Why Israel Has Not Struck Damascus

Once it became clear that Hezbollah is receiving Syrian (along with Iranian) help in its latest campaign against Israel, a question arises – why is Assad safe in Damascus? After all, he is openly hosting Hezbolla, and one of the missiles that passed through his hands killed 9 Israeli civilians in Haifa yesterday and wounded dozens more. Yet Israel has been careful not to strike Damascus. Why?

Of course, Israel is concerned about “widening” the conflict and drawing Syria into a full scale war. But a missile landing in Haifa should call for a commensurate reaction. It should also call for a ground invasion of southern Lebanon to push Hezbollah farther away from Israel’s cities, but that has not happened, either.

I believe the reason for this is the large number of westerners in Lebanon and Syria, including many Americans. While the EU has been swiftly airlifting its citizens to safety, the US has not, paralyzed, so it seems, by events many predicted weeks ago. I also believe this can be viewed in one of two plausible ways:

1. The US is using its citizens as pawns to slow the Israeli assault in the hopes that full scale war can be averted.

2. The US – specifically the US under the leadership of a crony-dominated administration – is just too incompetent to act swiftly when necessary.

My gut tells me it is US incompetence, not foot-dragging, that is at work here. But either way, Israel seems to be waiting for the US to get its citizens out before doing what it must to completely cut off Hezbollah escape routes and entering Lebanon with the ground forces necessary to root out and destroy Hezbollah’s missiles, launchers and operatives. Israel has allowed one runway to remain open at Beirut International Airport to facilitate the US evacuation. This runway can also be used by Hezbollah to rearm – or to escape. And there are other examples of highways and infrastructure left standing to help the slow-footed US get its people – our people – out.

George Bush can talk the talk. But, like his response to Katrina and literally dozens of other examples, his walk comes later, hesitantly, like a baby taking its first steps, and he hits full stride only sometime after full stride is necessary.

If Israel is waiting for its friend in the White House to do the right thing, it must remember the cardinal rule for dealing with George W. Bush: His heart is in the right place, but his body – and the actions of his administration – lags behind.

Why were US civilians not evacuated Friday or Saturday? That is the question the Bush Administration should be asked and held accountable for.



Filed under Israel

36 responses to “Why Israel Has Not Struck Damascus

  1. Jerome Soller

    I don’t believe the US is using its own citizens as pawns, but is bureaucratic and taking the time to plan the evacuation. My view of the whole situation is that Iran is using Syria, Hamas, and Hizbillah as a way to draw attention from its nuclear weapons program. I hope and pray that Israel will put ground forces into Lebanon, cut off all escape routes, and take out Hizbillah’s 15,000 missile capability and military/terrorist forces (and not be satisfied with a minimal blow). It is scary to think what would happen if Hizbillah had an Iranian, Russian, or Chinese nuclear device at this point. They may well have Syrian, Iraqi, or Iranian chemical weapons right now.

    I have mixed feelings about Israel striking Syria. If Assad is taken out and nothing fills the void, worse things can happen in Syria. The Muslim brotherhood – the parent of Hamas and Al Qaeda – would be the most likely group to fill the void. However, a tactical strike to take out the Hamas leader in Syria would be a good thing.

    Also, I discourage any bickering about which rabbi said which thing about Israel. It is not a time to bicker about such things. It is a time for Jewish unity, prayer and effective action.


  2. Jerome Soller

    One other note. It looks like most of the European nations got their people out today or will tommorrow. The US is about three days behind everyone else, but have more people to deal with.


  3. avrohom

    The reason is that grandiose actions per se will not solve theproblem now. Now the problem is hezbbollah. You like to think, that because the mother of the problem is iran, if we will nuke out iran now the game is over. This s the problem with people who think only on grandiose and lack the skill to deal with the small person. Of course, in the begining (bereshit) if we would take care of Iran and Syria maybe hezbollah would not be here. But now they are here, they have to be wiped out. Nuking out Syria at this stage of the game is meaningless.

    Yourposition is the same position that disregarded from day one the danger of Hamas in Gaza and thought that no problem we will deal with Iran and criticize lazar and the game is won. Moreover, you had to move away to your position so to not acknowledge that the Rebbe was (From the only ones and the most vocal) to be right, so that your stupid and evil blog would lose the reason for it being so deriding of this man. For he said that no matter what any ceding of land to these thugs would get us to the abyss and it got us. You could not acknowledge that the man was right and your gods and idols (all of them) were wrong so you go iran and lazar.

    The fact is: Hamas has kassams there. They got stronger by usleaving there. They left us vulnerable. Nuking Assad will not necessarily rid us from their evil/ But you could not acknoweledge and went on a rampage about your secular idols “Racist” attacks and because of the ideologies that you espouse (ie. your friends have the same ideology) we are in this mess.

    Jerome: You are right there should be no bickering per se. but this blog in it’s very essence comesprimarily to besmirch a great man in the lowest terms. Even if one diagrees with the position of a person, and even if one feels that people learned wrong messages etc. the cricticizer must understand that in JKewish ttradition, while there was a tradition that some criticized some’s position, nevertheless it was down with respect and dignity. The owner of this blog comes as an animal and attacks Rabbis and Judaism and Judaiac customs. IT is appropriate at this time to point out to him and others, that precisely a particular person whom is villified on this forum is the person who decades ago alerted everyone to the very meticulous problems we are going to betting if we concede and cede land.

    It is important to note for the future: since discussions of this nature is very important for thr future when people should not be misled by the silly fanatsiies that a human mind can venture and will twist and turn real and simple facts so that they do not confuse him with his theories…

    MAN IS MORTAL!! and G-d is truth the SEal of G-d is TRUTH the owner of this blog should recognize this and teach this to himself.

  4. Nigritude Ultramarine

    Shmarya, can you point me to a Web source that a runway in Beruit is open for American evacuees?

  5. Paul Freedman

    I don’t myself think that the American factor is an issue in Syria. I also am not sure that Olmert has a set of clear strategic objectives for dealing directly with Hezbollah either other than to attrit their resources through air power and artillery and force other folks to force Lebanon to deal with Hezbollah.

  6. Paul Freedman

    Nuking Iran would be more than a gesture btw.

  7. Paul Freedman

    …not the whole country, just those nuclear bits…

  8. Paul Freedman

    otoh maybe Israel’s nuclear arsenal is as much a bluff as its ground army is turning out to be–then again, I’m not there

  9. Jerome Soller

    In response to Avrohom, please reread my post and Shmarya’s post. You made assumptions about both posts, without reading them thoroughly. I don’t believe Shmarya or I are proposing nuking Syria or Iran. An awareness of Syria’s and Iran’s roles (as well as potential roles for Russia and China) are critical in this situation. Hashem expects man to try his best, and not just sit around waiting for miracles. This means making the best tactical and strategic military decisions during a conflict, as well as praying. To make the best decisions, Israel can not ignore the role of Syria and Iran in both Lebanon and Gaza, as this effects the type of weaponry, supplies and other resources our enemies have. It also impacts the supply chain and potential reloading/resupply of Israel’s enemies. This drove Israel’s actions to attack roads, bridges, airports, sea ports, and other infrastructure, before sending in ground troops.

    Where I believe that all of us agree is that Hizbillah MUST be wiped out NOW, not left to fight another day. The following discusses the issues around a ground assault, which I believe is necessary. http://op-for.com/2006/07/prepping_the_battlespace.html

    Should Olmert be satisfied with a pretty air assault and pull back, he should resign. However, I believe (or at least pray) that he will do what needs to be done.


  10. avrohom

    dear paul,

    you said “… bluff as its ground army is turning out to be–….”

    You said it (not me)…and maybe that is another reason why we should not have gotten to this mess, not to expose the “bluff” or maybe better now than latter…and maye the “bluff” is because the “goverment” (including former generals) tied the hand of the army to do what is had to do so it has stagnated…food for thought only…

  11. avrohom

    I’m sorry but i read them. And i read shamrya’s post about this and about other issues over a year….

    So not nuking them, what are you proposing? just bombing bridges and roads? Of course they are aware and are concerned about Syria and Iran and planning the next operations there as well as you are…but i think that the present (short of nuking them out) what should they concentrate on? open a third and fourth front? and the world will scream bloody murder that they brought the holocaust??? the same people who israel has to listen to their “opinions” for the past 25 years? our european friends? Putin the one who day in day out criticizes israel and tells us that we have “other plans” besides protecting ourselves? Putin who sells iran nuclear whatever? and the list goes on…People are unreal: at first they tell israel must show “Gestures” and not provoke palestinians (ie. letting them shoot us here and there a little bit and not make an issue about it (the same people would cry here and make world war three for metzitah bepeh that it killed 3 children…but when these thugs killed over’ 1000’s lives there “beeling hearts” were silent and went to solve the world’s problems: iran and etc…)….

    MAybe they ar palanning to assassinate oneof their leaders…but obviously they cannot tell us and i hope they will not”announce’ to anyone as they hae been “Announcing” in lebanon…… at the end of the day we need the prayers and the help of Hashem to take us out of this mess “sheloy echad bilvad omad oleynoo lechaloysseynoo vehakodosh boruch hoo matzlieynoo miyodom!”

  12. avrohom


    someone alerted me today to a Halocho recorded in our Torah thousands of years ago and it is so clear that it is so “Real” today: a city that is fit to be condemned as an “ihr hanidachas” (a city who has to be destroyed according to our tradition, nevertheless if the city is right at the border: the Torah removes the oblifgation, one is not allowed to turn the city at the border an “ir hanidachas”, for it poses and creates a danger to leave the border vulnerable to thugs and gangsters instead of loyal citizens (even “ovdey avodah zarah”!)…how sad that our “geolim” (ie. the politicians leaders) have not learned this halachain chader maybe they would think differently 13 years ago…

  13. avrohom


    Look at the headliness in Haaretz: They are talking about how Hezbbollah is threatning to shoot at tel aviv… and Israel instead of being proactive and attacking them to no end..they will wait until this attack happens and then they will bomb a few more tv stations and then the tv station will reappear a few minutes later….i hope there is a strategy and tactic that changes this kind of minsset before thinking of how we will take care of IRan (unless as said befroe we will nuke them out) …the present danger is hezzbollah..the qwuicker it takes the better it will be for ALL ..the reverse is g-d forbid …

  14. Paul Freedman

    avrohom–I realize that you believe that Oslo and disengagement were a consistent seam critical to permitting the radicalization and entrenchment of the Palestinian and the near-enemies in Lebanon to form a Hamas-Hezbollah front.

    However we got here, due to my personal experience in seeing the buffer we had created negated by Carter’s diktat in the late 70’s (which led to the relethalization of the PLO and 82 campaigns) I am distressed by the decision to rely on bombardment–but hope it works out.

  15. Paul Freedman

    …that is, the current context negates, for me, intuitively, possible rationale’s for leaving Lebanon twenty years later–that is, even if that policy were not an example of the impermisible “ir ha nidichas”, I am troubled by what is going on–but hpoe it works out.

  16. Neo-Conservaguy

    Do any of you guys lamenting the pull-out from Southern Lebanon know anyone closely that actually spent time in the military in that campaign? I do – he was in an elite paratrooper unit – and the time he spent telling me stories of death and destruction on all sides left me deeply moved, and turned him into a “peace now” supporter. It was Israel’s Vietnam, and the only possible outcome was to “declare victory” and get the hell out of there. One can argue about the specifics of the withdrawal, but make no mistake about it, they pulled out because the people of Israel demanded that their sons stopped being sacrificed for that unwinnable war.

  17. avrohom

    However we got here, due to my personal experience in seeing the buffer we had created negated by Carter’s diktat in the late 70’s (which led to the relethalization of the PLO and 82 campaigns)…”

    Yes we had to go there to create a buffer zone to prevent from terrorist attacks and we we had the opportunity to rid of Arafat and zip…public opinion againt thwarted us at that time from doing trhe job forcefully and quickly….and then we were stuck there with unfoprtunate casualties (where then too a harder line should have been used)…abut at least the north was safe…came your holy generals and retrieved and left hezbbollah intact and let them grow and here we are at a bombardment campaign when there are no clear goals…just hope that bomb bridges and roads while listening to uncle sam not to hit civilians will do the job but in the meatime we will have thousands of jews to spend most of their day in shelters to quell the good doers of the bleeding heart liberals and pray for hashem to avert these katyushas not reach their destination….

    Neo – torah hater,

    “Do any of you guys lamenting the pull-out from Southern Lebanon know anyone closely that actually spent time in the military in that campaign?”

    your talk like all condescending liberals detached from reality does not relate to 97% of people today…speak to the people today and your talk is so silly…but just for your info even at that time there were other people whom i talked to and have served also in “elite” units and they said that the “peace now” movmeent the liberals good for nothing destroyed the morale of the army ..left them ties their hands behind their back..when the world blamed jews for something other people did……and most importantly allowed the wicked arafat not to be destroyed…and then we left there and allowed hezbbollah to grow to become a strong entity and bngo…they are hitting katyuchas all over israel many died, many wounded thousands are unsafe live in bunkers while you the liberal good for nothing decry things that happened two decades but your policies left their finger prints right now…your policies and you are all good for nothing…the reason for the mess we are in now….for the slow level of deterrrence israel has now…loss of life…just so that you bleeding heart can sleep at night…as the torah aays those who merciful to cruels ad CRUEL TO THOSE NEED MERCY. do teshuva

    I do – he was in an elite paratrooper unit – and the time he spent telling me stories of death and destruction on all sides left me deeply moved, and turned him into a “peace now” supporter. It was Israel’s Vietnam, and the only possible outcome was to “declare victory” and get the hell out of there. One can argue about the specifics of the withdrawal, but make no mistake about it, they pulled out because the people of Israel demanded that their sons stopped being sacrificed for that unwinnable war.

  18. Paul Freedman


    I was in Lebanon in Operation Litani in artillery support (not infantry who we accompanied)–my experience is maybe why I agree with avorohom sometimes and why I sometimes disagree–we achieved our strategic goals then (in 78) but Carter told us to leave; then in 82 the IDF went back in: Arafat was kicked out by Sharon–when IDF left the PLO had been eclipsed by Hezbollah. Yes he wasn’t killed but he was side-lined until Oslo literally brought him back into the picture.
    One problem in 82 was that the Syrians engineered the bombing of Bashir Gemayal, then the President and an Israeli ally; plus Israel’s semi-allies in Lebanon, the Druze and their friends put strain on relations with the Maronites who were not the best fighters–the really big goals of revamping Lebanon couldn’t be carried out. I do believe that when an army unleashes bombardments they should be in the service of a military goal and strategy to accomplish something definite–and not a sort of hail-Mary pass.

    I don’t think you are accurate however in thinking of Lebanon as a Vietnamn when the IDF actually pulled out. It was a drain and difficult but casualties were containable and I am surprised to hear that a paratrooper reports on massive exchanges of fire and death and destruction.

  19. Paul Freedman

    …there were several episodic artillery campaigns–one in 1996. But dovka “death and destruction” on the eve of the pullout–I dunno. Maybe your friend can post and tell us when he served..,

  20. Yochanan Lavie

    Avrohom: A difference in political opinion doensn’t make someone a “torah hater.” In logic that is called an “ad hominem” fallacy. In halacha, it is called sinat chinum. I don’t think the rebbe o”h, would have approved. Stick to the issues and can the vituperation.

  21. avrohom

    “… I do believe that when an army unleashes bombardments they should be in the service of a military goal and strategy to accomplish something definite–and not a sort of hail-Mary pass….”

    Not if your military operations is controlled by the Chirac and even by our freidn Bush, Who -thank g-d for that piece of sanity – while understanding the root of the problem still urges israel restraint and olmert shmolmert nods his head with a strong “omain” and sends his bombardments without a goal to ultimately do something…and is warned that g-d forbid to hurt civialisn…but people in Haifa they are to be condemned by the “bleeding herts” in the world and in the jewish liberals who are animal lovers but jew haters (just now a building in haifa colla[psed) and Mofaz says “what we are doing there are militray operations, not a war…”how can you expect anything better…The only solution is hard line with hard actions…not listen to the world opinion the good evil doers who brought calamity and disaster to israel and to the civilians in lebanon- REPENT!!!

  22. Paul Freedman

    well, avrohom, the latest I’ve seen is that the plan is to create a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon without actually sending in troops–I guess the belief is that Hezbollah rocketeers and combatants can be identified and shot down in “free fire zones” without needing to physically occupy that territory. Right now, as this doesn’t make any sense personally to me, I’ll withdraw from comment; I’m just baffled.

  23. avrohom

    “Avrohom: A difference in political opinion doensn’t make someone a “torah hater.”

    NO, you fail understand simple matters. He is a Torah hater for he and you spread hate for torah, mitzvot, torah beleifs and torah leader (not for a different “political opinions”). Calling Torah leaders all sorts of names; attacking customs that were done for centuries and are held with the highest esteem and hosting a blog solely for the reason to defame torah beleifs and torah leaders does not stem from “political beleifs” but from hatred to torah and mitzvot.

    Actually his whole blog is “ad hominem” blog the whole blog is to create sinat chinam. the whole blog is permeated with shkotzim from the erev rav. Do not mention the Rebbe. After you will apologize for assisting this vermin for embarassing my Rebbe the way this vermin did (not only by posing “different opinions” but by engaging in personal offense) I will start talking to yo shtick shegetz that you are.

  24. Neo-Conservaguy

    Like I thought: you are both ignorant and stupid. You have no real world experience in this matter – at least Paul is speaking from direct experience, although to be honest his characterization of the action does not match the reality of Israeli losses and the political backlash from them. And you? You’ve learned from a book for too long, and have been taught a polemical view of Torah that is devoid of the grounding in reality required by our sages to truly lead a Torah a life. You are a fake, pure and simple; a goy, really, when it comes down to it, which is good, because otherwise the ground would be opening up to suck you in…

  25. avrohom


    what have you been smoking?

    Care to explain your “Reality” in the mess that your “Experienced” people brought us here? Care to explain how they left hezbollah to bomb israel…nahariya, safed, haifa, afula, etc.? “real world experience” is the world that sees what happens in the ground as you say and not in the books of stupid professors and haughty generals who become politicians and jew haters as yourself who fail to see the “real world”. Have you seen the pictures of children sleeping in shelters? 250,000 of israelis have to seek bunkers……this is not the “real world” that the “real experience” brings in front of everyone…but the “experience” of a jew hater who bables old theories that he swallowed from the other enemies that is “real experience”? at least Paul is honest and sees that his former positions do not hold water in the “real world” but jew haters and people who have made up their minds to fight everything that smacks of jewish belief in the torah in Erets yisroel being a gift by G-d will twist every “real” experience to continue their evil goal…stop smoking…

  26. Paul Freedman

    neo: get some statistics on the casualties at the time of the pullout–they were incremental–maybe the general staff felt that the occupation was not achieving the goal of suppressing Hezbollah as an organization but the solution: pulling-out in exchange for worthless international assurances of Hezbollah disarming didn’t do it either–and it looks like the current operations are a prelude to yet another round of diplomacy and diplomatic assurances which may theoretically be the best that can be done but which is a change in IDF and Israeli military and security doctrine

  27. Paul Freedman

    I don’t say there are any easy answers here–but the continued resistance to deploying ground troops and declarations that ground troops are not necessary tell you something

  28. Neo-Conservaguy

    “what have you been smoking?

    You, loser.

  29. Jerome Soller

    Like Paul, I am concerned that ground troops have not yet been deployed. I hope it is a misinformation campaign. Time will tell whether Olmert has the nerve and the faith to do what needs to be done: bring in ground troops to destroy Hizballah (and not leave them there to reload from Syria and Iran).


  30. Paul Freedman

    My fear is that the Israeli leadership elite mistakenly believe they have the means to avoid ground entanglement while their air force and artillery locate and decimate Hezbollah as a prelude to a diplomatic process in which others neutralize Hezbollah organizationally–I don’t know that the IAF will be so successful or that the diplomatic process for a cease fire won’t go the other way, with pressure for Israeli concessions on a variety of issues in exchange for diplomatic promises that Hamas and Hezbollah will “moderate” even as Hezbollah is permitted to keep its weapons.

  31. Jerome Soller

    Please vote on the following, as the majority of the current (screwup) responders believe that Israel is wrong to even attack Lebanon.



  32. Paul Freedman


    again, there are reasons to avoid ground occupation/static entanglement; but avoiding this brings in whole other order of contradictions and your strategic objectives for your military operations start going all loosy-goosy imo





  33. Paul Freedman

    Sof sof. Troops are going in. This is so important–without the ground component your air campaign (with its effects on the civilian population) has very little chance of achieving strategic goals–plus, even if one has decided that you are need or are willing to accept a diplomatic end game you have to have your players on the enemies side of the 50 yard line when the big push comes down for a “cease-fire”.

    If the IDF is in Lebanon in force the French, for example, cannot use a cease-fire to impose the status quo ante–with Hezbolla preserved and only verbal promises to contain it or disarm it–plus a UN-style Hezbolla protection force to fend off Israel–because Israel is on the other side of the border: Lebanon’s. Israel’s leaders can say, you want a cease-fire, well what are you going to do to permit us to leave Lebanon?


    Very good news.

    And yes, we can send our hopes and prayers to our Jewish brethren in Israel that they have the ometz lev to stand in Lebanon and withstand the fury of Amelek and the confusion of the nations and that HaShem will remember his people in their time of need.

  34. Paul Freedman

    oh well, they’re back to saying “possible” ground operations…

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