Donate

Australians Remember the Battle of Beersheba

Feb. 24 2017

At nearly every public appearance Benjamin Netanyahu has made during his visit to Australia, someone has referred to the charge of the Australian Light Brigade at the Negev city of Beersheba in 1917—a World War I event that every Australian schoolchild has heard of. Herb Keinon writes:

[As the Australian prime minister Malcolm] Turnbull put it during [a public event with Netanyahu], the “Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade captured the town of Beersheba from the Ottoman Turks in the fading daylight of the 31st of October 1917” in what proved a pivotal moment in the [British-led] Palestine campaign.

Netanyahu called it “the last great successful cavalry charge in history,” one that liberated Beersheba and led to the end of Ottoman control of the area. For Australians, the battle is remembered not for what it meant for Zionism, but what it meant for Australians as an independent people.

In fact, thousands of Australian tourists and World War I buffs are expected to [come to Israel for] ceremonies commemorating the battle’s [upcoming] centennial. For, as Australia’s ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma explained in a recent interview, that battle “has a lot of resonance for the Australian public” because it was a major Australian success in the First World War. . . . “While the Battle of Gallipoli was a military defeat, the Battle of Beersheba was seen as a great success, with the Australian horse brigade turning the tide.”

The Battle of Beersheba . . . was fought on the first day of the Palestine campaign. From there Australian troops went on to march into Jerusalem, capture Tiberias, go to Megiddo, and eventually take Damascus and Aleppo.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Austria, Benjamin Netanyahu, History & Ideas, Ottoman Empire, World War I

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy