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Iranian Weapons confiscated by the IDF Navy. (Photo by Haim Zach | CC GPO)

From an Israeli perspective, the race is now on. Will US President Donald Trump succeed in reigning in the fanatical regime in Iran that is bent on destroying Israel, or will he himself be toppled from power? At this point, it is impossible to predict. But for the vast majority of Israelis, there is no doubt that the current US President is a far better friend to Israel than his predecessor Barack Obama, who extended the Islamist regime a ten-year reprice (now down to seven) to start up again their nuclear weapons program. In return, Obama led a huge international bailout program for Iran that enables the regime to make more mischief throughout the Middle East and one day acquire nuclear weapons to attack the Jewish state. Can anyone in their right mind doubt that the Iranian regime, which persecutes its own people, is any less racist than Adolf Hitler and his Nazi cohorts? Yet, former US President Barack Obama and his sidekick, John Kerry, only reacted, when prodded several years ago by Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to launch a preemptive strike against Iran if nothing was done to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. But Obama and his international partners took the easy way out by simply kicking the can down the road and leaving it to a future president, in this case, Donald Trump, to handle the threat.

Credit where credit is due...

Trump has refused to follow in the footsteps of Obama.

To his credit, Trump has refused to follow in the footsteps of Obama. (Incidentally, the same scenario also applies to North Korea where former presidents, dating back to Bill Clinton, actually allowed "the Rocket Man" of Pyongyang to acquire a nuclear weapon).

And now we learn that the former Secretary of State, Kerry, is so enamored with the failed policy that he has violated a long-held principle of American politics by apparently lending advice to his former Iranian colleagues behind the back of the Trump administration. Moreover, the west Europeans, primarily France and Britain, are also taking the easy way out by taking the "peace for our time" approach by economically trying to prop up the Ayatollahs. Would France and Britain also be so complacent if Tehran was openly threatening to "wipe them off the face of the earth"?

In the present confrontation, the Iranian regime is trying to extend its military threat to Israel by building a forward military base in neighboring Syria.

Germany appears to be more leary, bearing in mind the past price it paid for its maniacal leadership. The overall attitude has been and still is that Israel could serve as a tripwire for the Ayatollahs' intentions. In the present confrontation, the Iranian regime is trying to extend its military threat to Israel by building a forward military base in neighboring Syria. The Israeli air force has been given the mission to liquidate this threat. We have just heard that a mysterious airstrike destroyed a number of buildings in huge explosions near Damascus airport. Damascus has accused Israel of carrying out the attack. If so, it would apparently have been number 205 since the end of 2017. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated today that Israel will do what it takes to prevent Iran from building a forward base in neighboring Syria.

The Iranian threat is obviously the most pressing as Israel enters the new Jewish year of 5779. To the south, the Hamas government of Gaza continues to incite its civilian population to firebomb Israeli civilians and their community along the Gaza border. So, how come on the eve of the New Year, a massive 89% of Israelis polled said that they were either happy or very happy to be living in this country? It seems to be truly amazing! So how can it be explained? It appears that despite the four police investigations unto Netanyahu's financial shenanigans, there's broad public support for his handling of Israel's security threats, which are probably the gravest and most complex on the globe. In addition, the public also has immense confidence in the IDF and its ability to protect the country. This applies particularly to the air force and its pilots.

IAF legacy of excellence ...

It was recently disclosed that the air force has carried out more than 200 attacks, mainly against Iranian targets. It lost only one jet that was shot down, but the two pilots survived. Even that was a case of the pilot deliberately ignoring a warning signal that a Syrian missile had locked on and he needed to immediately take evasive action. Apparently, the pilot was so determined to complete his mission that he ignored the threat.

Brigadier Gen. Giora Epstein receiving his award by his wife (Photo courtest of GPO)

Then there's another remarkable story of an Israeli pilot who holds the world record for shooting down the most jet aircraft. He is Colonel Giora Epstein who has shot down a record 17 aircraft. Epstein, now aged 80, has belatedly been promoted to Brigadier Gen. by Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot. His remarkable military career is an example of what makes Israeli pilots tick. In 1956 Giora was drafted into the IDF at age 18. He had his heart set on being accepted to the pilot's course, but due to a medical problem, he was ordered to serve in an airforce weapons unit. So he then volunteered and was accepted to the paratroopers, where he excelled and became a jump instructor. But Epstein never took no for an answer - after proving his fitness as a paratrooper, he then applied again and was accepted to the grueling pilot's course. He succeeded in finishing it and was then assigned to a helicopter squadron. But this was not what the stubborn Epstein had in mind, and he apparently badgered the airforce into finally transferring him to a fighter squadron. At long last, Epstein achieved his goal and came through with flying colors. In the Six-Day War of 1967 he shot down four enemy jets, and this was just for starters. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, he downed another 12 jet fighters, as well as a helicopter, for a grand total of 17. This earned him the title of "Ace of all aces".

"He was an outstanding example of the Israel airmen and women who defend the state of Israel".

After retiring from full-time duty in 1977, Colonel Epstein was appointed the commander of an F-16 reserve squadron (after completing full-time duty, many pilots and navigators continue to fly in reserve squadrons, maintaining their flying capabilities and being on call at all times). And now, at a special ceremony, IDF Chief of Staff promoted Epstein to Brigadier General, saying: "He was an outstanding example of the Israel airmen and women who defend the state of Israel". Airforce commander Amikam Norkin added that he was proud to command an air force that had the world's ace of aces in its ranks. In response, Brigadier Epstein said that since his boyhood he had always wanted to defend Israel as a fighter pilot:

"I achieved my goal after many struggles, and fulfilled my mission in a matter expected of every Israeli pilot."

Stab in the back...

Victim of terror attack Ari Fuld was a 40-year-old father of four. (photo courtesy)

But there's never a dull moment in Israel. In a late development, a 16-year-old Palestinian youth has stabbed an Israeli resident to death in the West Bank. The killer approached Ari Fuld, a 40-year-old father of four, from behind and stabbed him in the back several times. Although mortally wounded, the Israeli still pursued his attacker, opening fire and knocking him down. Ari Fuld then collapsed and died of his wounds. The wounded Palestinian was rushed to an Israel hospital. It appears to have been another "lone wolf attack".

Political Analyst David Essing


David Essing

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