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Today, conventional wisdom maintains that the George W. Bush administration had been a good friend to Israel and, unlike the Obama administration, had fought mightily against the creation of a Palestinian state. With this “wisdom” in mind, I ask readers to consider the following column of mine that originally appeared in The Jewish Press in August 2007.
At this point in Israel’s problematic diplomatic agenda, there is really only one overriding policy question: Can any form of negotiation with the Palestinians,...
The Genocide Convention criminalizes not only various acts of genocide, but also (Article III) conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. For the Convention to be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the state parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the state parties (Article VIII).
Over the past several months President Obama has generally focused his attention away from the Middle East “peace process.” It is fair to ask, therefore, whether his core preferences for a settlement – carving a Palestinian state out of the still-living body of Israel and “a world free of nuclear weapons” (a world in which Israel would no longer be able to deter certain existential attacks) – still remain a matter of reasonable concern.
Sculptor Alberto Giacometti's “Man Pointing” gesticulates ominously. Emaciated, skeletal, and tormented, the iconic sculpture is an artistic expression of humankind's stalwart march toward suffering and recurring annihilation. Resembling the Swiss creator’s gaunt and unnaturally elongated figure, each of us has now become both a potential observer and a prospective casualty.
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” wrote the poet W.B. Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” Now, assembled in almost two hundred armed tribal camps politely called nation-states, all peoples – not only the people of Israel – coexist insecurely on a plainly anarchic planet. The core origins of this anarchy lie in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which put a codified end to the Thirty Years War.
In the past few years, on these pages of The Jewish Press, I have written several times about critical strategic implications of “chaos” and also of “irrationality” and “madness.” Still, I have never written about the fusion or juxtaposition of these seemingly distinct issues. However, because there are increasingly obvious and important potential interactions between them (military strategists would call such interactions “synergies,” or sometimes “force-multipliers”), I shall now examine these utterly core security matters with a view toward acknowledging their possible ways of coming together.
Rationality, Irrationality, And Madness: Core Enemy Differences For Israeli Nuclear Deterrence (Second of Three...
A "bolt-from-the-blue" CBN (chemical, biological or even nuclear) attack on Israel launched with the expectation of city-busting reprisals might not necessarily exhibit irrationality or madness. Within such an attacking state's particular ordering of preferences, any presumed religious obligation to annihilate the "Zionist Entity" could represent the overriding value.
It is time to look behind the news. Operation Iraqi Freedom is officially concluded; U.S. operations in Afghanistan are reportedly moving in a similar direction. More generically, however, debate about combat operations, strategy and tactics remains ongoing.
In strategy and law, war, terrorism and genocide are not mutually exclusive. Now, following the “Arab Spring,” even as the usual suspects maintain their explicitly genocidal threats against Israel, certain “progressive” Jews proudly lead various rallies and publications for "peace” and “democracy” in the Middle East. Such “progress,” we might learn from Roman Polanski’s film “The Pianist,” could only be fashioned upon yet another generation of Jewish corpses.
On the surface, “The Pianist” is “merely” the true tale of a talented Jewish musician, Wladyslaw Szpilman, caught up in the unfathomable depths of Nazi occupation and terror. More profoundly, of course, it is a disturbing visual microcosm of the generic human struggle between good and evil, a titanic contest that is sometimes utterly clear but at other times distressingly “gray."
President Obama continues to favor the creation of a "nuclear weapons-free world." This explicit preference is more than naive; it is also undesirable in principle. For Israel, in particular, Obama's solution could likely open the doors to unendurable enemy aggressions. However unintended, therefore, it could become an utterly Final Solution.
It would be unreasonable for Israel to draw any comfort from an argument that Iranian intentions are effectively harmless. Rather, such intentions could impact capabilities decisively over time. Backed by appropriate nuclear weapons, preemption options must somehow remain open and viable to Israel, augmented, of course, by appropriate and complementary plans for cyber-defense and cyber-warfare.
For forty years I have studied the stunningly complex problem of enemy rationality, especially in certain earlier published writings concerning the particular nuclear threat from Iran.
As only a distinctly last resort, Israel needs nuclear weapons for nuclear war fighting.
Jorge Luis Borges, the very special Argentine writer and philosopher, sometimes identified himself as a Jew. Although lacking any apparent basis in halacha, he clearly felt himself to be a kindred spirit: “Many a time I think of myself as a Jew,” he is quoted in Willis Barnstone’s, Borges at Eighty: Conversations (1982), “but I wonder whether I have the right to think so. It may be wishful thinking.”
“Everything in this world exudes crime,” says Baudelaire, “the newspapers, the walls, and the face of man.” But this “face” does not belong solely to what classic seventeenth-century international law scholar Hugo Grotius called “men of deplorable wickedness.”
Everyone who has taught international law, or written about it, knows that the idea of crisis in actually inherent in the subject. More than anything else, this crisis, this continuing or protracted dilemma, is one of efficacy, of effectiveness.
According to ancient Jewish tradition, one that certain Talmudists trace back to the time of Isaiah, the world rests upon thirty-six just men, the Lamed-Vav tzaddikim.
We have seen this movie before. Already, Herman Cain is off the front pages, but there will remain readily accessible political scandals to enjoy in the wings. Ironically, whatever the particulars of these chronic humiliations, all of them will commonly disclose far more serious shortcomings about their "audience" than about their subjects.
As the continuing flow of new missiles to Iran reveals, the Bush administration [Editors Note: This refers to first President Bush] remains committed to misconceived policies in the Middle East. Even if Israel were to yield West Bank and Gaza to create a new state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the government in Tehran would persist in its planned aggressions against the Jewish state. Altogether unconcerned with the fate of the Palestinians, this government can be satisfied only by Israel's disappearance.
Sometimes, as I have asserted from time to time in this column, seeing requires distance. Now, suffocating daily in political and economic rants from both the Right and the Left, we Americans must promptly confront a critical need to look beyond the historical moment, to seek both meaning and truth behind the news. There, suitably distant from the endlessly adrenalized jumble of current fears and concerns, we could finally understand the timeless struggle of individual against mass, of the singular person against the "crowd."