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The Elor Azaria Trial and Israel’s Moral Core

After a highly contentious trial, a young Israeli sergeant named Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for the shooting of a downed terrorist. David Horovitz responds to the verdict, the public calls to pardon Azaria, and the ethical quandaries that the IDF—and the Israeli body politic—must face on a daily basis:

Members of Israel’s security forces—primarily our eighteen- to twenty-one-year-old sons and daughters—are required to grapple with moral dilemmas [of the utmost difficulty] all the time, and often with an urgency, a split-second imperative for a decision, in circumstances [that are] unexpected, [with little] recourse to precedent. . . . Facing the ongoing lone-wolf Palestinian terror wave, for instance, our troops must make instant decisions about drivers and pedestrians approaching them at roadblocks, people walking past them on the streets. Are they slowing down? Did they hear my shouted order to halt? What’s in their bags, what’s in their pockets, what’s in their hands? Is that a phone, a knife, a gun? Do nothing, and you may die, and other innocent Israelis may die. Do something, and an innocent Palestinian may lose his or her life, and yours will forever turn on the incident.

The Hamas and other terrorists who target Israelis are seeking to kill us. They make no secret of that; Hamas is avowedly committed to destroying Israel altogether. But that ambition also involves seeking to destabilize our society, to make daily life here fraught, angst-filled, and ideally, from their point of view, ultimately untenable. And it involves corroding our society and its values, attempting to render our efforts to maintain our own morality in the face of their murderous hostility so costly as to be unsustainable. . . .

The struggle not only to keep this country secure, not only to keep its people safe from harm, but to do so while insistently seeking to act morally—even, ironically, as much of the international community despicably accuses us of doing the reverse—is relentless and so very complex. . . .

Azaria’s actions were an aberration. . . . The very fact that [he] was tried, painstakingly tried, in an unimpeachably credible Israeli court of law represented reaffirmation of Israel’s determination to preserve its morality—its insistence on preventing our enemies, our terrorist foes, from reducing us to their cynical, murderous depths.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli society, Military ethics, Palestinian terror

What U.S. Success in Syria Should Look Like

April 26 2018

Surveying the history of the Syrian civil war, Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka explain that Bashar al-Assad’s brutal rule and vicious tactics have led to the presence in his country of both Shiite terrorists, led by Hizballah and backed by Iran and Russia, and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. Any American strategy, they argue, must bear this in mind:

The best option is a Syria without Assad, committed to a future without Iranian or Russian influence. This is not a Pollyanna-like prescription; there are substantial obstacles in the way, not least those we have encountered in Iraq. . . . [But] only such a Syria can guarantee an end to Iranian interference, to the transshipment of weapons for Hizballah, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the kind we saw used at Douma. (Iran has been instrumental in Syria’s chemical-weapons program for many years.) And, most importantly, only such a Syria can disenfranchise the al-Qaeda and IS affiliates that have found a foothold by exploiting the Syrian people’s desperation.

How do we get there? The United States must first consolidate and strengthen its position in eastern Syria from the Euphrates river to the eastern Syrian border. This involves clearing out the remnants of Islamic State, some several thousand, and ultimately eliminating pockets controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian forces in northeastern Syria. This would enable the creation of a control zone in the eastern part of the country as a base from which to build a credible and capable partner that is not subordinate to the Kurdish chain of command, while effectively shutting down Iran’s strategic land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. A regional Arab force, reportedly suggested by President Trump’s new national-security adviser, would be a welcome addition. But we should seriously doubt [the Arabs] will participate without American ground leadership and air support.

In western Syria, the United States should rebuild a Syrian opposition force with advisers, weapons, and air power while upping the pressure on Assad and his cronies to select a pathway to a negotiated peace. Pursuing a settlement in Geneva without such leverage over the Assad regime is pure fantasy. Finally, the United States and other Western powers must impede Iran’s and Russia’s ability to be resupplied. Syria’s airfields must be destroyed, and Syria’s airspace must remain clear.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Hizballah, Iran, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy