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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 10, 2014 As the calendar turns, Netanyahu says Israel 'doing better' despite 'harsher reality' By Shlomo Cesana, Gonen Ginat, and Amos Regev JNS .org In his office, next to photos of his wife and family, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu keeps a portrait of Theodor Herzl. "He was a prophet. A mod- ern prophet," Netanyahu says, further naming Zionist pioneer Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, and Likud party founder and former prime minister Menachem Begin as equally important Zionist leaders. In an interview with Israel Hayom ahead of Rosh Hasha- nah, Netanyahu applies those past leaders' experiences to the present day. "The main quality a statesman should possess is foresightand subse- quently the ability to properly navigate an ever-changing reality," he says. As the Hebrew calendar turns to the year 5775, the prime minister shares his perspective and strategy, and analyzes the changing reali- ties in the Middle East. Israel Hayom: Is Israel doing better or worse than it was doing on the eve of Rosh Hashanah last year? Benjamin Netanyahu: "We are doing better while facing a harsher reality. The reality around us is that radical Islam is marching forward on all fronts. This reality poses a challenge for us, as well as/or the rest of the world. One of my duties as prime minister is making sure the world un- derstands that ourwar against these Islamic organizations and states, as well as against the Islamic Republic of Iran, is their war as well. "We are actually doing better now because on one of those fronts, Hamas, has received a debilitating blow, the likes of which it hasn't received since it seized control of the Gaza Strip. We targeted each of Hamas's capabilities and we set it back years--its rocket stockpiles, by killing 1,000 terrorists, destroying terror tunnels, demolishing terror towers, and crippling infrastructures Hamas spent years building. "I believe we achieved the operation's objective, mean- ing achieving lasting peace and quiet by re-establish- ing deterrence via dealing [Hamas] a massive blow. What happens if they try again? They will be dealt a doubly debilitating blow--and they know it." Why didn't Israel vanquish Hamas? "The answer to that question is very complex and it entails a variety of considerations. One of those considerations is a spatial consideration, which cannot be ignored. We have Hamas in the south, al-Qaida and the Nusra Front in the Golan Heights, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Islamic State in the east; and above all we have Iran, which has abandoned neither its support of some of these terrorist groups, nor its plans to acquire nuclear weapons. "I have decided that the best way to tackle these problems is to seriously undermine Hamas in Gaza, but refrain from getting dragged in there. Oth- erwise, we would have found ourselves fighting not a 50-day war, but a 500-day one, and the heavy toll would have included more than human lives, but other areas as well. We would have had to face the question of what to do with the seized terri- tory; there would have been an international price to pay--and all ofthatwouldn't have yielded a much better result. "I think the difference between a good commander and a bad commander, is that a good commander knows how to achieve the declared goals for a lesser price. We would have ended up with the same result, only with a much heavier price, and I don'twant to elaborate further." How influential was the IDF in preventing a wider ground operation in Gaza? "Nothing was prevented. We used combined judg- ment-mine, the defense minister's, and the chief of staff's, and eventually that of the cabinet members. I won't comment on cabinet meetings, but I can say that within the cabinet there was, most of the time and when it came time to decide, unanimity about the nature of operations. "[Operation Protective Edge] was executed according to an outline and objectives I had set. The first order of business was targeting the terror tunnels in the south. That was a massive aerial strike. Then came preparing international public opinion, via conversations I had with prominent leaders... I made it clear to them that unless a cease-fire was struck, we would have to launch a ground operation against the tunnels, something that was not ac- ceptable at the time. "When we had completed uncovering the tunnels, I made the decisionto pull the military out of [enemy] fire range, because I thought it was pointless to leave the sol- diers there, and that the right thing to do was to resume the aerial strikes. The thing that guided me, and proved right, was that at the end of the day, the [aerial] campaign would trump [Hamas's] attrition, be- cause our firepower is greater than theirs. That's also what happened--they agreed to our demand for a cease-fire." With the negotiations re- suming in Cairo, both Is- rael and Hamas have their demands. What is your "red line"? "The goal is to make it clear that we are focused solely on two issues: ensuring our se- curity interests, as well as the ability to send humanitarian aid and supplies that would assist in rebuilding the ruins, in favor of Gaza's population. Naturally, we have demands of our own, and we have the necessary tenacity to reject any demands the other side might make that we find unacceptable. We have been doing so successfully." What should Israel do next about the broader threat of radical Islam? "Fight it everyway possible, and simultaneously explain the 'ideological' aspect. We don't necessarily have to say that [Iran and Islamic State] are operating from the same command center, but rather that they have a common ideology:'Whowill be the next caliph? Who will rule a world dominated by radical Islam?' "Such a world has no room for Jews, seculars, homosexu- als or minorities, andwe know where they believe women belong. This is a serious threat because they are sending their tentacles all over the world-- the United States, Europe, Australia, Russia, China, and Africa--this is a global threat. Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Western Wall on Jan. 22, 2013. "I believe that my role as the prime minister of Israel is to make it clear that the threat we face is one the entire world faces. We understand that, but many worldwide don't understand this threat." There are those within the Likud party who say that "leadership cannot grow in your shadow," which is why some have chosen to leave the party. What is your response? "So that's what they say. I can tell you that the public is saying otherwise, as is the impression among Likud members. Party members are very enthused, very sup- portive, And you know what? Today, after Operation Protec- tive Edge, I have the support and appreciation of those who didn't vote for me. That's the truth I have encountered. "I compare the support today to that of a year ago, be it from the public or with in the Likud, and I'm stronger than ever bothwithin myparty and among the general public." Does this mean you will be seeking another term in office? "Yes, alsolutely." Have disagreements be- tween the U.S. and Israel turned from just disagree- ments into a real crack in the relationship? "No. I think the relation- ship between Israel and the United States is based on solid foundations, and at the end of the day, large parts of the American public feel a deep affiliation with Israel. The difference is like nightand day compared to the situation in Western Europe. That stems from historical, political, cul- tural and many other reasons. "There is a deep bond between Israel and the U.S, and every administration subscribes to that. It is a deep connection. Only recently the Senate passed a resolution declaring Israel a major stra- tegic partner, and Congress appropriated $235 million in [defense] aid [to Israel]. These are the markings of a very deep bond." What is your plan regard- ing Israel's standing in the Middle East?  "We're talking about ce- menting and advancing Is- rael's power. The changes leading Arab nations have undergone have led them to view Israel not as their traditional enemy, but as a partner against three radical Islamist threats: the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, al- Qaeda and its offshoots, the likes of Islamic State and the Nusra Front, and the radical Shiites, who are sponsored by Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. "Can this realization trans- late into a more open relation- ship that further promotes a responsible, sober and safe diplomaticprocess? Onlytime will tell. It's worth exploring." Are you saying that a new alliance has been formed between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel? "That's taking things a bit far. But aword to the wise: you saw exactly how various [Arab] nations reacted [favorably] when we mounted a forceful response against Hamas and Islamic Jihad." What is your message to the Israeli public for the new year? "We have weathered a chal- lenging year... We've been able to stop the infiltrators' phe- nomenon from Sinai--rivers of illegal migrants were about to flood the county. That prob- lem has been" solved, and we are removing those who have entered Israel illegally. This year alone 6,000 infiltrators were removed. This problem, which preoccupied all of us just a year ago, no longer resonates as loudly. "We have also developed our economy and withstood regional upheavals, the likes of which this region has not seen since the fall of the Ot- toman Empire. "I was glad to see the resilience, strength, and bravery our people have demonstrated. Our younger generation, IDF soldiers, they have proven themselves as a wonderful generation, a heroic generation. "I wish all of us a happy new year. A safe year. I will do everything in my power to make it a quiet year as well." This interview was original- ly published by Israel Hayom, whose English-language con- tent is exclusively distributed by By Eli E. Hertz Myths & Facts Palestinian Arabs have concentrated many of their terrorist attacks on Jews in Palestinian terror in the City of Peace Jerusalem, hoping to win the city by an onslaught of suicide bombers who seek to make life in the City of Peace unbear- able. But this is not a new tactic. Arab strategy to turn HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 Jerusalem into abattleground began in 1920. Unfortunately, Arab leaders often turn to violence to gain what they were unable to achieve at the negotiating table. When talks broke down at Camp David in 2000, Palestinian Arab lead- ers unleashed the al-Aqsa Intifada, which amounted to a full-blown guerrilla war against Israel. It began the day before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when Arab mobs hurled rocks from the Temple Mount onto Jewish worshipers praying at the Western Wall below. That rock attack turned into a steady campaign of terrorist attacks. As the prim- ing powder for the Intifada, Palestinian leaders incited Palestinians and Muslims throughout the world with fables that falsely suggested that Jews began an assault on al-Aqsa when Ariel Sharon made a half-hour visit to the Temple Mount during tour- ist hours. The truth is that Palestinian's plans for warfare had begun immediately after Arafatwalked out of the Camp David talks. Why do Palestinians focus terrorist attacks on the City of Peace? Because Palestin- ians, despite their rhetoric, fully understand Jerusalem's symbolic and spiritual signifi- cance to the Jews. Suicide attacks on public buses and cafes, malls, and other crowded sites in the heart of the city since the 1993 Oslo Accords, are designed to make life hell for Jewish Jerusalemites. Atrocities like the February and March 1996 bombings of two #18 buses that killed 26 people and the August 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria that killed 15 (including five members of one family), are part of an ongoing 120-year-old battle that Arabs have waged in op- position to Zionism. In April 1920, a three-day rampage by religiously incited anti-Zionist Arab mobs left six dead and 200 injured in the Jewish Quarter. The attackers gutted synagogues and ye- shivot and ransacked homes. Arabs planted time bombs in public places as far back as February 1947, when they blasted Ben-Yehuda Street, Jerusalem's main thorough- fare, leaving 50 dead. This was all done before the establishment of the State of Israel. In the 1950s, Jordani- ans periodically shotat Jewish neighborhoods from the walls of the Old City. And after the city was united in 1967, Arabs renewed their battle for the city by planting bombs in cinemas and supermarkets. The first terrorist attack in that renewed battle dame with the 1968 bombing of Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda, the open market, that left 12 dead. The plain facts about Palestinian Arabs behavior clearly demonstrate that they have forfeited any claim to Jerusalem, the City of Peace.