As military analyst Yaakov Katz wrote recently in The Jerusalem Post, “Something has changed in Israel.” Once, Israel was renowned for daring military operations like the 1972 capture of five Syrian intelligence officers, the 1976 raid on Entebbe and, even as recently as 2007, the air strike on a Syrian nuclear reactor.
Today – following the Gilad Shalit swap last month for more than 1,000 convicted Palestinian terrorists – it is perceived by many as a country that caves to the demands of its enemies.
With Iran on the verge of going nuclear, many wonder if Israel is considering a possible preemptive military strike. But is Israel the country it once was? These days it seems it can barely push back against the Obama administration’s pressure to negotiate with Hamas and return to indefensible borders. Does an Israel that seemingly surrendered to the demands of terrorists have what it takes to neutralize the looming threat of a nuclear Iran?
In addition to being the military correspondent and defense analyst for The Jerusalem Post, the aforementioned Yaakov Katz is Israel correspondent for Jane’s Defense Weekly, the international military magazine. His first book, Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War was a 2011 national bestseller in Israel and will be published in the U.S. next March.
Earlier this month at Temple Ner Maarav in Encino, California, Katz spoke on the recent world-changing upheavals in the Middle East, particularly how the so-called Arab Spring is quickly degenerating into an Islamic Winter. He discussed how dramatic developments like the Shalit exchange are impacting Israel, its national security, and its future.
The big beneficiary of the Middle East turmoil is Iran, a looming threat to Israel, which it openly promises to obliterate. The window of opportunity for an Israeli military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities is closing rapidly. Katz says such a military option is unlikely to be chosen soon.
When Katz ended his presentation to take questions, many in the audience wanted to know why Israel released more than a thousand terrorists to gain Shalit’s release. Katz deplored the message the deal sent – that terrorism and abductions are successful strategies – and said it’s time for Israel to establish a definitive policy about responses to such kidnappings, which are now sure to escalate.
Katz said Benjamin Netanyahu felt he had to make the deal for Shalit before upcoming elections in Egypt bring to power an even more anti-Israel government: “By reaching a deal now, Netanyahu clears his desk and is able to focus on Israel’s true strategic predicaments.”
An audience member asked if Israel could put forward a tougher image by adopting the death penalty for convicted terrorists. Katz noted that studies show, unsurprisingly, that capital punishment is no deterrent to Palestinian suicide bombers. As the terrorists often remind us, they love death more than we love life.
The Palestinians, Katz said, are definitely not partners in the peace process. They have one goal: to delegitimize and isolate Israel until the Palestinians get everything they want.
“The coming year will be critical for Israel,” said Katz. In 1948 David Ben-Gurion pondered the question, “How will Israel survive amid its many enemies?” That same question is relevant today. Katz says there is one national characteristic Israelis can be particularly proud of: resilience. Resilience is what has enabled Israel to defeat its enemies time and again since 1948.
Katz is confident the “same resilience will continue to ensure the greatest miracle of modern times” – Israel’s existence and future.
But will it? Is resilience enough? As Professor Steven Plaut has written, the endless war in the Middle East will end only when Israel pursues “peace through victory” and “returns to its determination to end the terror through military victory and force of arms.”
Mark Tapson is a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter. He is also a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, focusing on the politics of popular culture. This article originally appeared in slightly different form at Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com.