Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel
Summary: This article by guest author Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired) looks ahead beyond Israel’s current moment in the sun. They face a divided Arab people and even more fragmented Islamic societies, which they overawe by their massive military strength — exercised in the shadow of the world’s hyperpower. But these are ephemeral advantages; meanwhile the tides run against Israel. Invisibly, quietly, decisively. Deteriorating demographics, increasingly powerful enemies, and ever-growing hatred. For another perspective on this see The Fate of Israel.
The U.S. must begin to plan for the non-combatant evacuation of Israel to the U.S. as a means to mitigate or avoid a second Holocaust. Prevention of such a tragedy by diplomatic or military means alone is unrealistic. With Iran threatening to be in possession of nuclear weapons soon, other increasingly hostile neighbors of Israel will follow suit to respond to the new Mideast balance of power. More ominously, nuclear weapons will find their way into the hands of radicals through state sponsorship of terrorism. Whether the conflagration occurs later in a general confrontation, or sooner as a function of a 3rd or a later 4th Intifada, the writing is on the wall as it pertains to the most vulnerable members of the Israeli populace and the preparations that Israel and the U.S. must make.
The Physical Dilemma
Including the West Bank, Israel comprises only 8,522 square miles, a strip of land area smaller than New Jersey. The preponderance her nearly 8 million citizens are concentrated in the northern half of Israel aggravating vulnerability through urbanization and high population density. Finally, she is surrounded by unfriendly neighbors, and antagonisms are growing. In a conflict she is constrained to internal lines, and her only relief is seaward. Israel has survived past conventional military conflicts benefiting from internal lines and maneuver finesse. Unfortunately, against surface, air, or high altitude electromagnetic pulse nuclear weapons attacks her conventional finesse is meaningless. Given Iran’s nuclear bomb progress and growing Palestinian discontent, an existential threat to Israel has arrived, and it is time to plan for contingencies.
Infiltration was the terrorist technique favored during the 1st and 2nd Intifadas. If similar terrorists possessed nuclear bombs today air bursts like Hiroshima or Nagasaki could be ruled out in Israel. In an effort to project the effects of a surface burst analogous nuclear contamination events must be considered. For example, immediately following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster over 57,000 square miles in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were dangerously contaminated. Even today, 26 years after the event, the Ukrainian government maintains a 1,100-square-mile exclusion zone around the damaged reactor that people are prohibited from entering. The smaller exclusion zone resulting from the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has been even more disruptive to the Nation of Japan due to higher population densities and the contamination of crops and pasture lands. In addition to the catastrophic blast and fires, ground burst of a fission weapon would have a similar contamination impact in Israel, a tiny nation incapable of absorbing one such attack, much less several.
The conventional Jihadist suicide bombings of past Intifadas are reminders that gaining access to the heart of Israel’s urban areas with bombs was been accomplished, and could be again. Past attacks can be viewed as dry runs, with big bombs yet to come, perhaps to the U.S. as well. Unlike Israel however, the U.S. population and infrastructure can absorb such detonations without irreversible loss of national physical integrity.
One might ask, why evacuate Israel to the U.S.? With regards to physical dilemmas, some observe that local competition for water and energy resources are to blame for many local conflicts, more so than international factors. The distant U.S. is irrelevant such disputes, and definitely not culpable. Yet, the legitimacy of the establishment of Israel has never been embraced by all, and any local issues are merely fuel on the fundamental question. As to the lethal tension created by that question, it will be argued below that more so than any European nation, America has an obligation to avert a 2nd Holocaust in Palestine. For reasons that follow, America must be the ally that provides the back door for the mass preservation of those who decide to leave Israel before, during, and after the coming conflicts of increasing lethality. Global polarization on the topic of Israel leaves her with few sympathetic ears, and survival aboard her land will become ever-less tenable.
Hasty Implementation of a Thoughtful Vision
Some will point to Israel’s inherent right to exist as a fulfillment of prophesy. Furthermore, they will contend that her establishment has been meticulously planned since the late 19th Century. Indeed, the Zionist dream of a Jewish Homeland advocated by Theodor Herzl and the consequent Balfour Declaration provided a sound template. Unfortunately, one key component of that template was neglected in implementation. Herzl insisted that Jewish State implementation called for harmonious acceptance and integration in the indigenous Palestinian population as a precondition to establishment. This did not happen. Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews in the Holocaust caused unprecedented urgency, and accelerated the imposition of the Israeli State in a partitioned Palestine. Haste and a lack of local acceptance seemed timely and just to the Allied victors, i.e. a lesser evil. Also, the focus on great 20th Century fascist and socialist ideologies caused a marginalization of Palestinian (much less Islamic) discontent. Indeed, Zionists violently secured their interests against indigenous Palestinians and neighboring nations around 1948, both conventionally and unconventionally. In the end Herzl’s key precondition was far from met. It is even less so today, and the disenfranchised opponents may soon be nuclear armed.
Perhaps U.S. responsibility is partially our complicity in not asking enough questions of our Allies who had much greater insight into the Zionist initiative, such as England and France. We and the Europeans were also a bit racist in underestimating the capacity of underdeveloped Arabs to eventually resist such an imposition. The disenfranchised Islamic peoples of Palestine seemed incapable of credibly threatening the existence of Israel then or later by the projections of that time, and the state of nuclear technology made proliferation unimaginable in 1948. The complicity of the U.S. today is therefore not due to a conscious policy adoption, but rather a creeping mandate fueled by WWII haste. Seedling efforts that eventually led to the UN were followed by the Holocaust, causing a fateful rush to establish Israel prematurely. In this respect the Israeli people cannot be blamed for the dilemma they find themselves in. We placed Jews in a do-or-die context where there are going to be winners and losers. They have prevailed to-date, and understandably have developed a hypersensitive concern for security that aggravates neighbors who come to suffer from it. Then there are the Palestinians, many of whose parents lost homes and traditional lands at the hands of foreigners. As with any proud people this would cause a lethal rage for generations to come.
One must question the quality of Allied thinking after WWII when we collectively discussed the fate of the surviving European Jews. They had just barely survived the Holocaust; yet in the smugness of a WWII victory we set the conditions for them to eventually face a new one. Nevertheless, the fact is that today the U.S. is most hated for the historical complicity, even if it inaccurately attributed solely to us.
Debating U.S. Responsibility
Some have questioned this statement and the origin of any U.S. moral responsibilities towards Israel. One can legitimately ask whether all segments of the American population would agree with such an assertion. In fact President Eisenhower took prompt action to squelch Israeli territorial ambitions in 1956 with a policy that placed America’s interests first in dealing with and responding to Israel. But Presidents since then have strayed from Eisenhower’s position, and evolved the strong U.S. commitment to Israel’s in-situ preservation into a touch stone of U.S. foreign policy. Our decision makers have talked us into this position for decades with a foreign policy that uncompromisingly defends Israel’s physical existence. If and when war and/or evacuation become necessary they will fall to us – not as a matter of national consensus, but as a reality for the President at that time.
Today, America and Israel appear to be joined at the hip, and America’s military commitment to Israel’s preservation is taken for granted. In fact, today American foreign policy in the Mideast is perceived by the Islamic world to be one and the same as Israeli policy. Whether or not Israel and/or America are able to confront the apocalyptic threat of total war in a direct state-on-state confrontation with Iran or any other hostile neighbor is of less near-term significance. The promised barrage of conventional long-range rockets and missiles promised by Hezbollah and Iran may already threaten her foundations today. However, before such a confrontation the weapons technologies will likely find their way to unconventional warriors, whether Palestinian or other radicalized Islamic youth. As for U.S. responsibilities, there exists among them a common perception of a joint U.S.–Israeli policy that hardens as it did those who successfully infiltrated Israel as terrorists in the past.
As for the responsibility falling or defaulting to the U.S. due to our national physical capacities, the following can be said. The U.S. is the logical candidate due to our superpower military capabilities, our beckoning land mass and infrastructure, and in no small part because 35.2% of the world’s Jewish population lives in America, more than the 31.5% that live in Israel. No other country comes close on any count. Also, the U.S. possesses the military know-how to lead a full-blown naval and air non-combatant evacuation of Israel; no other nation can or will do so. Commercial cruise liners and airliners are well understood, but U.S. planning, protection, and leadership are keys in an integrated effort.
Potential Israeli Objections
There are many who will dispute the wisdom of planning for Israel’s evacuation to the U.S. Many Israelis and Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish will contend that the mere planning is an admission of looming defeat. They might hold that planning the evacuation of here young, elderly, sick, and incapable sends a clear message that are unable to guarantee Israel’s right to exist. Some will point to Iran’s long-standing threats towards Israel, and our contingency planning might have the unintended consequence of fulfilling that pledge. Others will insist that all Jews have an obligation to come to Israel’s defense in Israel and go to their deaths defending her, no matter the military outcome. Still others will point to Israel’s potent strategic arsenal and lethal capacity. They will contend that what Israel needs most is a U.S. guarantee that we will come to her physical defense, and not to send signals to the contrary by planning her evacuation.
The U.S. will fight side-by-side with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in confronting any existential threat to Israel. This is assured, as per discussions earlier. Any U.S. President would risk immediate impeachment for hesitating or failing to do so. The lethal capacities of the U.S. military and the IDF, and their determination to fight to the death are not in doubt. The issue at stake here is that in today’s world a small isolated nation cannot necessarily survive an assault by modern weapons of mass destruction. For Israel survival will mean much more than destroying the obvious military capacities her adversaries. To fight and reside in place it would require perfect homeland defense of her non-combatant civilian populace, which is unrealistic. Planning for a back-door evacuation alternative, at least for some, is therefore a rational and responsible endeavor.
Thoughts on Peaceful Alternatives
Then there are those who will say that peace has yet to be given a real chance through the establishment of a Palestinian State, and plans for war or evacuation are premature. No one would disagree that we should attempt with renewed gusto to achieve a good faith settlement between Palestinians and Israelis in the form of a Palestinian State. This could be reinforced with a U.S. condemnation of Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank in as much as it is counterproductive to negotiations. In fact, it may be in our national – and ultimately Israel’s – interest to join others in a rebuke of the status quo. It might send a constructive shock wave that is felt in the Israeli government as well as financiers of pro-Israel U.S. politicians here at home to modify policy in accordance with external perceptions. Giving peace one more chance, and with forceful determination is worthwhile, but time is also running out.
Still, it is clear that Israeli West Bank settlements and the Government’s hesitation in condoning a potentially threatening physical Palestinian State configuration are not rooted in Israeli arrogance. Instead they are anchored in real security concerns. It is hard to imagine that Israel or any nation would compromise immediate national security interests just to satisfy a foreign audience. Their growing urgency is a direct reflection of the real threats they are facing. There are reports describing state and citizen initiatives to build bunkers in order to survive future confrontations with Iran, Hezbollah, and perhaps others. These responses are rational in light of a zero-sum gain dilemma, one in which the U.S. will never be perceived as an honest broker. Unfortunately, they will not help Israel’s most vulnerable citizens to survive emergent threats.
Others committed to peaceful settlement have stated that the threat of nuclear or any other weapon of mass destruction being detonated in Israel by Palestinian terrorists is low to non-existent. This is because such weapons promise lethal effects across Palestine assuring fratricide by harming their own families, communities, and livelihoods. Assuming the argument is sound, this is the very circumstance that “foreign fighters” have and can be used to devastating effect in all communities. The hope for a peaceful solution remains, but the threat does as well.
Preparing a U.S. Home
As a hedge against the uncertainty of the diplomatic outcome planning for contingencies, including non-combatant evacuation must proceed in-stride. The idea of the U.S. physically adopting Israel is not new. Some have suggested a nation within a nation solution, where the Israeli people possess lands, the resident natural resources, and political sovereignty (personal communication from John Uldrich, 2002). Alternatively, a federal-like construct can be conceived whereby semi-autonomous Israeli communities reside aboard granted government lands, with self-governance rights resembling those afforded states. The lands could be a combination of developed areas having preexistent infrastructure such as military bases, and remote areas that would permit larger cohesive populations, but require more work and resources, such as the extensive government tracts in southern Utah. Finally, the massive assimilation of Israelis who already possess dual citizenship or have family in the U.S. will ease the difficulty initially.
All opponents of planning Israel’s evacuation are in their own ways correct. Recognizing this, for the interim America must reinforce the IDF and come to Israel’s defense in spite of the potentially devastating consequences there and even here at home. In fact fighting for the preservation of status quo Israel will be a key for maintaining American foreign policy legitimacy into the 21st century. Still, exponential developments in technology and its ceaseless proliferation to state sponsors like Iran mean that the rage of state sponsors of terrorism and the disenfranchised youth budge in Palestine and throughout the Mideast will come to threaten Israel’s physical existence very soon.
Given this apparent inevitability, once non-combatant Israelis have been relocated to the U.S., those choosing to remain will be able to defend the land of Israel with a freer hand, and to a great extent fearless of local consequences beyond military considerations. Even before the first shot has been fired in an escalating conflict, the credible existence of this back door for Israel’s children, elderly, sick, and those who choose to leave voluntarily will have a profound psychological impact on all her adversaries. Terrorists will lack the target rich environment they are accustomed to, and find themselves facing a thoroughly militarized Israeli foe. Iran and other states may also have reason to pause as they find themselves at an asymmetric disadvantage as having the only vulnerable populations in a mutual assured destruction stand-off.
Looking back, Israel’s covenant is a consequence of her worthiness before God, and the land was a gift. But the land, while holy, is not the actual life of Israel. The Torah makes clear that Israel is in fact the blood of her people. Her continued worthiness as a people and the credibility of our U.S. foreign policy depend on our willingness to use our God-given reason and plan for the worst case contingency, not to preserve the land, but definitely to preserve Israel’s blood.
About the author
Franz J. Gayl serves as a civilian science and technology advisor within Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon. Previously he served for 22 years as an active duty infantry Marine, starting as enlisted and retiring with the rank of Major.
He earned an MS in Space Systems Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MS in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University. At NDU he was presented the “Ambassador’s Award” for my research and paper.
In 2006 he voluntarily deployed to Iraq. There he became aware of corruption within the Quantico support establishment that cost many under-equipped Marines their lives. His subsequent disclosures to the OSD, Congress and the press contributed to dramatic life-saving improvements in rapid acquisition.
He also participated for 5 months in a DARPA internship, holds one patent, and is a graduate of the 2011 Singularity University Graduate Studies Program.
His other articles posted at the FM website:
- Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century, 23 February 2012
For More Information:
Articles by Gideon Levy, published at Haaretz:
- God rules all in 2012 Israel, even the state, 29 January 2012 — “Israel: Not what you thought, not what the world thought, not what Israelis imagine themselves to think. Israeli society isn’t secular, it isn’t liberal and it isn’t enlightened.”
- Mount Hermon’s pure snow can’t hide Israel’s dark past, 12 February 2012 — “The entire Golan Heights is occupied exactly as the West Bank is.”
- Iran uses terror to target civilians, and so does Israel, 12 February 2012 — “Who is against terror? We will all devotedly raise our hands. But people who are truly against terror must also say: against all terror, against any terror, be it Iranian, Palestinian or Israeli.”
- Enemies, a hate story, 19 February 2012 — “It is impossible to ignore what is happening to us: Palestinian children die in an accident, and many Israelis are happy about it – and are no longer even ashamed of it.”
- Eilon forgot thee, Jerusalem, 23 February 2012 — “Israelis have no reason to be proud of today’s Jerusalem. Even its spectacular beauty and thrilling history have been blurred over the years by the ugliness of discrimination and occupation.”
- It’s just a matter of time before U.S. tires of Israel, 4 March 2012 — “Israel doesn’t know when to stop, and it could pay dearly as a result.”
Other posts about Israel:
- The Fate of Israel, 28 July 2006
- The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be, 22 January 2009
- Are Israel’s leaders insane? Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010
- We can only watch as the nation of Israel slowly commits suicide, 30 November 2011
- Israel leads America on a march to war. A march to folly., 16 February 2012