Is the curtain about to rise on a devastating war between Israel, Iran and its surrogates—a war fought mainly in Lebanon and Israel? If so, are Israel’s supporters ready for the backlash?
Late last month, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s chief of staff, announced that he had ordered updated planning to hit Iran’s nuclear installations. His primary audience might not have been the new Biden team in Washington, D.C.—determined to rejoin the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal—or Iranian leaders themselves.
The Israel Defense Forces’ chief urged the White House not to renegotiate the “bad” Iran agreement halted by the Trump administration. But according to Israeli commentator Caroline Glick, Kochavi “may well have been telling the Israeli public to be prepared for what is coming. And he may also have been telling Israel’s regional partners [the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others] that the time for joint action is now.”
On Feb. 1, less than a week after Kochavi’s declaration, Iran tested its Zuljanah missile with a range of more than 3,000 miles. Glick noted Iranian leaders pressed ahead with the Zuljanah even in an economy battered by mismanagement, Trump’s sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.
Two weeks later, U.S. and Israeli military forces conducted joint training to prepare for both “unprecedented missile attacks from Gaza, Lebanon, and even Syria and Iran” against Israel and possible “use of cruise missiles and suicide drones from western Iraq and Yemen.” From there, Iran could use proxies to strike Israel. The Israeli news site N12 noted that Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, head of the air force’s air-defense program, said the exercise—with an upgraded Iron Dome anti-missile system—met its goals. Now “the operational test is in front of us.”
At the same time, Israel’s air force conducted “a massive surprise exercise simulating a full-scale war with Hezbollah,” according to The Algemeiner online edition. In the 33-day war between Israel and Hezbollah (the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite “Party of God”) in 2006, Hezbollah fired 4,000 rockets and missiles into the Jewish state.
Massively rearmed by Iran, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, Hezbollah now reportedly can launch 4,000 more accurate missiles at Israeli civilian and military targets every day.
In 2006, IDF planes averaged 100 targets daily in Lebanon. This February’s exercise simulated more than 3,000 strikes each day.
Since the end of the 2006 war, Hezbollah has further embedded its missiles and bases within Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. Israeli leaders have cautioned than a new conflict would devastate its northern neighbor.
Hezbollah, thanks to Iran and Russia, possesses advanced surface-to-air missiles. It fired one at an Israeli intelligence gathering drone on Feb. 3. The Iranian-surrogate terror army/Lebanese political party “attempts to hide its activities from Israeli eyes in the sky, while continuing to install missiles and rockets in built-up areas in Lebanon, pointing them at Israeli cities,” wrote Israeli military analyst Yaakov Lappin. Basing combatants and arms among civilians and targeting civilians is a dual violation of international law.
No matter. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, responding to the Israeli exercise, threatened that “if a war occurs, Israel’s home front will experience things that have not happened since the formation of Israel.” Six thousand Israelis died in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence; an equivalent number today would be approximately 90,000.
Leading U.S. and European news outlets repeatedly inverted aggressor and defender, Palestinian civilian and military casualties in coverage of Israel’s 2014 fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They chronically overstated Palestinian non-combatant dead and under-reported attacks and attempted strikes against Israeli civilians.
Last year and even more recently, news media coverage of Israel’s comparatively successful COVID-19 vaccination program periodically sabotaged itself with false claims that Israel denied vaccine to Palestinian Arabs.
Reporting and commentary on a renewed Hezbollah-Israel conflagration might well emphasize a Lebanon in ruins, parents weeping over dead children while downplaying Iranian-funded and directed Hezbollah aggression. Neither the Biden administration nor the media are likely to have Israel’s back.
The White House signals the mullahs in Tehran it wants to talk. It resumed funding the Palestinian Authority despite the P.A.’s incessant anti-Israel incitement and subsidies to the families of terrorist “martyrs.” In the month after his inauguration, President Joe Biden called virtually every other U.S. ally plus Russia and China before getting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A Washington Post editorial approved the snub.
If open Israeli-Iranian warfare erupts, will Israel’s supporters be ready to wage the accompanying psychological war? Will they effectively counter the likely increase in anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic atmospherics and assaults sparked by Middle East combat?
Preparations should be underway.
Eric Rozenman is a communications consultant for the Jewish Policy Center and author of “Jews Make the Best Demons: ‘Palestine’ and the Jewish Question.” The opinions expressed above are solely his own.