Berkowitz in Weekly Standard: Most Immediate National Security Challenge Israel Faces Comes From Within

Reforming the Israeli political system to produce leaders of whom the nation can be proud and who will carry out the people's will may be the most immediate national security challenge currently faced by Israel says Professor Peter Berkowitz, commenting in The Weekly Standard on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent speech at the seventh annual Herzliya Conference on Israel's security.

Olmert's Herzliya address provides few concrete answers to the question of how Israel can address its most immediate national security issues, Berkowitz contends, and underscores widespread dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Oy Vey!; Israel contemplates its political leaders, The Weekly Standard, February 5, 2007. By Peter Berkowitz.

"When pushed, many military analysts acknowledge that Israel's strategic situation in October 2006, after the war, was in critical ways superior to what it had been in June 2006, before the war began.

"First, in the early days of the conflict, Israel destroyed most of Hezbollah's intermediate and long-range missiles. Second, Israel destroyed Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold, including its financial and technical infrastructure. Third, Israel killed roughly a third of Hezbollah's fighting force, about 750 out of a 2,000 to 3,000-man army (while 119 Israeli soldiers were killed). Fourth, the war resulted in the Lebanese army being deployed to the south of the country, bringing that region under the government's control for the first time in more than 30 years. Fifth, the war focused European and American attention on the extent of Iranian influence in Lebanon and Syria. And sixth, the unprecedented statements in the opening days of the war by three pro-American Sunni monarchies -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan -- blaming the outbreak of this war not on Israel but on Israel's Arab antagonist, evidenced a momentous transformation in the region. For 60 years the fundamental fault line had run between Israel and the Arabs or Israel and the Palestinians. The second Lebanon war demonstrated that the fundamental fault line had shifted dramatically: It now runs between Sunnis and Shiites, or Sunni Arabs and Shiite Iran."

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