Washington Post complains Israel's Iron Dome missile defense is too perfect
Israel strengthened its military deterrence during the recent clash with Hamas by demonstrating that its Iron Dome missile defense intercepted Israel-bound rockets from Gaza 84 percent of the time. Most media accounts of Iron Dome in action marveled at its precision performance in preventing most of the rockets from reaching their targets in southern Israel - although a few did get through its new defensive net. Iron Dome was widely credited with keeping Israeli casualties to a bare minimum.
But that's not exactly the view of the Washington Post in its Sunday, Dec. 9, edition. In a front-page article that spills over two pages inside the paper, correspondent Scott Wilson sees a decidedly darker side to Iron Dome. Its very success, he argues, could prompt Israel henceforth to go into a defensive crouch and lose interest in advancing the peace process ("In Iron Dome, an emblem of Israel's unmet challenges").
"Iron Dome has become an emblem of the unmet challenges that sit at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Wilson writes. The key issue, he adds, is whether Iron Dome will motivate Israel's leaders to pursue peace with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world or insulate them from having to do so.
"Israelis of various political leanings (not otherwise identified) see worrying evidence in the system's defensive nature that their country, rather than working to resolve its security problems through decisive military action or lasting peace treaties, is acquiescing to a siege mentality
"If only Israel's diplomacy could be as inventive, many Israelis (otherwise not identified) say, perhaps a solution to the Palestinian conflict could have been found by now."
So, as usual with Washington Post correspondents, it's all Israel's fault that a peace with the Palestinians has not been achieved and Iron Dome will make the situation even worse by prompting Israelis to go into a defensive crouch behind Iron Dome.
In Wilson's eyes, the technical wizardry of Iron Dome makes the system too perfect. It reminds me of a Yiddish saying, "die khale is tzi scheen" - the bride is too beautiful.
However, in painting a dark side of Iron Dome, Wilson fails to give Post readers a fuller account of the necessary ingredients for peacemaking.
Nowhere in his article does Wilson note that, as he was drafting his dispatch, Khaled Meshaal, the supreme leader of Hamas, was visiting Gaza where he got a tremendous reception and the plaudits of tens of thousands Palestinians. Meshaal called for unremitting jihad against Israel to eliminate the Jewish state and establish a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea - conceding even an inch of land to the Jews.
Nowhere does Wilson indicate that Hamas, which rules Gaza, just might be a bigger obstacle to a peace deal than Israel.
Nowhere does he point out that Palestinian leaders summarily rejected Israeli peace initiatives under Ehud Barak in 2000-2001 and Ehud Olmert in 2008. Had they engaged and shown even the slightest willingness to negotiate, they could have had a Palestinian state encompassing all of Gaza, nearly all of the West Bank, and the Arab sectors of East Jerusalem. Olmert even sweetened the deal with his proposal to cede control of Jerusalem's holy sites to an international consortium, with seats reserved for Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Just think how far Israel has gone in offering compromise - the Saudis with a voice over the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest sites! Mahmoud Abbas still said "No."
In Wilson's view, none of this matters as he insists that peace can be achieved only by even more Israeli concessions - with the Palestinians just sitting back and letting Israel do all the heavy lifting.
In addition to Wilson's piece, the Post runs a separate sidebar on Meshaal's visit to Gaza with all his bellicose fulminations against Israel ("Hamas chief lashes out at Israel in Gaza rally" page A16, by Joel Greenberg.)
Greenberg is so taken by Meshaal's "fiery speech," that he gives the floor entirely to this terrorist kingpin, omitting any response from Israel. Such response was Greenberg's for the taking. Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman denounced the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish venom in Meshaal's speech, while challenging Palestinian Authority President Abbas to let the world know if he's willing to pursue unity with Gaza on Meshaal's lethal anti-Israel terms.
With Greenberg and the Post, Israel is either misrepresented or overlooked. Either way, the paper's coverage reeks of utter bias.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy