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Israel is at war


WORLD Radio - Israel is at war

Hamas attacks Israel 50 years after the Yom Kippur War

An Israeli self-propelled artillery drives toward the Israeli southern border near Sderot, Israel. Getty Images/Photo by Amir Levy / Stringer

PAUL BUTLER, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 10th day of October, 2023.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Paul Butler.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

First up on The World and Everything in It: Israel’s war with Hamas.

Joining us to talk about it is Will Inboden. He’s a former member of the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.

Now he’s in academic life at the University of Florida, and he’s a columnist with WORLD Opinions.

Will, good morning to you.

WILL INBODEN, GUEST: Good morning. It's great to be with you.

EICHER: Will, this attack is being characterized as Israel’s 9-11. What parallels or differences do you see between the Palestinian attack and Al-Qaeda's attack on America, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, back in 2001?

INBODEN: Yes, there are a number of parallels, all very troubling. You know, first and most gruesomely is both attacks were by jihadist terrorists who intended to kill as many innocent civilians as possible. The September 11 attacks were a catastrophic intelligence failure on the part of the United States not to have detected that it was coming in and not to have been better prepared for it---so it's a policy failure too. And again, it's very clear this was a massive intelligence failure on Israel's part not to have detected this plotting the, you know, hundreds of Hamas terrorists, and it looks like some of their Iranian supporters who are behind planning for this for months. And then it's also a policy failure of not having better security in place there at the Gaza-Israel border, to prevent, you know, the hundreds of Hamas terrorists from flooding through, the air and sea attacks as well, the rocket attacks, which overwhelmed Israel's famed Iron Dome defense system. So yeah, some very troubling parallels to 911—both from human suffering on to the intelligence and policy failures.

EICHER: The timing is no accident. Saturday the Jewish sabbath, and last Monday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Day of Atonement. It was also the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Will, can you give us some background on that conflict and how it connects to what’s happening now?

INBODEN: Sure, and a couple of things need to be said. First, the deliberate timing of the attack on the Jewish Sabbath and on the anniversary of this previous war around what are the most sacred Jewish holidays remind us that this is not by any means just a territorial dispute between Hamas and Israel. This is an attack on the Jewish faith and the Jewish people itself.

But there's also are those perverse historical references with the 1973 Yom Kippur War was previously the worst surprise attack in Israel's history, when Egypt and Syria, neighboring Arab states that were very hostile to Israel, ganged up to do a surprise attack trying to invade and destroy Israel, and they very nearly succeeded. And so Hamas is very mindful of that they know that 50 years ago on Yom Kippur War was when Israel's enemies came closest to exterminating Israel. And so they decided to make their own try here on the 50th anniversary of that war.

EICHER: One big difference from the Yom Kippur War is that Israel has now normalized relations with Arab nations around the Middle East. Now, this isn’t just because Israel is an economically valuable ally, but it’s also because Iran is emerging as a dangerous adversary. Initially in this conflict, nations like the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have stayed fairly hands off…but do you see them coming down on Israel’s side of the conflict at any point?

INBODEN: Yes, an important point to bear in mind is one of the key differences between the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago and now is back then most of the Arab states were sworn enemies of Israel. Whereas over the last few decades, more recently with the Abraham Accords, most of the Sunni Arab states have made some sort of peace with Israel or even become diplomatic partners and friends with Israel.

Hamas, of course, is not a nation state, it is a terrorist actor that happens to control-control Gaza. But the big exception is the nation state in the Middle East that remain so hostile to Israel is, as you mentioned, Iran which has also sworn to Israel's destruction. And Iran seems to have at a minimum, green lighted this attack and potentially even helped plan it. And so that's one of the challenges for Israel. It's not just about defeating and deterring Hamas, but deterring a larger attack by Iran on Israel itself. And so there's a big deterrence challenge there.

EICHER: Past U.S. Presidents have sought to broker peace deals between the Israelis and Palestinians…generally with terms extremely favorable to Palestinians. But each time, the Palestinians have refused because they are unwilling to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a state. Do you think this attack by Hamas will change how the West treats Israel and the Palestinians?

INBODEN: I don't think anyone in the West will see there being any prospects in the near term for a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. You know, obviously the most immediate task right now is Israel defending it's very survival.

One distinction to keep in mind though here is the West Bank is primarily governed by Fatah or the Palestinian Authority. And Hamas, the terrorist group, of course, controls Gaza. And Fatah, it's very corrupt. They've certainly been behind a lot of attacks on Israel, but they are in relative terms, the more moderate of the parties who at least in theory have somewhat accepted Israel's right to exist. It's a, you know, complicated story there. Fatah is the arch nemesis of Hamas. The two parties hate each other and Hamas thinks Fatah is too moderate, too accepting of Israel. So part of what's going on here is Hamas not only is trying to kill as many Jews as possible, Hamas would love to eject Fatah from the West Bank and take over-take over the West Bank itself. And so you know, the US should not be wasting any time trying to broker some sort of peace deal right now. Part of the key is just preventing Hamas from taking over the West Bank and taking a bad situation and making it even worse.

EICHER: Question about American politics, and I’m thinking of the situation in the U.S. House, no House speaker, do you think this conflict changes anything there? What does it mean for supporting Israel financially while the House currently can’t function?

INBODEN: There's never a good time for the House of Representatives to be paralyzed without a speaker, but especially during an international crisis and war in the Middle East. And so without getting into any particulars of the House Republican caucus politics or the succession race. I just say, as a concerned American, I hope that very soon we can get a Speaker of the House, because until then the House just cannot function—it cannot pass any legislation. And there is an urgent need to pass an emergency aid package for Israel of both economic and weapons support, which has to be done by Congress, and that—it just cannot take place if the House can't constitute itself and actually vote and pass it into law.

So I hope that as awful as this war and this crisis are, that it will have the effect of concentrating the minds of you know Republicans in Congress to get their act together and get a speaker chosen, whoever it may be, and get the House functioning again.

EICHER: Where do you see this conflict going in the coming days and weeks?

INBODEN: Yeah, very difficult to say. It's certainly clear that, you know, Israel is, while we're talking here is preparing an impending ground offensive into Gaza. The challenge for Israel will be managing and deterring potential escalation. And the things to watch for there are possible attacks by Hezbollah in Israel's north, you know another Iranian sponsored terrorist group that also is sworn to Israel's destruction, and then possible Iranian military action itself against Israel which can't be ruled out and so those will be the factors to watch even as you know, the main focus of the action will be Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

EICHER: Will, thank you for joining us on short notice. Will Inboden is a professor at the University of Florida and a columnist with WORLD Opinions. Thank you for joining us, Will!

INBODEN: Thanks, it's been great to be with you.

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