As military analyst Yaakov Katz wrote recently in The Jerusalem Post, “Something has changed in Israel.” Once, it was renowned for daring military operations like the 1972 capture of five Syrian intelligence officers, the 1976 raid on the hijacked aircraft at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, and even as recently as 2007, the airstrike on a Syrian nuclear reactor. Today – following the Gilad Schalit swap last month for more than 1,000 convicted Palestinian terrorists – it is perceived by many as a country that caves to the arrogant demands of its enemies.
With Iran on the verge of acquiring the nuclear capability it needs to, as Ahmadinejad is fond of saying, “wipe Israel from the map,” many wonder if Israel is considering a possible preemptive military strike. But is Israel the country it once was? These days it seems it can barely push back against the Obama administration’s pressure to negotiate with Hamas and return to indefensible borders. Does an Israel that seemingly surrendered to the demands of terrorists have what it takes to neutralize the looming threat of a nuclear-weaponized Iran?
Yaakov Katz is the military correspondent and defense analyst for The Jerusalem Post and the Israel correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, the international military magazine. Katz led the Post’s coverage of the recent IDF wars and operations, including the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009. He served in the IDF Armored Corps and lectures widely in the U.S. and Israel on military affairs. His first book, Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War was a 2011 national bestseller in Israel and will be published in the U.S. next March.
Earlier this month at Temple Ner Maarav in Encino, California, Katz spoke on the recent, world-changing upheavals in the Middle East, particularly how the so-called Arab Spring is quickly degenerating into an Islamic Winter. He discussed how dramatic developments like the Schalit exchange are impacting Israel, its national security, and its future.
For Katz, one word characterizes the so-called Arab Spring: uncertainty. Will the Muslim Brotherhood make Egypt an Islamic state? When will Syria’s Assad be deposed, and when he does, into whose hands will his extensive arsenal of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons fall? Will the Iranian regime itself succumb to revolution? Such questions are at the core of the Israeli Defense Force’s challenge: how to prepare for the various elements of uncertainty arising in the wake of the Arab Spring/Islamic Winter.
The big winner and beneficiary of the Middle Eastern turmoil referred to blithely by the mainstream media as the Arab Spring is Iran. With Arabic regimes toppling left and right, Iran remains standing strong, and a looming threat to Israel, which it openly promises to obliterate. The window of opportunity for an Israeli military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities is closing rapidly. Katz says such a military option is unlikely to be chosen soon, but Israeli President Shimon Peres said recently that
The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option.
Where Iran is concerned, Katz pointed out, there are two clocks ticking: the nuclear clock and the revolution clock. Both are ticking down, but which will run out of time first?