Michael Oren is right:
In countering Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel has little choice but to strike at those who authorize the attacks: the heads of those organizations. Both Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and Hasan Nasrallah in Lebanon appear indifferent to their own people’s safety. For propaganda purposes, they order rocket crews to operate in densely populated areas so that Israeli retaliation will inflict the maximum number of civilian casualties. But these leaders remain extremely reluctant to pay for terror with their own lives, a fact that Israel discovered when its policy of targeted assassinations compelled Hamas to agree to a cease-fire.
By contrast, punishing the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples collectively, as Israel has been doing, only strengthens their support for terror while creating painful ethical problems for Israelis. And negotiating with the terrorists for their hostages’ release merely encourages them to kidnap more Israelis. Ultimately, Israel has no alternative other than convincing these leaders that terror incurs a personal cost.
But even targeted assassinations are no substitute for deterring the state sponsors of terror. Israel cannot hope for quiet along its borders as long as Hamas leaders continue to direct terror with impunity from Damascus and as long as Hezbollah receives orders from Syria and Iran.
Efforts by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to dissuade Iran and Syria from activating their terrorist agents have consistently proved ineffective. Therefore Israel has no realistic option but to convince these states that the price of promoting aggression is prohibitive. If Israeli soldiers and civilians are the targets of Iranian- and Syrian-backed terror, then the Iranian and Syrian militaries must become targets for Israel.
Iran opened this new front in its war against the West. Syria is Iran’s puppet and ally.
Israel blundered by threatening instead of acting in response to provocation, showing weakness that I think brought on the attacks. Instead of sending planes to buzz Assad’s home Israel should have leveled it. They should have resumed their campaign of assassination against Hamas, and now Hezbollah, leaders. But that’s water under the bridge.
Iran has skillfully exploited the democracies’ aversion to open conflict. The mullahs have played the USA against the Europeans for years, gaining time to pursue WMD programs while the Americans and Euros each hoped the other party would take care of the problem. Now Iran exploits the reluctance of the USA and Israel to do what obviously must be done sooner or later. Israel hopes that the USA will deal with Iran and vice versa.
Israel should take this opportunity (if it hasn’t already done so) to renew its assassination campaign against the Hamas leadership, and to start similar campaigns against the leaders of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Make the leaders personally accountable. Try to kill Assad and his cronies. Go after Ahmadinejad and the mullahs. While they’re at it they should probably also bomb the Iranian oil terminals and other governmental/military targets of opportunity. Such attacks would be audacious and difficult to pull off, but even the attempt would be likely to strike fear into our enemies. And it might succeed.
The people who are behind the war don’t want to be killed or personally endangered. They want to run the campaign by proxy, tie up the Israeli government and military, make life hell for Israeli civilians and split the USA from its Arab allies. So much the better if Israeli counterattacks kill lots of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians and encourage Muslim unity against the Islamofascists’ enemies.
Israel should do what the mullahs probably don’t expect. It should take the war to them, personally. If Israel won’t do it, the USA should.