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Sunday, 18 November 2012

World Exclusive: More Wile Than Style From Israel’s Secret Weapon!

I’ve been pondering long and hard over Israeli Defence Chiefs' use of words. In times of war, language is of as much strategic importance as the most sophisticated weapons in the arsenal.

At first the present campaign was dubbed ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ with its obvious biblical reference but it has now become known universally as ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’. One must suppose that a title like ‘pillar of fire’ - reminiscent of the great Abba Eban’s TV series  - would have appeared too confrontational as the IDF wishes first to be seen making safe the folks back home, not, heaven forefend, to be deliberately killing helpless innocents on the other side.

Photo: ‎משפט חזק, קצר ולעניין! SHARE IT‎I was very touched by one photograph circulating among pro-Israel Facebook users today. It showed  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking grim, grey and beginning to look his 63 years. I am  not among his adoring fans and won’t vote for him in January but I can sympathise with him as one human being to another. The massive burdens of State must weigh heavily – although he insists on retaining them. He also has family commitments as a husband and father. Nor must I forget that technically he is still in mourning for his own father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu who died only a few months ago.

Brian and I also much appreciate the kind messages of support we have received from friends and relatives, both in the U.K. and the U.S. Everyone may rest assured that as I write, to live in the central Lower Galilee is to continue as though hostilities do not exist. So far, the only rumbles we have heard are those of natural thunder. Military planes soar over head regularly in our neck of the woods. So there’s nothing different to report there. Our main concern is for those we know personally further south, although we do admit an added worry about what could happen should Hezbollah somehow be drawn into the conflict.

We are glad too that so far, western governments have been largely supportive of Israeli actions and that most media  reaction has been favourable. Meanwhile, we have not been surprised by the rent-a-mob antics of demonstrators outside the Embassy of Israel in London, or by the outrageously brazen antisemitism of a cartoon which was published some days ago in The Guardian.

These things do not faze us. Believe me, it is much harder for supportive people outside Israel than  it is presently for us inside it, but safely distant from any fighting.

More aggravating than anything else is reading the sort of waffle produced by a respected Jewish journalist like Jonathan Freedland who insists on seeing Netanyahu’s actions to be election-driven. Nothing could be further from the truth. As David Horovitz of The Times of Israel noted trenchantly when interviewed on Israel’s English language news programme this afternoon, if the Gaza incursion were to go badly, it would severely damage both the Prime Minister and the Likud coalition at the polls in January. The situation over the Gaza border had simply reached a point where Israel had to retaliate. It was not a matter of party politics.

In lighter vein, I have also been considering ways of leavening the pervading gloom and remembered that only two weeks ago, I  spied what are possibly Israel’s less celebrated, but utterly vicious weapons of war.

Armed with more wile than style and a bite to make the most hardened terrorist blench, today I can reveal shots of the residents of the crocodile farm at Hamat Gader, the largest such place in the Middle East.

The animal sanctuary  is part of the well-known spa complex in the Yarmouk River valley, near the southern shore of Lake Kinneret, and  which presently feels dangerously close to where Israel shares borders with Jordan and Syria.

We visited the site on what turned out to be the last full day of Israel’s improbably long, wildly over-heated and impossibly extended ‘Indian summer’. As temperatures if not tempers cool, let’s hope that the invasion into Gaza takes the Prime Minister’s mind off anything he had planned for Iran. Now it’s just a classic game of ‘wait and see’.



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