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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Failure’

A History of ‘Evenhanded’ Failure

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to Commentary Magazine}

Among those diplomats and journalists who don’t simply blame the Arab-Israeli conflict entirely on Israel, the preferred approach is “evenhandedness.” This approach, epitomized by the “cycle of violence” cliché, holds that both sides want peace and are equally to blame for its absence. Remarkably, this view has persisted despite decades of proving wrong in ways that hurt the very countries which espouse it – as demonstrated yet again by newly released documents from the Nixon Administration.

The documents, which Amir Oren reported this week in Haaretz, include redacted versions of the CIA’s daily presidential briefings on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The agency’s cluelessness is mind-blowing.

On October 5, 1973, one day before the war began, the CIA acknowledged that “The military exercises underway in Egypt seem to be on a larger scale and are being conducted more realistically than previous ones,” but nevertheless insisted that “they do not appear to be preparations for an offensive against Israel.” The agency even dismissed an obvious danger sign as a reasonable response to fears of Israeli aggression: “Cairo may have put its air defense and air forces on alert as a precaution against an Israeli reaction to the initial phase of the exercise.”

On October 6, just hours before the war began, the CIA’s briefing was similarly disconnected from reality:

Tension along Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria has been heightened by a Soviet airlift that is in its second day. Neither the Israelis nor the Arabs seem bent on starting hostilities, but in this atmosphere the risk of clashes is greater than usual. … Both the Israelis and the Arabs are becoming increasingly concerned about their adversaries’ military activities, but neither side seems bent on starting hostilities … A military initiative at this time would make little sense for either Cairo or Damascus.

Once again, the agency seemed to view potential Israeli aggression as the main concern: “Syria’s cautious President [Hafez] Assad appears braced for a possible second blow from Israel rather than seeking revenge for his recent loss of 13 MIGs to Israeli fighters … Nevertheless, the Syrians’ fears could lead to a mobilization of their defenses, which in turn could alarm and galvanize the Israelis. Such a cycle of action and reaction would increase the risk of military clashes which neither side originally intended.”

And once again, it ignored clear danger signs, like the evacuation of Soviet dependents from Egypt and Syria. While admitting that this could be due to “fear of an outbreak of hostilities,” it optimistically suggested that instead, “The Soviets might be using the excuse of rising tensions to reduce their presence without annoying the Egyptians.”

What actually happened on October 6 is history: Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated assault on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. This had serious consequences for America, which I’ll get to shortly. But first, consider the question of why the CIA was so oblivious to the danger signs.

This can’t be attributed solely to its lack of good intelligence sources in Cairo and Damascus, though that lack is evident. First, as Oren noted, America had already received warning from someone with excellent sources in both capitals: King Hussein of Jordan. On September 25, Hussein took the extraordinary step of meeting with Israel’s prime minister, despite the countries’ lack of formal diplomatic ties, to warn that Syria and Egypt would soon attack. Israel relayed this to the White House, which informed the CIA.

Moreover, though the CIA asserted on October 5 that “the Israelis are not nervous” about the Egyptian exercise, on October 6, it acknowledged that the Israelis were now very nervous; they no longer viewed Egypt’s activity as “normal” and Syria’s activity as “defensive.” Since Israel had fought three wars with Syria and Egypt in the past 25 years and monitored its neighbors’ military activity very closely, the fact that Israel now deemed the Egyptian-Syrian activity unusual and worrying was an obvious danger sign, especially against the background of Hussein’s warning. Yet the CIA dismissed it as unimportant, blithely reiterating that “neither side” wanted hostilities and that its main concern was any Israeli move which could provoke “a cycle of action and reaction.”

The only explanation that makes sense is the one that emerges clearly from the briefings’ language: The CIA was so committed to its “evenhanded” approach, in which “neither side” wanted war, that it ignored all evidence to the contrary. Yet in reality, only one side wanted to avoid war. The other side, Syria and Egypt, was in fact “bent on starting hostilities.”

This ideological blindness ended up hurting not just Israel, but also America. Because the CIA insisted that neither side wanted war, and that the real danger was Israeli action, which could provoke a Syrian/Egyptian response, Washington exerted heavy pressure on Israel to refrain not just from launching a preemptive strike, but also even from a large-scale call-up of the reserves. This pressure might have been less effective had Israel’s own intelligence agencies not also blundered, but it nevertheless contributed to the final result: Israel ended up absorbing a two-front attack from two much larger armies without adequate forces in place to meet it. Consequently, it suffered a rout during the first few days and had insufficient weaponry left to launch a counteroffensive.

This was the height of the Cold War, and an American client was already losing to Communist forces in Vietnam; Washington couldn’t afford to have an American client lose to two Soviet clients in the Mideast as well. So Nixon ordered a massive airlift of arms, which enabled Israel to win a decisive victory.

But the airlift had two pernicious consequences. First, it inflamed tensions with America’s European allies, since European countries categorically refused to let the U.S. planes land and refuel (Portugal eventually capitulated to American pressure and permitted refueling in the Azores Islands). More importantly, it inflamed the Arab world, which responded with an oil embargo that inflicted major damage on the U.S. economy.

The oil embargo probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the airlift. The airlift might have been unnecessary had Washington not pressured Israel before the war to refrain from steps that could have helped it win quickly, like a preemptive strike or an earlier call-up of the reserves. And Washington might not have pressured Israel in this fashion had it actually understood that Syria and Egypt were “bent on starting hostilities.” But the CIA, stuck in its “evenhanded” mindset, provided policy makers with egregiously incorrect assessments. And America paid the price.

Forty-three years later, it seems the lessons still haven’t been learned. The Palestinians and Hezbollah have replaced Cairo and Damascus as Israel’s main Arab enemies (Iran is non-Arab), but the world still prates about the “cycle of violence” and insists that “neither side” wants war, no matter how many times the Arabs say otherwise. And Western countries are still suffering from their own cluelessness about the conflict’s real nature.

Evelyn Gordon

75 Children Contract Chickenpox in Williamsburg Outbreak, Failure to Inoculate Cited

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

The New York City health department this week reported an outbreak of chickenpox in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. According to the report, 75 children have been infected by the virus since March. Also, 72% of the children who were infected had not been vaccinated. The median age of these children is 3, but the report cites victims as old as 10.

Back in 2013, NYC health officials reported 30 cases of Measles — 26 in Borough Park and 4 in Williamsburg. A Health Department spokesperson said that “there have been two hospitalizations, a miscarriage and a case of pneumonia as a result of this outbreak. All cases involved adults or children who were not vaccinated due to refusal or delays in vaccination.”

Normally, Chickenpox is prevented through inoculation with the Varicella vaccine given by injection just under the skin, one dose of which prevents 95% of moderate disease cases and 100% of the severe disease. Two doses of vaccine are considered more effective than one. If given to those who are not immune within five days of exposure to chickenpox, it prevents most cases of the disease.

The problem is that by reducing the number of vaccinated children, the community at large is exposed to a greater risk. Vaccinating a large portion of the population also protects those who are not vaccinated. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine vaccination only if a country can keep more than 80% of its people vaccinated.

Jennifer Rosen, director of Epidemiology and Surveillance at the city’s Immunization Bureau, issued a release saying, “Please ensure that your patients and staff are up to date with varicella vaccine. Infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons are at risk for more severe disease and complications. Complications include pneumonia, bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissues, meningitis, encephalitis, birth defects and death.”

According to Department of Health press secretary Christopher Miller, the outbreak has been confined to Williamsburg. DOH has reached out to the Williamsburg ultra-Orthodox community with pamphlets in Yiddish it distributed at an Hatzolah health fair last Sunday, and through local Jewish schools.

According to Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, there will be a meeting Wednesday of community leaders, healthcare providers and school officials with the Department of Health to discuss bringing an end to the chickenpox crisis.


Bennett Attacks Ya’alon, Netanyahu, on Failure to Deter Hamas Terror Tunnels

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett responded on Monday to the IDF announcement of discovering yet another Hamas terror tunnel (Cleared for Release: New Terror Tunnel Into Israel Discovered) with an all out attack on the Israeli security apparatus.

“Our worst fears have come true,” Bennett said in an email statement. “Over the two years that passed since Operation Protective Edge (2014), Hamas has not been deterred from re-intensifying its efforts, as we have warned consistently.”

Bennett described Hamas as having defined “a national project to re-dig the terror tunnels reaching deep into Israeli territory. It’s been a high national goal for them, and it’s about time we internalized the idea. The aim of Hamas is to surprise us with a multi-front event of penetration, killing and kidnapping, a kind of Yom Kippur war of terror.”

Bennett insisted that the obligation of the Netanyahu government remains to provide security to the residents of the south, and to prevent such an all out attack with every means available — and not rely on the conceptual notion that Hamas is “so-called deterred.”

Finally, Bennett urged an immediate retaliatory action to follow the tunnel discovery, since said tunnel is, by definition, a Hamas violation of Israeli sovereignty.

Back in 2014, during and after the war, Bennett received much criticism for his claim that it had been he who, by his sheer perseverance, managed to sway the IDF command and the defense minister towards making the effort to discover and demolish the terror tunnels. But in November, 2014, a Channel 2 investigative report confirmed every one of the embattled rightwing leader’s assertions.

The Uvda program determined that it had indeed been Bennett who repeatedly raised the subject of the tunnels at cabinet sessions throughout the summer of 2014, while Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon objected to launching an operation against the tunnels.

“If there is anything that a person who is familiar with the protocols of the cabinet sessions can see,” journalist Ilana Dayan reported, “it is that Minister Naftali Bennett demands, again and again, to launch an operation against the tunnels, and he hears an answer that more or less repeats itself, from Defense Minister Ya’alon: the tunnel threat is one we can live with, it need not be defined as a target, at least not in this round of fighting.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau eventually let the nation know that Hamas was planning a massacre on Rosh Hashana 2014, and that those plans had been averted by the IDF ground operation that destroyed the terror tunnels. But in the summer, Netanyahu had been backing his defense minister against the annoying Bennett’s proclamations.

Nothing has changed in that respect, and the IDF and defense minister, with the PM’s backing, will likely evade the need to punish Hamas now for their newest terror tunnel.

David Israel

Today’s Syria Is Tomorrow’s Palestine

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

It’s become apparent to all that Syria is the natural Arab state. Without a strong and powerful leader, anarchy and internecine murder swiftly develops.

This is not because Arabs are primitive, though in part it is because Islam is fundamentally a violent religion. The real reason is that the Arabs are not really one people, as the root word in Hebrew “Arev” attests to. Arev translates as mixture. The Arabs are in reality a mix of distinct sects, tribes and clans who don’t really like one another. When they are supposedly unified, it is only because a strong leader temporarily suppresses their independent identities and locks them together under his strong thumb.

Arab state after state proves this to be true.

This brings us to our first obvious question about the current peace process….

1) Who does Abbas actually represent in the peace talks? While Abbas controls the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, he doesn’t control the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, as that is under control of a different group – a competing terrorist gang that not only doesn’t he speak for, but a gang who is prepared to overthrow him once conditions are right.

Abbas also doesn’t have the support of the Chamulot, the traditional clan and tribes, who despise him, and would also overthrow Abbas in a second if given the chance.

So if Israel negotiates with Abbas, when the reality is that he doesn’t represent Gaza, when he doesn’t represent the Chamulot, and in fact, since there haven’t been elections, we don’t even know if he represents the rest of the Arab citizens he rules, and he is likely to be overthrown soon, what value does his signature have?

The answer is nothing.

That brings us to the second question…

2) What will keep the “West Bank” from turning into Syria? As we pointed out above, the so-called “Palestinians” are a mixture of different religious sects, tribes and clans, and Bedouin too, who all hate each other, if God forbid, Israel were to pull out the IDF further, we will quickly see a repeat of the Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria. But this will end up as messy as Syria, when all the groups will start to kill each other to take over. The “West Bank” would quickly deteriorate, and it would be as if we had listened to Shimon Peres as his idiotic ideas to give away the Golan to Syria – pointless and dangerous.

What will stop this Syria-like collapse in the “West Bank”?

Again, the answer is nothing.

And that brings us to our third question and final question…

3) Why in the world would Abbas even want to make peace, when he knows that as soon as he does, his dead, mangled, and cannibalized carcass will be hauled through Bethlehem’s Manger Square by one of the many sects, clans, and tribes that want him dead, and will use this as an opportunity to attempt a coup?

The answer is, he does not.

Reaching peace in these peace talks is the last thing Abbas wants or needs. Ignoring for a moment that he will never obtain the terms of agreement that his cohorts and various friends and enemies are demanding, reaching a true peace agreement means his death, and no further access to his Swiss bank accounts.

For Abbas (or any other future “Palestinian” leader), nothing is better than the current situation. The continuation of the conflict provides him a lifeline (and access to his Swiss bank accounts).

What Abbas does need to get out of this, is a strengthening of his position vis a vis Hamas. The only subject of tangible value for him is the release of terrorists and baby killers.

“Palestinian” society is so sick, that the value they hold most dear, is the value of murdering Jewish babies, and those who murder Jewish women and children are their society’s heroes.

That is why releasing these baby-killers is their first and most non-negotiable demand.

That is why Abbas made it a requirement for talking peace.

Abbas expects nothing else from the talks. He wants nothing to succeed from the talks, but if he is being forced to talk, he can at least demand the one concession that he knows from experience Israel will give him that will temporarily buttress his position as the “Palestinian” leader before the talks collapse.


Israel Demands UN Meet Their Obligations on the Golan

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Following the Syrian Rebel attack on the UN base at Quneitra on Thursday, that left a Philippine and an Indian Observer injured, Austria announced they are pulling out their UN Observers from the Golan mission. The pullout will happen within the month.

The Austrian Observers make up more than a third of the contingent, and have been one of the more important countries in the mission. Japan and Croatia already pulled out their people months ago. The UN is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to find replacement troops. Fiji said they might send troops.

Israel pointed out that, once again, the UN has proven unable to fulfill their mission.

Israel thanked the Austrians for their years of service as peacekeepers, but expressed regret at the decisions, and hoped that the border situation won’t escalate further as a result. Israel added that they expect the UN to meet their obligations, as per UN Security Council Resolution 350.

If the UN fails on the Golan, the buffer zone between Israel and Syria will disappear, and Israel could easily find themselves in a situation where they may need to fight the rebels, or move troops into the buffer zone on the Syrian side, something Israel does not want to have to do.

Minister Yuval Steinintz added, that the lesson is very clear, “In any peace agreement, Israel cannot rely on international forces, but only on IDF soldiers.” He added that South Lebanon, under the UN’s watch, now has 40,000 missiles embedded there pointed at Israel. The UN did nothing to stop it.

The UNDOF troops have been in place on the Golan since May 31, 1974, following the decision of UN Security Council Resolution 350. The observers were put into place as a result of Syria trying to recapture the Golan in 1973, after losing it in 1967, and following the increase in border attacks from Syria starting in March 1974.

Shalom Bear

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-demands-un-meet-their-obligations-on-the-golan/2013/06/07/

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