The banal realities of Israel’s self-defence

If an enemy state or organised military group sent drones over Russia, or Britain, or France, there would not be the smallest word of dissent against the victim’s right to self-defence

Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher
On 12 October 2012 10:18

When is an act of war not an act of war? In the Middle East, that is usually when the State of Israel is the target of unprovoked aggression from some group or other hell bent on securing the Jewish state’s destruction. At least, that is how it is seen in the chancelleries of Europe and much of the rest of the world besides.

So, what to make of Hezbollah’s admission that the drone shot down over Israel by the Israeli air force earlier this week was one of its own, and that said drone had been put together from Iran-supplied materials?

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was in no doubt what to make of it. The Times of Israel quoted him as saying the following:

“Today we are uncovering a small part of our capabilities, and we shall keep many more hidden…  It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine … This is not the first time and will not be the last. We can reach any place we want [inside Israel].”

The key phrase in that construction is this: “it is our natural right…” That is a precise and accurate reflection of how Israel’s enemies have always seen the rules of the game in their decades long struggle to annihilate Israel. They are justified in doing anything to anyone in pursuit of their ambitions; if Israel puts up the slightest resistance, it is Israel that must be held to responsible for what follows.

And it is a measure of what Israel is up against in the wider world that the United Nations, the British Foreign Office, the European Union (absurdly just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), most of the world’s NGOs, and all of the world’s Islamic states have to varying degrees internalised this narrative and made it their own.

To people of goodwill – ie. none of the above  – this underlines the daily realities that Israel has to confront in securing its borders and protecting its citizens.

If an enemy state or organised military group sent drones over Russia, or Britain, or France, or China, or (your candidate here), as part of an openly stated campaign of ultimate destruction, there would not be the smallest word of dissent against the victim’s right to defend itself.

So far, Israel has held back, and I am not suggesting they should do otherwise. They have to make the hard strategic choices for themselves and their people. They know the calculus of risk better than anyone. They know what’s at stake.

But that’s the point at issue, isn’t it? How many times have we heard Israel accused of “over-reacting”, of being “disproportionate” of being its own worst enemy?

Whether it is Israel’s dealings with the Palestinian Authority, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, with any number of other terror groups, with neighbouring states, or with Iran, large sections of the Western world seem to believe that they know better than Israel how to provide for its own security.

Well, that would be true if one took their public statements at face value. The real truth is that most western states don’t ultimately believe Israel does have a right to defend itself, and that is because they are not ultimately committed to Israel’s existence in the first place, especially in so far as backing Israel gets in the way of good relations with Islamic states abroad and Muslim populations at home.

Apart from its hi-tech nature, this week’s assault on Israel’s territorial integrity by an Iranian terror-proxy is nothing especially new. But it does provide one more illustration of the dreary banality of the strategic decisions Israel confronts, day in, day out, just to keep itself alive.

Robin Shepherd is the owner/publisher of @TheCommentator. Follow him on Twitter @RobinShepherd1

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