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Latest Israel News – 15th September

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Fox News

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) spoke to Fox News about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the United Nations’ role in perpetuating the myth of Palestinian refugees.

“First of all what’s really good about the way this administration is thinking about the region in general [is] they understand that still the biggest issue is Iranian issue,” Hotovely said. “The fact [is] that Israel today, more than ever, has closer relations with the moderate Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan, and even Saudi Arabia.”

Hotovely believes that many people understand the conflict will not be resolved until the Palestinian Authority changes the way it educates children.

“We were just talking about the fact that their textbooks unfortunately are still full of hate and the denial of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state,” she explained. “And this is I think the key to get forward in the peace process.”

Regarding the relief the United Nations provides to the Palestinian Arabs, Hotovely noted that the “UN bias against Israel” goes through “certain agencies.” She believes that since America is the main donor and the funds come off American taxpayers’ money, US taxpayers deserve transparency.

“Some people don’t even know where the money is going to,” she noted.

“Think about it, you’re giving your money in order to make sure that there won’t be any more refugees, and what this agency is doing is creating more and more refugees. This is ridiculous.”

Regarding UNRWA itself (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), Hotovely said the UN is “creating a myth that the Palestinians are supposed to be refugees when they’re actually not.

“International law speaks about one generation of refugees,” she explained. “And then afterwards of course they need to be resettled.

“The Palestinians were speaking about five generations after the 1948 war – the war they started. They were attacking Israel, they were trying to make sure that Israel won’t exist on the Middle East map, and they lost the war.

“They’re not accepting this fact… They’re actually educating their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren on the idea they’re refugees from Israel… This is something that must stop, because the way the UN in general is dealing with the refugee problem is that they have the agency, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and…they’re trying to make sure there will be fewer refugees every year.

“The Palestinians are the only population in the world that the refugees are just growing.”

Hotovely also noted that in the last Gaza operation in 2014, “some of those UNRWA schools were part of Hamas actions against Israel, the IDF, and Israeli children, in the south of Israel.”

Watch the Interview:

Colombia’s president praises Israel for help in massive landmine clearing efforts

Israel has offered its expertise in the “very humanitarian” effort of helping Colombia clear its countryside of anti-personnel mines, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the palatial Casa de Nariño presidential residence in the city.

After Afghanistan, there are more anti-personnel mines in Colombia – which is just emerging from a 52-year war between the,government and the Marxist-Leninist FARC terrorist organization – – than any other country in the world, he said. An estimated 25,000 people have been killed by these mines over the last 25 years.

Last September, a week after the signing of the historic agreement between the government and FARC that earned Santos a Nobel Peace Prize, an eight-member delegation arrived in Israel to receive instructions from the Defense Ministry’s National Mine Action Authority.

“Your country has been a friend and ally of Colombia, and recently a great ally in the construction of peace in the country,” Santos said. “We would like to strengthen this magnificent relationship.”

Netanyahu arrived in Colombia late Wednesday afternoon for a three hour visit that Santos said was greatly appreciated.

“We are honored to have you visiting here, and are grateful you have chosen Colombia as one of the countries in your first visit to Latin America,” he said.

Santos said that Colombia can learn from Israel how to channel and tap into the the innovation of its people.

The president acknowledged that Israel and Colombia have worked closely in the past on security matters, and that there is an interest in strengthening that cooperation.

Netanyahu – who said that he was in Bogota for one night some 30 years ago as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said that the relationship between the two countries has been a “remarkable” alliance.

The prime minister said that Israel was “excited” about the “post-conflict” possibilities for cooperation: first in agriculture, secondly in water management, and thirdly in the area of cyber security. He announced a project whereby a number of Colombians will come to Israel to learn about the field.

Regarding Colombia’s agricultural needs, the country is keen on assistance in replacing the coca plant that was widely grown in areas under FARC control and is responsible for much of the world’s cocaine with other crops.

As he did in all his public speeches in Argentina, Netanyahu also highlighted Iran’s spread of terrorism around the world.

The threat of radical Islamic terror, he said, “has created new relations between Israel and the Arab states, which no longer see Israel as an enemy but as an essential ally against these forces who seek to bring humanity back from a brilliant future to a barbaric one.”

Iran, he said, “is sending its terrorist wings in all directions, including to Latin America. We believe that all countries should unite, just as Israel cooperates with the Arab states in order to prevent the spread of Iranian aggression and terrorism to other continents.”

Colombia was the second-leg of Netanyahu’s three-country Latin American tour, before going to the US on Friday, where he is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on Monday, and address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Netanyahu met briefly at Bogota’s airport with representatives of the small Jewish community and some non-Jewish supporters of Israel.

After Colombia he flew to Mexico, where he arrived just before midnight.

On Thursday he is scheduled to attend an economic event aimed at boosting Israeli-Mexican business ties, and in the afternoon meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. (Jerusalem Post)

Bennett: Iran is Israel’s number one existential threat

Speaking at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s 17th annual conference on Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett named Hezbollah and Iran as the greatest threats towards Israel.

Bennett spoke in a candid discussion with ICT head Dr. Boaz Gabor about the security challenges that Israel faces. While Bennett’s position in the government doesn’t typically involve dealing with terrorism, his background as a commander in Sayeret Matkal, an elite unit, and his participation in both Operation Protective Edge as well as the Second Lebanon War, gives him an adequate background to be considered an expert on the subject.

Bennett didn’t mince words. “I have no doubt that the nuclearization of Iran is the number one existential threat to the state of Israel,” he charged.

The tensions between Iran and Israel are amplified, he suggested, by the extreme asymmetry. “An attack on Iran would not destroy the country the way that an attack by Iran on Israel.” He added that, if given the opportunity, he would “absolutely” get rid of the nuclear deal with the country, and apply strong economic pressure on countries who do business with Iran.

Despite a a lack of on-the-ground fighting, Bennett said the animosity between the two states isn’t a “Cold War.” However, Israel’s recent bombing of a chemical weapons factory in Syria could be construed as the country entering into a proxy war with Iran.

In line with the national-religious inclinations of his party, Bayit Yehudi, Bennett charged that “modern Zionism has created a safe haven for the Jewish people, and Iran threatens this.”

He described the second greatest threat to Israel as its own policy of disengagement, and the consequences of this. Bennett noted the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and the subsequent takeover of the Strip by Hamas as proof this theory. He also suggested that the same scenario has played out with Hezbollah, saying that when Israel retreated from its positions in Lebanon, it allowed the group to prosper, and the growing strength of the group – bankrolled and armed by Iran – has led Israel to hold its largest military drill in 20 years in preparation of a possible war with the group.

“I would like to state this emphatically: Lebanon is Hezbollah and Hezbollah is Lebanon. A ballistic attack on Israel would be the equivalent of a declaration of war by the sovereign state of Lebanon.”

While Bennett’s current position doesn’t typically deal with terrorism, he had a lot to say. As he noted during the discussion with Ganor, it was at his urging – really, his ultimatum – that a weekly security cabinet meeting is now held every week to discuss matters of national security.

When questioned about the security cabinet and its decision-making powers, especially terms of security issues and in contrast to those of the defense minister and prime minister, Bennett reminded the audience that the cabinet is the commander in chief. Despite its military powers, he insisted that the leadership is sure to exhaust all options before exploring military possibilities. The government was heavily criticized for the somewhat hasty nature of its military usage during Operation Protective Edge. Throughout the discussion, Ganor referenced the infamous State Comptroller report from after the 2014 war, which heavily criticized the government’s actions.

The bottom line, Bennett said, is that “the state of Israel needs to make some tough decisions.”   (Jerusalem Post)

One year after death, Peres remembered as pioneer and incessant dreamer

Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, was extolled by world leaders as a man of peace and for his dedication to coexistence and determined fight for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, he was undeniably a man of defense and security, setting up some of Israel’s most important military and strategic assets.

His legacy encompasses both, representing a deep connection to Israel’s past as well as a yearning to help it face the challenges of the future. That was how Peres, a former president and two-time prime minister, was remembered Wednesday and Thursday as part of a series of events marking a year since his death on September 28, 2016, at the age of 93.

Peres’s passing last year led to an outpouring of tributes from leaders worldwide, many of whom also attended the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s funeral in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, speaking at the official state memorial for Peres at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, where he is buried in the Great Leaders of the Nation section, President Reuven Rivlin spoke of his predecessor as an incessant dreamer, and a determined leader.

“You never gave up on your daring beliefs and your belief in daring,” Rivlin said. Those words — belief and daring — describe your message to us all that history is written by those that know how to imagine new horizons, even from within the confines of a closed room.”

To many, Peres is synonymous with the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, for which he was awarded his Nobel Peace Prize, and his eponymous Center for Peace, which promotes dialogue and opportunities for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Rivlin said that Peres may have failed to see his dream of peace realized in his lifetime, but the dedication and determination that he had for working towards peace continued to inspire Israelis.

“We still have a huge amount to do,” Rivlin said emphatically, “but the path that you paved, the dream you fought to realize, the hopes that you determined to fulfill and your belief in them — will be with this nation for generations to come and you will continue to be a source of inspiration for us all.”

Three months before his passing, Peres joined with President Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lay the cornerstone for the establishment of the Israeli Innovation Center, set to open at the Peres Center in 2018.

On Wednesday morning, Rivlin opened the memorial events with a keynote address at a “Leadership and Innovation” conference in memory of Peres.

Rivlin called on industry leaders to bring Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews into Israel’s burgeoning high-tech sector, which he said would help realize the Peres’ for the country.

“Everyone who is sitting here today has a responsibility to ensure that the Israeli innovation industry continues to be a pillar of fire lighting the way — this was the dream of my friend Shimon Peres. That was his belief, and now it is in our hands,” Rivlin said.

On Thursday, drawing on Peres’s contribution the country’s military capabilities, Rivlin said that in addition to a commitment to peace and coexistence, the late president’s legacy must also remind Israelis “that security and peace are two sides of the exact same coin.”

In a career spanning seven decades, Peres held nearly every major office in government, serving twice as prime minister and lastly as president from 2007 to 2014. Long before his role in the Oslo negotiations, Peres was also known as architect of Israel’s nuclear program, with the country now believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed nation, although it has never acknowledged it.

“Even from the moment Israel was created, you understood in your wisdom that we need to be ready for everything,” Rivlin said. “There is no Israeli that does not owe you a debt of gratitude for your contribution to national security and above all, the establishment of the research institute in Dimona that now carries your name.”

Shortly after Peres’s death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Dimona nuclear facility would be renamed for the late president.

When he was still in his 30s, during the 1950s, Peres played a key part in Israel’s pursuit of a nuclear capability at the urging of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. He reached a secret agreement with France that led to the building of a nuclear reactor at Dimona, which went critical around 1962.

Israel is now estimated to have produced enough weapons-grade plutonium at Dimona to arm between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, according to the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Peres

Chemi Peres, son of the late Shimon Peres and chairman of the Peres center, said that there was no contradiction between his father’s peace efforts and contribution to Israel’s military assets.

“While he fought to build the nuclear project in Dimona, he also fought against mountains and demons to make the impossible possible. It took courage to dream, and even more courage to achieve the dream and to see it become reality,” Chemi Peres said at the memorial service.

But Chemi Peres said his father’s “struggle for peace” required “even more courage than the sacrifice of war.”

A year ago, Peres’s funeral drew dozens of world leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with a 33-person delegation of American officials who made a six-hour stop in Israel for the ceremony.

This week, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who served as the peace envoy for the Middle East Quartet (a foursome of nations and international entities involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process) while Peres was president, and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger joined the memorial events.

From left to right: former British prime minister Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger and Yoni Peres at the first state memorial in honor of Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, September 14, 2017. (Josef Avi Yair Engel)

Blair said at the ceremony that the country Peres wanted to create “was to be a gift to the world.”

“It drew upon the best of the Jewish character developed over the ages, sustained through pogroms, persecution and Holocaust, often battered but never subdued. This spirit is the spirit of striving,” Blair said. “He grasped completely the extraordinary potential there would be if Israel and the region were working together, not simply on security, but on economic advance, technological breakthrough and cultural reconciliation.”

At a separate memorial event on Wednesday night, Kissinger described Peres as “a pragmatist and an optimist. A soldier and a poet.”

Recalling his memories of a younger Peres, Kissinger, who served under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the 1970s when Peres was defense minister, said that he and Peres were “comrades on a journey characterized by hopes and intentions, moments of elation and incremental on the way to disengagements — agreements with Egypt and Syria, peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.”

Currently in Latin America as part of a 10-day trip to Argentina, Colombia and then the US, marking the first visit of an Israeli premier to South America, Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to attend the memorial events.

Concluding Thursday’s ceremony, Chemi Peres quoted from the final chapter of his father’s memoir “No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel,” completed just weeks before his death and released this week.

“I was given about two and a half billion seconds and I decided to make use of each one of them in order to make a difference,” he read.

“I don’t regret any of my dreams,” Shimon Peres wrote. “My only regret is not having dreamed more.”  (the Times of Israel)

IDF announces new benefits, classification for combat soldiers

The IDF has announced a new plan to improve the standing of its combat soldiers in light of dropping motivation for combat service over the past three years.

The proposed plan will include a number of benefits, from raising their wages to free transportation even wearing civilian clothing.

These future benefits will only be accorded to spearhead soldiers: those serving in units participating in war maneuvers, such as Infantry Corps, Armored Corps, combat engineering, Artillery Corps and other elite IDF units.

Starting November 1, spearhead soldiers will receive an increase to their wages (or living expenses, as the army terms it), from NIS 1,600 ($450) to NIS 2,000 ($560) per month in the third year of their service.

In addition, before the end of 2017, each spearhead combat soldier will receive a card loaded with NIS 1,000 ($280) that may be used in restaurants, cinemas, buying sports clothing or for other leisure activities.

This specific new addition of the benefits card is intended to not only serve as added bonus for combat soldiers, but also to wind down the IDF’s reliance on donations on the one hand and free the soldiers of shopping they’re currently forced to do independently on the other.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said as much Wednesday, defining the move as “part of the war on donations.”

“With this card, combat soldiers will be able to purchase everything their parents would’ve bought them the week before they conscripted,” he said. “The next step is stopping the purchase of vests and other equipment.”

According to Eisenkot, the IDF will invest NIS 70 million annually to ensure each soldier to conclude training will receive a kit similar to the one provided to elite units. “Thousands of soldiers will receive the very best gear,” he vowed.

Having said that, the chief of staff also stated the army intends to funnel more donation money towards scholarships. “We told the Friends of the IDF that constructing buildings and basketball courts is important, and what’s most important is building people,” he said. “Take 8,000 soldiers and make sure they can study in a university.”

It’s the General Staff’s belief, he said, the state should show its appreciation to the soldiers by aiding them in their studies. “I would’ve been happy if donations weren’t necessary to achieve that, instead institutionalizing it through the state,” he lamented. “The state can and should show its devotion to those serving to protect it.”

Implementation for some of these measures has already begun in the past few months, such as advanced personal equipment or the aforementioned magnetic card.

Some of the soldiers will also receive driving lesson vouchers (given out to 500 soldiers annually) and vouchers for Psychometric Entrance Test preparatory courses (given out according to criteria yet to be determined).

A new regulation will also allow the spearhead soldiers to ride public transportation buses free of charge even when out of uniform to any destination, including the far off southernmost city of Eilat.

The soldiers will also receive their combat soldier certificate at the conclusion of 18 months of service, as opposed to the 20 month wait in place today.

This plan intends to redefine the standing of combat soldiers, severely compromised in the last few years as more and more soldiers serving in other roles were defined as combat soldiers, such as Iron Dome operators for instance. Creating this reform has been under consideration since the tenure of Benny Gantz as chief of staff, but was never carried out due to internal squabbling.

A soldier categorized in the spearhead class is one trained to carry out military operations and engage the enemy at mortal risk. Other combat soldiers not categorized as spearhead soldiers are, for example, soldiers carrying out routine security tasks but who nevertheless do not carry out wartime maneuvers in enemy territory, such as the mixed battalions or some of the Home Front Command battalions.

The third categorization for combat soldier has to do with soldiers in operational combat support roles, who operate in combat theaters of war at risk to their lives, in roles such as intelligence NCOs and battalion munitions soldiers.

Ranked below these soldiers are soldiers in combat support roles on the home front, including clerks for combat officers, battalion cooks and so on; that is, soldiers serving in combat units who do not risk their lives or engage the enemy.

The rest of the IDF’s soldiers will henceforth be defined as rear soldiers. It remained unclear where soldiers operating the Iron Dome or other aerial defense systems will be placed, as their role is not carried out on enemy land nor does it include direct engagement or mortal risk. The IDF said this issue was still under consideration.

In the past year, motivation for combat service has continued eroding by 1.8 percent, with only 67 percent of new draftees joining combat units. “We’ve been dealing with the status of the combat soldiers for years, born of the understanding a multiyear process is in place of gradually decreasing willingness to serve in combat roles,” said Chief of Staff Eisenkot Wednesday.

“We’ve taken a number of steps communicating the army’s appreciation to those who do choose to serve in that capacity,” the army commander said. “We’re not trying to buy off combat soldiers with NIS 300 more a month, and are working to express our gratitude to them. Intelligence is important, cyber is important, but the single most important thing for carrying out both the IDF’s tasks and its overall mission are combat soldiers.”

This plan will also include overhauling the entire combat service, investing hundreds of millions of shekels in refurbishing outdated bases for the Nachal and Givati brigades and new service tracks for elite units. Soldiers serving in the elite units Shayetet 13, Sayeret Matkal or Shaldag, for instance, will be required to serve eight years, of which two years and eight months are regular service, two years will go to academic studies on the subject of their choosing—paid for by the army—and the remainder of the term will be in standing army service.

This change has already been implemented at Sayeret Matkal this year, and will be continuing in the coming Shaldag and Shayetet 13 recruitment cycles. The IDF expects fewer soldiers to join the aforementioned units, since those who have already joined will serve for longer periods of time. The plan also refers to another already implemented change: shortening the period of time between receiving ranks, so a combat officer will be promoted to lieutenant immediately upon entry into permanent service.  (Ynet News)

If Israel played by America’s rules, Iraq and Syria would have nuclear weapons

by Zev Chafets   The National Post

Zev Chafets: If Israel played by America’s rules, Iraq and Syria would have nuclear weapons

Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles. But Israelis feels close to the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. They have faced this sort of crisis before, and may again.

In the mid-1970s, it became clear to Israel that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was working on acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Saddam had already demonstrated an uninhibited brutality in dealing with his internal enemies and his neighbours. He aspired to be the leader of the Arab world. Defeating Israel was at the top of his to-do list.

After coming to office in 1977, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin tried to convince the U.S. and Europe that Saddam was a clear and present danger to the Jewish state, and that action had to be taken. Begin was not taken seriously.

But Begin was serious, and in 1981 he decided that Israel would have to stop the Iraqi dictator all by itself. His political opponents, led by the estimable Shimon Peres, considered this to be dangerous folly. Foreign minister Moshe Dayan, the legendary former military chief of staff, voted against unilateral action on the grounds that it would hurt Israel’s international standing. Defense minister Ezer Weizmann, the former head of the air force (and Dayan’s brother-in-law) was also against a military option. He thought the mission would be unacceptably risky.

Begin had no military expertise. But his family had been wiped out in the Holocaust. He looked at Saddam, who was openly threatening Israel, and saw Hitler. To Begin, sitting around hoping for the best was not a strategy; it was an invitation to aggression. If there was going to be a cost—political, diplomatic, military—better to pay before, not after, the Iraqis had the bomb.

In the summer of 1981, Begin gave the order. The Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak reactor. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack. The Europeans went bonkers. The New York Times called it “inexcusable.” But the Israeli prime minister wasn’t looking to be excused by the Times or the Europeans or even the usually friendly Ronald Reagan administration. He enunciated a simple rationale that would come to be known as the Begin Doctrine: Israel will not allow its avowed enemies to obtain the means of its destruction.

Saddam Hussein.

The wisdom of this doctrine became clear a decade later, during the Gulf War, when Saddam made good on his threat to fire Russian-made SCUD missiles at Israeli cities. The SCUDs landed, and caused some damage and a fair amount of panic, but they were not armed with unconventional warheads. Israel had taken that option off the table.

Similarly, in 2007, Israel confirmed what it had suspected for five years: Syria, with North Korean help, was trying to build a nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a Begin disciple, sent Mossad chief Meir Dagan to Washington, to ask for American intervention. The CIA chief, Michael Hayden, agreed with Israel’s contention that Damascus (with Iranian financing) was constructing the reactor. But Hayden convinced President George W. Bush that bombing the site would result in all-out war, and who wants that?

Acting on its own, Israel destroyed the Syrian site (reportedly killing a group of North Korean experts in the process). Hayden was wrong about how Syria would react, as he later admitted. If Israel had been reasonable and listened to the CIA, Bashar al-Assad would have nuclear weapons right now.

A few years later, Prime Minister Netanyahu and then-defence minister Ehud Barak spent billions of dollars preparing and training to take out the Iranian nuclear program. Barak, not a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, explained, “There are instances where it appears it is not necessary to attack now, but you know that you won’t be able to attack later.” In such cases, he said, the “consequences of inaction are grave, and you have to act.”

Israel was prevented from kinetic action by the Barack Obama administration, which along with five other powers cut a deal with Iran in 2015—over Israel’s vociferous objections. Netanyahu warned that the deal was full of loopholes; it would allow Iran to hide its nuclear program and continue building new means of delivery. This was confirmed in 2016 when Iran tested a new missile. “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres,” Iranian Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, “is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”

Since then, Iran has stepped up its aggressive enmity toward the Zionist Entity. It has not only continued its nuclear co-operation with North Korea, it has also copied Pyongyang’s tactic of creating a huge artillery threat against civilian populations (through its proxy force Hezbollah in Lebanon and now Syria). This conventional threat to Seoul is what has convinced a great many American commentators that any attack on North Korea would lead to an “unthinkable” number of casualties.

President Barack Obama, meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 4, 2015. The meeting comes as Saudi Arabia seeks assurances from the U.S. that the Iran nuclear deal comes with the necessary resources to help check Iran’s regional ambitions.

Ruling out harsh thoughts is a luxury Israel doesn’t have. It has installed an efficient missile defence system (something not beyond the means of the South Koreans and the U.S.). It is also training to neutralize the threat of a bombardment. The IDF is currently conducting its biggest military exercise in 19 years. The announced goal is to prepare for war with Hezbollah. Israel does not intend to allow itself to be held hostage by an Iranian threat to its civilian population nor to have its hands tied by the theory of unthinkability.

This week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem published a condemnation of North Korea: “Only a determined international response will prevent other states from behaving in the same way.” Clearly, “other states” was a reference to Iran. It was also a message to the U.S.

Israel, by long experience, knows there is no such thing as an “international” community when it comes to security. What is happening now in East Asia is an American production. The Donald Trump administration has been very clear, not to say belligerent, in demanding that North Korea forgo its nuclear weapons and ambitions.

This was also the policy of previous American administrations—but presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama didn’t really mean it. They let things slide, drew imaginary lines, held talks that went no place and hoped for the best.

The best didn’t happen. It almost never does. North Korea is now truly dangerous—unlike Iraq and Syria, it already has nuclear weapons—and it won’t get less so as time goes on. Trump has said this in no uncertain terms. But so far it is just words. The president may mean it. He also may not. Perhaps he will come to regret tangling with Kim. Maybe he will see it as a beginner’s mistake. He may be tempted to reverse course and try to save face with make-believe sanctions, empty United Nations resolutions or fruitless negotiations.

I’m not judging him. I haven’t been in his shoes, and I wouldn’t want to be. But if the American president does back down—if Kim Jong Un stays in power, keeps his nuclear warheads and ballistic weapons, and gets away with threatening the U.S. and its allies with nuclear destruction—every friend and foe of Washington will be revisiting its strategic playbook. For Israel, so far away from Korea yet so close to Iranian aggression, that book begins with the Begin Doctrine.

IDF Sodier with Shofar