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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fareed Zakaria, "Will Israel miss its moment?": There Are Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics."

- Mark Twain

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Will Israel miss its moment?," Fareed Zakaria would have us know that "Israel faces an extraordinary strategic opportunity," inasmuch as "reality" has "changed dramatically in Israel’s favor." Zakaria's evidence of this transformation:

"First, there is the disappearance of the Arab threat. From its first day in existence, Israel has faced the danger of extinction by Arab armies. This is the threat against which the Jewish state has planned, armed and trained for most of its national life. Today, it’s gone."

This is pure nonsense. As reported by Marissa Newman in a September 2014 Times of Israel article entitled "Hezbollah could advance into Israel in next war, official warns":

"A senior IDF official warned Sunday that while Hezbollah has no immediate plan to attack Israel, a minor security incident could erupt into a full-fledged war on Israel’s northern front during which the terror organization would likely try to capture swaths of the Galilee.

. . . .

According to the assessment, Hezbollah could capture the Rosh Hanikra area, including a small Israeli town near the border with Lebanon, for several hours, if Israel does not strike the group preemptively.

He said the army was working on a plan to evacuate the northern residents if need be, but warned there would be casualties on the Israeli side."

And as reported by Stuart Winer in a Times of Israel article entitled "In future war, Hezbollah will fire 1,000 rockets a day, IDF predicts":

"Outgoing Home Front Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg said that a future war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah group will include hundreds or even thousands of rockets raining down on the country every day.

. . . .

The citizens of Israel, he said, should be prepared for significant challenges. According to estimates by the Home Front Command conducted during Eisenberg’s tenure, Israel must be prepared for a 'blitz of attacks,' including 1,000-1,500 rockets falling on Israel’s home front every day."

Any such war will necessarily involve deep penetration by Israeli ground forces into Lebanon in order to stanch the firing of missiles at Israeli civilian targets. Hezbollah has received from Iran some 100,000 missiles, which can hit anywhere in Israel. Bottom line: Israel is facing a combined threat from Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran that is every bit as dire as that faced by Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War.

Continuing to explain Israel's "extraordinary strategic opportunity," Zakaria writes:

"Second, Israel’s major enemies are under greater pressure than ever before. Iran and Hezbollah are committed to defending the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria — a daunting challenge, given that Assad represents the Alawites, who account for less than 15 percent of the country. Reports vary on how costly this support has been for Tehran — the Economist has cited a $15 billion figure, which would be the equivalent of about one year’s total defense budget for Iran. Hezbollah has become bogged down in Syria, with hundreds of its fighters having died there. The Syrian conflict will likely continue to occupy and drain Iran and Hezbollah for years, a crippling problem with the price of oil having fallen, and with it, Iran’s revenue."

Fascinating. The January 3, 2015 Economist article entitled "Death of a general," cited by Zakaria, tells us:

"Without Iranian aid Mr Assad might well have fallen; more than a thousand Shia militiamen have been killed in his defence since 2012. Iran has also lost at least three generals in Syria. Syrian opposition sources claim that Iran has also spent as much as $15 billion in aid, much of it in the form of fuel, to prop up the Syrian regime."

Indeed, Assad's survival hinges upon continued support from Iran, whose finances are stretched by sanctions and a significant decline in the price of oil. Or stated otherwise, Assad's fate depends upon whether or not Obama frees up some $50 billion of frozen Iranian bank accounts as a signing bonus to Khamenei for reaching a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 by the June 30 deadline.

Once Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by Assad was a "red line." Today, it seems increasing likely that Obama will become Assad's savior, notwithstanding Assad's past use of sarin and ongoing use of chlorine against civilians.

Zakaria goes on to say:

"Of course, there is Iran’s nuclear program, though it has significantly slowed for now. Whatever the outcome of nuclear negotiations, it is worth remembering that Israel has a powerful deterrent, by some accounts as many as 200 nuclear warheads, many of them on submarines. Similarly, it has built a wall that reduced terrorist attacks against Israel to virtually zero, and its Iron Dome defense system has blunted the threat from Hamas and Hezbollah rockets."

Zakaria fails to ask whether a fanatical Iran might be willing to accept Israeli atomic retaliation, which will not destroy the whole of Iran, if it can hit Israel with one or two nuclear-tipped missiles, which will snuff out Israel's existence. Israel has "built a wall that reduced terrorist attacks"? Actually, the barrier is some 90 percent "fence." Of more importance, however, is the fact that Israel's limited number of Iron Dome batteries will be seriously challenged by a combined attack from Hamas and Hezbollah, particularly if Hezbollah begins by firing at Israel some 1,500 missiles per day.

Another outrageous claim in Zakaria's opinion piece? Zakaria states:

"So while it faces real dangers, Israel has policies to fight them with force and effectiveness. The danger for which it has no defense is that it continues to have control over Gaza and the West Bank, lands with 4.5 million people who have neither a country nor a vote."

Rubbish! In an August 14, 2014 WaPo opinion piece entitled "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates," Fareed Zakaria wrote (my emphasis in red):

"In the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, is indeed a moderate. But notice that the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank year after year — because they know full well who would win. Moderates don’t do well in an atmosphere of despair and war."

I immediately sent an email to WaPo's managing editor, Martin Baron, explaining that the Palestinian Authority had been responsible for postponing the elections. Within minutes, I had a reply from Mr. Baron, informing me that he had forwarded my email to his op-ed editor, Michael Larabee.

Michael Larabee subsequently sent me two responses. First, he told me that the matter was being checked. Later, he wrote to say that there would be a correction. Shortly thereafter, the following text appeared under the title of Zakaria's opinion piece:

An earlier version of this column erred in stating that “the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank.” The elections have been postponed by the Palestinian Authority.

Well, it now appears that Zakaria is suggesting that Israel is preventing elections in both the West Bank and Gaza. Gaza was evacuated by Israel in 2005 and is controlled by Hamas, which is entirely responsible for preventing elections there. In short, Zakaria is now attempting an end-run to again blame Israel for the absence of Palestinian elections.

Shameful! But then Zakaria knows no shame.

1 comment:

  1. Last night, it was fun to think that David Cameron's coalition building is more impossible than what Netanyahu had just faced.

    But, the Zakarias are Jew seeking sharks, who only see a 61-seat majority as blood in the water for more false J'Accuse