Why the IDF Shouldn’t Adopt a “Turn-the-Other-Cheek” Policy

Dec. 26 2017

Last week, a video circulated the Internet of a Palestinian teenager named Ahed Tamimi insulting and taunting two Israeli soldiers. When they didn’t respond, she proceeded to slap, shove, and kick them while her friends videotaped the scene and encouraged her. The incident concluded only when they walked away, although Tamimi was subsequently arrested and is now in custody. Hillel Frisch argues that the IDF does itself no favors by letting such behavior go unpunished:

This . . . incident . . . can only dampen young people’s willingness to join [combat] units [when they enter the military]. Israeli youth will ask themselves, quite reasonably, why they should not only put their lives on the line but tolerate such humiliation as well. . . . Prospective soldiers don’t want to become victims of the doctrine of turning the other cheek.

This incident also sends a dangerous signal to the many Palestinians who want to harm Israelis. Anyone viewing the two-minute video can clearly see how the number of people encouraging the assault grew as the passivity of the officers continued. It begins with two girls, a third joins in, and then [Tamimi’s] mother enters the fray with two young boys. The assault also becomes increasingly brazen in the face of the officers’ passivity.

One can safely assume that the weaker the IDF looks, the greater will be the willingness of Palestinians to join the ranks of attackers in larger, more charged, and more dangerous scenarios. Israel must make clear that turning the other cheek is not its doctrine.

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More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy