Yesterday, one missile, likely from Gaza, struck the ground in the Tel Aviv suburb of Lod, near the David Ben-Gurion Airport. Shortly afterward, Delta Air Lines Flight 468, on final approach to Ben-Gurion after crossing the Atlantic from New York, abruptly turned around to land at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The airline suspended all flights to and from Israel until further notice. United Air Lines did the same. Then the Federal Aviation Administration said it would not allow any U.S. carrier to fly into or out of Israel for at least twenty-four hours. (And at roughly 12:35 p.m. EDT, the FAA extended that ban for another twenty-four hours.)
Did the FAA act politically? Does the Obama administration want to cut Israel off from the air? Do they do this to force Israel to accept a cease-fire, with unfavorable terms, with the Islamic Resistance Movement (known by its Arabic acronym HAMAS), headquartered in Gaza? The weight of the evidence strongly suggests this.
What really happened at Ben-Gurion
The Delta Airlines press release admits: no one knew then whether a rocket hit the grounds of the airport, or the broken-up fragments of one. And on that basis they turned a flight around. They said they would “reaccommodate” the passengers. What does that mean? They won’t say. But they did say they would waive their ticket-change fee if any traveler had a ticket into or out of Israel between July 9 and August 15. Tellingly, they titled their waiver notice “Israel Unrest.”:
What in Sheol?!? Unrest? That word conjures up visions of Arabs storming the airport, bellowing “Alla’hu Akbar!” at the top of their lungs, and taking it over. As they did in 1948 after the British pulled out of what became the State of Israel.
Reporters on the ground have picked up what fell on the airport grounds. It doesn’t look like much. And no other missile has hit anywhere near Lod since.
Tel Aviv has nine Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to protect it and its suburbs. That would include Lod, and the airport. So someone got careless. Or what really hit the ground was a piece of a missile after an Iron Dome anti-missile hit it and blew it up. Did nobody bother to check that out? Sweet.
Tekton Ministries (Indianapolis, Ind.) assured people yesterday that US Airways Flight 796, carrying (among many others) several “pilgrims” to Israel, landed safely at Ben-Gurion Airport. At last report, they all had made it to their hotel in Tel Aviv. Theirs was the second-to-last flight to land before the FAA cut Israel out of the flight map for American carriers. What will they do when they are ready to come back home? Happily, they can still get out. El Al is still flying, and will keep on flying. Besides, US Airways now has a piece of expensive equipment to get out of that airport. Other airlines have the same problem.
In fact, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew into Israel last night. He flew El Al. He did it just to show he could. No one blew him out of the sky. (More on whether anyone even could do that, below.) Furthermore, Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Ben-Gurion Airport in his C-32 VIP transport. He wants to negotiate a cease-fire. He could as easily fly into Ramat-David Air Force Base in the Valley of Jezreel, if Ben-Gurion Airport is as dangerous as the FAA says. And he knows it.
How important is Ben Gurion to Israel?
The Christian Science Monitor tells us how important David Ben Gurion Airport is to Israel. It is the only way in and out of Israel, except for the ports of Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, and Eilat (on the Gulf of Aqaba). Travel is important enough that Israel grants landing and take-off rights to airlines other than El Al. That is why Delta, UAL, and US Airways, to name three, even have (or had) regular service to and from Tel Aviv. (Other airlines worldwide also enjoy these rights. They include Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines and Turkish Airlines.)
The last time the aviation world cut Israel off from it was in 1991, during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Israelis endured SCUD missiles falling onto their cities for a month. Today Israel has the Iron Dome system (see above). But that doesn’t seem to make any difference to the FAA.
If the aviation world keeps cutting Israel out of their map, what then? El Al will still fly. Every one of their aircraft carries “countermeasures” against surface-to-air missiles. This “Flight Guard” system originally used flak and flares. Today it uses carbon-dioxide lasers that fire infrared beams, to decoy a heat-seeking missile.
Any other airline in the world could do what Israel’s El Al now does. The cost? A dollar a ticket. Passengers already pay twenty-five dollars extra for every checked bag!
How dangerous is it to fly to Israel?
The Monitor article has two other links that put the missile danger into perspective. By now, HAMAS have half the missiles they started out with, left. What they haven’t shot off already, the Israel Defense Forces have found and destroyed. The five thousand missiles they have left are even less accurate today than they were the last time HAMAS fired rockets at Israel.
And what about that rocket, or the shards of it, that hit the ground at Ben-Gurion Airport? Again, maybe it’s a piece of another missile that an Iron Dome anti-missile blew out of the sky. And this should tell everybody something: no further missiles have hit the ground on or near Ben-Gurion Airport since the last one.
An economic sanction
One can explain the FAA’s attitude in one way that would make sense in light of one missile hitting a mile away from the runways. Closing David Ben-Gurion Airport amounts to an economic sanction against Israel. After all, Ben-Gurion is the only airport Israel has that can take international flights. (The Eilat Airport takes domestic flights only.)
Of course, if the Obama administration wanted to be brazen, they would also deny landing rights to El Al Israel Airlines at all U.S. airports.That would cut off the tourist/pilgrimage trade completely and even cut off people in Israel from their extended families “still in the Diaspora.” But the Obama administration is not brazen. They are hypocritical. They put on the mask of “wanting only peace in the Middle East.” Such a blatant economic sanction against El Al directly would slip the mask off completely. (It might also be the last clap-hands-behind-the-head wake-up call to Jews all over the world, but especially in the United States, to “make Aaliyah,” that is “the journey up,” Romeo Foxtrot November, while the making is good. And even this administration knows how the spectacle of Jews desperately wanting to get out of the United States and into Israel, just so they can be with their families, would make them look.)
But as it is, Israel will suffer some losses of the tourist and pilgrimage trade. Furthermore, El Al will soon be the only airline to use Ben-Gurion Airport. So HAMAS will likely launch an all-out barrage of missiles, guided and unguided, at Tel Aviv to pockmark that airport’s runways and maybe try to destroy half of El Al’s fleet on the ground.
This leaves the government and military of Israel one, and only one, choice. Just win, baby. Tell John Kerry to fly out while the flying is good. Take him at the FAA’s word: if Israel can no longer guarantee the safety of foreign-flag airliners using their principal airport, then neither can they guarantee the safety of an official transport of the Eighty-ninth Airlift Wing.
Add this to it: John Kerry said on a hot mic what any Secretary of State since John Foster Dulles probably would have said off the record. Namely that, despite President Truman’s courageous act in recognizing Israel at its inception, American governments don’t like something called Israel. Henry Kissinger tried to make then-Prime Minister Golda Meir give up a strategic hill on the Golan Heights until she made sure he could see for himself what a stupid idea that would be. And Cappy Weinberger made sure Jonathan Pollard would rot in prison for life, though his deeds, however unorthodox, scarcely put him on a par with Elie Cohn.
So again CNAV says to the people of Israel: Just win, baby. CNAV expresses ninety-five-percent confidence that some magazine, somewhere, has a place on its front page for another iconic photograph like the one of an Israel Defense Force infantryman, wading through the Suez Canal and brandishing a captured Kalashnikov rifle, after the Six-day War. The weapon involved will be a rocket launcher, but the principle is the same. Meanwhile, the FAA just earned the Order of the Cowardly Buzzard, for the most venal and cowardly political act, in the face of an enemy of civilization, in the history of commercial aviation, or the regulation of same.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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