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Shamir’s Blunder

         Nobody really expected Israel to react to the Katyusha rockets launched from southern Lebanon that hit the northern Israeli town of Shelomi (on the morning of Jan. 8, 2008). And they were right. Israel is not going to retaliate.

 

         From the end of the War of Independence in 1949 until the Gulf War in 1991, Israel’s civilian population was out of bounds. Israel had created a balance of fear, making it clear to the world that shelling Israel’s civilian population was not an option and would lead to all-out war. When the Syrians shelled Israeli towns in 1967, Israel retaliated by conquering the Golan Heights.

 

         But in the Gulf War, under intense pressure from Israel’s Left, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir overturned two strategic principles that Israel had carefully preserved until then. The first principle was that only Israeli soldiers would be responsible for Israel’s security. The second principle was that any attack on Israel’s civilian population would be completely unacceptable. When Iraqi Scud missiles rained down on Israel’s cities, Israel opted to hide behind the broad shoulders of the American and British soldiers, moved U.S. Patriot missiles into strategic locations – and instructed its citizens to cover all windows with sheets of plastic and masking tape.

 

         Shamir enjoyed the support of the media, academia and the Left for a time. By the grace of our Father in Heaven, there were very few Israeli fatalities and nobody criticized Shamir’s strategic turnabout. No bereaved families pointed an accusing finger at the leader of the Right who had sacrificed their dear ones’ lives in vain; no reserve soldiers staged hunger strikes outside Shamir’s home; and not one Knesset member or public figure demanded that he resign. As a result, no Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate the mistakes made in that strange war.

 

         I claimed then – and even more so now – that Shamir’s blunder was even greater than Golda Meir’s in the Yom Kippur War. In the Yom Kippur War, Israel did not lose its power of deterrence. But by the end of the Gulf War, Israel found itself facing new rules. (Just ask Sderot mayor Eli Moyal for an explanation.) Israel entrusted its security to foreign armies and it soon had to pay for its mistake in hard currency. The Madrid Conference to which the Left pushed the hapless Shamir was, in effect, Israel’s unofficial doorway to recognition of the Palestine (all of it) Liberation (from the Jews) Organization. Shamir still attempted to stick to his principles and speak only with Arafat’s representatives and not with Arafat himself. But the Israeli public – justifiably – did not bother with the nuances, and elected Yitzhak Rabin to succeed Shamir. The Oslo process was on its way.

 

         Approximately 1,500 civilians have already been murdered during the Oslo process – more than all the civilian terror fatalities that Israel had suffered from the establishment of the state until that time. Oslo placed a question mark over Israel’s very right to exist. It was only a matter of time until missiles, mortars and rockets began to rain down on Israel’s towns and cities.

 

         Since Shamir’s blunder, the rest of Israel’s prime ministers have followed suit, criminally ignoring the fact that Israel’s neighbors are arming themselves with strategic missiles. They have brought Israel down on its knees, waiting for the merciful final blow: tens of thousands of conventional and non-conventional missiles that will lift off simultaneously from launchers in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza.

 

         Iran, Syria and Egypt have developed an even more elegant way to fight Israel without threatening their own civilian populations. They fight by proxy. In the north, Iran and Syria use Hizbullah to fight Israel. In the south, Egypt uses Hamas for the same purpose. Maritime weapons smuggling has become a thing of the past. The Philadelphi Route that Israel abandoned when it withdrew from Gaza is wide open and the entire region is flooded with high trajectory missiles. Israel knows that any serious military incursion into Gaza will trigger a steady barrage of missiles on Be’er Sheva and Ashdod – and possibly a simultaneous round of missiles on the north.

 

         Ultimately, Israel will have no choice but to restore the power of deterrence that it lost in the Gulf War. But in the meantime, Israel has a two-pronged strategy for dealing with the threat to its existence. First, it rolled out the red carpet for the American president so that he will be kind enough to protect Israel after it surrenders Jerusalem. Second, it has provided its citizens with a glossy pamphlet explaining which room to hide in when the missiles strike.

 

         To learn more about Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), and to order Feiglin’s newest book, The War of Dreams, visit http://www.jewishisrael.org/.

About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.


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