Column One: The NIF and the next war
By CAROLINE GLICK The Jerusalem Post 5/02/2010
The gov't has an opportunity to clear the way for any future war to end not
only in military victory, but in political victory for Israel as well.
A regional war may well be approaching. The actions and statements of Iran
and its Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian proxies over the past week or so
indicate that this is what Israel's enemies are gunning for.
In preparing for this growing threat, Israel's leaders need to consider more
than just the military challenges it faces. They must consider the political
actors at home and abroad that limit the IDF's ability to fight to victory
and develop strategies for neutralizing those actors.
The latest developments are menacing. Last Saturday, Iran's unelected
president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to open up a new round of
hostilities on February 11. Then Wednesday, Iran launched a new missile into
space. Israeli and US missile experts claim that the missile launch signals
that Iran is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and building the
capacity to launch nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles.
Following the missile launch, Syria's president and foreign minister issued
incendiary comments threatening Israel with war. Notably, they did so the
same day the US informed Syria of its intention to send an ambassador to
Damascus for the first time in five years.
Hamas, for its part, sent barrels of explosives drifting to the Israeli
coastline - exposing new ways it can kill us. And Fatah, for its part,
decided to kiss Hamas's ring this week. Senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath's
obsequious visit to Gaza Wednesday was a graphic demonstration of Hamas's
preeminence in Palestinian society.
Then there is Hizbullah. In a speech on January 15, Hizbullah leader Hassan
Nasrallah pledged that the next war will "change the face of the region."
This may not be an exaggeration. It isn't simply that under the blind eye of
UN peacekeepers Hizbullah has replenished and expanded its arsenal to
include long-range missiles. It isn't simply that in the three and half
years since the war Hizbullah has taken control over the Lebanese
government. Hizbullah has also built up a formidable ground force. In the
event of war, these forces may be deployed as an expeditionary force inside
And if the precedent of former MK Azmi Bishara - who fled Israel after
learning that he was about to be indicted for serving as a Hizbullah agent
in the 2006 war - is any indication of Hizbullah's modus operandi, Israel
may also face Israeli Arab fifth columnists assisting Hizbullah forces
inside the country.
Assuming for the moment that the IDF and the government are prepared to
contend with these mounting military threats, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and his colleagues must take the necessary steps to withstand and
minimize the effectiveness of the far left's expected political warfare
against Israel. As the past decade has made clear, the aim of that warfare
is to delegitimize Israel's right to defend itself in order to make it
impossible for Israel to pursue the war to military and political victory.
As in the military arena, so in the political arena, Israel's foes have
grown from nuisances into strategic threats over the past decade. The
UN-sponsored Goldstone Report, which effectively denies Israel's right to
defend itself and criminalizes its military efforts to secure its citizenry
and its territory, is evidence of the gravity of the threat Israel faces as
our leaders plan for the coming war.
ON THIS latter plane, the past week has been an eventful and hopeful one.
The latest developments offer guidance for how the government must proceed
as the winds of war blow ever stronger. Late last week, the Zionist student
movement Im Tirzu published a detailed report demonstrating that 16
anti-Zionist NGOs funded by the post-Zionist New Israel Fund worked hand in
glove with the UN Human Rights Council and Richard Goldstone to bring about
the establishment of the Goldstone committee and give credibility to its
allegations that Israel committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.
According to the Im Tirtzu report, 92 percent of Israeli allegations that
Israel committed war crimes in its campaign against Hamas came from these 16
Im Tirtzu's report was prominently covered by Ma'ariv last weekend. The
media coverage provoked calls in the Knesset this week to investigate the
NIF and its operational arms in Israel, both through regular committee
hearings and perhaps through a parliamentary investigative panel.
These calls are extraordinary because they represent the first time in a
decade that the legitimacy of these NGOs has been seriously scrutinized.
Since the Palestinians began their terror war against Israel in September
2000, NIF-sponsored groups have worked steadily to intimidate political
leaders, law enforcement officials and military commanders to toe their
anti-Zionist line. In the wake of the PLO-incited riots in the Israeli Arab
sector in October 2000, the overtly anti-Zionist NIF-funded Adalah group
agitated for the formation of the Orr Commission. Charged with investigating
the police who quelled the rioting rather than the rioters whose violence
forced the prolonged closure of major highways to Jewish traffic throughout
the country, the Orr Commission had a devastating impact on the police's
morale and organizational culture.
Adalah successfully cowed the Barak government into agreeing to rules of
inquiry for the commission that denied police officers even minimal rights
of due process. They were not allowed to confront or question their
accusers. In the aftermath of the commission's public hearings - which
amounted to little more than show trials - the careers of several dedicated
officers were destroyed. As a consequence, police commanders began
curtailing their law enforcement activities in Arab villages. Everything
from illegal building to livestock theft to incitement to war against Israel
has gone uninvestigated and unpunished.
Furthermore, the Adalah-instigated and orchestrated Orr Commission empowered
the most radical voices in Israeli Arab society. Supported by Arab political
leaders, Adalah published a manifesto calling for the destruction of Israel
as a Jewish state. Bishara's suspected espionage for Hizbullah, and the
legal establishment's self-evident fear of prosecuting him for treason, are
also the direct consequence of the Orr Commission.
As for the IDF, NIF-funded organizations have played a key role in
organizing the weekly riots at flashpoints like Ni'ilin and Bi'ilin and in
the recent expansion of these riots to other places in Judea and Samaria
like Neveh Tzuf. Supported by anti-Israel activists from Europe and the US,
these riots have had a devastating impact on the IDF's morale and its
ability to defend Israeli communities.
The NIF-funded pro-Palestinian group B'Tselem provides the rioters with
video cameras with which they regularly shoot distorted footage. Their
canned films portray Israeli civilians seeking to defend themselves from the
rioters as attackers. They portray IDF soldiers trying to keep order and
protect Israeli civilians as violent bullies. B'Tselem gives these films to
its supporters in the Israel media, which broadcast them as credible footage
and demand that the IDF open investigations against its officers for
carrying out lawful orders.
On the defensive, the IDF is compelled to curtail its operations and Israeli
civilians, now demonized, are viewed as legitimate targets for terror
attacks. One recent film of the rioting outside Neveh Tzuf posted on YouTube
shows border policemen simply fleeing the scene and leaving the residents of
the community to fend for themselves.
Im Tirtzu's offensive against the NIF sparked outraged protest among the NIF's
supporters on the far left in Israel and in the US. Everyone from Ma'ariv's
in-house anti-Zionist reporters Maya Bengal and Meirav David to J Street
have piled on, attacking Im Tirtzu's financial backers and seeking to
demonize the organization by referring to it as extremist, far right,
racist, fascist, out-of-the-mainstream and all the other routine far-left
terms used to demonize Zionists.
What is most encouraging about the aftershocks of the Im Tirtzu report is
that the Left's attempts to demonize it have so far failed. Indeed, the
loudest voices calling for an investigation of NIF and its sponsored
organizations have been MKs from Kadima.
THE HARSH truth is that the main cause of Israel's poor performance in Cast
Lead and the Second Lebanon War was the Olmert government's ideological
dependence on the far left and its central contention that it is Israel's
presence in contested areas rather than our enemies' commitment to Israel's
destruction that causes wars. Owing to their allegiance to this falsehood,
Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni were unable to prosecute the wars to victory
militarily, justify the limited steps they did take to defend Israel
diplomatically, or discredit the rising chorus of Israeli NGOs arguing that
Israel had no right to defend itself politically.
Since Cast Lead, however, two important things have happened. First Kadima
was replaced by the Likud. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rightly
recognized the Goldstone Report as a strategic attack against Israel. If
Israel has no right to defend itself; if its moves to do constitute war
crimes, then Israel cannot fight, cannot win and will be destroyed. Rather
than give credence to the report, Netanyahu has made discrediting it one his
primary aims in office. And to counteract its force, among other things, for
the first time since the start of the Oslo peace process with the PLO,
Israel's government is asserting the Jewish people's right to Judea and
Beyond that, Kadima itself has changed its tune. Now in the opposition,
Kadima no longer needs to defend its rejected plan to unilaterally withdraw
from Judea and Samaria. Mahmoud Abbas's refusal of Olmert's offers to
withdraw Israelis civilians and military personnel from nearly all of Judea
and Samaria and to cede sovereignty in Jerusalem discredited the notion that
it is possible to make peace with the Palestinians. Most importantly, the
fact that Goldstone castigates Livni and Olmert as war criminals requires
Kadima to fight all forces - including the far left it previously
supported - that give credibility to Goldstone.
These developments clear the way for the Netanyahu government to take steps
to neutralize the potency of these groups. The government should move
swiftly to order the police and the IDF to enforce the law against these
groups and their allies. It must also provide the political support to
police and military commanders in the field to empower them fulfill their
orders without fear that they will be persecuted for doing their jobs.
If the government seizes the opportunity to weaken these subversive groups,
not only will it be making it clear that the political open season on Israel
is over. It will be clearing the way for any future war to end not only in
military victory, but in political victory for Israel as well.