usually) in order to get their views on the war across to the people and hopefully (from their perspective) to change the government's directives.
Here is a summary of these types of criticisms:
1. Not enough troops have been committed to each battle.
2. Not enough individual battles in the various sectors have been started.
3. The IDF is not taking enough initiative in the land battles.
4. Not enough reserves have been called up for this battle.
5. Not enough reserves have been called up in order to be able to respond quickly enough to Syrian entrance into the war either in
I don't really know which of these critiques are true and which are not, but it appears that the IDF's senior officers are not fighting the war they want to fight.
We seem to be in the midst of a difficult few days. Today's fighting is bringing bad news from the front as the fighting of Golani soldiers in Bint Jbail – the unofficial Hezbollah capital - continues and the movement of other units toward the major port city of
Golani is one of the four infantry divisions (the others being the Paratroopers, Givati and Nachal) and one known for their toughness under fire. Many of the boys who serve in Golani are there by tradition – two and now three generations of men who know the song Golani Sheli (My Golani) and who fight almost as much for unit pride as for defense of their country and people.
Golani soldiers are known as much for being rebels and undisciplined soldiers as they are for their fighting ability. They have participated in some of the most difficult battles in the country's short history and would have expected nothing less than to participate in some of the toughest battles in this war, too.
Yesterday's trip up north (pictures below), to the coastal city of
The turn into
After packing up our van with food in the main town square we were given a map and four shelters to go to. We thought this would take us just a short time, but we didn't count on being rudely interrupted by Nasrallah's katyushas. As we were searching for the first shelter on the list (Israeli road signs and directions, even the maps are often lacking in important details) we heard our first air-raid siren. Or at least the end of it.
This was our first lesson – don't drive with air conditioning on! With the air conditioner running and the radio on, you have to strain to hear the siren. We left the car in the middle of the road glanced around and finally hid under an entrance hall to a home. We waited about 5 minutes (which we later found out was about 10 minutes too little) and then started back on our way.
The first shelter was old, damp, but clean. There was only a mother and her two children there, eating lunch, as the others decided to go home to eat. She said that no one slept in that shelter as there were almost no attacks at night.
The next shelter was brand new and was organized well by the residents. A woman was making couscous for the 20-30 people there, there were one month old twins being bathed and taken care of by all the women (I am sure the mother never had so much help) and there was even a "Shelter Committee" which organized food and activities for the children. People slept in this shelter as well.
When we finished and went back to our car we sat down, put the key in the ignition and heard our next siren. We took off for the shelter and waited there about 15 minutes. Back to our car … another siren. This time, a few seconds after we entered the shelter we heard two large blasts – luckily they were at the beach on the other side of town. And before we had a chance to leave – there was a third siren – our last for the day.
After delivering food we helped in the delivery of mattresses, mostly to the poorer parts of town – where there is a mixed Jewish-Arab populace. This was a strange experience as the frustration of the situation combined with an utter distrust of everyone and everything under the best of circumstances put the four or us into the role of having to listen to yelling and screaming while deciding who would get which (limited supply) of mattresses.
And then, after 5 hours in
Empty road, traveling north on Route 4, from the Krayot to Acre.
Taking books for the kids.
Loading up in the Acre town square.
Looking out from our "safe area" in our first siren.
TV dinners in the shelter.
Twins, one month old, "enjoying" their new life underground.
Making couscous in a bomb shelter during a rocket attack.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
If I had a laptop, I would blog from up there, but since I don't, you will have to wait until I return.
1. Whatever is said on the Ha'aretz editorial page will eventually be the "accepted" opinion of the "enlightened classes" in
2. No matter their opening salvo, in the end Ha'aretz will oppose any effort of
In their latest editorial,
Ha'aretz is consistent in one thing – not in the right of people to be heard but in the right of people they agree with to be heard. If an IDF officer is quoted as criticizing a policy they don't like and he is shut up by his political bosses, Ha'aretz cries and screams about freedom of speech. When an officer however criticizes a policy they support, well – that officer then has no right to get involved in politics.
But, like all absurdities that come from Ha'aretz, this too has an element of truth. Army briefings should be hosted by the civilian Defense Minister. The problem here is that the current Defense Minister, Amir Peretz has no clue what to say. Its not that he is not privy to what is going on (after all he had to approve everything) its that he does not understand what or why the IDF is doing what they are doing. The fact that we have the equivalent of a Teamsters boss as Minister of Defense is the fault of Ha'aretz who couldn't contain their glee at having a Peace Now original in the Kirya (our Pentagon). His professional incompetence was trumped by his apparent ideological orthodoxy. The fact that there is no direct civilian control over the IDF or over their press conferences is the fault of those who brought Peretz to his current position.
Well, you reap what you sow.
Monday, July 24, 2006
We wrote earlier about the pace at which the IDF is executing its plan. From my speaking with soldiers in various units it appears that the army has adopted a character trait foreign to the Israeli personality: Patience ('savlanut'). When they look to capture a terrorist they surround the building and wait patiently until he surrenders. They enter the building only as a last resort. Usually the terrorist gives himself up or gets killed trying to escape.
With the mission of occupying, if not whole towns, then areas or neighborhoods within towns it seems that the modus operandi is similar – not that they surround a building and wait them out, but that they take there time and neutralize as many defensive barriers as is feasible before moving in. Engineering, reconnaissance and infantry units work closely together to achieve their objectives. This is a real war, not a Hollywood war and the pace must be deliberate even most of the "film" would bore your pants off.
With that said, Roni Daniel, probably the best military correspondent in Israel (he is on Channel 2) with the possible exception of the dean of military reporters, Ze'ev Schiff of Ha'aretz, has stated that he feels that since the IDF is only operating with extreme force in one region at a time that the message of overwhelming force is not getting through to Hezbollah. He feels that the IDF ought to increase the scope of operations and widen the front – and do it quickly.
The deliberateness with which the IDF is approaching this war will mean that when a place is 'clean' it is clean and it will result in fewer casualties. No one who knows much is arguing with that – the question is, should they do what they are doing on a wider scale? It could be that the general staff has been waiting for reserves to be mobilized and it could be that Chief of Staff Halutz's original plan of a war without reserves was a miscalculation.
One thing about Israeli officers of all ranks – they are always willing to change tactics midstream and the second time they usually get it right.
Who do you call?
Your Grandmother, Mother or Fiancee?
Both views though fail to recognize that unilateralism has only been successful when preceded by overwhelming force. The unilateralism that has worked ever since modern warfare has begun is that accompanied by an "unconditional surrender" in which the war was "taken" to the defeated people. One of the main reasons for the failure of the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I was not that it was imposed upon the defeated German nation but that from the perspective of the German people, the army was forced to surrender when it had no reason to do so.
The decision by allied forces not to invade the German homeland at the end of the war and to occupy its towns and cities but to make due with a signed surrender gave the wrong message to the German people: That the army was duped by the politicians. Hitler and the Nazis used this mistake by the allies to build resentment against those forces within Germany who, they claimed, "forced" the army to unnecessarily give in - mainly the Jews and the socialists.
In World War II on the other hand the German people could see with their own eyes that their military was destroyed and humiliated and their country occupied by troops of not just one, but four foreign armies – the Russian, British, French and American. The country was divided into four zones and eventually two separate countries and the humiliation of the army was total and complete.
This continued in the Yom Kippur War with the decision not to destroy the Egyptian Third Army that then General Ariel Sharon's forces had surrounded and not to continue to Damascus to cause the falling of the Syrian regime. In
So too, with our current predicament in our three front war which is a direct consequence of our strategically challenged policies. In the
When we left
If we want to act unilaterally then we must use a strategy of victory whose only end can be the unilateral surrender of enemy forces. This will require an iron political will of both the civilian and military leadership and a desire to see it through to the end. It will require the Labor Party to vote, for the first time in the last 20 years, against the wishes of Ha'aretz and the "international community". It will require Ehud Olmert and Kadima to force the issue with his coalition partners and be willing to dump them if necessary.
We can either continue to end our wars on the model of WWI and wait for the next war to erupt against a stronger, more viscous and more sophisticated enemy or we can fight for a complete, undeniable victory on the model of WWII and bring, if not peace, at least stability to our small but volatile region.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
For those of you who read this blog I am sure that you also read the ever interesting Debka File. If you read Hebrew, check out their Hebrew site for more extensive reporting. With Debka though, you have to use the common sense test when reading their stories. Everything they write has some source, its up to the reader to give it the common sense test and to see if it is real or not.
They have one story today in the Hebrew site that makes no sense at all. It speaks of "
Since Hezbollah use towns and villages in
Not only major cities like Tyre (from which most of the Haifa rockets are being launched) need to be taken and searched, but the little towns that dot the region south of the Litani River need to be taken one by one.
If there is disappointment at the pace of the Israeli military mission it is probably that it is going so well and at the pace that the IDF and the Hezbollah has determined.
After much consideration I have decided to re-open my blog in order to write and report about the three front war
I live in town called Kfar Saba, about 15 miles northeast of Tel-Aviv, population around 90,000 which finds itself nestled between the wealthy Anglicized Ra'anana to the west and Qalqilya, the Palestinian town which has the dubious distinction of being the first town to elect a mayor from Hamas, to the east. Kfar Saba was a border town before 1967 and a major contributor to the Qalqilya economy from 1967 until the "first intafada" in the 1980's. We are now however counting on our proximity to that Hamas stronghold to keep Hizballah missiles out of our town, should they decide to threaten the center of the country. But one never knows. We have opened the bomb shelter in our building just in case.
Of my four children, one serves in the Israeli Army (IDF). He is in a special forces unit that specializes in anti-terror and urban warfare and is stationed in
My good friend, former commenter here and fellow Anglo-Kfar
I have a lot of complaints about the educational system here in
I will try to keep these posts from getting too sentimental but pardon me here: War hits home here very quickly. We receive calls from friends concerned about our son and make calls to others. Of the 15 soldiers killed in action in
We wrote in the past that