Britain has become the world center for boycotts of Israeli goods and of academic exchange. It is rare to pass a day without an email from a supporter of the Jewish state bringing to my attention yet another boycott campaign. Whether it is grassroots campaigns to label oranges and avocados in supermarkets or universities stopping academic cross-fertilization of brainpower, the many forces at work in Britain seem never to run out of momentum.
It is therefore all the more lamentable that British soldiers are suffering losses every month in Afghanistan, yet the country does not promote good relations with Israel, the world expert on defusing IEDs (improvised explosive devices). On December 13 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited troops in Kandahar, the first British head of state to visit servicemen in a war zone since Winston Churchill in the Second World War. Brown told the media during his visit that soldiers “were discovering improvised explosive devices every two hours.”
On television in the months leading up to the prime ministerial visit to the war zone, bereaved British mothers, sisters, and widows lamented the shortage of bomb disposal experts and the apparent lack of appropriate equipment and protective gear available to their sons, brothers, and husbands. On BBC television’s Question Time on Thursday, December 10, recorded in Wootton Bassett, a town hit particularly hard by recent war losses, anguished women asked panelist Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the armed forces, for better care of the fighting men.
In the meantime Israeli bomb disposal experts are available for consultation, but if the word “Israel” so much as appears in any public discourse, those same studio audiences erupt in rage at the “apartheid” state that engages in “ethnic cleansing,” and they refuse to see the connection between Israel’s sixty-year defensive battle against terror and the war their menfolk are facing in Taliban-land.
Researching this article I came upon a compelling screed, “Countering Improvised Explosive Devices” by Colonel David Eshel of the IDF, or Israeli Defense Forces. What is intriguing is that the piece was published in the Royal Tank Regiment Journal, Volume 771, way back in March 2005.
Eshel recounts the events after cessation of initial hostilities in Iraq in 2003, when insurgent attacks began to dominate the landscape, but coalition leaders seemed uninterested in briefings on IEDs. He asserts: “It seems therefore strange, and possibly inexcusable, that the coalition forces failed to take notice of the vast combat experience that could have become willingly available from its Israeli allies, in order to at least try and reduce the heavy loss of life sustained mainly by U.S. forces from IED and suicide attacks.”
Eshel’s article makes it clear that the range and lethality of IEDs are staggering: In the early days of the Iraqi insurgency, attackers pulled out the firing pins of hand grenades and kept them from detonating by holding down the “spoon” and covering it with ducting tape. By dropping it into a canister filled with gasoline, the tape would dissolve in a few hours and cause a terrific explosion. Terrorists would place an obstruction on the road, causing vehicles to stop and investigate; the results were catastrophic.