PTA Commander-in-Chief

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Unbeknownst to most Israelis, this week marked a critical shift for the worse in the regional balance of power. While IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was busy demanding that the government pay a ransom of more than a thousand terrorists for captive soldier Gilad Schalit, few paid attention to Iran’s newest strategic successes.


Over the past week Lebanon capitulated to the Iranian axis. Turkey solidified its full membership in the axis. And Egypt began to make its peace with the notion of Iran becoming the strongest state in the region.


Less than five years after former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by Syria, his son Prime Minister Saad Hariri paid a visit to Damascus to express his fealty to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Days later, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Beirut and began giving the Lebanese government its new marching orders.


On Wednesday, Hizbullah forces deployed openly to the border with Israel under the permissive eye of the US-armed Lebanese army. Lebanon announced that it was no longer bound by binding UN Security Council Resolution 1559 that requires Hizbullah to disarm. And Hariri announced that he will soon visit Teheran.


While Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his media echo chamber insist that Turkey has buried its hatchet with Israel, on Wednesday Prime Minister Recip Erdogan led a delegation with 10 cabinet ministers to Damascus. There, according to the Syrian and Turkish Foreign Ministries, they signed 47 trade agreements.


This Turkish-Syrian rapprochement is not limited to economic issues. It is a strategic realignment. As Assad’s spokeswoman Buthaina Shaaban explained to Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam television channel, “We are working to establish close ties between Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq so these countries can act as one regional bloc in order to promote peace, security and stability in the Middle East, while keeping the West’s dictates and lust for the region’s natural and oil resources at bay.”


For years Egypt has been the most outspoken Arab opponent of Iran’s moves towards regional hegemony. This past summer Egypt did not hesitate to accuse Teheran of trying to overthrow the regime when it discovered a network of Iranian-commanded Hizbullah operatives planning a massive terror assault on the Suez Canal.


Yet on Sunday, Mubarak hosted Ali Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear boss and current speaker of Iran’s parliament in Cairo. Following their meeting Mubarak traveled to the Persian Gulf for consultations on Iran’s nuclear program. Given Mubarak’s poor health, the fact that his meetings with Larijani sent him flying to Saudi Arabia indicate that something of major importance has just occurred.


Many IDF commanders are happy to leave the issue of Iran to the US, which they insist is capable and willing to deal with it. But the fact is that since Iran rejected President Barack Obama’s diplomatic overtures, the US has shown clear signs of strategic dissonance.


While Israel clings to the hope that sanctions might prevent Iran from going nuclear, this week that notion was exposed as a fiction. Although Obama gave the House of Representatives a green light to vote on sanctions against Iran, he quickly demonstrated that Teheran had no reason to worry.


First Obama and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry blocked discussion of sanctions in the Senate. And now – with full White House backing – Kerry is trying again to appease the Iranians by begging them to let him visit Teheran. Clearly appeasement is the only play in Obama’s book.


Furthermore, China’s refusal to back sanctions in the UN Security Council coupled with Lebanon’s and Brazil’s ascension to the council next month obviate any possibility that a harsh international sanctions regime will be instituted against Iran any time soon.


FOR ISRAEL, Iran’s successful moves to preempt American threats to isolate it should have been the top news story and the main issue on the government’s and the General Staff’s agendas. But it wasn’t. Indeed, no one seemed to notice. They were otherwise occupied.


For the past week, the government’s security cabinet and the IDF’s top commanders have devoted themselves entirely to discussing how many terrorists Israel will give Hamas in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Schalit. For three days, the security cabinet met around the clock to discuss this issue alone. And the most insistent advocate for accepting Hamas’s demand that Israel release over a thousand terrorists has been IDF Chief of General Staff Ashkenazi.


On Monday, Channel 2 reported that National Security Adviser Uzi Arad accused Ashkenazi of acting like the president of the IDF’s parents’ association rather than the chief of General Staff. Arad criticized Ashkenazi for demanding that Israel ransom the captive soldier while failing to supply the government with any option to use force to rescue Schalit.


The media pounced on the Arad-Ashkenazi story like hungry wolves. The national debate was dominated for two days by the burning questions of whether or not Arad would apologize, and whether Netanyahu can continue to retain Arad’s services after he insulted Ashkenazi.


Conspicuously absent from the media’s coverage of the spat was any discussion of the reasonableness of Arad’s criticism. So, too, the media ignored the question of what – if anything – Ashkenazi’s behavior tells us about the IDF mindset and disposition as Iran consolidates its regional power.


The fact is that Arad’s criticism was on point. Schalit has been captive in Gaza for more than three years. At no point has the IDF provided the government with an option for rescuing him.


A year ago, Ashkenazi sent the IDF’s best combat units into Gaza. During their stay, they were not ordered to rescue Schalit. And now, a year later, Ashkenazi is demanding that the government pay for the IDF’s failure to rescue Schalit by accepting a deal that will imperil the country. And he is claiming that failure to do so will constitute nothing less than an abdication of Israel’s moral responsibility to its soldiers.


Following the publication of Arad’s attack on Ashkenazi, the IDF’s Spokesman’s Office issued a statement that army commanders are fulfilling their “professional duties” by insisting that Israel ransom Schalit.


This is untrue. It is not the professional duty of IDF commanders to opine on ransom demands. They have no professional qualifications to determine the reasonableness of ransom demands. In Jewish history, the role of ransoming captives has traditionally been the writ of rabbis, not military men. The writ of military men was to rescue them.


The professional responsibility of the IDF is to provide the government with military options for achieving its strategic objectives – including rescuing Schalit. By failing to provide such options, the IDF – with Ashkenazi at its helm – has failed to uphold its professional responsibilities. Worse still, by demanding that the government endanger the country to ransom Schalit, Ashkenazi and his generals are telling us something distressing about how they define their role as military commanders.


The IDF’s apparent confusion about its role is not new. It was this confusion that led the army to fail to present the government with options for defeating Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006 or for defeating Hamas in Gaza last year.


Whereas former prime minister Ehud Olmert properly received most of the blame for Israel’s poor performance in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Cast Lead, th
e fact is that it was the IDF that failed to deliver the goods. The operations the IDF designed, recommended and carried out in both campaigns were not meant to defeat Israel’s enemies. All they were supposed to do was demonstrate Israel’s firepower. And even this wasn’t done particularly effectively.


In 2006, then-chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz rejected a ground invasion of south Lebanon in favor of an air campaign. When it became clear some 24 hours into the operation that an air campaign would be incapable of defeating Hizbullah or even degrading its ability to paralyze northern Israel with short-range rockets and missiles, Halutz and his deputies refused to conduct a ground assault. And, when after three weeks of failure they finally deployed ground forces in significant numbers, they didn’t know what to tell them to do.


For his part, Ashkenazi sat on his hands for months as southern Israel was pummeled with rockets and mortars from Gaza and refused to offer the government a military option for protecting the South. When last December Hamas forced his hand by announcing that it was abrogating its cease-fire with Israel, Ashkenazi grudgingly agreed to let the IDF respond to its aggression. But even then, he opted for an operational concept that had no chance of defeating Hamas. Ashkenazi rejected the notion of retaking the Gaza-Egypt border. He refused to order IDF forces into Gaza’s population centers. By opting not to do these things, Ashkenazi guaranteed that the IDF would accomplish little. Consequently, even top IDF commanders acknowledged this week that the army will be forced to return to Gaza in due course. There, thanks to Ashkenazi’s refusal to defeat Hamas, Israel’s soldiers will face a far more formidable foe than the one they were not allowed to defeat last year.


While refusing to fight Israel’s enemies, under Ashkenazi, like under Halutz before him, the IDF has enthusiastically attacked religious Zionists. Since 2002, the only sustained operation the army has carried out successfully was the expulsion of all Israelis from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005.


When Defense Minister Ehud Barak severed the IDF’s ties with the Har Bracha Yeshiva last week, he was acting on Ashkenazi’s advice. Ashkenazi has promoted anti-settler commanders like Col. Yitzhak Barr. As a brigade commander in Samaria, Barr has reportedly prohibited his soldiers from fraternizing with Israeli families on Shabbat and personally refused to visit IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Rontzky at his succa during Succot.


EVERY DAY the dangers to Israel’s security and very survival mount. At this time, the government and the people of Israel need to be able to trust in the IDF’s ability to defend the country. Rather than earning that trust, those tasked with our defense are spending their time berating the political leadership for their own failures. Moreover, they are expressing a disturbing desire to pass the buck on fighting Israel’s enemies while aggressively hounding Israelis.


This situation is unacceptable. Either Ashkenazi and his generals should prove they are capable of performing their jobs, or they should be replaced.


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
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  • Marcel 12/25/2009 at 10:38

    Ashkenazi is only an airhead following orders. Puppets need only apply in the new Israel of today.
    You describe well the actions of a third rate bananna republic ruled by gangsters serving their godfather pimp Sam quite well.
    Can you blame Turkey for dumping the weak,defeatist,losers who are always in surrender and capitulation mode to please their old dying pimp ?
    Defeatists losers and surrender and retreat secular Jews now always float to the top in Israel leadership these days .
    It is a plan for defeat and this is pleasing to your everyone but the settler resisters.
    Godfather pimp is firmly in control of Israel’s carefully planned downfall and this is why the Baraks can claim victory only against the settlers.
    The truth niave Jews headed for slaughter will never acknowledge because they love their sugardaddy more than Aba,life itself.
    How can the IDF even dare to dwell on the concept of victory since this was one of the first things surrendered by Israel under the Road Map to hell.
    The slide to hell has been with your full support to please godfather Sam.You allowed the snake in to train your enemies to kill Jews and gave them the weapons to do it and you did nothing to stop it ,not even the great Netanyahu has turned the tide of hell now overrunning the once great and soverign nation which sold it’s birthright for a plie of Washington sh%*.
    You are almost there Israel.When you get to hell there will finally be a correction but incredible costly in death and blood.
    That is the only thing that will get the remaining survivors in Israel to change course and do what should have been done at the onset.
    Maybe then the criiminals who betrayed Israle to please their pimp daddy will find the justice so lacking today in the perverted land of Israel where they are held in shuch honor and esteem.
    Maybe then Netanyahu and Barak and the rest of the sell out betrayers of Israel will be behind bars no longer holding their miserable heads up high and then Israle will serve and honor their Only God,Father,Aba.

  • norma dosky 12/25/2009 at 13:16

    it is noteworthy that those who advocate violence do so anonymously!! throughout history jews contributed to the advancement of the human race—but now when they have a country of their own they resort to violence against their arab neighbors? these are the same people who gave you refuge when catholic europe was torturing and indiscrimately killing jews because they are jews—just like zionist israel is doing against the arabs.
    there is an old arab proverb that states: ‘when you do good for someone, you dont expect something good in return—but you do not expect something bad!!!
    killing never solved anything but rather brought about more bloodshed and suffering—and ultimately there are no winners.

  • NormanF 12/25/2009 at 13:34

    IDF Leftists like IDF Chief Of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi have prepared military options against settlers who defy the freeze. In contrast, they have refused to prepare military options to defeat Hezbollah and Hamas or to even deal with Iran’s nuclear threat. This says something profound about the shift in the IDF’s values and orientation. The IDF’s values are no longer about defending the State Of Israel and defending its sovereign territory. Its values are now about appeasing the country’s enemies and waging a war upon the part of the population (Religious national Zionists) most committed to defending the country’s survival. The IDF’s orientation has changed from an army imbued with a Zionist can do spirit to an army infected by post-modern moral flabbiness and a sustained unwillingness to defend the country in the face of mounting threats. What is clear is that Ashkenazi and the IDF top brass reflect this change in the army’s values and orientation and they must be replaced if Israel is to survive.

  • Anonymous 12/25/2009 at 17:32

    Askenazi has been for more then 3 years as head of the IDF his time as the commander is soon over. Maybe he is trying to get that one last “success” on his name like all recent Israeli leaders seem to like doing.
    But what do you think about the other thing thats going on? Netanyahu is also trying very hard to get Kadima or some parts of it into the coalition. Does this mean he might ditch Barak’s way of dealing with things ? Or will he take them to a new extreme that might resemble the summer of 2005.
    It seems like Barak and Ashkenazi forgot that we have an enemy to deal with are trying to inject politics into the military and religion, you would wish they put so much effort to dealing with the leftist who for refuse to serve and join the army as they are now to do with people who join the army and are part of our best fighters but disagree with some of the current politicized actions of the military and with to not be part of it.
    Looking from far away it feels like the Schalit issue has gone out of hand espeically when the media keeps criticizing Netanyahu and Israel for any delays and failures but saying nothing about Hamas tacitcs to delay create strong false public opinion that the deal is close but because Israel won’t give more its not happening when they are forgetting like you said that we are dealing with terrorists not just criminals that want to be released.

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 12/25/2009 at 18:36

    IDF generals are destabilizing the country. Iran and its allies know Israel is headed toward a civil war amongst Yesha residents and the government. Unfairly evicting hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews from their homes will bring war not peace. And releasing 1000 Arab convicts for one IDF soldier proves that terrorism works. Effective leadership begins at the top, and Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to replace General Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Barak. Mr. Netanyahu must strictly adhere to the Likud Party’s platform or resign, and anything less will imperil Israel.

  • Perfected Democrat 12/26/2009 at 11:01

    “Conspicuously absent from the media’s coverage …”
    Dishonesty by omission, says it all. The liberal left leaning MSM in the free world, as the most significant providers of news and information for the masses, are the preeminently hypocritical enablers of our most serious problems by their shameless and shallow ideological partisanship; too stupid, apparently, to recognize that they are the next line of targets for the totalitarian hard-left and largely fundamentalist muslim axis. Real people at the bottom of the “food chain” are the resultant victims of individualized sniper, kidnapping and terrorist attacks, but which are largely inconsequent to the media; however, over a long period of time it amounts to mass murder. The enemy only negotiate when they are unable to dictate, and when they do they never negotiate honestly. The MSM enables this by their intent cowardice and dishonesty in failing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth…

  • Marcel 12/26/2009 at 18:21

    ‘the (enemy) never negotiate honestly
    The MSM enables this by their intent cowardice and dishonesty’
    Lets not forget who has pressured and intimidated Israel in this peace farce.
    Who elevated Abbas to the status of reliable peace partner.
    Who funds and trains the Fatah security/terrorist forces.
    Who has always restrained Israel in dealing with these Islamic terrorists going back to President Clinotn without interruption.
    Who was the first nation to scornfully abuse Israel for using disproportinate force and demand that they stop doing so while they have been doing the same in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Who has always overlooked Palestinian non compliance with said peace agreement and always come against Israel for nonsense non issues.
    If the US were not siding with the Palestinian terrorists against Israel,the Palestinians would have been broken and defeated long ago.
    We know who the enabler is don’t we ?
    What I am trying to say is that this peace scam is rigged for Israel to lose by none other than the US of A whether under Democrat or Republican rule and most of you don’t have the backbone to say it like it is … or you only go as far as blaming the MSM.
    Can we try and extricate ourselves from the delusion that America is good and moral because that is nothing but a lie.
    America is selling weapons to Hizbollah controlled Lebanon because it is profitable for some people in the US who have donated substantial sums of money to both corrupt parties.
    Ouch,the truth hurts doesn’t it.

  • Anonymous 12/27/2009 at 0:25

    I like to think Sgt. Shalit is worth 2000 of their gentile jihadists but setting them free is not what Gilad serves for. Nor should it be what Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi commands for. PM Netanyahu, Gen. Ashkenazi and others seem to have forgotten who they are. They command the greatest army in the world! They cut their teeth on the walls of Jericho that toppled at the sound of the shofar. Even today, no one comes close to the power to weight ratio of the IDF. I’m no strategist or tactician. I don’t know what maneuvers to suggest but I know HaShem that brought us this far.
    They may be getting deluded. This may be a sign of the times; the “last daze”. Nations are falling in line for the Gog Magog War of Ezekiel 38&39. One more empire remains to rule over Israel before HaMeshiach comes according to Daniel 2. Already the clay is mixed with the iron and iron with the clay. Don’t despair when these feet of Nebuchadnezzar tread upon Eretz Israel. The Stone cut without hands, the Rock of our salvation, will surely crush them both.

  • Shaun 12/27/2009 at 4:27

    Israel is the first nation to be re-established after almost 2000 years of non-existance. If God was willing to bring the nation back after 2000 years, why would he let the Iranians, Syrians, et. al. undo his work? I say fear not O Israel, God will fight for you in ways you can’t even imagine.

  • allen 12/28/2009 at 3:17

    whether or not chief of staff Ashkenazi is right or wrong , being a puppet is not the point , he is after all subservient to the government that he serves, and that of course is a good thing , so any criticism should be addressed to the government , , as far as decisionsin the future regarding the threats from Iran , . im confident will be faced , you cant say6 what plans are drawn up , and its right that this is so

  • Toni 12/28/2009 at 10:10

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Hasn’t anyone even read,”They must be stopped” by Brigitte Gabriel?

  • Jorge Banner 12/28/2009 at 12:00

    It is very perplexing for those who live outside of Israel to understand this apparent death wish the Israelis have. There are many ways to express this but half-assedness and self-defeatism seem the more appropriate ones. Very perplexing. One thinks of the Moshe Dayan generation and the very foundation of the State and is amazed at the power of the left to corrupt, pervert and dissolve even the will to live of a great people like the Israelis.
    How amazingly in tune with that about 78% of American Jews who voted for the muslim lover hussein and his Jew-hating marxist administration.
    Between Israeli Jews and American Jews one doesn’t understand why Jew haters don’t just back down, take a seat and let the Jews destroy themselves.
    It seems to me Jews have learned nothing from history and instead of fighting like the best for the West and its values they are amongst the first to spit on their own face and the face of the values that have allowed them to survive.
    In this fashion the muslim cannibal horde has an assured triumph. Time is on their side. And it seems that most Jews are on their side, too.
    Things as they are I can easily foresee the day with the UN will announce the dissolution of the State of Israel to the enthusiastic applause of millions of leftist Jews all around the world.
    Very perplexing.

  • Marcel 12/28/2009 at 12:55

    ‘whether or not chief of staff Ashkenazi is right or wrong , being a puppet is not the point , he is after all subservient to the government that he serves’
    The reality which you and so many others miss is what government he and Netanyahu serve.
    It’s not Israel’s interests that they serve first and foremost.
    Who really controls Israel.
    Can anyone answer this question with a truthful and honest responsed based on the facts ?
    The top leadership of Israle have all been compromised and hijacked by the globalists and their anti-Israeli agenda and no longer serve Israel’s interests but the globalist bullies of the US,UN,EU.
    This is why Israel has lost it’s sovereignty and become a slave to green lights and permission to do anything of real importance.
    The rats in Washington even called Israles national security chief to ask why 3 fatah terrorist were killed in the west bank last week.
    The truth most of you ignore is that they have Israel on a very short leash and the dogs in Jerusalem, Netanyahu,Barak and Ashkenazi are trained to obey on command.
    How can so many of you be so blind to this fact.
    Are there drugs in the Israeli water supply that turn the average Israeli into a mind numbed and obedient slaves to the agenda of the globalists now in control of Israel’s slow,planned extermination.
    That is the only thing the 2 state solution is about and anyone who is for it has already been brainwashed and neutralized.

  • Perfected Democrat 12/28/2009 at 17:09

    “Ouch,the truth hurts doesn’t it.”
    I don’t disagree with you Marcel. However, I hold the free media to a higher standard than all other people, because their’s is (should be) an inferred mission of authentically and objectively championing the truth; a mission which they crassly and consistantly betray; and why they are the preeminent hypocrites. In position to make and break the politicians, they choose shallow partisanship and collaboration in lieu of their inferred fiduciary duty to report the unexpurgated truth. From my point of view that makes them one step more culpable than the politicians; since the Obama’s and company don’t thrive without that enabling press.

  • David Francis 12/28/2009 at 23:02

    I’m the “anonymous” that says Sgt. Shalit is worth 2000 gentile jihadists. I’m with Shaun. The resurrected Israel continues to inspire faith in me the more I learn about it. HaShem has surely remembered His people. Yom Ha’atzmut marks the beginning of the end of the age of gentiles. The iron and clay must tread Israel though for the 70th seven of Daniel 9. After that the Lion of Judah will truly be King and Jerusalem His throne over the earth and there will be rest. Hallelujah!

  • 12/29/2009 at 8:47

    Thanks, Caroline, for your insight. I appreciate your perspective on the events of the the week that wld have otherwise flown below my radar screen.

  • anon 12/30/2009 at 17:21

    The central fact is that Israel has already surrendered to its enemies. It did so at the time of Prime Minister Rabin. It was called the “Peace Process.” It is a gradual surrender. The balloon is deflating slowly. Soon it will disappear altogether with hardly a poof! Why else turn over one thousand murderers for one hapless nerd who got himself kidnapped while Pollard languishes in prison forgotten? Why else is Israel the only country in the world who kicks real Jews, who are fulfilling the Zionist dream, from their homes and off their land? The Quislings that head that country will have a lot to answer for.

  • Marcel 12/31/2009 at 8:15

    free media ?
    Are you serious ?
    Where have you been ?
    We lost the free media a long,long time ago.Way back many decades ago when the Marxist professors took over our schools and Universities.
    They’ve completed the take over of our Government as the right wing think tanks and tea party grass roots use their pails full of holes to try and hold back the ocean of evil which has flooded in to fill the void when we decided to kick God out in 1962.
    It’s over for America.
    There is no hope for a stupid,reprobate nation that assumes to poke it’s finger in God’s eye by dividing Israel and Jerusalem.
    When He is no longer on your side and has become your enemy,you might as well drop the delusional dreamings of the damned and lost and get off this Titanic ship off fools and seek God alone.

  • yuval.hatikva 01/01/2010 at 5:49

    One can deal with terror in two ways:
    One: Get them before they commit terror
    two: Exact revenge after they commit terror.
    The first is the Jewish way. the second is the jurisprudence, Israeli way.
    This, if you haven’t noticed is not the jewish state. This is the Israeli mandate for Palestine, ambiguous in its fidelity to the Zionist ideas. Ashkenazi is not the COS of the jewish armed forces, but of the Regime armed forces. He serves the regime, not the people.
    So let the chips fall where they may. The only motivation for action in this here Israeli mandate is a river of blood issuing from the regime’s favorites in Tel-aviv. Abu mazen and Ahmedinejad will see to it that the blood-letting will not be limited to the hills. Then and only then will the mandate act to protect itself.

  • Ron Kilmartin 01/04/2010 at 0:24

    Caroline – from above:
    ” Many IDF commanders are happy to leave the issue of Iran to the US, which they insist is capable and willing to deal with it. But the fact is that since Iran rejected President Barack Obama’s diplomatic overtures, the US has shown clear signs of strategic dissonance.”
    Well put. IDF commanders should forget about any US help, and indeed develop tactical plans to circumvent possible US interference on Iran’s behalf; as Obama once said, if you want to know about me, look at the people around me. The nation-wreckers (czars) around him are loaded with haters of Israel.
    Obama’s mission is to “transform” the USA Gramscii style to socialist serfdom and foreign entanglements only get in his way. He will likely not only not help Israel, his actions to date show that his cloudy unpredictable decision machinery is likely to come down on the side of the moullahs.
    Israel needs to quite living a pipe dream.


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