Israel’s Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities
The following is a report of a lecture held at Adelaide University (on 13 Nov 2019). The speakers were Boaz Ganor and Ehud Yaari.
The two speakers are experts in their fields and knowledgeable on the Geo-politics of the Middle East. What follows are my impressions and a paraphrase of some important themes. As I did not take notes, my bad for any misrepresentation. I will contact the speakers and make them aware in case they wish to add any clarification or corrections.
The Palestinian problem
Ehud Yarri placed his phone on the table and it immediately began to ping. The phone was being updated with news on the rocket attacks. This is what is currently happening in Israel:
A rather dramatic introduction to a lecture discussing threats. Solutions to the Palestinian problem were discussed. The "one state" or "one man, one vote" option was rejected as it is inevitable that demographics would eventually create a minority Jewish nation. So there is no chance of completely integrating Jew and Arab via the ballot box and democratic voting. The two state solution was also rejected. Gaza is a "state-let" and is obviously geographically separated from the West Bank. How can this entity function as an independent sovereign nation with a military? It is not politically viable, moreover, Ehud Yarri points out that corruption, patronage and dysfunction bedevils the Palestinian modus operandi. Ehud Yarri proposed walking away but offering help and a "strong embrace". It is obvious that a "strong embrace" can be interpreted in many ways. A python has a strong embrace. However, I am sure that Ehud Yarri meant it in a sympathetic fashion. His desire for real engagement and sustainable peace was (in my view) genuine. The problem is (as he admits) that when Sharon walked away from Gaza by dismantling all of the Israeli settlements in 2005 it ultimately led to the current Hamas government in Gaza. It did not lead to any detente or improved conditions for Palestinians. They are basically left stewing in their own juice in a dysfunctional enclave, supported by US subsidies. In my opinion completely disengaging is not a solution either. Ehud Yarri's reference to the occasional need to "mow the grass" was presumably in the context of the recent operations that resulted in retaliatory rocket attacks. When I mow the grass at home it does not fire rockets back at me! Suffice to say that any "solution" that perpetuates continuing low level conflict is in my view no solution. Nobody wins.
It seems then that the Israelis are weary of trying to find a Palestinian solution. The Palestinians are like a festering sore that will not heal. The opinion seems to be shared by the other Arab nations in the region. Ehud Yarri succinctly stated that the Arabs do not announce policy changes "in front of the microphone". It is obvious that there has been a shift in attitude towards Israel among many Arab nations. Yet, the Palestinian problem remains, not only in Israel but also in neighboring Jordan. While the Arab countries are becoming more friendly non-Arab states like Turkey and Iran are becoming more hostile.
However, I for one cannot blame the Palestinians. They have taken a leaf out of the Jewish play-book and played their "victim" status to perfection. The Palestinians are victims. They are the victims of their own venal leadership, victims of Geo-political strategy and victims of Zionism. Inconvenient they might be, but they will not voluntarily disappear into that long dark night. In many ways their defiant obstinacy matches that of the ancient Hebrews, who God called a stubborn and stiff-necked generation.
The Israeli Election
Ehud Yarri stated that after two elections at stalemate and with a third looming his "wet dream" was that a unity government could be formed with a rotating Prime Minister Ship. Nentanyahu could possibly take the first "turn" and delay his judicial woe by launching an appeal that could take as long as four years to reach any conclusion.
The Trump Peace
According to Ehud Yarri the Trump peace initiative would not achieve anything. Kushner et al had been made aware of the intransigence and hopeless condition of the Palestinians. Although Trump had gifted Israel the embassy and the Golan, those were mere gestures. His withdrawal from Syria and "back-down" to Iran are considered disappointing and dangerous.
The Arab Spring
The other speaker, Boaz Ganor is well connected in the counter-terrorism and intelligence worlds. He has been to the White House and met political scientist and diplomat Condoleezza Rice who was the Secretary of State under George Bush. Boaz Ganor started his discourse with a reference to the title of the talk "Vision" stating that even the prophets would have difficulty with a "vision" of Israel's future. This reminded me of Proverbs 29v.8: -
"Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he".
The nation does not keep the law like Abraham did (Gen 26:5). Their forefather Abraham kept the whole Law before it was even given! (LOL) If only they knew what that meant (John 8:39).
The discussion moved onto the subject of the "Arab Spring" the result of youthful uprisings encouraged by the internet and the desire to have democratic "freedoms" like the West. However, Boaz Ganor said that the Israeli's did not call it the "Arab Spring" but rather the "Arab Winter" because under the Muslim Brotherhood countries like Egypt became Islamic theocracies. President Barack Obama had signaled the change to the Muslim world in a speech called "A New Beginning" on 4 June 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Egypt. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood "sat in the front row". As soon as "democratic" elections were held the people voted the Brotherhood into power who proceeded to write a constitution for an Islamic theocracy based on Sharia law. As we know, the brotherhood government was overthrow and replaced by the military el-Sisi by a coup d'état in 2012.
At this point I questioned why, if the West believes in democracy, they ignored the will of the Egyptian people to elect an Islamic government. Moreover, I stated that the uprisings were not spontaneous as the neoconservatives had stated that seven countries would face regime change over a five year period. I pointed out that a hidden hand was at work in the recent Turkish coup (aligning Turkey towards Russia) and in the Saudi coup that brought MBS to power. For good measure I asked if any WMD had been found yet in Iraq (LOL). Of course, this drew an exchange of looks between the two speakers and provoked some dissembling but no real answers.
The question of Iran and Russia
Boaz Ganor (and Ehud Yarri) emphasized that Russia was not a super power and had a small economy. They stressed that Israeli military action in Syria was coordinated with Russia, that Putin has a flat in Jerusalem and that Netanyahu spends a lot of time phoning and joking with Putin and flying up and back to Sochi. Russia may not be a superpower but Putin is smart and he is a player and with a million Russian Jews living in Israel he has influence.
Hezbollah operates as Iran's proxy in Lebanon and they fired approximately 3,000 rockets at Israel over a 40 day period in 2006. Both speakers stressed that Iran now possesses GPS guided missiles that are very accurate as the Saudi oil field attack (which they blame on Iran) has demonstrated. Iran now has the capability to fire an overwhelming 3,000 rockets a day. From Israel's viewpoint the situation looks grim especially with the Iranian nuclear build up and what they consider a psychopathic leadership intent on destroying the nation.
Of course, from an Iranian perspective the situation looks entirely different as they see Israel as a colonial western outpost (aberration) and because historically Iran experienced a coup of their democratically elected government when they nationalized their oil resources they no longer trust the West. They do not want a bar of western Neo-classical economics, Anglo-Zionist capitalism or "democracy" (who can blame them?). The Persians (Iranians) are an ancient civilization, they are an industrious, clever people, who are hospitable and have for centuries entertained a Jewish religious community.
The question of war
Both speakers gauge that war is inevitable. For them it is a question of determining the correct moment when a point of "no return" in the development of a nuclear arsenal is achieved by Iran. However, the build up of conventional Iranian weaponry is also threatening.
Final public question/remark
My last question/remark evoked a response from Ehud that still remains with me and makes me sad. What I said to both speakers was that they neglected the "bigger picture" that the world was in transition from a uni-polar to a multi-polar system. Dollar hegemony was coming to an end as was US power and Neo-classical economics and Anglo-Zionist capitalism was "shaking on its foundations". Was Israel facing an existential crisis, and would the US help? Both speakers looked perturbed, Boaz Ganor denied that the coming crisis was existential but Ehud Yarri said..... In the end no one will help us. We are all alone.
The impending catastrophe is no reason for schadenfreude or a case of you reap what you sow. It is an unnecessary tragedy that haunts me and fills me with sadness. It is the time of Jacobs trouble caused by his deception and attempt at self-deliverance. You cannot rule with God until you realize that God rules. You cannot struggle with man and at the same time wrestle God. You will be forced to make supplications with strong tears and crying. Until Jacob repents and overcomes his old nature he will have no peace or security.
Your real friends are not the Christian-Zionists who encourage your bad behavior and act as your cheer leaders. They are false prophets. Your real friends are those who tell you to your face that you are wrong and need to repent. Turn back to God and accept his messiah. The messiah is not God. Neither is he another bar Kochba. He is Jesus the son of God and he invites you to join him in becoming sons and daughters. This time he comes not as a "suffering servant" but as King of Kings bearing divine authority. Make sure you are not among his enemies.
I have informed both speakers and will post any response, clarifications or corrections