Daily Israel Report

Israel is 'Choosing not to Win', Says British Expert

Barak Seener of RUSI says Israel 'should have gone in harder,' must reclassify human shields as combatants and stop aborting airstrikes.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/25/2014, 10:18 AM

IAF airstrike in Gaza
IAF airstrike in Gaza
Reuters

Barak Seener, an Associate fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, thinks Israel is “choosing not to win” the war in Gaza.

Seener – who has provided analysis and expert commentary for a range of international broadcasters and news outlets including the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Chinese CCTV, Fox News, Sky News, Voice of America, Bloomberg, Reuters and Xinhua – told Arutz Sheva that Israel is pursuing a misguided approach to the war, both on the ground and in the battle of words and images. The result will inevitably a deterioration of Israel's international standing, as the war wears on.

“In general,” he explained, “modern warfare is not geared towards protracted conflict, and thus Israel should have initially gone in harder. This was prevented by a lack of extensive sound intelligence of tunnels and the whereabouts of Hamas operatives. Israel's diplomatic standing will decline as Europe does not anymore understand the power of ideologies, let alone a genocidal, zero sum game Islamist and suicidal ideology.”

Is Israel's hasbarah effort regarding the effort to avoid civilian casualties doing any good?

“There is so much that has been reported in Israeli news outlets but has not been reported in European outlets. This includes Hamas executing Fatah members, children digging tunnels, concrete being redirected to building tunnels rather than hospitals and schools, the affluence of Hamas's leadership who divert funding to the Palestinians to their own personal accounts, even pictures of tunnels were reported by the Washington Post a few weeks earlier than Reuters.

“The main issue is that Israel should take exactly the same initiatives (not more) as Allied forces have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. While it is natural that Israel should seek to avoid civilian casualties, its priority is to its own civilians and soldiers. Israel has failed as there is a current stalemate of its civilians under attack, Hamas perpetuating its firing of rockets with Israel's economy having been hurt as a result.

Barak Seener Facebook

“If Israel chooses not to win a war against Hamas decisively then it will continue to conduct reprisal attacks while emphasizing its avoidance of civilian casualties. If it seeks to win decisively then Israel will not cede the initiative and strategic surprise to Hamas by announcing beforehand where it plans to strike. This serves to embolden Islamism and provokes them to continue their practices of human shields and firing of rockets.

“Paradoxically, the only way to win decisively is by reclassifying human shields as combatants and demonstrating that Israel will not abort strikes or hand Hamas the initiative by announcing beforehand Israel's plans. It is tragic that civilians unwittingly find themselves as combatants, but this may be the only way to demonstrate to Hamas the futility of their current strategy of human shields, which has already caused their popularity to plummet in Gaza and the broader arab world.

“Imagine, had US forces announced to ISIS its strike plans and in turn handed to them the strategic initiative. It would be considered absurd! Israel has nothing to be proud of with such a morally dubious approach of letting Hamas know where and when it plans to strike. Israel should be consistent. If it resents being subjected to double standards, then it should not subject itself to norms and procedures that no military of any western liberal democracy would ever consider. The way Israel is conducting its measures against Hamas may create a precedent for allied forces abroad."

How does the conduct of the war tie in to the rise in anti-Semitism?

“Anti-Semitism has spiked in Europe. The unfortunate irony of Zionism is that while it was intended to be an antidote to anti-Semitism, it led to its mutation from an ethnic to nationalistic critique. In the past, Israel failed to call for an international condemnation of the PA's outlets that projected classical antisemitism and incitement.

“Only recently has Israel recognized the genocidal ideology driving Hamas, and there is no reason why the international community should be more catholic than the pope on this matter. Israel in the past took the initiative in reframing the conflict as nationalistic and territorial and thus willing to make territorial compromises. The international community merely followed suit. Furthermore, Israel also did not preemptively take to task bodies that disproportionately critiqued, and delegitimized the state of Israel.”

What is Britain's Jewish community doing about anti-Semitism and Israel bashing?

“There is a causal relationship between disproportionate criticism of Israel and an increase of anti-Semitism in Europe and it is impossible to address one effectively without the other. Representatives of the Jewish community in Britain have been severely wanting in countering anti-Semitism. Every campaign has sprung up from the grassroots, and has not originated or been coordinated by the Board of Deputies or Jewish Leadership Council.

“The former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, has condemned European anti-Semitism, but when he addresses the Middle East, the only thing he mentions is the plight of Christians. In this manner, he fails to effectively represent his constituencies' interests in the UK and represent his peoples' safety and security in Israel. Why should the non-Jewish leadership be any better than the Jewish leadership in the UK?”