Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A few comments on Israeli national security

I am not offering advice of any sort here, merely trying to understand what is happening.

The idea of a Jewish nation became a beacon of hope for survivors of the Holocaust fleeing Europe. The defeaters of Nazism built a great nation out of the ashes of British Palestine.

This new nation was not welcomed by its Muslim Arab neighbors. The defeaters of Nazism found themselves locked into a war for their survival. Having just been through one Holocaust, they had no interest in becoming subaltern to another culture. Unlike their Arab adversaries, the defeaters of Nazism were not afraid of the night or high technology. By mastering high technology and night assaults using light infantry, they won the wars against their intrusive Arab neighbors. Israel earned the right to live.

In an ideal world, Israel would build on this sense of security. Having convinced its neighbors that it is not going anywhere, it would promote itself as a reliable regional trading partner. One step in the right direction here is establishment of "megascale" seawater desalination plants along the Israeli coastline. Israeli plants are far more efficient than other similar operations and they make a lot of water. Ideas to turn the Negev green seem within reach with this kind of water supply.  Even if that lofty goal is not achieved, these plants could launch Israel as a major regional supplier of water. It is not hard to imagine an oil-for-water exchange where the middle eastern countries supply Israel with oil and get water in return. The possibilities seem endless.

Israeli success came at a steep price. Israel has a vast native Palestinian population. There were almost as many Muslim Palestinians as there were Israeli Jews. As the survivors of the Holocaust had no desire to be minorities in the promised land, the rights of these non-Jewish populations were severely curtailed and their lands seized without due process. A very shaky idea was put forth to justify this occupation - that the lands these non-Jews were settled on, originally belong to Jews who had been evicted by hostile powers. Therefore seizure of these lands without due process was only restoring the land to its original owners. This is shaky because there is no evidence of original title or ownership and there is no way to claim that the lands are being transferred to actual lineal descendants of the original owners. The Palestinians took to violent dissent and paid the price.

In the lands that were seized Kibbutzim set up shop. They worked hard on the land and a great many were able to eke out a living in the desert. Using advanced farming techniques, they were able to restore fertility to this lost land and a great miracle occurred in the desert. This positive development however was undone by the cost of keeping the Palestinians deprived of their natural rights. The biggest sign of the troubles within came from clashes between settlers and the Israeli Army and when several members of the Israeli national security community began to openly ask whether modern Israelis were failing to recognize the creeping shadow of Nazism on its national policies. What else could any sane person say about the ghettotization of Palestinians.

A group of Israelis began to see the Palestinian occupied territories as a lucrative real-estate opportunity. By deliberately promoting high risk property developments in Palestinian dominated areas of Jerusalem, these shady developers transferred their exposure onto ordinary pious Jewish families living in the suburbs of New York, New Jersey and Chicago. Again the idea put forth was  that Jews were merely returning to Judea and Samaria and there will be some teething problems but it will all sort out in the end. Ordinary people have uprooted their lives in US and planted themselves into the middle of the desert on this promise. The storm of unrealistic expectations this has created seems quite unmanageable to me.

I do not understand how this continued mistreatment of Palestinians will help Israel further its cause of normalization of relations with its neighbors. In that light, I wonder if Trump's weird announcement on Jerusalem is a positive development for Israeli security. It looks to me that Trump wanted to secure some cash from his patrons in certain parts of Manhattan and so he did some usual "Trumpy Stuff" to get the check but there is no real plan or followup. Meanwhile Israeli security has to cope with the prospect of anotherIntifada breaking out in the region and all the Jihad crazies in the world now have another reason to attack Israel. One could argue - they didn't really need a reason and this is true, but war fatigue was kicking into their base populations and now this has just reinvigorated them. All those Hamas guys pointing guns at each other are now pointing guns at the Israeli settlers. I am not even sure if it has helped the settlers who desperately sought some kind of international recognition.

I really can't get my head around how any of this is helping. Let me ask a stupid question - how many houses in East Jerusalem overlooking the Temple Mount will one have to sell to make up for the bill for the security of Donald Trump's visit to the area? How many helos did IDF fly on that one mission? How many IDF battalions were deployed in the city center that day? Was it really worth it? I can't say.


At 6:44 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

it is a campaign promise made by trump to move the us embassy to Jerusalem. he is full filling his promise. prolly not a wise promise considering none of our allies are doing it. but then the arabs hate us anyway so whats to lose. the palestinians famously celebrated 9-11 and we got the video of it.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger maverick said...

I don't think that is ideal from the pov of Israeli security.

Israeli security machinery is manpower limited. There are only so many people they can throw at a problem before they deem the problem unsolvable.

That is my understanding of why they have to be so aggressive with their options. They simply can't afford to have any problem exceed human resource bounds.

By and large today, the average Israeli suffers from severe war fatigue, with a wide spectrum of threats and even with a lot of high tech solutions, it is a struggle to keep up with the load.

Making nice with the neighbors does reduce the load somewhat but something like this latest fucked up thing from Trump actually probably adds load in unexpected ways.

I can't see how that would be welcome.

At 3:17 AM, Blogger maverick said...

And oh BTW, this is also true of Pakistani natsec.

Same problem, too many threats too little people to understand and classify them with appropriate priority levels.

Hence the same streak of overly aggressive behavior.

At 3:20 AM, Blogger maverick said...

India will have same problem if the democracy stops working properly. If any one group tries to push others around the collective approach used to track natsec matters will fall apart.

I suspect that is why I have reasons to be disappointed with NSA Ajit Doval's performance. He has allowed this Modi-Shah combine too much leeway. We are seeing the effects on the Eastern border, the Chinese have now positioned armor brigades across the Tsang Po. That is going to start a war.


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