It is incomprehensible that Islamic Jihad will not respond to our assassination of four of their leaders. In any regard, this would be expected, but we must remember that we are dealing with an honor/shame culture. There are simply questions as to when this terror entity will respond, and how extensively. IJ, a proxy of Iran, is much smaller than Hamas.
Netanyahu has made the point repeatedly that when we confront groups such as IJ, we are confronting Iran – and dealing with Iran is his main concern, has been for years.
And so, as we wait and prepare, I diverge. For there is a matter of a different sort that calls for attention, and I am going to take advantage of this opportunity – this lull — to reach out to my readers. Someone reading this might be able to help. I am not seeking funds:
My grandson’s high school yeshiva here in Israel (in the Binyamin region), is in need of another Torah. It has occurred to me that there might be a synagogue that is in a position to donate one.
Sometimes a synagogue must close its doors because of a shift in demographics and has Torah scrolls that will no longer be used. At other times, two synagogues merge and have a super-abundance of Torahs.
If you are aware of a situation in which a donation of a Torah in good condition to this yeshiva might be possible, please be in touch with me directly. Such a Torah would be far more easily transferred if it were already in Israel, but it might be possible from N. America as well.
I am eager to help not only because it is my grandson’s yeshiva, but because I have seen what a fine institution it is. Along with text study and book learning, the rabbi of this school provides lessons in character development and sensitivity to others. I have been deeply impressed.
I described an extraordinary project of this yeshiva here:
And so, I thank you for giving this matter some thought. Who knows?
Another issue I wish to touch upon here is the matter of “proportionate response.” Prime Minister Netanyahu used this term the other day in describing how Israel was ready to respond disproportionately to the Islamic Jihad attack. He meant that IJ had launched 100 rockets at Israel but we might respond with more.
While his point was well taken, his statement made me aware of the need to revisit this topic of “proportionate response” again, as we head into a conflict in which it might all become very relevant.
In previous conflicts with Hamas, there have been charges that our attacks were disproportionate: Hamas only killed one Israeli civilian with its rockets, but Israel killed 10 civilian Arabs when doing airstrikes.
Of course, there is the argument that is always made: that Israel builds shelters and works to keep its civilian population safe, while Hamas uses civilians as shields, subjecting them to risk of injury. Hamas even puts military installations, storage sites for rockets, etc. directly in civilian areas – near hospitals and schools, thus hoping Israel will be deterred from attacking or will be severely criticized if there is an attack.
While this is true, it misses the essential point: Legally, proportionality in warfare means congruence between a military goal and the means used to achieve it.
According to the Geneva Convention, “collateral civilian damage arising from military operations must not be excessive in relation to the direct and concrete military advantage anticipated from such operations.” It is a question of how much force is permissible, when collateral damage might result, in order to achieve a legitimate military goal.
In the operation to take out the three IJ terrorist leaders, 10 civilians were killed – family members of the terrorists or people who lived in the same apartment buildings as the terrorists. Much is being made of this.
But consider: All three of the terrorists who were killed already had blood on their hands. And they, in their high positions, were planning new attacks that might have killed many innocent Israelis. I note here in particular Tarek Az Aldin, who was responsible for IJ operations in Judea & Samaria and was seeking to make IJ more active in that area.
To eliminate these terrorists when the opportunity arose – and this was an extraordinary opportunity — was an entirely legitimate military goal, and the loss of 10 civilian Arabs (which loss is regretted by Israel) was not excessive to that goal.
Had the IDF said, well we don’t know exactly which apartment buildings the terrorists live in, and then proceeded to bomb entire neighborhoods in order to get them, thereby killing hundreds of innocents, this would clearly have been a disproportionate action. Of course, Israel would never do this; we do pinpoint operations – drawing on top-notch intelligence and military planning – and take extraordinary care to avoid taking innocent lives. But collateral damage does happen.
I mentioned in my last posting that fact that in times of military crisis, all of Zionist Israel stands together. Here I share a tweet from Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity Party and a reserve general:
“I commend both the important action launched in Gaza yesterday night and the proactive security policy displayed in our efforts fighting terror. Israel’s security forces and the government all have my full support in any determined actions taken with the purpose of defending the citizens of Israel.” @gantzbe
Even Lapid offered words of support. It is lovely not dealing with tensions from within Israeli society and I cannot but hope, perhaps foolishly, that there might be carry-over in this regard after the hostilities with Gaza have ended.
Along with the issue of when IJ will attack comes the question of whether Hamas will join in. Right now Israel has let it be known that our fight is just with IJ if Hamas stays out of it. And Energy Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has said if Hamas gets involved, we will kill Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (pictured). Were we to accomplish that it would be fantastic. He is particularly vicious, and it is galling that he is in his current position because of a prisoner trade.
I do not believe Sinwar will be intimidated by the threat, however. He will just be certain he has good hiding places (they move around when in hiding). According to JNS, relying on a report that ran on Wednesday in Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper:
Hamas has said that “the leadership of the resistance has put all options on the table” and affirmed that “the response will be unified through the joining military of the resistance factions…and the responses will not be limited to a specific faction or a specific front, but rather all fronts are nominated to participate in the response.”
If the comment about “all fronts” is serious, it means activating the fifth column inside of Israel, as well. We’ll see… Talk is always cheap. We can assume Sinwar would be key to making these decisions.
I call the attention of American citizens, in particular, to what had been planned today (Wednesday) for the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington DC:
For the first time, there was going to be a commemoration of the “Nakba” – the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding. “Special Guest” was to be Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), an enemy of Israel who sits in Congress.
Thankfully, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA) put a stop to it. A true friend.
Many of us have recognized that US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides is not a friend. His attempts to manipulate Israeli policy, and the tone of condescension with which he has addressed the Israeli government on occasion, have not been appreciated.
Thus are we content to receive the news that after two years on the job, he is retiring, for personal reasons. Let us see who follows in his stead.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.