A recent blog by Anton Marks in the Times of Israel, titled “Outdated paradigms and the Jordan Valley” (Jan 30, 2020) left me wondering: if an Israeli, who lives in Israel, and with “passion for Zionist education, Tikkun Olam and Jewish history”, can be so honestly wrong to consider the conception of the “Jordan Valley as a security border for Israel – an anachronism”, what could one expect from an ordinary well-intentioned intellectual living in the US or in Europe and for whom the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a far-away subject, who is called upon to give a snap judgment about this issue?
This compelled me to write this short blog, and I really hope that Anton Marks will not be offended by my remarks and reply:
Why is the Jordan Valley a vital “security border” for Israel today?
Threats to Israel’s security vary with time: 50 years ago motorized infantry and tanks crossing into Israel from Jordan and arriving to the skirts of the Israeli cities spread along the Mediterranean Sea in less than one hour, were the main threat and the reason for considering the Jordan Valley as the “security border” of Israel.
According to Wikipedia a MANPAD (Man-Portable Air-Defense system) is about 5-6 feet long and weighs about 35-40 pounds. It takes a single person to cross a poorly guarded and monitored Jordan River, move into the West Bank, position himself 4-5 miles from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport and shooting down a civilian airplane carrying 150 passengers, to ignite an all-out war between Israel and the Palestinian State in the West Bank, or between Israel and Jordan.
And it does not have to be a sophisticated MANPAD. A simple 2-3 kg of explosives carried in a backpack across the Jordan River and left in a cafeteria in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv could have a similar effect.
The world still has people who will carry out these actions: witness the several hundred thousand people killed in neighboring Syria in just a few years.
This is just one reason why the Jordan Valley is still today a vital “security border” of Israel.