The Lesson of Jerusalem Day? Don’t Give in to Terrorists’ Threats

On Thursday, the annual flag march—a procession through Jerusalem in honor of the city’s liberation in 1967, that in recent years has become associated with the nationalist religious right—took place without serious incident. Herb Keinon explains why this is significant:

Because Hamas threatened, once again, to fire rockets at Jerusalem if the annual flag march proceeded as usual through the Damascus Gate to the Western Wall; because other terror groups in Gaza threatened to set fields in southern Israel alight via inflammable balloons if the march went ahead; because there was concern that some terror group or a “lone wolf” attacker would try to carry out a terrorist attack in the capital to mar the day and the Israeli celebration.

As in years past, a few among the tens of thousands of marchers disgracefully chanted racist anti-Arab slogans and sang anti-Arab songs while marching through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. This needs to be roundly condemned. Such actions are reprehensible. In addition, such actions by a small minority give the whole march a bad name. The event organizers need to learn from this and figure out how to prevent this deplorable behavior from recurring year after year.

Another lesson to be learned from this year’s Jerusalem Day is that Israel need not be overly fearful or too mindful of the rhetoric of terrorist organizations. Hamas, with all its bluster, knew that if it were to fire rockets at Jerusalem because of the flag march, Israel would hit back hard. So Israel went ahead with the flag march, and Hamas held its fire. Hizballah knows the same. Their threats and displays of force need to be taken in stride. Israel is not helpless in the face of their threats and, therefore, need not allow their threats to lead to weak knees or dictate Israel’s policies—especially regarding what is and what is not permissible in the country’s capital.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hamas, Hizballah, Israeli Security, Jerusalem


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

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