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Posts Tagged ‘Dayan Forum’

Israel’s Security After The Oslo Agreement (Second of Two Parts)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

The following is the original text of an important lecture delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres to the Dayan Forum, Israel, on March 11, 1994 (Ambassador Zalman Shoval, presiding). It remains entirely relevant today, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s: (1) recent release of Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture;” (2) the Prime Minister’s equally incomprehensible support of one murderous terrorist faction (Fatah) against another (Hamas); and his corollary commitment to the altogether twisted cartography of a markedly one-sided “Road Map.”

Sharing the Dayan Forum podium with Professor Beres on that March day in 1994 was Major General Avihu Ben-Nun, then Israel Air Force Commander.

March 11, 1994

Formal Remarks Delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres/Tel-Aviv

(Second of Two Parts)

With respect to the recent Gulf War (1991), Israel may feel, generally, that absorbing 39 scud attacks without direct reprisal – that is, letting the Americans do the job for them – was smart. Yet it seems to me that while recognizing full well the military code constraints of that moment, that this deferral to Washington – a deferral reinforced by the demeaning acceptance of minimally-capable patriot missiles – will have longer term ill effects. I daresay this is the case even though I speak together today with the distinguished commander of the Israel Air Force, Maj. Gen. Avihu Ben-Nun.

Israel’s enemies understand Cicero. Israel does not.

What, precisely, am I suggesting? The peace process, of course, is misconceived and potentially catastrophic. Associated efforts at so-called “confidence building measures” and “security regimes” are the foolish inventions of academics, of the professors, trapped as usual in their hermetically sealed world of erroneous assumptions and political correctness. In the academic world, Cicero is not in fashion. Clichés are the rage, especially when they are well funded. Euphemisms are proper. Forthrightness is unforgivable. Incrementally, Oslo will fail; Israelis will suffer increasingly numerous and more indiscriminate terror attacks; young Palestinians will be recruited to blow up Jews as a ticket to eternal life amidst 72 virgins. What is only metaphor to the sophisticated Westerner will be altogether literal to a 17-year-old Arab boy from Jenin.

There is, of course, one more arena of prospective war, an arena of particularly great importance to Israel. I refer to Iran; especially the development of Iranian unconventional weapons and the threat of Iranian nuclear attack. This threat is becoming very real indeed. Regarding this threat, Israel has essentially two options: (1) do nothing other than rely on strategic deterrence, deliberately ambiguous or disclosed (a problem because of willingness, capability, and rationality components of a credible deterrence posture); or (2) strike preemptively against Iranian hard targets and/or associated infrastructures, a strike that would necessarily reflect the permissible use of force known as “anticipatory self defense” in international law.

Here an unfortunate synergy must be noted. Now that the “peace process” is underway, Israel’s effective capacity to preempt has already been diminished. It is true that Iran is not a part of this process, but surely the global community (a community not usually known for its good feelings toward Israel or, for that matter, toward Jews in general) would see a post-Oslo defensive strike against Iranian hard targets as evidence of continuing Israeli “aggression.”

But again, what is done is done. The only question that remains is: what is Israel to do now? I have written widely about preemption and anticipatory self-defense by Israel, with special reference to Iran.

The tactical/operational requirements of such actions are somewhat beyond my domain and can be handled more adequately elsewhere (especially by my fellow speaker today, IAF Maj. Gen. Ben-Nun). What Israel does need to keep in mind is the essential time factor. Once Iranian unconventional or even nuclear weapons are fashioned and deployed, Jerusalem’s preemption options will be severely reduced. In essence, when Iran has already “gone nuclear”, they will have disappeared.

Of course, Israel continues to place substantial hopes in ATBM (Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile) defenses, principally the Hetz or Arrow project, but the limitations of such defenses are significant and well-known, primarily because a largely “leak proof” system is required, and such a requirement is well beyond technical possibility. Moreover, the success of deterrence is entirely contingent upon assumptions of enemy rationality. Should the leadership in Iran prove willing to absorb massive Israeli counterstrikes to achieve the allegedly Islamic benefits of a first strike attack against the “Zionist cancer”, Israeli nuclear deterrence would be immobilized.

Is such Iranian willingness likely? Probably not- but are you prepared to bet the country on it? And if you are not so prepared, timely preemption by Israel emerges as the only alternative to waiting patiently for annihilation. This is the case even where preemption would succeed only partially.

Israel, like Biedermann in Max Frisch’s ominous play (“The Firebugs”), lives in a bad neighborhood. Like Biedermann, Israel can pretend that everything will be alright, that the “arsonists” will disappear on their own accord, or at least that they will be deterred from doing harm if they are indulged in their every whim and expectation. Like Biedermann, self-delusion for Israel will result in “fire,” in an assortment of harms that threaten survival and that should have been averted.

Israel must act unlike Biedermann, choosing not the path of “reasonableness” in an unreasonable region, but of determination, self-reliance and appropriate forms of forceful self-defense. Rejecting the “disassociating” professors for whom Jewish history might just as well have never happened, Jerusalem must now base its policies upon a sober awareness of what has already been and upon a full consideration of what is still possible. Should Israel choose such an awareness, as indeed it must, acknowledging protracted, even permanent conflict, the short-term will be markedly unpleasant (hasn’t it always?), but the long-term will at least remain a foreseeable possibility.

Thank you for your attention.

Copyright The Jewish Press ©, August 17, 2007. All rights reserved

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli and Middle Eastern security issues. His work is well known to Israel’s senior military and intelligence communities. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Israel’s Security After The Oslo Agreement (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The following is the original text of an important lecture delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres to the Dayan Forum, Israel, on March 11, 1994 (Ambassador Zalman Shoval, presiding). It remains entirely relevant today, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s: (1) recent release of Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture;” (2) the Prime Minister’s equally incomprehensible support of one murderous terrorist faction (Fatah) against another (Hamas); and his corollary commitment to the altogether twisted cartography of a markedly one-sided “Road Map.”

Sharing the Dayan Forum podium with Professor Beres on that March day in 1994 was Major General Avihu Ben-Nun, then Israel Air Force Commander.

March 11, 1994

Formal Remarks Delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres/Tel-Aviv

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Oslo agreement has made a bad situation for Israel even worse. Should it prove “successful,” resultant Palestinian autonomy will slowly transform itself into a Palestinian state, a condition that would be intolerable for all the already well-known reasons. Should it “fail,” Arab bitterness – paralleled to some extent by unhappiness and frustration on the Israeli Left -will accelerate the intifadah and enlarge cyclical acts of violence. This, too, will undermine Israeli security, with steadily expanding and barbarous acts of terror against Israeli women and children, again for all the well-known reasons.

Clearly, it would have been better (in Voltaire’s satirical “best of all possible worlds”) for the Oslo agreement never to have happened. It is a terrible agreement, one that will occasion terrible casualties for Israelis. But what is done is done, and (although I plan to argue differently in the coming months) cannot be undone.

Where, therefore, should Israel go from here? This is all that we can ask today.

To answer this overriding question, Israel must first decide, by itself, how seriously it wishes to endure, as a state. This may seem an almost silly bit of advice, gratuitous and perfectly obvious. After all, every Israeli seeks preservation of the Third Commonwealth. But it is time for Israelis to be reminded that states are not necessarily forever and that the Jewish State is always especially fragile.

Building Israel’s peace prospects upon erroneous assumptions of enemy reasonableness and rationality would be a misfortune. From the Arab and Iranian perspective generally, Israel is an enemy state because it is a Jewish state- period! The only step Israel could now take to reduce enemy belligerence in the face of growing Islamicization (“Palestine” and Iran in particular) would be to disappear. Right now, after Oslo, the government of Israel is, in fact, cooperating in such a suicidal step.

Significantly, the Arab and Iranian worlds have been strikingly honest in identifying their goals. They have made it clear again and again that their overall war with Israel is a war with “The Jews,” and that it is a war that will continue until all of “Palestine” is “returned.”

A good portion of the Jewish world, however, in Israel and in the Diaspora, refuses to act upon these strikingly honest expressions of belligerent intent. Instead, learning nothing from 2,000 years of a murderous history, they create their own reality – a nicely balanced, finely-tuned reality of diplomatic bargaining, negotiation and incremental settlements – and assume that Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, etc., will be grateful.

The result, of course, is predictable. Israel’s enemies call for more and more. Israel, the individual Jew in macrocosm, asks for less and less. Taken together, these calls portend a shrinking and enfeebled Israel in an expanding Islamic sea. It is not a pretty picture.

Right now, Israel reminds me very much of Gottlieb Biedermann, the cautious Swiss businessman in the brilliant play by Max Frisch, “The Firebugs.” Biedermann contends with a neighborhood epidemic of arson by implementing a series of self-deceptions. Ultimately, Biedermann invites the arsonists into his home, lodges them, feeds them a sumptuous dinner and even provides them with matches. Not surprisingly, the play ends for the protagonist (read Israel, in this parable) on an incendiary note. It also ends, predictably, with a pathetic and revolting disclaimer from an academic observer who has counseled capitulation all along. Removing a paper from his pocket, as the sky reddens from fire, the all-too-familiar “professor” disassociates himself from the calamity. He is, he exclaims, “not responsible.”

In his letters, the Roman statesman Cicero set the foundations for realist thinking in world affairs. Inquired Cicero: “For what can be done against force without force?” It is time for Israel to ask itself this same question. At one time, it already knew the answer. Today I am not so sure.

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel, in the fashion of every state in world politics, has a right to endure. With respect to Judea/Samaria/Gaza, Israel has eroded this right by itself. The ongoing territorial surrender of the “peace process” was preceded by linguistic surrender. By accepting, incrementally, the use of the term “occupied,” a term that is challenged almost nowhere in the world – it was inevitable that events would come to where they are today – in March 1994.

In this country (Israel), an academic journal – a distinguished law review – recently refused to publish an article of mine dealing with Israel’s rights under international law because I did not accept that the disputed territories were “occupied.” The irony gets worse. The article was subsequently accepted by a distinguished American law review sponsored by the Jesuits. A “no” from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to a manuscript supporting Israel; a “yes” from the Catholic University of Notre Dame.

(To be continued)

Copyright The Jewish Press©, August 10, 2007. All rights reserved

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli and Middle Eastern security issues. His work is well known to Israel’s senior military and intelligence communities. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/israels-security-after-the-oslo-agreement-first-of-two-parts/2007/08/08/

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