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200,000 missiles aimed at Israel. None fired. Why?

At any given time, about 200,000 missiles are aimed at Israel, Aviv Cochavi, chief of army intelligence, told the VIPs today at the Herzliya Conference.

Two-hundred thousand missiles – another important fact that will go in one ear of the Israeli public and out the other. It plays havoc with a basic national conviction, so it will be discarded.

It’s a basic national conviction that if “the Arabs” could annihilate this country, they would, no matter the cost to themselves. That’s why we bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the Syrian nuclear reactor, and why we’re probably going to bomb the Iranian reactors, or some of them anyway, later this year – because we believe that if “the Arabs” get the means to destroy us, they will. They hate us so much and they’re such fanatics that they don’t care if they die, just so they can kill us.

Well, what does 200,000 missiles aimed full-time at Israel tell you? That “the Arabs” have the power to effectively destroy the country right now. And this is without even mentioning the chemical and/or biological weapons that some Muslim countries are likely to have.

Yet they don’t use that power. Not because they don’t want to. I have no doubt that at the very least, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan would love to fire missiles at Israel. They don’t because they’re deterred by Israel’s power – by all those missiles and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons we’ve got aimed at them. They’re afraid of us. Everybody in the world knows this except Israelis. (The only Arab territory that fires missiles at us is Palestine, which is also the only Arab territory occupied by us. There may be a connection.)

This belief about Arabs is why we attack our neighbors’ nuclear installations, even while we’ve got hundreds of nukes ourselves – because we think of Arabs as scorpions, as killing machines that aren’t afraid, that can’t be deterred.

Two-hundred thousand missiles pointed our way at any given time, and nobody fires them. In one ear and out the other. There’s another war of survival that needs starting.

CORRECTION: Thanks to Alex Kane for tweeting the reminder that Palestine isn’t the only Israeli-occupied territory; the Golan Heights is, too, of course. So why doesn’t Syria fire missiles at us? I’d say because the Golan amounts to only about one-half percent of Syrian land, so it’s not such a pressing issue. But it’s obviously still a sore point; it may come back to haunt us one day.

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    1. There are alternatives. There is always being honest and talking peace in meaningful ways.

      I think the judeochristians want to bring about the apocalipse to prove the bible is right

      Reply to Comment
    2. Guillaume Charron

      There is also the fact that for Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc. Israel is only a side-show, an annoyance which happens to be a useful tool to rule

      Reply to Comment
    3. David

      What do you think would happen to any Arab country which launched missiles against Israel?

      Like Lebanon in 2006, it would result in immediate and heavy retaliation. The subsequent deaths might be spun for propaganda purposes – but at the end of the day, they’d still be destroyed.

      Does this help answer your question?

      Similarly, the USSR engaged only in proxy wars with the USA during the Cold War, despite the arsenal of weapons aimed against the West. Similar thing.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Herbert

      I think the author identifies himself too much with the Israeli government. In my opinion the Arabs do not hate the Israeli people, but the zionist regime and the zionist framework.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Y.

      This post is even more uninformed than the usual fair here.

      A) Israelis do not believe “if the Muslims could annihilate this country, they would, no matter the cost to themselves”. For example, Israel is perfectly aware of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, yet somehow managed to avoid being worried over it. Israelis are more concerned about specific movements and individuals, who have shown a certain theologically inspired madness.

      B) What Aman chief was saying is probably technically true, but a mildly more informed person might note the following:

      1) Missile does not equal launcher. It’s like saying the IDF has a million shells and asking why it hasn’t shot all of them during some conflict or another. The amount of actual launchers is much smaller.

      2) 200,000 missiles are not enough to “destroy Israel”. The vast majority are short range rockets which are unable to reach the center from the areas in question (Note the importance of insignificant per certain Left discourse territory here). The grand total of explosive power is probably less than London received during the Blitz.

      C) I am however happy to see you finally starting to understand deterrence. Perhaps one day you will figure out other concepts such as “balance of power”, “depth” (and “strategic depth”) and so on.

      P.S. I’m also glad to see you’ve assigned the Golan to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      Derfer describes the effectiveness of deterrence. What he doesn’t mention is that this works both ways. When Arab states acquire sufficient military force, like nuclear weapons, it will finally serve to deter Israeli aggression.

      THIS is the reason Israel is so determined to attack Iran – because it wants a monopoly on deterrence. Because it wants to conduct a policy of constant aggression, to attack its neighbors with impunity and suffer nothing in return. So who is the scorpion?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Carl

      I’d agree with Aristeides there. I’d much prefer a region – in fact a world – with no nuclear weapons, but looking from an Iranian perspective, they’d need to be insane not to seek nuclear capacity given the threat America and Israel pose to it. However, they’d also have to be suicidal to use the weapon in anything other than retaliation to a first strike. There’s not much point in wiping out your enemy if you only get 30 minutes to enjoy it. On top of that, what’s the chances of the Iranian regime wanting to be remembered as the people who showered the Haram al-Sharif with radioactive debris, or worse, levelled it?
      As Larry points out, the massive array of missiles aimed Israel’s way is a much greater threat to life and limb, as well as strategically. There’s always a hierarchy of violence in terms of means, but you have to question why so many in the Israeli military and political establishment prioritise a very real threat over an essentially imaginary one.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Case 1. Enough of “The Arabs” (and Iranians) hate Israel and would like to obliterate it and have, today, the means to do it. And don’t. They’re scared. Israel is in no danger from them.

      Case 2. None of them hate Israel. Israel is in no danger from them.

      Case 3. Bibi wants war. Iran is in danger from Bibi, who directs Israel and AIPAC, which direct USA, which directs EU. Wow! what a dangerous world Israel lives in!

      Reply to Comment
    9. delia ruhe

      If they’re afraid to fire those 200,000 weapons aimed at Israel, why do they have them? Are they there to provide Israel with an excuse for fear-mongering?

      Reply to Comment
    10. Steve

      Gaza has fired years and years of rockets into Israel, and Gaza got pounded in response.

      Other countries don’t want to get pounded if they attack Israel, so they don’t. For now.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Zayzafouna

      The missiles are not fired because zionist neighbors fear US retaliation, not Israeli retaliation

      Reply to Comment
    12. aristeides

      Has someone counted the Israeli missiles pointed at its neighbors?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Larry – At the end of your fifth paragraph, you say “(The only Arab territory that fires missiles at us is Palestine, which is also the only Arab territory occupied by us. There may be a connection.)”. Have you never heard of Lebanon? Hezbollah?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Anonymous, when Israel got out of S. Lebanon in 2000, Hizbullah’s rockets stopped – until it made the bad mistake of setting off a border clash in 2006, which sparked an Israeli invasion and in response, Hizbullah began firing rockets again. Since the war 5-1/2 years ago, Hizbullah hasn’t fired any. Again, because they don’t want to? No, because they’re afraid to.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Aaron

      I think the argument here is mostly against a straw man. Which policy makers “think of Arabs as scorpions, as killing machines that aren’t afraid, that can’t be deterred”? What I always hear is the exact opposite: we’ve restored deterrence, בעל הבית השתגע, and so on. It’s impossible to tell exactly who takes the position that’s argued against here, because no one was even named, much less quoted.
      Whether destroying nuclear facilities in Iraq, Syria, and (possibly) Iran is a good or bad idea, it’s a rational decision based on a rational calculation of risks. Possibly mistaken, but rational. It does not imply that deterrence doesn’t work – only that deterrence is not guaranteed to work. It does not imply that the enemy will act irrationally. In fact, it just seems to be a no-brainer that it’s a Good Thing for your enemy not to get super-powerful weapons. Again, I’m not saying that any of these strikes were a good or bad idea. I’m only saying they’re not motivated by the reasoning that Larry Derfner ascribes to them.

      Reply to Comment
    16. ARTH

      All of the Arab states, and peoples, consider the wars Israel launches for its “Defense” as “acts of aggression.” Those in Gaza and those in Lebanon, and those which could be, potentially, elsewhere. All of the Arab states regard Israel as a far more technologically and technically advanced country than their countries, and states, which has the most advanced military hardware in the world, American and other..
      Whatever missiles and other weapons the Arab states have, they regard their existence and regard their goals as as deterrent to Israel, which they regard as an aggressive state as a given and as a point-of-assumption that first established itself on land which seized from its indigenous people, many of whom were expelled (or left because of many Israel-induced tangential causes)and was then settled by Jews from other countries.
      Israel does and can attack Lebanon and Gaza because of Security rationales, but would never attach Syria or Egypt. Why?
      In the case of Syria, the Syrian missiles serve as a deterent: No one wants to find out what would happen and if anything would happen if Syrian suddenly fired its missiles into Lebanon. The other advantage the Syria enjoys in the Arab political game is that by having the UN peacekeepers stationed at the Armistice line of the Yom Kipper war, it does not have to place itself in the embarassing situation of having to police the boarder to prevent terrorists, Palestinian and other, from infiltrating the boarder and attacking Israelis, which would invite Israeli military retaliation on Syrian territory. On the other hand, the UN peacekeeping force does in a defacto manner police the boarder thus serving Syrian security interests while maintaining the regime under comprehensive Arab nationalist political cover.
      One should recall the incident on the Egyptian frontier a few months ago. Initially, Israel tried to deal with it as if it were an incident involving Lebanese territory. That is to say, attack inside the Egyptian territory but then cooler and far more rational heads prevailed because Barak and even Netanyahu backed away from their usual inflammatory and belicose rhetoric for they quickly realized a truth which they had always known on the intellectual level: Egypt can and would fight back and if Egypt would reemerge as a military player, there would be an Arab military option and even if Israel would ultimately triumph in a ground war, cause a great deal of Israeli casualties and force the state to divert resources to the Egyptian threat which would also make it more difficult for Israel to conduct wars in Gaza and Lebanon. Both Netanyahu and Barak understood this implications of a military confrontation with Egypt and quaked in fear…

      Reply to Comment
    17. zvi

      Actually, Hizbollah’s missile are the primary threat to Israel. And as a non-state actor with something to prove to their local and regional supporters (not the Lebanese government), this is a real problem. The last war proved that Israel can inflict massive devastation on Lebanon, but it also proved that we have no viable deterrent against this threat.

      If Israel were to attack Iran, Hizbollah would probably be obliged to respond, regardless of the result on Lebanon. And given the complexity of the operation and amount of resources required to mount a sustained attack on Iran, it is not certain that Israel would be able to respond effectively in Lebanon.

      I am certain that Israel’s military planners are well aware of all these factors, and I sincerely hope that their analysis will be the final one. And Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb would not change much in this regional ‘balance of terror’.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Robert


      Regarding Hezbollah setting off the Second Lebanon War in 2006, take a look at this from the excellent blog Lawrence of Cyberia (Diane Mason).


      There were constant Israeli incursions into Lebanese territory, as will as Israeli kidnappings, which formed the context of the Hezbollah kidnappings which started the 2006 War. These Israeli actions took place behold the threshhold of Israeli mainstream news, and created the impression, and the narrative, that the 2006 War atarted from out of the blue, unprovoked.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Heather

      Isreal is fired on all the time! What is this article talking about!

      No one cares when missiles from Gaza are fired at Isreal, the media only writes articles when Isreal fires back!

      A little one sided don’t you think?

      As for stealing land from Palistinians. Can someoen show me the maps with a nation of Palistian on it, or maybe list the leaders of this nation before Isreal had this land?

      Not to mention the fact that the Jewish faith pre-dates Islam by many hundreds of years. So it seems logical to suggest jews lived on this land long before Islam was even a religion!

      Reply to Comment

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