Emanuel Shahaf

Itzhak Herzog in a dangerous neighborhood

Most of us are aware that we live in what euphemistically is called “a dangerous neighborhood”. We mainly feel that way because both, the media and much of our political leadership, for their own nefarious reasons keep bombarding us with the threats that are out there, real or imagined, rarely ever giving us an objective picture of the complexities that surround us. Presently it’s usually ISIS and/or Iran with Palestinian terror almost absent as the terror spread by ISIS has made our own, local terror threat posed by Hamas and PIJ and to a minor degree by rogue elements of Fatah almost look quaint. One can even discern some confusion among the Palestinian organizations whose punch, when comparing it to ISIS’ barbarism hardly registers any more.

Left wingers are more likely to discount these dangers as they are presented to the public because of prejudice and recognition of the political motives, dismissing them, sometimes much too easily. Right-wingers are more likely to be impressed by the threats, mostly also too easily, because they are, after all, in tune with their prejudice as well.

A recent wargame conducted by SIMLAB at Tel Aviv University under the auspices of Dr. Haim Assa and Prof. Itzhak Ben Yisrael drove home some of the real dangers and at the same time indicated how Israel has to conduct herself to survive in a neighborhood that is quickly becoming not only dangerous but really threatening.

The opening scenario of the wargame/simulation posed ISIS in an all out attack on Bagdad soon after Iran had already signed an agreement with the five+1 powers limiting its nuclear development. The attack and concommitent threat to Shiites and Shiite holy places in Iraq caused Iran to abrogate the nuclear agreement causing a strong US reaction. In the ensuing melee ISIS took over parts of Jordan threatening Israel and Russia asked to join the US in operations against Iran but was rebuffed on account of its takeover attempt of Ukraine, thus causing a severe crisis between Russia and the US.

The wargame was interspersed with cyber attacks which turn out to be critical in the opening stages of any kind of engagement. In addition to the considerable damage they may cause they spread uncertainty due to the difficulty of establishing their true origin quickly enough. Until that has been established, everybody involved in the crisis is limited in his ability to respond causing the conflagration to continue mostly unimpeded. Once their origin has been established cyber attacks are of lesser importance since they expose the originator to more conventional retaliation.

What became clear after this particular simulation is that Israel, in addition to military and cyber prowess, needs flexibility and the ability to forge coalitions, some of them of the strangest kind. The fact that ISIS is potentially threatening Israel, as much as it threatens Iranian interests, shows how interesting and difficult this can get at the same time. Israel’s ability to form those coalitions depends not only on the credibility of its leaders but also on the handling of its own, local crisis with the Palestinians of all factions some of whom are supported by the Sunni world and some by Iran as well.

Keeping that in mind, it should be clear to anybody that if it is credibility, coalition building and the ability and will to deal positively with the Palestinian issue that hold the key to our security in this neighborhood, Itzhak Herzog and his Zionist Camp are the better choice to lead Israel. By far.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".
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