Where is world outrage at Syrian and Iranian threats against Israel?

Via Honest Reporting. Click to enlarge

The possibilities, perils and permutations of an Allied attack on Syria in response to its chemical weapons attack have been discussed endlessly in the media as well as in Parliaments across the Western world. I addressed some of these issues here, here and here. In short, the US and the Allies are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

But one country hardly figures in all these discussions: Israel.

Whichever way the war might go, Israel is likely to bear the brunt of any response.

A Western attack on Syria could lead to either Syria, Iran or one of its proxies launching missiles at Israel in order to hurt America since Israel is viewed as both an ally and an outpost of the US.

Some of the blood-curdling threats:

The Iranian army chief warns “Zionists will burn” if the US attacks Syria.

Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi was quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 Wednesday declaring that “if the US attacks, the Zionists will burn,” and an Iranian journalist said to be close to Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly warned that Israel would “face tens of thousands of missiles.”

Taleb Ibrahim, a Syrian analyst, warned on state television that an American strike would prompt a three-front attack on Israel — by Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. A second Syrian television commentator, meanwhile, was quoted saying that “the land [of Israel] will tremble.”

An Iranian commander said that a US strike would bring about Israel’s destruction.

The Syrians themselves evidently believe that a US strike is imminent and have been taking precautions by moving their Scud missiles out of range:

At the headquarters of the army’s 155th Brigade, a missile unit whose base sprawls along the western edge of Syria’s main highway running north from the capital to Homs, rebel scouts saw dozens mobile Scud launchers pulling out early on Thursday.

Rebel military sources said spotters saw missiles draped in tarpaulins on the launchers, as well as trailer trucks carrying other rockets and equipment. More than two dozen Scuds – 11-metre (35-foot) long ballistic missiles with ranges of 300 km (200 miles) and more – were fired from the base in the Qalamoun area this year, some of which hit even Aleppo in the far north.

The base was among a list of suggested targets presented by the rebel Syrian National Coalition to Western envoys in Istanbul earlier this week, opposition sources said. Scud units, of Soviet or North Korean manufacture, are designed to be mobile and so could still be set up quickly to fire from new positions.


Assad’s forces appeared already by Wednesday to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in central Damascus, residents and opposition sources in the capital said.

In the Qalamoun area, an activist calling himself Amer al-Qalamouni told Reuters by telephone: “Most of the personnel in the base appear to have left.

He added that trailer trucks loaded with military equipment were also seen on the Damascus ring road to the south: “Either the hardware is being transported to be stored elsewhere or it will remain constantly on the move to avoid being hit,” he said.

Captain Firas Bitar of the Tahriri al-Sham rebel force, who is from the Qalamoun area but is based in a Damascus suburb, said two other missile units based near the 155th in the districts of Qutaifa and Nasiriya were also moving rockets out.

He said they could be move northwest to loyalist strongholds near Homs or further into the coastal mountain heartland of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

Opposition sources also suspected the evacuation of another missile unit based in Sahya, just south of Damascus.

However Israel is also likely to suffer the long-term consequences if the West does not respond to Syria’s chemical weapons attack on its civilians since Iran (and Syria) could interpret inaction as Western unresolve and might then feel encouraged to go forward with their nuclear plans.

Honest Reporting explains that Israel is between a rock and a hard place with Syria and there are no good solutions:

On the other hand, there is no good outcome for Israel. While the removal of Assad and the resultant clipping of Iranian and Hezbollah wings would be welcome, the prospect of an anarchic Syrian state dominated by jihadists and terror organizations right on the Israeli border is not a desirable outcome.

Israeli house which suffered a direct hit from an Iraqi Scud missile in the first Gulf War, February 1991

In contrast to the first Gulf War in 1990, when Israel suffered Iraqi scuds in silence,  this time Israel has no intention of taking any attack on its territory lying down. The IDF chief of staff warned that any attack on Israel will carry a painful price:

Against the background of a possible American strike against Syria, the Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz threatened Israel’s neighbor to the north that aggression will carry a “painful price.”

“In the case of fire directed at Israel, it’s clear to all the world’s leaders that the price will be painful and the enemy’s loss a dire one,” the chief of staff said on Thursday.


Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is “set” for an American strike in Syria and that there is no need to alter the daily routine: “We’ve decided to spread out Iron Dome (missile defense system) and our other interception units,” he said during a security consult in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu stressed that Israel is not involved in the Syrian civil war, but warned that “If anyone tries to harm the citizens of Israel, the IDF will respond mightily.”

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino also addressed the situation in Syria and said: “I want to tell all of Israel – we are prepared. I ask the citizens of Israel to not change their plans for the upcoming holidays; we will do everything necessary in order to maintain the routine and security of the people. You have someone to rely on.”

Mrs. Aussie Dave tries on a gas mask for size

In preparation for a possible Syrian strike, the IDF has deployed Iron Dome and Patriot and Arrow 3 missile batteries around Israel as well as issuing a limited number of reservists call-ups.  It has also accelerated the distribution of gas masks to all Israeli citizens, though there are shortages due to budget cuts.

From the JTA link above, it is evident that Israelis are remaining calm:

Still, the IDF is urging calm and says the chances of a Syrian attack are low. An IDF source told JTA that the Home Front Command has not issued any special instructions to civilians and that “what you’re seeing now is a response from the public.”

“Right now there isn’t any sense of panic,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. “There isn’t a freakishly high concern. Everybody is relatively calm. If it was clear that there could be a chance that something would happen, we’d see the consequences of that in terms of Home Front Command instructions to the public.”

Daila Amos, a spokesperson for the Golan Regional Council, said life is continuing normally on the Golan Heights, where stray shells from the fighting across the Syrian border have fallen several times in the past year and where residents are used to a heightened troop presence.

I can attest to the relative calmness of the Israeli public from my own experience. More or less everyone I’ve met and spoken to in the last few days is more interested in doing their festival shopping for the upcoming 3-day Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) weekend next week than in shopping for provisions for a possible war.  Talk amongst my women friends in general is “what meals have you planned” or “have you seen any chickens at bargain prices?”, whereas for the men it’s “Where are saying selichot (penitential prayers) this year” or “Have you booked your seats in shul (synagogue) for Rosh Hashana?”. Of course the possibility of war is being discussed, and this might become more prevalent in the next few days, but for the moment the attitude is “Keep calm and carry on cooking”.

Calmness amongst the citizenry is a good thing, but despite this, as an Israeli and as a human being I feel outraged at the calmness, even apathy, of the international community at the blood-curdling threats being issued against Israel which is a completely uninvolved third party in this bitter war.

The Europeans have outdone themselves in their chutzpah once more by asking Israel to show restraint in the face of these mortal threats, and the gall is no less mitigated by the fact that they request restraint of Syria too. After all, Syria is the aggressor in this instance whereas Israel is a mere innocent bystander:

It was further reported that Western nations asked Israel to exercise restraint in case of an assault by Assad or other “actors” supporting him. According to the report, Israel has made it clear it will not sit idly if there will be an excessive response.

So where is the world outrage, where are the protests, at these threats against an innocent third party? An excellent editorial in the Jerusalem Post, which also appears at Sarah Honig’s blog, blasts the international community for their apathy at Israel’s plight:

There can be no passivity when potent threats are hurled at Israel from a coterie of evil powers in the context of a struggle in which Israel is uninvolved.  In a fairer existence, this very fact alone ought to have acutely unsettled the international community. But it’s almost futile to expect a modicum of fair-mindedness where Israel is concerned.

So far the anti-Israel bluster from Damascus, Tehran and Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon appear to have disturbed none of the foreign statesmen or opinion-molders, whose alacrity to condemn Israel for any perceived transgression is nothing short of remarkable. Moreover, the veiled hints from Moscow about dire repercussions for the entire region in the event of an American attack, might also imply warnings about impending punishment for Israel.


… Regardless of what eventually transpires, all Israelis should be deeply troubled by the profound indifference abroad to our lot – blameless as we are in the internecine Syrian strife. The very fact, that a neighboring state could be presumed to be held to ransom for occurrences entirely out of its control, should shock world opinion. But it does not.

Israelis might be forgiven for suspecting that the reaction would be radically different had any other country been similarly threatened for no fault of its own. Sadly we must come to terms with the likelihood that different criteria are applied to the Jewish state.

This is disconcertingly reminiscent of our extremely traumatic experience during the First Gulf War. Events then were also played out beyond the Israeli context. Nonetheless, Israel suffered repeated heavy missile attacks, including 40 Scud hits. The deadly warheads were aimed directly and unmistakably at civilian population centers.

Saddam Hussein’s raison d’être was that by targeting Israel he was hurting the US. In the view of all too many Mideastern despots and potentates Israel is nothing but an American underling. At the time there was no audible international indignation. The only American response was to advocate Israeli restraint. Indeed Israel avoided retaliation, thereby compromising its deterrence and underscoring its vulnerabilities for the sake of American interests.

But there was no gratitude for Israel’s sacrifices. Washington only pressured Israel for territorial concessions, never counted Saddam’s anti-Israeli aggression among his sins and treated Israel largely like a mistress whose favors are required but must never be publicly acknowledged.

This might well be the role which the Obama administration now wants Israel to reprise.  This is precisely the behavior which Israel must under no circumstances repeat.

This time indeed Israel has made it clear – through pronouncements by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.Gen. Benny Gantz – that this country and its inhabitants will not be pawns in the wars that others wage.


Some Assad-watchers in Israel maintain that he understands quite well that Israel of 2013 isn’t Israel of 1990. They note that it would make no sense for him to strike out against Israel because he knows that vigorous Israeli retribution would seal his fate.

The experts are right – rationally that is just so. However, we had likewise heard precisely such learned estimations immediately prior to the first American invasion of Iraq and they too sounded eminently reasonable… to us. The problem is that this region does not operate according to our logic.

The international community doesn’t operate according to our logic either, only according to its own internal logic, whereby Israel is a valid and reasonable target of Arab regimes even when it is completely uninvolved in their wars.

It’s about time that Israel’s logic – defending itself and taking preemptive action where necessary – came to the fore, including ignoring demands for restraint from the apathetic Europeans and hesitant Americans.

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29 Responses to Where is world outrage at Syrian and Iranian threats against Israel?

  1. cba says:

    Anne, did you just write “Where is world outrage at Syrian and Iranian threats against Israel?” with a straight face?

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! You’re too funny…

  2. JudyPT says:

    Syrias blustering threats to attack Israel if it is hit by coalition forces reminds me of when when you have a bad day at the office you come home and kick the innocent cat, in this case Israel is the poor cat!!

  3. NormanF says:

    Israel will probably be asked to pay the price of American attack on Syria with further unilateral concessions in the peace talks. And given Netanyahu’s character, its unlikely Israel can say “no” to American pressure to deal with its standing in the Arab World. Israel will be the heavy regardless of whether or not Syria attacks it in the future.

    • anneinpt says:

      I think – I hope! – that Israel has made it very clear this time that there will be no Israeli quid pro quo for an American attack. On the contrary. The Americans should reward US for assisting with intel and for restraining ourselves up to now.

      The first Gulf War and Israeli restraint led directly to Oslo and its nightmare repercussions. The Israeli public has no stomach for a repeat of such a scenario, so I am hopeful that your prediction is wrong.

  4. Daniel Hood says:

    I’ve also sat in Tel Aviv witnessing the unfolding chaos in utter disbelief having made aliyah from the UK a few years ago.

    The world fights; US, EU, proverbial (West) versus Syria, Iran, Russia, China (East) with Arab nations either side of the sectarian fence slaughtering each other for power. They’re slaughtering each other using any means available and have been doing so for years. To top it off chemical weapons are now being used in brazen quantities under the nose of the UN who are totally impotent against the slaughter of civilians because the Iranians, Russians and Chinese know that one day they may have to do the same. Western nations are in decline on just about every metric you can imagine, morally, socially, financially, economically, geo-politically. Everyone is fighting for energy supplies that are dwindling. Russia, China, Iran would not hesitate to use the same treatment to their own people if the power base felt threatened enough but then I’m not even sure the “West” would hesitate anymore as complex society and order breaks down due to a collapsing complex energy/debt based economy. (That’s a story in its own right)

    Israel is caught in the middle of this whirling vortex and with all the talk of destruction levelled against her, being wiped out, having being threatened by Iran, Syria, Russia, that hundreds of thousands of missiles would be launched in retaliation. Yet no ackowledgement, no outcry, no condemnation, no nothing except requests not to react against such realised threats should Obama/NATO act to save face.

    Yesterday I watched the UK Parliament in session after having being recalled and a back bencher in the left wing anti Israel labour party actually had the disgrace of accusing Israel of having and using chemical weapons alongside Syria. He completely ignored the recent horrific use of chemical weapons and Sarin/Nerve gas in Syria and said I quote “What about Israel’s use of chemical weapons in Gaza?” meaning why should the spot light be on just Syria! We live in a terrifying world. One British MP went even further. George Galloway blames Israel itself for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The British Government and David Cameron were destroyed in Parliament yesterday forcing him to say the UK will not commit any forces again. Basically that’s the UK finished as an international player, completely finished. It’s almost similar to a Neville Chamberlain moment when he tried to appease and deal with Hitler. Wait…actually he cheerfully greeted Hitler and bent over backwards for him. Look how that turned out.

    Meanwhile Iran, Russia, China watch/study intently as they’re currently using Syria as one huge proxy testing ground to see how far they can push boundaries. They know that public opinion is on their side in the West and they’ve almost won the propaganda war because of inept Western politicians.

    Within this global vortex of impending chaos, Israel must take all actions to understand and thus attempt to protect itself against this onslaught and turning tide. I fear America under Obama is looking weaker and weaker and becoming more irrelevant on the world stage, her enemies sense her weakness and are winning the game of chess.

    I’m told there are more former grand masters per capita in Israel than anywhere else on earth.
    We desperately need them to study intently the complexities of chaos unfolding before our very eyes.

    Israel must now also become the Queen ready to stand guard over her King. The world must never forget why Israel was born. You just have to see the hidden panic amongst civilians at the gas mask stations over the last few days as the IDF prepares behind the scenes.

    The world is forgetting what it means to be human as society breaks down. We need leaders that have morals and that can forge a bridge between competing civilizations. If there are those intent on burning them down then as the world was forced to do with Hitler so be it. We must do what we must do.

    Power, egotistical middle aged men that lack all sense of morality (West & East) are taking us down the wrong path.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Daniel for your thoughtful and articulate comment. You’ve expressed precisely what my feelings are, and probably most Israelis.

      It was Ehud Barak who said that Israel is like a villa in the jungle, and that analogy is so precise. No words need be added to that description.

      We have to hope, to keep our faith and to pray to G-d that He will help us through this difficult time and guide our leaders to the right decisions.

    • anneinpt says:

      Daniel, see Debby’s reply to you a few comments down.

  5. Pingback: After UK intervention is voted down, only the French will ally with America?! | Anne's Opinions

  6. DavidinPT says:

    At least and at last we can see that the British have been reduced to their true proportions. They are no more important on the world stage than, say, Belgium or Denmark. So the next time some would-be plenipotentiary like Hague presumes to lecture us on whatever, all our leaders need to say to him is “Well, WhatTF are you going to do about it, and anyway just WhoTF do you think you are?”. I just wish it could be me 🙂

    • anneinpt says:

      Take a number 🙂

      Seriously, I wish your projections were correct. Instead our lily-livered leaders whimper in front of these impotent Euros and Brits, scared of their own shadow. Why don’t we stand up for our rights? It’s incomprehensible.

  7. Debby says:

    Words are words. As long as other nations only throw out sound bites of “outrage,” it’s not really a response. Those “powers” have about as much say in world events as a gossip thinks she does.

    Anne, if you look at my last post, I came to the same conclusion. There needs to be a response, but since Israel has been so deeply threatened, it’s only right that those responding give Israel a huge say in what type/level of response is used.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your response here and on the other thread Debby.

      In principle you are right that Israel should have a say in the response to Syria because of its threats against us, but on the other hand… here’s what I wrote in answer to you on the other thread:

      “Even though israel is the one that has been threatened, I think we should stay right out of it. Otherwise it will turn into a “war for Israel” – Americans will be accused of “fighting for Israel” when it should be regarded as a war for human rights and a war against WMD.

      All Israel needs to do is prepare its defences (and offensive capabilities should they be necessary) and sit tight – and our diplomats should prepare the groundwork in the UN and with other governments so that we don’t get automatically condemned when or if we take defensive or pre-emptive action.”

  8. Debby says:

    That was a most incredible response! I agree with everything you wrote and could never dream of expressing it half as well!

  9. Reality says:

    I honestly don’t believe our leaders will respond to any action or attack by any other country as the US or EU will “warn’ us what will happen ,& if we should have the gall to attack or defend ourselves we’ll be hauled before the (in) humanitarian courts for over use of weapons & not acting with restraint. How many Arab leaders have been told that if they turn up in any EU country they’ll stand trial for inhumanitarian dealings? Only the Israelis get that distinction, & because of this they’re all too scared to act as they should in order to defend us. & now off to make my final shopping list again!(at least I have control over what we’ll eat in the upcoming 3 day festival!) I sadly have no control over our elected officials. May this year be peaceful. As an aside I think every year for the last 20 or so years as we come up to sukkot(festival of tabernacles) where we spend a week eating(& some people sleeping) in a rickety booth outdoors there has always been a nuclear or chemoical threat hanging over our heads. And we’re thank G-d still here! tfu tfu tfu!

    • anneinpt says:

      I disagree. I think Israel WILL respond to an attack by Syria. We can’t afford not to.

      I’m also sure that we WILL be hauled before various international agencies and be accused of various war crimes. We’ll have to just counter-attack and/or refuse to cooperate. And of course, as you point out, it is discrimination and therefore anti-Semitism. But then we knew that all along.

      Amen to your prayers. And note that we’re also coming up to the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war.

  10. JACK STRAW says:

    poor israel…feel pity on israelis…but you have to pay a heavy price…u are only the root cause of every event in mid east…we nothing want more than you wiped out of the world map

    • cba says:

      Thanks for explaining so clearly. I’ll go drive myself into the sea right now, so the Middle East can finally live in peace.

    • Debby says:

      Jack, maybe the rest of the Middle East should show by example how it is to live in peace and prosperity. Everyone on this globe has an ethnic history of suffering loss of land and property as other ethnic groups move into an area (even here in North America, Indians lost land and were moved, European farmers lost land and were moved, Spanish lost land and were moved). There have been wars and treaties made and life moves on. You should learn how it’s done and move on in peace. Here in America, we have Spanish heritage, Mexican heritage, European heritage, Indian heritage, and a growing Asian heritage and others, and we have room for all. I don’t know where you’re from, but in America we would call someone that responds to another ethnic group with such visceral hatred as you are a racist.

    • Debby says:

      Jack Straw, is God not capable of raising nations and bringing them down? There are nations in this world that I may think are run by evil people, but there is no group of people or nation that I would innately call an enemy. You are made by God, as am I and as are the Jews, those in the Middle East, Chinese, Europeans, Africans, Americans, etc. If your main issue with Israel is that they “exist,” it seems that maybe your fight is more with God than with men.

      • anneinpt says:

        Debby, I’m afraid that logical reasoning and arguments of faith are lost on the likes of Jack Straw. At least he has stated his beliefs and intentions openly, unlike so many obfuscators who disguise their hatred as “anti-Zionism” or ‘pro-Palestinian activism”.

    • anneinpt says:

      Jack Straw, At least you’re honest. No obfuscating from you. And if you’re not the real Jack Straw MP, you’re doing a very good imitation of him.

  11. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Daniel Hood: who was the Labour MP in question? The Labour Party is not anti-Israel, although there are Labour MPs in that camp, but then there are just as many in the Conservative Party and an equivalent number in the Liberal-Democrats. And if you want more, how about the lone Green Party MP? Probably some in the SNP and Plaid Cymru as well.

    So, please name the guilty person and don’t just just damn one political party.

    Of course, if you mean George Galloway, then, whatever else he is (and he’s lots of things, most of them unpleasant), a Labour MP he isn’t.

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m pretty sure he was referring to Galloway, and of course you’re 100% correct. Galloway belongs to the Respect party if I’m not mistaken, certainly not to Labour.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        Anne, you’re certainly not mistaken. Regrettably, Respect is the one thing he neither gives nor receives. Shame, on so many counts.

  12. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Allow me to add the following from The Atlantic online edition: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/a-very-wise-decision-by-obama/279245/. Yes, I know that The Atlantic is a liberal, pro-Obama journal (and may, for that reason, be rejected outright by some commenters here), but this doesn’t necessarily negate the reasoning and conclusions involved. I believe that they need careful reading and reasoned responses.

    While I, as UK voter, have never voted Conservative in my life, and, except under extreme conditions, never would, I’m by no means certain that the decision that the UK House of Commons took the other day is correct. I’ll go further: given Russia and China’s continued active support for Assad and Syria, my reasoned response is that the situation is analogous to that of the Spanish Civil War: the fascist dictatorships (Hitler & Mussolini) were actively supporting the Francoist fascists and the West stood by its policy of “non-intervention”, thereby condemning the Republic to defeat and 40 years of fascist dictatorship.

    I have also added this comment to the article above, on the same topic.

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