Many in the West and in Israel have warned of a tough Iranian response and escalation into regional war in the event of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program. Close scrutiny, however, suggests that these assessments are exaggerated, with the likely Iranian response far more limited. Moreover, such overestimation serves the Iranians, providing an excellent tool for deterrence, and dilutes the goal of a credible military threat prompting the regime to agree to a diplomatic solution. This article analyzes Iran’s capabilities and the range of possible Iranian response toward Israel, including the response capabilities of Iran’s allies in the region, particularly Syria and Hizbollah. The article challenges the scenario of a regional war in the wake of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, and offers recommendations for a response to the anticipated Iranian retaliation that would reduce the likelihood of extensive regional escalation.
It is hard to believe, but this next BBC report does not seem to contain one negative word about Israel.
But on the day we visited, there was one little boy among the row of newborns who will one day have quite a story to tell. That is, if his parents ever decide to tell him.
The child’s name has to be withheld: publishing any kind of information which could identify him might put him in danger when he goes back to his home village – which is in Syria.
His mother’s name or any personal information that might identify her can’t be published either. She looked tired but happy when we met her, quick to praise the kindness of the Israeli medical staff who had treated her.
She was already in labour when she went to her local clinic in her home village in Syria – but they told her that they could not treat her.
Her worried husband knew that it was possible to get her treated in Israel – and so the couple began a dangerous race to the frontier in a country at war and a desperate race against time.
She had to be taken to a point inside Syria from where she could be seen by Israeli soldiers patrolling the fence that marks the old ceasefire line between the two countries that dates back decades.
A military ambulance then took her to hospital – she made it on time.
The humanitarian chain that got the woman from her home village under heavy shellfire to the boundary fence and then to hospital links guides in Syria to Israeli Army paramedics on the frontier, to the doctors and nurses in Tzfat.
For the woman, every step in the process worked perfectly, perhaps because it has become a well-trodden path.
She was the 177th person to make the journey to the emergency room in what has become one of the most extraordinary subplots of Syria’s agonising civil war.
Syria and Israel regard each other as enemies. A state of war has existed between them for decades.
And yet, since the first patients arrived around nine months ago, the informal system of patient transfer has become so well-established that some patients have even arrived with letters of referral written by doctors in Syria for their Israeli counterparts.
Dr Oscar Embon, the director of the Sieff Hospital, says simply: “Some beautiful relationships have started between the staff at the hospital and the people that we treat. Most of them express their gratitude and their wish for peace between the two countries.”
The Israelis say they are treating everyone who needs treatment. That often means women and children but it is possible that among the young men who have been patched up, there may well be fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or jihadist rebels who in other circumstances would attack Israeli targets if they could.
Dr Embon says that policy of not discriminating between the sick and the hurt is entirely consistent with what he sees as the values of his country and the ethics of his profession.
At the centre of the system is an Israeli Arab social worker who asked us to refer to him only by his first name, Faris.
He calms the fears of disoriented patients who are shocked to find themselves suddenly being treated in an enemy state.
He organises charity collections to provide them with toiletries and toothbrushes.
And he listens to their stories.
Read the whole thing.
Wow, a story that shows Israel treating hurt Syrians, and which features an Israeli Arab social worker.
ABOUT AUSSIE DAVE
“For the first time in nearly a decade we have halted parts of Iran’s nuclear program” announced a jubilant Barack Obama after the news of the just-signed Geneva six-month interim agreement with Iran.
But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not “advance their program” of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus sanctions relief to Tehran worth about $9 billion.
This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.
Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price.
With the U.S. government forfeiting its leadership role, the Israelis, Saudis, and perhaps others are left to cope with a bad situation made worse. War has now become a much more likely prospect. Shame on we Americans for reelecting Barack Obama.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned of war if Iran’s nuclear talks collapse. Ari Lieberman notes that the Party of God desperately needs the talks to succeed, and is even playing the same pipes of peace as the Obama administration. Whoda thought?
A cash infusion, the byproduct of sanctions relief, will enable Iran and Hezbollah to carry on with their pillaging.
Strangely, Nasrallah’s “anti-war,” pro-deal stance puts him in the same corner as the Obama administration. Administration officials have even adopted Nasrallah’s rhetoric, claiming that the imposition of stiffer sanctions on Iran, as contemplated by congress, would lead to war …
So we are now confronted with a bizarre situation where Hezbollah and the United States are advocating the same cause and using the same panicky language, while the French, the traditional authority figures on appeasement, are showing some backbone. If that isn’t strange enough, the leadership void created by the administration’s vacillation and appeasement has generated a peculiar realignment of realpolitik whereby the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Qataris and other Gulf nations are looking to their traditional enemy, the Israelis, to protect their security interests.
Can personal charm stop a dictator? That’s what Neville Chamberlain thought he was going to do, when he implemented Plan Z. Of course it didn’t work, and World War II happened in spite of Chamberlain’s charisma and personal likability. It was Winston Churchill, the pompous and grumpy stalwart, who actually fought the war.
In this Afterburner, Bill Whittle uses this lesson from history as an allegory to discuss how President Obama assumes he can handle foreign relations.
Raymond Ibrahim: Surreal and Suicidal Western Histories of Islam
Rereading some early history books concerning the centuries-long jihad on Europe, it recently occurred to me how ignorant the modern West is of its own past. The historical narrative being disseminated today bears very little resemblance to reality.
Consider some facts for a moment:
A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia. Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered, today casually called the “Islamic world”—including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China—much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.
Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.
In 846 Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 700 years later, in 1453, Christendom’s other great basilica, Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks, permanently.
The few European regions that escaped direct Islamic occupation due to their northwest remoteness include Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany. That, of course, does not mean that they were not attacked by Islam. Indeed, in the furthest northwest of Europe, in Iceland, Christians used to pray that God save them from the “terror of the Turk.” These fears were not unfounded since as late as 1627 Muslim corsairs raided the Christian island seizing four hundred captives, selling them in the slave markets of Algiers.
Nor did America escape. A few years after the formation of the United States, in 1800, American trading ships in the Mediterranean were plundered and their sailors enslaved by Muslim corsairs. The ambassador of Tripoli explained to Thomas Jefferson that it was a Muslim’s “right and duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”
In short, for roughly one millennium—punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with demonizing—Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.
And therein lies the rub: Today, whether as taught in high school or graduate school, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic “victims” of “intolerant” Western Christians. That’s exactly what a TV personality recently told me live on Fox News.
So here we are, paying the price of being an ahistorical society: A few years after the Islamic strikes of 9/11—merely the latest in the centuries-long, continents-wide jihad on the West—Americans elected a man with a Muslim name and heritage for president, who openly empowers the same ideology that their ancestors lived in mortal fear of, even as they sit by and watch to their future detriment.
Surely the United States’ European forebears—who at one time or another either fought off or were conquered by Islam—must be turning in their graves.
But all this is history, you say? Why rehash it? Why not let it be and move on, begin a new chapter of mutual tolerance and respect, even if history must be “touched up” a bit?
This would be a somewhat plausible position—if not for the fact that, all around the globe, Muslims are still exhibiting the same imperial impulse and intolerant supremacism that their conquering forbears did. The only difference is that the Muslim world is currently incapable of defeating the West through a conventional war.
Yet this may not even be necessary. Thanks to the West’s ignorance of history, Muslims are flooding Europe under the guise of “immigration,” refusing to assimilate, and forming enclaves which in modern parlance are called “enclaves” or “ghettoes” but in Islamic terminology are the ribat—frontier posts where the jihad is waged on the infidel, one way or the other.
All this leads to another, perhaps even more important point: If the true history of the West and Islam is being turned upside its head, what other historical “orthodoxies” being peddled around as truth are also false?
Were the Dark Ages truly benighted because of the “suffocating” forces of Christianity? Or were these dark ages—which “coincidentally” occurred during the same centuries when jihad was constantly harrying Europe—a product of another suffocating religion? Was the Spanish Inquisition a reflection of Christian barbarism or was it a reflection of Christian desperation vis-à-vis the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who, while claiming to have converted to Christianity, were practicing taqiyya and living as moles trying to subvert the Christian nation back to Islam?
Don’t expect to get true answers to these and other questions from the makers, guardians, and disseminators of the West’s fabricated epistemology.
In the future (whatever one there may be) the histories written about our times will likely stress how our era, ironically called the “information age,” was not an age when people were so well informed, but rather an age when disinformation was so widespread and unquestioned that generations of people lived in bubbles of alternate realities—till they were finally popped.
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. He wrote his master’s thesis on an early battle between Islam and the West under the direction of military historian Victor Davis Hanson.
You Really Ought to Go Home - Bill Whittle
While U.S. leaders continue pushing for war against the Syrian government, today “Al-Qaeda-linked rebels,” reports AP, “launched an assault on a regime-held Christian mountain village in the densely populated west of Syria and new clashes erupted near the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday… In the attack on the village of Maaloula, rebels commandeered a mountaintop hotel and nearby caves and shelled the community below, said a nun, speaking by phone from a convent in the village. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.”
Arabic news agency Al Hadath gives more information concerning this latest terror attack on Syria’s Christians, specifically how the al-Qaeda linked rebels “terrorized the Christians, threatening to be avenged on them after the triumph of the revolution.”
Thus al-Qaeda terrorists eagerly await U.S. assistance against the Syrian government, so they can subjugate if not slaughter Syria’s Christians, secularists, and non-Muslims — even as the Obama administration tries to justify war on Syria by absurdly evoking the “human rights” of Syrians on the one hand, and lying about al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria on the other.Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians
A little over a year ago I made the decision to move to Israel. I had many reasons both personal and professional but after four intense years in the Marine Corps including two deployments to Afghanistan, one of my main goals was to enjoy some peace and quiet.
I know this sounds to many people like either a joke or just incredible naïveté – you wanted serenity and you chose the Middle East? – but I’d been here many times and I knew that despite the screaming headlines and the rough edges, daily life in Israel can be a truly relaxing and gratifying experience.
And so it has proven to be over the eight months since I arrived. The beaches, the nightlife, the natural and man-made beauty, the friends and family – all these have provided exactly the enjoyment and peace of mind I’d hoped for. Wherever one lives it is wise to remain vigilant, but in general I walk around free of stress or any sense of personal danger.
Naturally this is only because Israel’s children stand post at every border on my behalf. This is Israel after all, an oasis of modernity surrounded by forces that can only be described as medieval and barbaric. As I write, a Western attack on Syria – and a possible retaliation against Israel – seem slightly less imminent than a few days ago. An unsettling silence has fallen here as we prepare to celebrate the Jewish New Year and mark the 40th anniversary of Israel’s Pearl Harbor. But once again I sense the subtle shadow of a vague hovering threat. We all do.
Once a year, Marines line up and walk into a gas chamber where we practice employing our gas masks in a haze of tear gas. It is not a pleasant experience and one of my happier moments was when I turned in my mask at the end of my active duty service last year. This morning, however, I found myself trying on my Israeli-issued mask, just to ensure that my training was applicable on this particular model.
Most pundits rate the odds of an unconventional attack on Israel as very low at the moment, and I rate my own need to actually use my mask at essentially zero. But I am a firm believer in preparation and judging by the droves of Israelis flocking to gas mask distribution centers in recent days, I’m not the only one.
Look, this is the Middle East. I knew the peace and quiet I’d found here was a lull between inevitable storms. I thought the winds when they next came would blow in from Iran and in a sense they are via their clients in Syria and Hezbollah. But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I was hoping for at least one full year of quiet here in Israel before I would once again find myself in a war.
Perhaps I – and all Israelis – will still get our wish for peace, for a temporary extension of the lull. But as I travel north to see family during the High Holidays, at the bottom of my pack, nestled between my swim trunks and my anxiety, I’ll be carrying my gas mask.
Political violence in Egypt has the world anxious about the country’s future, but few businesses are concerned about the Suez Canal, the 120 mile passage between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
Lloyds of London, which insures ships transiting the canal, says it is not worried about safety or operation, although maritime insurer Skuld is warning ship’s crews to be cautious, especially if they go ashore.
That’s not to say there are no issues. The curfew instituted as part of the country’s emergency law has restricted port operations in the evening, and oil prices have risen slightly risen over concerns about delays in the canal to $110 a barrel, still below a winter peak of $118. About 3% of the world’s oil supply, or 2.5 million barrels, goes through the canal every day; about 8% of global trade transits the canal.
While Egypt’s generals are basking in donated Gulf oil billions for now, the country still has a serious balance-of-payments problem that has exacerbated the economic difficulties and food shortages that provide the misery underlying the political clashes. Meanwhile, both the European Union and the United States are under increasing pressure to cut off their own aid to the country following several days of massacres.
Could the canal be closed as a negotiating ploy to extract help from Western governments increasingly leery of Egypt’s military junta? Perhaps, but Egypt probably needs the canal revenues more than it needs Western aid, and for container ships, at least, a diversion around the Cape of Good Hope probably wouldn’t result in huge delays, just higher costs.
So for now, the Suez Canal, if not Egypt’s political system, remains open.