by Gerald A. Honigman
Since at least Biblical times, man has been faced with a profound question:
Am I my brother’s keeper?
And, if so, to what extent?
I’ve recently learned some very disturbing news related to the recent Arab attack on civilian buses in southern Israel.
It appears that Israeli intelligence had prior knowledge of a pending attack in the general area and the likely perpetrators of it. Reports are also surfacing that some of the attackers wore Egyptian army uniforms.
Now, while it’s true that this intelligence did not pinpoint an attack on buses, it’s also true that Israeli buses have been a favorite target of Arab terrorists in the past–with hundreds of Jews (many of them children) blown apart, maimed, and wounded several years back. Just months ago, a school bus was hit by an Arab anti-tank missile, killing and wounding students.
So, if intelligence indeed warned of a pending attack, the idea that buses might very well be targets should have been on everyone’s mind–and this just isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking. Lots of innocents piled into one place equates to a preferred Arab target.
The length of the bus route posed another problem, but given the breakdown of security in the adjacent Sinai Peninsula and the rise of groups linked to al-Qaida there since the fall of President Mubarak and the growing influence of the Ikhwan in Egypt combined with continuous problems originating from the latter’s soul mates in Gaza, Israel–especially its Defense Minister, Ehud Barak–now has some painful explaining to do to the families of those slaughtered. Too often Barak is more willing to act against Jews insisting that Israel should not be confined to its minuscule ’49 armistice line sardine can existence than Arabs who specialize in disemboweling Jewish kids.
The accounts apparently state that Israel pre-stationed a limited rapid response force in the area as a result of the intelligence.
Sure enough, within the relative blink of an eye after the terrorists struck (killing, maiming, and wounding dozens), it was reported that Israel had wiped out the ringleaders of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees…which gives further credence to those reports.
The whole episode thus has a very nasty stench to it–beyond the smell of death…
Indeed, it’s the odor of the unnecessary sacrifice of innocents.
Israel had more than enough reason to have been far more vigilant regarding the security of its citizens than these recent events displayed.
With the approach of the Jewish High Holiday season, this brought to mind another more costly but similar tragic episode…the attack by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur, 1973. Israel suffered over 3,000 dead as a result–the equivalent of some 150,000 Americans.
It turned out that Israeli intelligence was very likely manipulated in October ’73 to appease the outside world which preferred that the Jews–in their sole nation virtually invisible on a world globe–act like they lived in a state the size of Russia or the United States instead and absorb a first strike before doing anything to defend themselves (not that either of those two giants would ever do anything like that given a similar situation).
Follow this account by Professor Kenneth W. Stein of Emory University in The October 1973 War: Super-Power Engagement and Estrangement and taken from ZMANIM, 84 (2003) pp. 59-69…
On the evening of October 5, Meir’s government understood definitively that the Egyptians and Syrians were prepared to attack, but “the probability of war breaking out was regarded as the lowest of the low.” When informed early the next morning that an attack would take place at 6 p.m. that day, Meir at an 8 a.m. Tel Aviv cabinet meeting with her military advisers and close Cabinet Ministers, decided not to launch a preemptive strike against either Arab Army. She told those in attendance, “Look, this war is only beginning now. We do not know how long it will take, we don’t know if we will be in dire need of ammunition, and so on. And if I know the world, if we begin, no one will give us a pin; they will say, ‘How did you know that they [the Arabs] would have attacked?’” Dayan, like Meir wanted to be sure that the Americans understood that the Israelis did not initiate the war.
Look, when you’re a mere speck of a nation and your people are outnumbered by about 200 million Arabs to some six million Jews (why am I nervous about that number ?), not including about 80 million non-Arab Iranians and other assorted Islamists as well, you cannot afford to be magnanimous or engage in wishful thinking with enemies sworn to destroy you–regardless of what the world’s assorted hypocrites threaten and say.
Given the intelligence Israel very likely had prior to the recent Arab attack, there was simply no excuse to have not gone after this and other such murderous groups in advance.
Deliberately waiting for tragedy to strike, when good intelligence indicates that disaster is pending and can be avoided, seems to border on the criminal–and I seriously hope that the families of the victims will look very closely into this.
Organizations like those which carried out the attacks have but one reason to exist–to kill Jews. Israel is thus in a state of war with them and does not need to answer to anyone in hunting down the members of such groups and sending them to Islamist Paradise in order to protect its citizens…
Israel has been pummeled by repeated rocket and missile fire from Gaza, so has had more than enough reason to retaliate in a way far more meaningful than hitting empty buildings and tunnels or some other tit-for-tat approach which Arabs simply chalk up to a cost of doing business.
Israel must once again decide to make that Arab cost of doing business so high that they reconsider their actions. And if they don’t, then the Jews must up the ante further with each new Arab attack.
What other nation would tolerate non-stop terror against its citizens before effectively acting to bring it to a halt?
Think General Colin Powell and the Powell Doctrine against America’s own enemies…
Among other things, the latter expresses that military action should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security by the intended target. The force, when thus used, should then be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy.
Note, please, there is no room for tit-for-tat here–and America is a nation 3,000 miles wide, buffered by two vast oceans, with a population well over 300 million strong.
If America needs such a doctrine, then what does Israel need given its far more vulnerable situation and the fact that, despite the whitewashers, the enemies Israel faces reject it whether it’s nine, nineteen, ninety, or nine hundred miles wide?
A nation like Israel loses when it adopts a reactive instead of proactive policy. And given the special predicament that the Jews undoubtedly face, the results of such foolishness will only bring more hardship in their wake.
Israel must act forcibly on the intelligence it receives or simply invite more atrocities against its people.
Over the last century, starting with the gift to Arab nationalism in 1922 of almost 80% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine with the creation of what would later become Jordan, the Arabs have been offered one reasonable compromise after another in their conflict with the Jews–and refused all.
Nothing short of Israel’s destruction or suicide will suffice. It is thus in a state of war simply due to its very existence and has two choices.
It can either allow Arabs to dictate the rules of the game and subsequently watch its people slaughtered and victimized; or, it can finally wise up (as it did in the past) and act in a measured–but effective–way to protect its citizens.
Jews did not wait for millennia to see the resurrection of Israel only to see meek leaders behaving like they were still stuck in the ghetto, inviting destruction yet again.
If Israel’s leaders indeed had intelligence pointing to the recent attack and did not act before the massacre was allowed to be carried out, then those leaders–whomever they are–should be held accountable.