Saturday 4 April 2009

How Far Can Israel Reach?

The publication last week of the story surrounding the alleged Israeli attack on the Hamas arms convoy in Sudan has served to renew the discussion about how far Israel's reach goes. If the Sudan story has been accurately reported, Israel was able to track an arms convoy that originated in Iran bound for Gaza, and destroy it as it was travelling in Sudan before it crossed into Egypt. This act seems to have solicited a very muted response from the international community. Does this mean that the attack was justified? Does it mean that it is acceptable for a country to orchestrate an attack in another sovereign country? Is there some sort of exemption for Israel that allows it to carry out such attacks?

This is not the first time that Israel has conducted activities of this type on foreign soil. The list of Israel's foreign forays is as long as it is impressive. The list includes the rescue of Jews from Yemen in Operation Magic Carpet, the rescue of hijack hostages at Entebbe, the extraction of Jews from Ethiopia in Operation Solomon, the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, the demolition of the Syrian nuclear facility at al-Kibar not to mention the extended operation to transport a million Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel after the collapse of the iron curtain. This is a partial list of those activities that are of public knowledge. I assume that a similarly significant list exists of activities that are not of public knowledge, or of attacks that were planned and never carried out.

The establishment of the State of Israel against the backdrop of the murder of 6 million Jews during the holocaust was a clear sign to Israel's founding fathers that the world would not act to protect the Jews. It was this fact that strengthened their resolve to act in whichever way they saw fit to protect the Jews of Israel and the Diaspora. It was also this fact that gave the imperative for the establishment of the Jewish army that would not only have the support of the government to do what is needed, but would also have the ability to do so. Plato's famous quote "necessity is the mother of invention" has proved itself to be absolutely true in this case. The Israeli army has built itself into a fighting force with an international reputation, and with a track record of being able to do whatever is required in the protection of Jews around the world. This involves not only the military muscle to carry out operations, but crucially the most sophisticated intelligence network that provides the necessary information.

Whilst cooperating closely with many military forces around the world, notably that of the USA, the IDF has developed itself into an effective and independent fighting unit. This independence has ensured its ability to act as it sees fit whenever and wherever required. Israeli military industries have ensured that Israel has been able to produce its own arms, equipment, tanks, vehicles, aircraft, satellites and almost anything else required for its protection. Israel does not rely on anybody for its military needs, and requires the approval of nobody except its own government to carry out military operations.

Although the world has moved on in many respects over the past 60 years, there is still evidence of the lack of international will or ability to prevent another holocaust from happening. Genocides continue to take place at an alarming rate, and the world seems unwilling or unable to prevent them. International War Crimes Tribunals after the event are not sufficient when people are dying unnecessarily as a result of racial prejudice. I have no doubt that, as Jews, we cannot rely on the international community for our protection in a time of need. It is for this reason that the State of Israel takes upon itself the protection of Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere. If this protection requires activity beyond its own borders, and sometimes in enemy countries, Israel is unafraid to exercise its muscle. And fortunately for Jews around the world, not only does the IDF have the ability to carry out such operations, the Israeli government is willing to sanction them wherever they may be required. All of this creates some level of expectation as to how Israel may choose to react to the Iranian nuclear weapon program.

There is no doubt that military action by one country on the sovereign soil of another goes against all the principles of international law, and upsets the balance of the world order. It is equally true that the threats against Israel and against Jews the world over go against all tenets of human rights and freedom. Whilst two wrongs do not make a right, the basic survival of the Jewish people is at stake. It is for this reason that Israel will never be dictated to in terms of where she can or will operate.

Whilst Israel has a strong army, Jews all over the world will have protection. This is nothing less than they deserve.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I see that the Jews of the Diaspora are in grave danger. Most countries have passed laws punishing Antisemitic speech, but at the same time they are ignorong violent attacks agains Jews.

Jews outside of Israel generally do not have weapons to protect them, and if the police and the civil infrastructure wont protect us who will?

Anthony Reich said...

Jeff, thanks for your comment. I agree that things for Jews in the Diaspora could be better, and that the local authorities are not interested in protecting them.
It is my view that, without Israel and its army, the Jews in the Diaspora would be in a much worse position.