How Israel Took a Stand against Apartheid

Yesterday Frederik Willem de Klerk, who as president of South Africa oversaw the end of apartheid, died at the age of eighty-five. As it happens, this week also marks the 60th anniversary of an impassioned speech at the UN by Israel’s then-ambassador Arieh Eshel condemning the racism of the South African regime. Eshel’s stance, writes Colin Shindler, was typical of the Jewish state’s attitude:

In July 1961, Ben-Gurion told the visiting president of Upper Volta [now Burkina Faso] that Israel condemned the South African government’s policy of apartheid as well as the Portuguese dictatorship for its conduct in its colony, Angola. . . . Golda Meir later contemplated the closure of the Israeli diplomatic mission in South Africa and the cessation of El Al flights. For both Ben-Gurion and Meir, this was a founding principle of the Zionist experiment. In May 1901, Theodor Herzl, influenced by the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, had confided to his diary: . . . “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”

Menachem Begin [later] argued that it was not in Israel’s interests to antagonize the South African government. Begin condemned apartheid, but was more concerned that the Jewish community might come to harm. Sections of the Afrikaner press at the time were adamant that Jews in South Africa had to choose either Pretoria or Tel Aviv—but not both.

The Afrikaners had looked upon Israel after 1948 with admiration and viewed its rise mainly through the lens of religion. They erroneously understood Israel as similarly taking the path of racial separate development. [After Eshel’s 1961 speech, the South African foreign minister Eric] Louw described Israel as “ungrateful and hostile.”

Yet Louw was no friend of the Jews. He had told [his country’s] parliament on the eve of the Second World War: “I am convinced that if it were possible to remove Jewish influence and pressure from the press and from the news agencies, the international outlook would be considerably brighter than it is today.”

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: apartheid, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security