To return to the new Peace Now website click here.

THE CRISIS TODAY - An Insider's Briefing (First Issue - Tuesday, July 18, 2006)

Israeli Security Expert Yossi Alpher offers a daily briefing during the elevated crisis in Israel...

Today's Briefing - Tuesday, July 18

"Revenge of the Spider" by Yossi Alpher

In one of Hassan Nasrallah's most memorable speeches, a couple of years ago, the charismatic Hezbollah leader compared Israeli society to a spider web: elegant and intricate but frail, capable of being destroyed by a sweep of the hand. At the time, Israeli Intelligence analysts took careful note.

Israel's military strategy in fighting Hezbollah may seem heavy-handed and unimaginative and its chances for reaching an acceptable political settlement problematic, to say the least. We'll come back to these issues in future postings (though we all hope this publication will be short-lived).

But in inaugurating this publication, PM Ehud Olmert deserves a word of praise for the very innovative, almost revolutionary way he and his government have chosen to prove to Nasrallah that civilian Israel is far, far stronger than a spider web. Where the Israeli public is concerned, Olmert is trying to slaughter two sacred cows, with the objective of incorporating the civilian echelon into Israel's reinforced deterrent profile.

First, Olmert has told the civilian rear it has to suffer for this war to succeed. In effect, he has announced that his strategic decisions will not be influenced by civilian casualties. This, after successive Israeli prime ministers over the past six years avoided challenging Hezbollah's rocket arsenal and Iran's rocket supply operation precisely out of concern for public safety.

Second, Olmert has announced that he will break precedent and not pay a disproportional human ransom (releasing hundreds of Arab prisoners from Israeli jails) for the three IDF soldiers held by Hamas and Hezbollah. He aspires to be immune to pressures from the anguished families of those soldiers, from the broader public that sympathizes with them and even from the IDF, which prides itself on never abandoning a soldier to his/her fate.

Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the IDF senior echelon have also made clear that Israel will not occupy Palestinian or Lebanese territory--another wartime precedent. Note how every IDF unit that enters the Gaza Strip withdraws within days. Israel's war planners understand that one Arab Islamist aim is to draw us into an occupation situation where our forces can once again be attacked by guerillas supported by a hostile population, without a viable Israeli exit strategy, until the public becomes fed up with the occupation and demands withdrawal at any cost.

The reinforced deterrent profile Olmert hopes to present in terms of military might and civilian determination is designed not only to prevent future abductions and rocket fire. As explained by Justice Minister Haim Ramon, who in many ways has functioned as Olmert's alter ego in consolidating the Kadima Party and projecting future disengagement plans, Olmert plans to emerge from this crisis with his West Bank convergence or realignment plan stronger than ever. Henceforth it will be backed up by Arab recognition that withdrawal from occupied lands, far from signaling Israeli weakness and inviting redoubled rocket and suicide attacks across internationally recognized borders, actually reflects a strong society that has proven it can inflict extremely heavy punishment on its Arab attackers, while absorbing the best Hamas and Hezbollah can throw at them.

So far, the public has met Olmert's challenge.

The Crisis Today-An Insider's Briefing is a new daily, internet publication of Americans for Peace Now. A new edition of The Crisis Today will be posted every weekday morning by 9:00 a.m. for as long as the current crisis continues.

The Crisis Today is written by Yossi Alpher, whose views do not necessarily reflect those of Americans for Peace Now or Peace Now.

Link to APN's Crisis Resource Page