Guest Post: If It’s darkest just before the dawn, why is it so light out there?

This is another guest post by Brian Goldfarb, who casts his characteristically optimistic  worldview on recent events and shows us that things are really not as bad as we are being led to believe by the media. This is certainly welcome news for Pesach!


Please excuse the apparent facetiousness of the title, but as regular readers of this site will know, my inclination is to look for the positives. Anne writes of good news on Fridays, just before Shabbat (the Sabbath) – which is not to say that she doesn’t find good news at other times of the week, just that she does it with a purpose that day.

On the other hand, I’m always looking for the upside, on the basis that there is so much bad news around that I don’t need to repeat it; further, if all we ever read was the bad news about Israel, the region and our enemies out there, why wait for them to come to or for us, let’s just slit our throats now and save them the trouble.

No way! So what follows is a selection of articles that I’ve come across over the last few months that provide us with a more balanced and positive view of the place we come here to celebrate. And if you’re really unlucky, I may plunder some of the others for another article in the near future (Anne’s patience permitting) – [always! -Anne].

Which is another way of saying that the outlook is far less bleak, even positive, than a casual reading of mainstream sources would suggest.

On that basis, let me start with a relatively recent article, from The Times of Israel: The next conflict with Hamas will take place on Israel’s terms. As the title suggests (and a casual reading of the article will show), the IDF is determined not only that it will not be caught by surprise the next time Hamas starts to flex its military muscles, but that it will fight on its terms and not just reactively and defensively.

Hamas fighters at the funeral of a terrorist killed in a tunnel collapse

This is in no way undermined by the news that the IDF have discovered and destroyed a Hamas tunnel extending some way into Israel.

Further, regular readers will recall, I hope, an item in an earlier article of mine (a little after Protective Edge ended) which noted that after each round with Hamas or Hezbollah, the IDF held a critical review of what had happened, a sort of military SWOT analysis (for those unfamiliar with management speak, this stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Given that junior officers were expected to offer reasoned critiques of what had happened, the whole was designed to ensure that the IDF did it better next time – and there would, sadly, be a next time. Given that Israeli casualties, both civilian and military, have declined over the past decade or so, this would appear to be a logical, sophisticated and rational approach to the military problems that Israel faces.

On this topic, we have just seen the latest Helen Mirren film (and Alan Rickman’s last): “Eye in the Sky” – featuring the use of military drones. If you get the chance, do see it. And tell me what you think the IDF would have done given the moral dilemma presented at the heart of the film.

Still in this area (and I’ll be staying here for a bit) is this, also from the Times of Israel: Israel’s defense capabilities should worry Iranians, says IAI head:  The argument, by the Israeli intelligence services (and, for once, the term military intelligence is not an oxymoron, at least as far as Israel is concerned), is that Israel’s anti-nuclear defence is good enough to worry the Iranians, should they be inclined to actually try and make good their threats against Israel.

Israel’s Arrow 3 missile

What is being said is that, thanks to Iron Dome and the Arrow 3, Israel has an excellent chance of knocking Iranian ICBMs out of the sky before they get anywhere near Israel. And if they happen to explode over Iran…If one adds the grim reality of Israel’s retaliatory capacity (as I noted in possibly the same article referred to in the paragraph above), Iran should keep its bluster about destroying Israel as just that: bluster.

If you will permit me a lengthy extract from that article (written by Tamar Pileggi):

Iran has good reason to be concerned by Israel’s defense capabilities, a senior engineer at the Israel Aerospace Industries, a government-owned company that manufactures military and civilian aircraft and products, said on Saturday.“We are developing some of the the most advanced systems designed to give the fullest most and hermetic protection possible in the face of this kind of threat,” said Inbal Kreiss, speaking at a cultural event in the southern city of Beersheba.

“The Iranians should of course be worried by Israel’s defense capabilities,” she said. “We are the leader in this type of technology.”

“We are working to develop these defense systems in order to protect ourselves,” Kreiss added. “We’re constantly trying to stay ahead of the newest technologies.”

Asked by the event’s moderator what she thought about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeatedly expressed concerns over a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, Kreiss said lightly that the Israeli leader can sleep easy.

It’s amazing what the Start-Up Nation can do when it really sets it’s mind to the task!

I can’t leave this topic without drawing the following to your attention: Dozens of Hezbollah militants accidentally killed in chemical attack: This notes that a large number of Hezbollah were accidentally killed in a chemical attack by Assad forces. Given that they are supposed to be on the same side, this really does give a whole new meaning to the phrase “friendly fire”. As the author notes:

Diplomatic source says that a lack of coordination between Bashar Assad’s troops and supporting forces could lead to future instability.

As I have said before, much as we deplore the loss of life, still, it couldn’t happen to nicer terrorists. Added to this is a report that a third of Hezbollah’s fighters are said to have been killed or injured in Syria:

The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah has seen between 1,300 and 1,500 of its fighters killed in battles in the Syrian civil war, which means that together with the wounded it has lost as much as a third of its fighting force, according to Israeli estimates.

A Hezbollah funeral in Syria

Some 5,000 of the organization’s members have been injured in fighting alongside regime troops against rebel groups, including the Islamic State.

What isn’t clear is whether this is a relatively small addition to the figures that I wrote about something like 18 months ago (that is, maybe a further 500 or so deaths) or in addition to those losses. If it is addition, then Hezbollah really is in no condition to engineer a confrontation with Israel and the IDF, no matter how many rockets it has, because it would be unable to resist an invasion of the areas it controls in Southern Lebanon.

Turning to more recent events, the US Presidential Primary contest is coming to a climax. There were 6 Primaries on Tuesday 26th April which have gone a long way to determining just who the two main contestants will be in November. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump are close to wrapping up their respective party’s nominations (unless the Republican Party grandees manage to engineer a floor-fight at the Convention that Trump loses). Personally, I can only be relieved that Sanders appears to be unable to gain the Democratic nomination (and I say that as a member of the “sane” Left) and not only because his position on Israel is dubious, to say the least. And the Donald is coming across as an authoritarian, to be polite, or a neo-Fascist, if one doesn’t want to be polite.

But why should any of us prefer Clinton to anyone else? After all, she is little more liked or trusted than Trump, although there are enough Republicans who will vote for her over Trump. Well, from the point of view of readers here, she has a lot to commend her as far as the Middle East is concerned. Just recently she went on the record as found here: Clinton vows to improve US-Israel relationship if elected as follows:

On her first day in office as president, Hillary Clinton would reach out to the Israeli prime minister and invite him to the White House in an effort to strengthen US-Israel ties, she said Sunday afternoon.

Hilary Clinton

Speaking before the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, the former secretary of state offered up tough talk on Iran and emphasized her support for the peace process…

US and Israeli leaders, the Democratic front-runner said, “must remind our peoples how much they have in common and keep our relationship always above partisan politics.”

Calling Israel an “ally and true friend… now and forever,” Clinton vowed to “take the already strong relationship to the next level.

“It is in our national interest to have an Israel that remains a bastion of stability and a core ally in a region in chaos,” she said.

There’s more in the same vein here: Clinton: Educate youth about US-Israel bond, where she says, among much else, including deploring the decline in support for and understanding of Israel among younger Americans:

Clinton, as she has elsewhere, sought to distinguish herself from the policies of President Barack Obama, whom she served as secretary of state in his first term. The one-time senator from New York said she would not retreat from attempting to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, as Obama has since the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2014.

I just want to add, for the moment, that for all the noise and fury of the BDS movement in the US, no matter how many resolutions are passed by student bodies, not one College administration has sold off any investments in targeted companies, nor have any food co-ops failed to continue to sell Israeli products, where they have previously stocked them (see, on this last point, Divest This), and an increasing number of State legislatures are passing laws banning companies that boycott Israel and Israeli products from doing business with the State Government.

I did say that it was light out there, didn’t I?


Anne adds:

Brian, thank you for some welcome good news in the middle of Pesach. In fact we welcome such news at any time!

I would take issue with you about Hilary Clinton though. I don’t trust her bona fides on Israel. Certainly she is better than Bernie Sanders. ANYONE is better than Sanders! But Clinton is remembered for her 45 minute tirade against Binyamin Netanyahu about building permits for Jerusalem, not to mention her very questionable (to put it mildly) relationship with Israel-hating advisers. On the other hand, she does have experience as a Washington politician and knows how the system works – and more importantly she understands how deep is the support for Israel in Congress, something she will have to take into account in any of her dealings.

As for the Republicans, I am at a loss to explain the Trump phenomenon. All I can say is he makes me terribly uneasy. If it were up to me I would vote for Ted Cruz. But we Israelis – and the British too – have no say in their electoral process. We will just have to learn to live with the consequences.

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7 Responses to Guest Post: If It’s darkest just before the dawn, why is it so light out there?

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    With reference to your comment on Clinton, Anne, lots of people (at the political power/influence level) don’t like Netanyahu. Doesn’t mean they are, therefore, anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. Given that she is on (in US terms) on the liberal wing of US politics (and unlike elsewhere, that doesn’t mean “rancid”), not liking or opposing Bibi’s “Territories” policies almost goes with the position she occupies. It almost doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t find a way of working quite comfortably with him. They are both highly experienced politicians and know they have to work with people they don’t like.

    We once saw (at the theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon) both Lords Howe & Heseltine, who had both served, at the same time, in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. They greeted each other (from about 10 feet apart) with cordial disdain! Didn’t mean that hadn’t worked together well in Cabinet.

    As for Trump, he is apparently attracting only about a third of the registered Republican vote, and the least educated and economically well enough section at that: few Hispanics, African-Americans, etc. It is highly likely that many of the rest will either sit on their hands or, reluctantly, vote for Clinton. As will most of the regular Democrat voters. If Nate Silver (the US highly successful political analyst) is correct, either of Clinton or Sanders would beat Trump handily.

    If you look at Trump’s core constituency (as above), there is the clue to the suggestion that he populist at best, neo-fascist at worst.

    And, given that the US Primaries are voting today, I am relying on Silver for my prediction.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree that “realpolitik” plays a very large part in international relations, particularly between Israel and the US. Nevertheless Hilary Clinton does have some unsavoury friends and an iffy history. Whether this will overshadow her relationship with Israel if she is elected is another question. It’s never been plain sailing for Israel with any president, despite our nostalgic memories. And yet it’s also never been an absolute disaster. Even with Obama, Israel has muddled through, though the Iran deal has left not only us but the entire Middle East if not the world, in a much more dangerous place.

      I think in that respect Clinton will have more savvy. I think she is less ideological than Obama, but I’m watching her with caution.

      This is not to say that the Republicans are arousing in me great waves of joy. It’s not a pretty election season that’s for sure.

  2. Henry says:

    In terms with of US politicians one should not listen to what they say but instead watch what they do. Clinton is great at pandering for votes, but as the released emails prove she has surrounded herself with anti-Israel advisors. She wasn’t exactly glad to see Bibi speak in front of Congress and will certainly not speak of the hypocrisy of Obama’s recent remarks in Britain (it is OK if he speaks about controversial foreign policy issues while in another country but it isn’t OK for Bibi to do so). I’m am just stating facts and am not suggesting who anyone should vote for in the upcoming primaries.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, I agree with your general point. And for me at least, as an Israeli, I can’t recommend Americans whom they should vote for. I just hope they choose someone good for America, because a strong stable America is good for Israel and good for the world.

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Fortunately, Nate Silver didn’t let me down re the Primaries. And I stand by my comment above on Hillary.

  4. Reality says:

    Thank you for this uplifting post,it is really good to be given something positive about Israel to read for a change.However,I tend to agree with Anne regarding Clinton.I personally think she’s a snake in the grass,and not to be trusted.Regarding Trump,I’m shocked he’s gotten as far as he has!I presumed he’d be a 9day wonder.I wish Cruz would fare better.I think he’s the most reliable and sanest of the lot.

  5. Pingback: There’s trouble brewing down south on Gaza’s border | Anne's Opinions

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