Why We Need To Withdraw Unilaterally

Uri Dromi. The Jerusalem Report. May 6, 2002. pg. 54

Copyright (c) 2002. The Jerusalem Report

WHENEVER I WRITE ABOUT ISRAEL'S VITAL need to pull out of the territories unilaterally and establish a defensible border between this country and the Palestinians, I get angry mail. People load my e-mail box with long, fuming messages. They say that Oslo was a mistake, reminding me that I was one of its supporters (I admit to that, but hey, today I'm one of the penitents). They say that all the Arabs understand is force, and that you can't trust Arafat (I agree: He's such a liar that you can't even be sure that the lie he's telling you is really a lie). And they tell me that withdrawing from Judea, Samaria and Gaza would only boost the Arabs' resolution to destroy Israel.

Yet on the fundamental reasons I give for pulling out of the territories, people are curiously mute. No one tells me I'm wrong.

Why do I believe that Israel, in spite of the risks involved and prices to be paid, should nevertheless evacuate settlements and withdraw? Because of sheer numbers. We simply don't have enough Jews in the Land of Israel to keep all of it to ourselves.

In 1937, before Britain's Peel Commission of Inquiry came to Palestine to solve the conflict over the land between Arabs and Jews, Revisionist Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky addressed the numbers issue and attacked the proffered solution of partition. We are not going to oust the Arabs, he said, but we will bring "millions and millions of Jews" to the land. Jabotinsky died in 1940, and so was spared witnessing the Holocaust, in which those millions were massacred. Those who cite his solution today are lost in the distant past. The reservoir of immigrants in the former Soviet Union is declining, and frankly, I don't see millions of American Jews packing their bags and making aliyah.

That leaves us with the problem: too few Jews here. Furthermore, demographers consistently predict that in the foreseeable future there will be more Arabs than Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Keeping the territories will therefore soon force us to choose between becoming an apartheid state or giving up on Israel's Jewish character.

The standard argument for keeping the territories is that they provide security, but that's also an illusion. A personal story: When Thomas Friedman was The New York Times correspondent in Israel back in the 1980s, he came to my house one night. My wife Dalia told him that Netanyah, where she grew up, once was in Israel's narrowest area. Yet as a teenager, she'd always felt safe going by herself to the beach. There was a border -- close, indeed, only 16 kilometers away -- but still a border, where the Israel Defense Forces were deployed, and the enemy was beyond that border. Come the Six-Day War, the border moved far away from Netanyah. But alas, she suddenly felt unsafe: The enemy could be anywhere. Friedman immortalized her story in print.

She had it right then, and all the more so today. We can have our tanks roam the alleys of Nablus, and our soldiers spread over the hills around Hebron -- it will not bring back our lost sense of security. Unless, of course, we resort to unthinkable measures like those suggested by Alan Dershowitz -- razing entire villages in retaliation for terror. I'm afraid, however, that instead of being Dershowitzes, we would end up as Milosevices.

So if we keep the territories, we either get apartheid or an Israel that has ceased being Jewish; and in both cases, we don't get security. What kind of deal is this?

Faced with this dilemma, it's no wonder that more and more Israelis and Jews abroad entertain the idea of "transferring" the Arabs out of the territories and perhaps even Israel. I'd prefer not even to elaborate on this monstrous idea. All I can say is that there aren't enough railroad cars in Israel to accommodate Israeli commuters, let alone to ship Arab families from their homes.

Which leaves us where we started: In order to remain both Jewish and democratic, and to regain its security, Israel must withdraw from the territories. I wish we could have done it through a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians. But if Arafat couldn't take yes for an answer even when Clinton and Barak offered him almost everything, we shouldn't let him hold us hostage to his meshugas. We should act ourselves in Israel's best interests.

And to our brothers and sisters in the settlements, we should say that we have to evacuate them -- not because we don't care about them, but on the contrary:  because we want to be able truly to defend them, in the borders of a smaller, safer Israel, both Jewish and democratic.

Uri Dromi (dromi@idi.org.il) is director of publications at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem.




Date: Sun, 12 May 2002

From: mark rosenblit <markrosenblit@attbi.com>

To: dromi@idi.org.il (Uri Dromi, Director of Publications, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, Israel)

Re: Your essay in the Viewpoint section of the May 6, 2002 issue of The Jerusalem Report, entitled "Why We Need To Withdraw Unilaterally" (all italicized quotations are from the essay)

"Yet on the fundamental reasons I give for pulling out of the territories, people are curiously mute. No one tells me that I'm wrong."

You opine that, due to those areas' high Arab birthrate, Israel will not be able to continue being both a Jewish and a democratic state, because its retention of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yehuda, Shomron and Aza -- YESHA) will lead either to an undemocratic Jewish state ruling a hostile disenfranchised Arab population ("... apartheid ...") or to a binational democratic state in which Jews will soon be the minority ("... an Israel that has ceased being Jewish ..."). Accordingly, you tout a full unilateral Israeli withdrawal from YESHA and the complete removal of all its Jewish residents as the only humane solution in order to "... be able truly to defend them, in the borders of a smaller, safer Israel, both Jewish and democratic."

Firstly, it is a fact that substantially more Israelis have been murdered and maimed by Arab terrorists in the 8 years following the 1993 Oslo Accords than in the four decades prior thereto. It is, accordingly, also a fact that Israelis were actually safer when they were fully occupying YESHA. By withdrawing itself from 42% of Judea and Samaria and 80% of Gaza -- with the result that, by the end of 1995, 98% of the Arab population of the former and virtually 100% of the Arab population of the latter were then being governed, not by Israel, but rather by the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority headed by Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat -- Israel merely gave the Arab residents of YESHA the autonomous means to build mortar, rocket and suicide-belt factories -- facilities denied to them when they were under full Israeli occupation -- and the autonomous means to train a terror army dedicated to killing Jews. Full reoccupation will save more Jewish lives than full withdrawal.

Secondly, no one claims that the United States is no longer a democracy because the residents of the District of Columbia (the U.S. capital city which is not part of any U.S. state) and Puerto Rico (an island nation which is associated with, but is not a state of, the United States) are subject to the U.S. military draft and U.S. law, but are denied the right to vote in U.S. legislative elections. However, if this makes the U.S. an apartheid nation, then perhaps Israel is in good company.

Thirdly, although you summarily dismiss the solution of deporting the Arabs of YESHA to live with their brethren in the eastern portion of Mandatory Palestine which is now known as Jordan ("I'd prefer not to even elaborate on this monstrous idea."), you fail to explain why this solution will not save more Jewish lives than will full withdrawal from YESHA. After all, the governments of Greece and Turkey (in the aftermath of World War I and the ensuing Greco-Turkish war of 1922), and the governments of India and Pakistan (in the aftermath of World War II), prevented their respective nations from imploding by implementing mutual forced transfers of their respective hostile minority to the latter’s kindred nation. Doctor Fridtjof Nansen of Norway, as the architect of the Greece/Turkey population exchange (in which some 1,300,000 Greeks departed Turkey for Greece and some 400,000 Turks departed Greece for Turkey), even won the Noble Peace Prize for his efforts. Without a serious discussion of this solution in your essay, you thereby promote intellectual dishonesty. As for the supposed immorality of this solution, why is it morally acceptable to uproot more than 200,000 peaceful Jews from their homes in YESHA (and perhaps an additional 200,000 peaceful Jews from their homes in the eastern portion of Jerusalem) but not 3,500,000 hostile Arabs therefrom? Surely, the numeric disparity alone cannot make the former the only humane solution and the latter a crime against humanity.

Fourthly, since adverse demographics drives your solution of full unilateral withdrawal, how do you propose that a post-withdrawal Israel deal with its "Israeli" Arab minority -- over 1,200,000 strong and constituting 20% of Israel's citizenry -- which, due its higher birthrate, will also one day cause a shrunken, but more democratic, Israel to be transformed into an Arab state with a large Jewish minority? If full flight from YESHA is, in fact, necessitated by the demographic challenge posed by YESHA's Arabs, then to which further line should Israel withdraw in order to flee from the demographic challenge posed by its own Arabs? And how will the World view a "democratic" Israel which jettisons portions of its “undisputed” territory situated within its 1949 armistice demarcation lines (e.g., portions of the Galilee and the Negev) simply because it contains too many voting Arabs? Full withdrawal from YESHA merely postpones -- but does not solve -- the looming demographic threat posed to the Jewish State by the growing Arab population both without and within its pre-1967 cease-fire lines. Like it or not, deportation of the Arabs constitutes a comprehensive solution to both facets of this demographic threat. Again, unless you propose -- upon the altar of democracy -- that Israel cease being a Jewish state even within its 1949 armistice demarcation lines, why would the solution of deporting "Israeli" Arabs not save more Jewish lives than permitting Israel to devolve into just another corrupt Arab police state (which, in addition to being armed with nuclear weapons, will surely deal cruelly with its former Jewish majority, especially if the hostile public declarations of "Israeli" Arab Knesset members truly reflect the views of their voting constituencies)?

"But if Arafat couldn't take yes for an answer even when Clinton and Barak offered him almost everything, we shouldn't let him hold us hostage to his meshugas [craziness]. We should act ourselves in Israel's best interests."

Even if Israel loudly proclaims that a unilateral -- or even a negotiated -- withdrawal from YESHA is being implemented exclusively for the sake of retaining a Jewish and democratic Israel rather than as an abject capitulation to the Arab suicide "martyrs" of YESHA and pre-1967 Israel, what makes you think that "Palestinian" or "Israeli" Arabs will accept this self-serving explanation? Yasser Arafat, with a substantial portion of Israel's water sources and the high mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria then under his control, would have absolutely no reason to doubt that his adroit combination of the 2000 Hizbullah model and the 1974 Palestine Liberation Organization "plan of stages" is succeeding apace. Having the sea to the West and a revanchist armed-to-the-teeth enemy to the East will neither bring peace nor even a short respite to an insecure Israel within the narrow armistice demarcation lines of 1949. In fact, without the luxury of time now provided to Israel in the East by the small 30 mile wide buffer zone that is Judea and Samaria (not to mention that provided to Israel in the North by the Golan Heights), Israel might very well be forced to quickly resort to a defensive nuclear strike in the likely event that the Arabs once again try to complete the campaign of annihilation that they began in 1948 against the Jewish State within its 1947 United Nations partition plan lines. Is setting the stage for a nuclear war in Israel's (or even the Arabs') best interests?

If the goal is really saving Jewish lives -- and minimizing the risk of nuclear war -- rather than receiving ephemeral plaudits from the World and its media, then either full reoccupation or full deportation is more suited to its achievement. However, full reoccupation does not remove a growing hostile population from, and within, Israel's doorstep -- only full deportation accomplishes that goal.

In other words, you are wrong!

© Mark Rosenblit


[Note:  The below article discusses the available empirical evidence that Reoccupation of Gaza would actually de-radicalize “Palestinian” Arabs, thereby saving Jewish lives.  Read on!]

Civil Fights: Back to 'let's help Abu Mazen' dead-end


Jun. 20, 2007

Last week's Hamas takeover in Gaza was the logical culmination of Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Strip. To understand why, it is worth studying a Palestinian opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center 10 months after the pullout.

The June 2006 poll found that 34 percent of Gaza residents thought the new Hamas government was better than its Fatah predecessor, compared to 22 percent of West Bank residents; that 56 percent of Gazans opposed the Oslo Accords, compared to 45 percent of West Bankers; and that 58.2 percent of Gazans supported suicide bombings against Israel, compared to 37.1 percent of West Bankers.

These results had two noteworthy elements. First, as JMCC director Ghassan al-Khatib told Haaretz, "this was the first time we found a significant disparity in positions between the West Bank and Gaza. Until now, the differences were two or three percent on questions such as support for Hamas and attacks."

Second, this disparity defied the accepted dogma that "the occupation" radicalizes the Palestinians. In every category -- support for Hamas, support for Oslo and support for suicide bombings -- residents of the "occupied" West Bank proved significantly more moderate than residents of unoccupied Gaza, whence Israel had evacuated every last settler and soldier only a year before.

Yet for anyone not blinded by dogma, this result was predictable, for two reasons.

THE FIRST is that while Israel controlled Gaza, it waged war on radical organizations: arresting or killing terrorists, raiding weapon caches and combating arms smuggling. This made it difficult for radical groups to operate openly and amass strength. And in the West Bank, Israel's counterterrorism activities still prevent radical groups from acquiring too much power.

Following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, however, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas made virtually no effort to combat terrorism and arms smuggling (whether due to unwillingness or inability is irrelevant). Egypt did equally little to stop the smuggling from its side of the border, while the international community declined to press either Abbas or Cairo on these issues. Radical groups could thus operate freely, including recruiting and training new troops and accumulating arms at a ferocious rate. These processes merely accelerated after Hamas won the January 2006 parliamentary elections.

The result is that radical groups acquired far more power in Gaza than they could in the Israeli-controlled West Bank, turning them into Gaza's "strong horse" -- the one worth backing. In the West Bank, in contrast, they remained the weak horse.

THE SECOND reason is the pullout itself, which Palestinians overwhelmingly interpreted as an Israeli flight from Palestinian terror. That is an oversimplification, but hardly a baseless one: The plan's public support stemmed largely from Israelis' desire to "stop having their sons killed in Gaza." Gaza residents thus had concrete proof that violence worked: It expelled the hated Israeli occupier. The logical conclusion was increased support for Hamas and suicide bombings and decreased support for negotiated deals such as Oslo.

West Bankers, in contrast, had a very different experience of violence: Years of suicide bombings inside Israel brought only a far more devastating occupation.

Before the intifada started in 2000, Palestinians enjoyed self-rule in large parts of the West Bank; tens of thousands of them worked in Israel; and there was substantial freedom of movement both within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza. But Israel's efforts to protect its citizens from suicide bombers erased these gains: The army reoccupied all the areas it had vacated under Oslo; Palestinians were largely barred from working in Israel; and freedom of movement, both within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza, was sharply curtailed as Israel erected checkpoints and, later, the fence in an effort to catch terrorists before they reached Israel.

Thus by June 2006, West Bankers had seen six years of violence make their lives steadily worse. And here, too, the conclusion was logical: decreased support for Hamas and suicide bombings and increased support for negotiated deals such as Oslo.

THUS THE disengagement's effect was twofold. First, though Hamas technically won the 2006 elections in both territories, in Gaza, it had the power to openly recruit, arm and train the troops that carried out last week's takeover, whereas in the West Bank, due to Israel's military presence, it did not. And second, it could reasonably conclude that it had public support for a takeover in Gaza; in the West Bank, it does not, and knows it.

Given that the world's goal now is to keep Hamas from seizing the West Bank as well, this analysis has obvious policy implications -- and they are the opposite of the current diplomatic consensus.

That consensus, just as after every eruption of Palestinian violence for the past 14 years, is that Israel must "strengthen" the PA (now confined to the West Bank) through more concessions -- even though its leader has just proven himself unwilling (or unable) to fight Hamas in Gaza despite his forces' substantial numerical advantage. The proposed concessions range from releasing convicted terrorists through removing West Bank checkpoints to negotiating on final-status issues.

Yet aside from undermining Israel's ability to fight Hamas in the West Bank, such measures would once again prove, just as they have for the past 14 years, that the "good cop, bad cop" routine -- in which "bad" Palestinians commit violence that the "good" ones denounce, but make no move to prevent - pays: It creates international pressure for more Israeli concessions. And that is the opposite of the message the world should be sending, which is that failure to halt violence is counterproductive.

Reversing 14 years of failed policy is hard. But if the world ever wants to see a Palestinian state, it must make the effort. And that means making it clear to Abbas, and to all Palestinians, that there will be no "diplomatic horizon," and also no Israeli security concessions, unless and until a government willing and able to fight terror emerges. Only if such a message is consistently enforced are Palestinians ever likely to conclude that refusing to fight their extremists does not pay.

Copyright 1995 - 2007   The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  The below article describes how Israel has suffered a loss of both physical and psychological deterrence against its adversaries by its full withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 and by its conduct of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 (which War was foreordained by Israel’s earlier full withdrawal from its small Security Zone in southern Lebanon in May 2000).  Read on!]

Civil Fights: Destroying Israel's deterrence

By Evelyn Gordon

(Jerusalem Post, August 7, 2008) Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin is so worried about Israel's deterrence that he made his concerns public last month. Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Diskin said Israeli deterrence had "suffered substantially" due to three events over the past three years: the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas' subsequent takeover of the Strip, and the Second Lebanon War.

Diskin did not elaborate, but his reasons for citing these events were obvious: All undermined both the physical and the psychological aspect of deterrence.

Physical deterrence relates to the actual balance of forces: The greater the imbalance, the more reluctant the weaker side will be to start hostilities. And while the balance clearly still favors Israel, the gap has shrunk markedly thanks to the events Diskin cited.

UNTIL ISRAEL quit Gaza in 2005, it combated Palestinian arms smuggling with substantial (though never complete) success. But once it withdrew, the floodgates opened. Thus pre-disengagement, most Hamas rockets had ranges of only a few kilometers, and its stockpile never exceeded a few hundred. Today, Israeli intelligence believes the organization has thousands of rockets capable of reaching major cities in southern Israel, on top of thousands of shorter-range rockets. It has also acquired sophisticated anti-tank rockets -- the weapon responsible for most IDF casualties during the Second Lebanon War -- and built a network of Hizbullah-style bunkers. Thus should Israel respond to any future Hamas attack, it will risk withering rocket fire on its cities, while any ground operation aimed at stopping the rockets will entail many more casualties than did previous Gaza operations. That knowledge will make any Israeli government more reluctant to respond, which in turn will make Hamas feel freer to strike when it deems the time convenient.

The same goes for Lebanon. The government touted Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon war, as an achievement, saying its provisions for a beefed-up UN force and the Lebanese Army’s deployment in south Lebanon would prevent Hizbullah's rearmament. Instead, 1701 allowed Hizbullah to rearm at breathtaking speed. The organization now has some 40,000 rockets -- triple its arsenal in 2006. Moreover, these include long-range rockets capable of striking anywhere in Israel, whereas in 2006, only the north was in range.

Furthermore, thanks to both its arms-buying spree and the image boost it received from the IDF's failure to defeat it (a feat no regular Arab army ever matched), Hizbullah now controls the Lebanese government so totally that new government guidelines approved last week formally authorize it to attack Israel whenever it wishes. This governmental approval may well grant it access to Lebanese Army materiel, which includes highly sophisticated American equipment -- especially since Lebanon's new president and former army chief, Michel Suleiman, announced last Friday that he supports "all means" to regain what he terms occupied Lebanese land.

Thus again, should Israel respond to any future Hizbullah aggression, Hizbullah will be able to exact a far greater price than it did last time. That will make Israel think twice about responding, which in turn will make Hizbullah feel freer to attack.

BUT FOR all the importance of the physical element, deterrence is primarily about psychology:  Perceptions of a foe's strength often matter more than reality in deciding whether to attack. And on the psychological plane, the events Diskin cited were devastating.

According to repeated polls, 70 to 85 percent of Palestinians believe that Israel quit Gaza due to anti-Israel terror. And with reason:   In 2000, no Israeli government would have considered withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally. Yet a relatively low casualty level -- Gaza-based terror accounted for less than 15 percent (some 150 people) of Israel's intifada-related fatalities over the ensuing five years -- sufficed to reverse this stance. Thus, clearly, terror worked.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who is widely regarded as Hamas's leader in the West Bank, explained the thought process in an astonishingly frank interview in last Friday's Ha'aretz [newspaper]. He himself, the interview implies, was unenthusiastic about suicide bombings. Yet Israel's own actions proved the tactic so effective that its opponents within the organization were effectively silenced.

"Members of the Israeli peace camp, those who spoke about ending the Occupation and withdrawing, pushed us forward in our decision to continue the suicide attacks," he said. "The cracks in your steadfastness encouraged us greatly and proved that this method is very effective. Ariel Sharon's plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip was also a great achievement that resulted from our activities. For us, one of the best proofs of the rift that suicide attacks had created in Israeli society was the phenomenon of refusal to serve in the army. We thought this rift should be deepened, and use of the suicide bomber weapon became a matter of consensus in our organization."

In short, many Palestinians concluded that Israel was simply too weak to stand up to terror.

Hamas' takeover of Gaza two years later compounded the impression of Israeli weakness, because for years, Israel had openly backed Fatah against Hamas -- both verbally and, to some extent, in deeds. And, when your proclaimed ally is ignominiously routed by your enemy, that inevitably reflects on you as well.

But the Second Lebanon War was the ultimate proof: After 33 days, the IDF proved unable to defeat a much smaller and more poorly equipped foe. And precisely because Hizbullah was obviously militarily inferior, the only possible explanation for its achievement lay in Israel's unwillingness to fight: For fear of taking military casualties, Israel refused to launch the necessary ground operation against Hizbullah, preferring to let a million Israelis cower helplessly under daily rocket barrages. The conclusion is obvious: Israel is afraid to confront Hizbullah head-on. And therefore, Hizbullah need not fear attacking it again.

One might argue that all of the above is water under the bridge: It happened, and Israel is stuck with the consequences. Yet the fact that the government has continued making all the same mistakes in the ensuing years (as next week's column will show) proves that the lessons remain unlearned. And until they are learned, whatever shreds of Israel's deterrence remain will continue to evaporate.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  The below article further describes how Full Withdrawal, combined with the decisions of a feckless government, have greatly degraded Israel’s deterrent posture.  Read on!]

Civil Fights: How Israel became the boy who cried wolf

By Evelyn Gordon

(Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2008) Kadima has set several records during its brief existence. No other ruling party has generated so many criminal proceedings against its representatives, nor has any previous government so successfully outfaced public desire for its ouster. But perhaps its most devastating record is how thoroughly it has shredded Israel's deterrence.

Last week's column analyzed what Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin deems the worst blows to the nation's deterrence over the past three years: the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas's subsequent takeover of the Strip and the Second Lebanon War. Kadima, of course, deserves "credit" for all three: It comprises all the politicians most responsible for the first (and indeed was formed for that purpose), while the latter two occurred under its rule.

Yet far from learning from these mistakes, it proceeded to compound them.

In the South, rocket attacks from Gaza more than tripled following the mid-2005 disengagement, to over 1,000 a year in 2006 and 2007. And the mid-2006 Lebanon war effectively undercut previous excuses for inaction. Not only did it prove that such barrages, if not stopped, destroy morale at home and deterrence abroad (since the enemy concludes that Israel fears to confront it), but it also produced a military consensus on how to counter them: a major ground operation to drive the launchers out of range.

Yet the government refused to order such an operation, instead relying on the same failed tactic it used in Lebanon: aerial assaults. That reinforced Arab belief that the IDF is afraid to confront the far smaller and more poorly equipped Hamas.

Even worse, however, were its nonstop threats that we would "soon" lose patience and invade Gaza. Since that never happened, Israel became the boy who cried wolf. It has lost any ability to make credible threats, as its enemies will consider them mere hot air.

THEN, IN June, the government capitulated completely, accepting a truce on Hamas's terms - which Diskin termed a "lifesaver" for the organization. Specifically, after having said repeatedly that any cease-fire must bring Gilad Schalit home and prevent weapons smuggling, it accepted a truce without Schalit and with no provisions on smuggling except Egypt's umpteenth empty promise to combat it. It thereby proved once again that our "red lines" are meaningless.

The Palestinians soon violated this truce: Hamas itself refrained from firing rockets, but declined to stop other organizations from doing so. Yet Israel never responded militarily, and though it did initially close the border crossings it had opened under the truce, it immediately reopened them at Egypt's request. The lesson was clear: Terrorist organizations can violate deals with impunity since Israel will honor its commitments anyway.

Moreover, Palestinian analysts say the truce bolstered support for Hamas, because it achieved through force what Fatah failed to achieve through negotiations: a cessation of IDF operations in its territory. In short, rather than showing that peace pays better than terror, Kadima showed that terror pays better than peace -- thereby encouraging it.

Finally, Hamas has exploited the truce to prepare for future conflict. It is training troops and smuggling in masses of arms (i.e. four tons of explosives). It is stockpiling nonmilitary essentials such as food and fuel, since the truce, with its reopened border crossings, more than tripled the volume of cargo entering Gaza. And it is building bunkers with cement supplied courtesy of the lull. All this will increase IDF casualties in any future Gaza operation, making governments even more reluctant to approve one.

In short, rather than Israel deterring Hamas, Hamas is deterring Israel.

THE PICTURE in the North is identical. The Lebanon war, which followed years in which Hizbullah amassed an arsenal while Israel did nothing, underscored the dangers of letting terrorist organizations arm unimpeded. Yet since the war, Hizbullah has tripled its rocket supply, to about 40,000, and now has virtually all of Israel in range rather than the North alone. And again we did nothing.

Moreover, Hizbullah's rearmament enabled it to seize control of Lebanon's government this spring, further increasing its ability to threaten Israel.

But not content with mere inaction, Kadima actively undermined its chances of mustering effective diplomatic pressure against the smuggling via its indirect negotiations with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

For Assad, the benefits were immediate: After years of international isolation, he was welcomed back to the world stage, including a starring role in last month's Mediterranean Union summit.

Israel, however, got nothing in exchange. Defense officials begged the government to condition talks on a halt to Hizbullah's arms smuggling from Syria, but the government refused. Now, having belatedly woken up, Kadima wants the world to pressure Syria to stop the smuggling. But as a senior official told Haaretz last week: "The fact that we are conducting negotiations with Syria doesn't make it easier to [explain] our position to the world." After all, if the government doesn't consider this issue important enough to employ its own diplomatic leverage against Syria, why should other countries deem it important enough to employ theirs?

The unconditional talks with Syria also undermined Israel's deterrence in another way: They proved, as a senior Arab diplomat told Haaretz, that "it's possible to supply missiles to Hizbullah, be a patron of Hamas and be in Israel's good graces all at the same time."

If so, why should any Arab country not support anti-Israel terror?

Even after Assad flatly rejected direct talks last month -- meaning that having already given him international legitimacy in exchange for no tangible benefits, Israel was not even getting serious negotiations -- the government still refused to end the farce. The message could not be clearer: One can support terror, refuse serious negotiations and still reap all the benefits of peace. No more thorough eradication of Israel's deterrent is conceivable.

Kadima inherited a country with a weakened but still extant deterrent posture and proceeded to systemically destroy it. Now, rebuilding deterrence must be a top priority. And Kadima cannot be trusted with the job. Its record speaks for itself.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  In June 1967, Israel reacquired Gaza in a war forced upon it by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and their allies.  In May 1994, pursuant to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel withdrew from the 80% of Gaza which contained virtually 100% of its Arab population (thereby leaving the 20% of Gaza which contained its Jewish population under Israel’s continued protection and control).  In August 2005, Israel withdrew from the other 20% of Gaza (which required the Jewish State to forcibly expel the 8,500 Jewish residents of Gaza as well as to remove all Israel Defense Forces soldiers therefrom).  In January 2009, the IDF was finally forced to re-invade Gaza in order to prevent the latter’s incessant mortar and rocket fire upon Israel.  This is Israel’s “reward” for Full Withdrawal.  Read on!]


Europe has a plan

(Jerusalem Post, January 1, 2009) Toward the end of 2005, after Israel unilaterally pulled its citizens and soldiers out of Gaza, Jerusalem consented to the presence of European Union "monitors" at the Rafah Crossing connecting the [Gaza] Strip to Egyptian Sinai. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the arrangement as giving "the Palestinian people the freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives."

Rafah was opened on November 26, 2005 in a ceremony attended by Mahmoud Abbas. Just two months later, Palestinians voting in the West Bank and Gaza gave Hamas a majority in the Palestinian parliament. But because Hamas was an international outlaw, forces loyal to Abbas continued to oversee Rafah's terminal, providing security for some 70 EU monitors. They had the authority to "reexamine" and "reassess" anyone or anything which struck them as suspicious.

Little, however, struck the monitors as suspicious. When Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar's brother strolled past them on his way into Gaza, the Europeans answered Israeli complaints by arguing that Jerusalem never gave the monitors a list naming those it wanted barred.

When Zahar himself and another Hamas official crossed over with some dozen suitcases containing $20 million, EU monitors did not look the other way. They protested to Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which promised to investigate.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told this newspaper in October 2006 that Israelis were over-obsessing about security at Rafah. He didn't think Hamas wanted to destroy Israel; it simply wanted to liberate Palestinians.

After Gilad Schalit was captured by Hamas in a June 2006 cross-border raid, the EU monitors complained that Israel was keeping the Rafah crossing closed more days than it was open, and threatened to walk off the job. The threat became moot in June 2007: Hamas expelled Fatah, and the monitors fled.

THIS slice of history is pertinent in the wake of an offer by EU foreign ministers, meeting Tuesday night in Paris, to send monitors to Rafah and other crossings to ensure their smooth operation. The proposal came in the context of the EU's demand for an "unconditional halt to rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel and an end to Israeli military action." The ministers concluded with what is, for them, a truism: "There is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in Gaza or elsewhere."

Hamas, for its part, appears somewhat less certain about this point. Its founding charter asserts: "Israel... will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it."

Tuesday a Hamas spokesman said on television: "The children of Gaza will be collecting the body parts of [Israeli] soldiers and the ruins of tanks" if IDF ground forces moved in to halt Hamas rocket launchings.

As a Grad slammed into a Beersheba kindergarten, empty at the time, European and US press reports lamented that hopes for an early end to the fighting had "faded" -- as if they had existed in the first place -- because "Israel rejected international calls for a 48-hour cease-fire to allow the supply of humanitarian aid." Never mind that 179 shipments of international supplies including food and medicines, donations from various governments, blood and 10 ambulances were being conveyed to Gaza.

Other media carried the boilerplate: "Hamas says it will keep up its attacks if Israel does not stop its assault" -- which begs the question of why Hamas had been attacking us before the IDF went into action Saturday.

Europe's press is wont to dub the Kassams "rudimentary" because these explosive- and shrapnel-filled rockets lack any guidance system. Hamas-developed Kassams were first launched against Gaza's Jewish settlements in October 2001. By March 5, 2002, they had been sufficiently perfected to hit Sderot. Further refined over the years, more than 10,000 Kassams have smashed into Israeli targets, killing scores, wounding hundreds and terrorizing tens of thousands. After Israel's disengagement from Gaza, Hamas smuggled in tons of advanced weaponry, including the Grad. It too is "primitive" -- early versions were fielded by the Soviets in 1963. The model now being fired at Beersheba, 40 km. from Gaza, is Chinese-made.

HAMAS was established in 1987 because the local Muslim Brotherhood doubted the PLO's continued commitment to the destruction of Israel.

Brussels may have the luxury of deluding itself about Hamas's intentions and capabilities. Jerusalem does not.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


Analysis: Hamas could not be deterred

By David Horovitz

(Jerusalem Post, January 4, 2009) For years, an untenable reality prevailed in Sderot [, Israel] and the [other] "Gaza envelope" [Jewish] communities.

Israel's civilians in the area endured a life of terror -- families raising their children under constant threat of Kassam attack -- on the front line of the battle against Gaza's rocket crews. And the IDF's ground forces, duty-bound to protect the citizenry from such terror and violence, were not called into action.

On Saturday night, that changed.

The current Israeli government, its prime minister doubtless bruised by the unhappy consequences of his last major resort to force, against Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in 2006, was not committed to using ground forces in Gaza when it began Operation Cast Lead on December 27. Rather, Defense Minister Ehud Barak explained at the time, the initial air offensive would be expanded and intensified as necessary.

The sense as the cabinet met this weekend, a week into the conflict, was that expansion and intensification were indeed necessary.
Ministers Haim Ramon and Eli Yishai, who argue that Israel should be overtly seeking to bring an end to Hamas's rule in Gaza, abstained from the fateful cabinet vote only because the declared aims of the ground offensive were not wide enough; those abstentions apart, support was unanimous.

There was a certain incoherence to the declared goals of this operation eight days ago: Was the desired "restored security for the South" to be achieved merely by deterring Hamas from firing into Israel, or was Hamas to be deprived of its practical capacity to pose a threat?

In the event, it appears, the cabinet concluded that Hamas -- even after eight days of air attacks on its bases, tunnels, missile silos and terror chiefs -- would not be deterred. It was hardly a surprising conclusion, given Hamas's avowed goal of destroying Israel and its proven indifference to the loss of Palestinian lives. But it was one that Israel reached only reluctantly.

While Israel has made clear that its confrontation is with Hamas, and not with the people of Gaza, there is no denying the extent to which the people of Gaza contributed to the misery Hamas has wrought on both sides of the border.

Hamas seized power in Gaza in a coup in June 2007, but it had been legitimized by the Palestinian citizenry in a series of local election triumphs and, most significantly, in its overwhelming success in the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas's rise, indeed, is a rare case of a terrorist organization winning power through quasi-democratic elections.

The Palestinian public understandably saw the Fatah establishment as corrupt, and sought an alternative. But in choosing Hamas, it was plainly not deterred by the Islamists' commitment to the destruction of neighboring Israel, and their determined use of unthinkable means, including horrific suicide bombings, in pursuit of its goals.

In the 2006 elections, Hamas won over 65 percent of the vote in the Gaza Strip, including five out of eight PLC seats in Gaza City, three out of five in Khan Yunis and all five seats in Jabalya.

Insistently committed to their bleak, death-cult ideology, and to an interpretation of Islam that brands Israel fundamentally illegitimate, the Hamas leadership may never be deterred from seeking to harm Israel. They may never "get the message."

Israel can only hope, for their sake and for ours, that the Palestinian public is less obdurate.

But most of all, Israel now hopes and prays for the well-being of its people's army, reluctantly dispatched to Gaza on Saturday to safeguard the citizens of the South who have lived on the front line for so long.

(©) The Jerusalem Post



Into Gaza

(Jerusalem Post, January 5, 2009) Israel was not eager to send its ground forces into Gaza against Hamas, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday night, with masterful understatement.

But after more than a week of air assaults on Hamas's offices, training bases, smuggling tunnels, missile silos, terror chiefs' homes and more, the faint hope that Hamas might by now have gotten the message, and internalized that Israel would no longer tolerate relentless rocket attacks on its citizenry, had plainly gone unrealized.

No matter the suffering its insistent attacks on Israel had caused the Palestinian people it has sought to govern, Hamas had kept firing those rockets for eight days, deeper and deeper into Israel, bringing 800,000 Israeli civilians into range.

And so, said a sorrowful Barak -- who acknowledged having thought twice, and then three times, about whether a ground offensive was truly inescapable -- the order was given for land forces to enter the [Gaza] Strip.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, overseeing a second resort to force in less than three years across a border to which Israel had withdrawn unilaterally in the misplaced expectation of tranquility, was quoted as saying that "there are moments when there is no choice."

He had done all he could to avoid the use of ground forces, the prime minister said, including attempting to maintain and then restore a misnamed "cease-fire" in recent months, which Hamas had abused to improve its rockets and prepare more effectively for conflict.

"I wanted to be sure I had tried everything," Olmert was said to have told his fellow ministers at the fateful weekend cabinet meeting during which the ground offensive was approved.

In truth, Israel has been much more than merely reluctant to re-enter the treacherous Gaza Strip. It has made plain its fervent desire to avoid a major ground offensive - to the extent that Barak even weighed a "time out" and possible consequent cease-fire as early as last Tuesday, when Operation Cast Lead was only four days old.

THE RESIDENTS of Sderot and the "Gaza envelope" communities have suffered on the front line for eight years -- raising families under the abiding threat that Kassams could shatter their lives at any moment.

The rocket fire has only escalated since Israel wrenched its civilians out of Gaza in 2005 and removed all military presence as well, leaving the Palestinians free to build a nascent state there.

But instead, Gaza became Hamastan, and the fear that rockets from there would come to hit Ashkelon proved too optimistic: in fact, the rockets have reached much further.

While the citizenry suffered, week after week, month after month, the IDF was not called into action. As Hamas grew stronger, and progressed ever further in its goal to become as entrenched as Hizbullah, Iran's other proxy army, the dangers attending any ground incursion by the IDF into Gaza grew greater.

Of course, as Hamas's rearming continued, the danger of allowing it to continue to thrive and strengthen grew more unthinkable, too.

And so, as Barak explained in his sorrowful address on Saturday night, the time had come "to do what has to be done."

Barak's was no gloating speech of imminent victory -- no mirror to Hamas's public displays of bloodlust. It was, rather, a sober assessment of "difficult days ahead" -- days that Israel had hoped to avoid, days of further suffering for the residents of the South, days of challenge for the IDF, days that would see lives endangered.

But ultimately, said the defense minister, it was the IDF's job to defend and protect the people of Israel, to safeguard the home front.

And after eight years in which the home front, untenably, became the southern front line, on Saturday night the IDF was finally ordered to assert its obligation: to fight a vicious enemy and to safeguard the people of Israel.

For Israelis, and for all those who recognize the threat to freedom everywhere posed by the death-cult Islamist extremism of which Hamas is only a part, it now remains to hope that the IDF's actions in the coming days restore peace to the South, and restore the tranquility that all civilians have the right to expect.

And may a most reluctant military return to Gaza help deter Israel's enemies from continuing to threaten a state that seeks peace, that thinks twice and three times before going to war, but that can and will effectively protect itself when it must.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  The below article discusses why a cease-fire with Hamas -- no matter the security safeguards negotiated by Israel -- is not, in the long term, tenable.  Instead, the author argues for Full Reoccupation.  Read on!]

Civil Fights: Defensive Shield myths and facts

By Evelyn Gordon

(Jerusalem Post, January 8, 2009) Pop quiz: How many Israelis were killed by Palestinian terror in the [September 2000] intifada's third year -- the one that began in September 2002, six months after Operation Defensive Shield [in which Israel was forced to re-conquer those Arab-populated cities in Judea & Samaria from which it had fully withdrawn in 1994-1995 per the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization]?

Answer: 240.

You read that right. In the year following the operation that, according to Israeli mythology, vanquished terror, 240 people were killed in terror attacks -- one of the highest annual tolls for terrorism-related deaths in the country's history.

Does that mean Defensive Shield was actually a failure? Not at all. The real Defensive Shield was every bit the dramatic turning point Israelis think it was. Unfortunately, the real operation has been obscured by the legend.

The 240 killed in the intifada's third year nevertheless represented an enormous improvement -- a 47 percent drop from the previous year's 449 fatalities. Moreover, fatalities continued dropping by about 50 percent a year in subsequent years, hitting a low of eight just four years later. That is why Defensive Shield is justly remembered as a huge success: It was the start of the process that produced this achievement.

THE OPERATIVE word, however, is "start." Defensive Shield was not, as legend has it, a magic bullet -- a one-time operation that, by its end a few weeks later, had completely destroyed the terrorists' capabilities and/or motivation, thereby allowing our troops to withdraw and us to live happily ever after.

The government may have hoped that would be the case; it withdrew the IDF once the operation ended. But that withdrawal was followed by June 2002, the second-worst month of the entire intifada, with 58 killed. Consequently, the army was sent back in. And this time, it never really left. The IDF controls the entire West Bank [Judea and Samaria] to this day, operating freely wherever and whenever it chooses.

And that is the real key to the subsequent steady decline in Palestinian terror. Defensive Shield was the turning point because that was when the IDF first reentered West Bank cities after an eight-year absence. But it was the army's continuing presence that produced the achievement for which Defensive Shield alone is too often erroneously credited.

THERE ARE three reasons for this. First, no single operation can possibly eliminate all the terrorists' capabilities. No matter how good our intelligence is, some key operatives will escape, some weapons caches will remain undetected, and so forth.

Second, as the intelligence agencies freely admit, their capabilities are curtailed in places we do not control, due to factors ranging from the difficulty in arranging face-to-face meetings (which the agencies say are critical to getting the most from informants) to the fact that there are fewer carrots and sticks to wield under such circumstances. Hence ongoing control over the West Bank is what enabled these agencies to progress from being repeatedly surprised by suicide bombings to receiving precise advance knowledge of most of them. This is also why, as the agencies themselves acknowledge, they have much better intelligence about the West Bank than about Gaza.

Finally, and most importantly, once the army withdraws, there is nothing to stop the terrorists from rearming and regrouping. That should be obvious to anyone who observed Hizbullah after the IDF left Lebanon in 2000 or Hamas after the IDF left Gaza in 2005: Both organizations exploited the IDF's absence to import massive quantities of arms, recruit and train troops and dig fortifications. Nothing similar has happened in the West Bank because the IDF has been there continuously, enabling it to intercept arms deliveries and arrest new recruits.

It is that slow, step-by-step work over the course of years - gathering intelligence, carrying out raids and arrests - that gradually eroded the terrorists' capabilities in the West Bank to the point where suicide bombings have become a distant memory. Indeed, just how essential that ongoing presence was became clear every time international pressure forced us to return a city to the Palestinian Authority: Each time, terrorist activity in that city quickly resumed, resulting in a deadly suicide bombing and the IDF's return.

DOES THAT mean the IDF must remain eternally in any place from which Israel wishes to prevent attacks? Clearly not. There are no IDF troops in Jordan or Egypt, for instance, yet neither is there any cross-border terrorism.

Those countries, however, have governments that are willing and able to control their terrorists. Without such a government, there is no substitute for IDF control -- because terrorists stop shooting only when forced to do so.

And that is precisely the problem in Gaza, where the terrorists are the government. The idea that Hamas will voluntarily halt terror is delusional. Nor is there any possibility of replacing it with a government that would. Even if the current IDF operation were aimed at toppling Hamas (which it is not), any Palestinian government that replaced it would lack the capability to suppress terror even if it had the will. The PA's forces in Gaza are nonexistent, and its cadre of trained troops in the West Bank is insufficient for the job even in the unlikely event that they all agreed to relocate to the Strip.

For the foreseeable future, therefore, there are only two alternatives: Either we reoccupy Gaza or the rocket fire will eventually resume, even if the current operation produces a temporary lull. It would be nice if there were a third alternative, a one-time operation that would solve the problem once and for all. But in the real world, there are no magic bullets. And while the myth of
Defensive Shield has unfortunately obscured the reality, the reality proves its worth day after day: Even as thousands of rockets and mortars have been fired from unoccupied Gaza over the last three years, not one has been fired from the occupied West Bank.

Reoccupying Gaza is clearly not cost-free, and reasonable people can disagree about whether the costs of the rocket fire justify the costs of reoccupation. But the debate must be based on facts, not myths. And that starts with understanding what Defensive Shield really was: not a one-time operation, but a full-scale reoccupation that is now six years old and counting.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  Not only has implementation of the panacea of Full Withdrawal already cost (and continued to endanger) Jewish lives, but it has also harmed Israel’s image among the nations.  Read on!]

Civil Fights: Want to improve Israel's image? Stop ceding territory

By Evelyn Gordon

(Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2009) Most Israelis need little convincing that under current circumstances, further territorial withdrawals will only produce more terror; that is why parties opposed to such withdrawals won a majority in February's election. But it is increasingly becoming clear that such pullouts also have another, equally devastating consequence: They are turning this country into an international pariah and sparking anti-Semitism worldwide.

That may sound counterintuitive. After all, the world relentlessly demands more pullouts and lauds each one that occurs; hence the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal from Lebanon and the disengagement from Gaza all initially boosted our international popularity. In each case, however, the boost proved temporary, and the subsequent decline left the country worse off that it was before the pullout.

Indeed, the situation has gotten so bad that The New York Times ran a front-page article on the subject on March 19, titled "After Gaza, Israel grapples with crisis of isolation." Israel, the article declared, "is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades. Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel's embassy. Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel's actions in Gaza. 'Israel Apartheid Week' drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers."

And one could add many other examples, such as the tens of thousands who flocked to anti-Israel demonstrations worldwide during the recent Gaza operation, often chanting anti-Semitic slogans (like "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas," featured at one Dutch rally).

Equally important, anti-Semitic incidents, especially in Europe, have risen in parallel to anti-Israel sentiment, with the worst spikes in both being recorded during major military campaigns: Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank (April 2002), the Second Lebanon War (July-August 2006) and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (January 2009).

The reason for this is simple: In a world where pictures of bleeding victims are recycled on television and computer screens 24/7, nothing undermines a country's international image more quickly than bloodshed. And it turns out that our territorial pullouts have not merely increased our casualties, they have also increased Arab casualties.

STATISTICS ON PALESTINIAN fatalities compiled by B'Tselem [one of many Israeli "human rights" organizations devoted to the "Palestinian Cause"] show this clearly. During the First Intifada [uprising against Israeli rule], when we controlled the territories, our forces killed 1,070 Palestinians over the course of six years (1987-93). That is equal to the number killed during a single year (September 2001-August 2002) of the post-Oslo second intifada and fewer than the 1,324 killed (according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry) in a mere three weeks in post-disengagement Gaza (Operation Cast Lead).

Moreover, Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank plummeted after we reoccupied it in mid-2002. After climbing from 281 in the Intifada's first year to 667 in the second year (September 2001-August 2002), they fell by almost two-thirds in the third year, to 242, then to 199 in the fourth, to between 105 and 125 in each of the next three, and finally to 52 in the year that ended in September 2008. That is a mere quarter of the 211 killed in a single month at the Intifada's height, in April 2002.

In Gaza, by contrast, Palestinian fatalities have risen since our mid-2005 withdrawal. In fact, the year that ended in September 2008, which produced the lowest number of West Bank fatalities since the Intifada began, produced the highest number of Gazan fatalities -- 532, almost 100 more than the previous worst year. And this year is already far worse: The 1,324 Gazans killed in Cast Lead is more than eight times the 162 killed in the single worst month in Gaza until then.

THE REASON for these trends is also simple: If the IDF controls a given territory, it does not need to wage war to halt terror; it can rely on intelligence and policing operations. Suspected terrorists can usually be arrested rather than killed; fatalities (including civilians caught in the crossfire) occur mainly when suspects resist arrest rather than coming quietly.

When the IDF does not control territory, however, police action is impossible: We cannot arrest suspects in territory formally ceded to Palestinian control. Therefore, the only way to fight terror is by military means -- namely, killing the terrorists.

Moreover, there are only two forms such military operations can take. One is aerial assaults, which, being long-distance, naturally entail a risk of collateral civilian casualties. The other is full-scale invasion, which usually produces even greater casualties, even when it is managed properly: Defensive Shield, for instance, produced only about one-sixth as many enemy fatalities as either the Second Lebanon War or Cast Lead, while achieving far better results than either. But it was still the single worst month of the Intifada for West Bank Palestinians, with a fatality level 50 percent higher than the second worst month.

Thus as long as territorial withdrawals lead to terror, they leave this country with only two options: It can let its citizens be attacked with impunity, which is hardly a tenable long-term response, or it can respond militarily, which will inevitably produce large-scale enemy casualties and therefore an upsurge in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment. Indeed, it is noteworthy that while Defensive Shield, the Second Lebanon War and Cast Lead all drew tens of thousands of protesters worldwide, protests against the ongoing Occupation of the West Bank draw far smaller crowds -- precisely because the Occupation has kept Palestinian fatalities too low to generate massive outrage.

Clearly, this problem would not arise if we could cede territory without it becoming a base for anti-Israel terror. But every piece of territory we have ceded to the Palestinians thus far has become a terrorist base. And that means the best thing the country could do for its international reputation may be the most counterintuitive of all: halt territorial concessions and reoccupy Gaza. Because as long as the terror continues, that is the only way to reduce Palestinian fatalities to a level that will cease generating international outrage.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  Even Israel’s Left admits that further withdrawals have little support among Israel’s Jewish population.  Read on!]

Civil Fights: Don't make me laugh

By Evelyn Gordon

(Jerusalem Post, September 3, 2009) There must have been something in the air last month: Two prominent Israeli leftists publicly acknowledged fundamental problems in the "peace process" that will make a deal unachievable if not resolved.

Aluf Benn, Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent, articulated one problem in an August 7 column describing a conversation with a "senior European diplomat." Benn posed one simple question: How would a deal benefit ordinary Israelis? The diplomat was stunned. Wasn't it obvious? It would create a Palestinian state! After Benn pointed out that most Israelis care very little about the Palestinians; they want to know how peace would benefit them, the diplomat tried again: "There would be an end to terror." "Don't make me laugh," Benn replied.

When the IDF withdrew from parts of the West Bank [42%] and Gaza [80%] under the [1993] Oslo Accords, Israelis got suicide bombings in their cities. When it quit Gaza entirely, they got rockets on the Negev. But the bombings stopped after the IDF reoccupied the West Bank, and the rockets stopped after January's Gaza operation. In short, the IDF has done a far better job of securing "peace" as Israelis understand it -- i.e., not being killed -- than the "peace process" ever has.

NORMALIZATION WITH the Arab world is also scant attraction, Benn noted; most Israelis "have no inherent desire to fly El Al through Saudi Arabian airspace or visit Morocco's 'interests section.'" And the downsides of a deal -- financing the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers and "the frightening prospect of violent internal schisms" -- are substantial.

Benn's conclusion from the conversation was shocking: Thus far, the international community has never thought about how a deal might benefit Israelis; that was considered unimportant.

But to persuade Israelis to back an agreement, he noted, the world is going to have to start thinking. For Israelis already have what they want most, "peace and quiet," and they will not willingly risk it for "another diplomatic adventure whose prospects are slim and whose dangers are formidable."

A week later, Prof. Carlo Strenger -- a veteran leftist who, as he wrote, thinks "the occupation must end as quickly as possible" -- addressed a second problem in his semi-regular Haaretz column. Seeking to explain why Israel's Left has virtually disappeared, he concluded that this happened because leftists "failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians."

For years, he noted, leftists claimed a deal with the Palestinians would produce "peace now." Instead, the Palestinian Authority "educated its children with violently anti-Israel and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks," failed to prevent (or perhaps even abetted) repeated suicide bombings in 1996, torpedoed the final-status negotiations of 2000-2001 and finally produced the second intifada.

But instead of admitting it had erred in expecting territorial withdrawals to bring peace, Strenger wrote, the Left blamed Israel: The 1996 bombings happened "because the Oslo process was too slow"; the talks failed because Israel's offers were insufficient; the second intifada began because Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount.

In short, the Left adopted two faulty premises: First, "anything aggressive or destructive a non-Western group says or does must be explained by Western dominance or oppression," hence "they are not responsible for their deeds." Second, "if you are nice to people, all conflicts will disappear"; other basic human motivations, like the desire for "dominance, power and... self-respect," are irrelevant.

Strenger concluded that if the Left "wants to regain some credibility and convince voters that it has a role to play, it needs to give the public a reasonable picture of reality."

But the same could be said of the international community, which has also blamed every failure of the peace process on Israeli actions: settlement construction, "excessive force" against Palestinian terror, insufficient concessions, etc.

THOUGH BENN and Strenger were ostensibly addressing different issues, they are closely related. Leftists reinforced the West's habit of blaming Israel for every failure, because they are the only Israelis that Western politicians and journalists take seriously. And this habit contributed greatly to mainstream Israelis' view of the peace process as all pain, no gain.

First, because the world placed the onus on Israel, Palestinians never felt any pressure to amend their behavior, whether by stopping terror or by making concessions on final-status issues vital to Israelis. Israel has repeatedly upped its offers over the past 16 years, but the Palestinians have yet to budge an inch: Not only will they not concede the right of return, they refuse to even acknowledge the Jews' historic connection to this land.

Second, while Israelis care very little about relations with the Arab world, they care greatly about relations with the West. Thus a major attraction of the peace process was the prospect of enhancing this relationship.

Instead, Israel's standing, especially in Europe, has plummeted since 1993 [and Israel’s ensuing withdrawals from portions of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as required by the Oslo Accords]. Europeans now deem Israel the greatest threat to world peace. Anti-Semitic violence in Europe has surged. European and American leftists routinely deny Israel's very right to exist, and calls for sanctions and divestment are gaining momentum. All this would have been unthinkable 16 years ago.

And this nosedive in status is directly connected to the fact that every time something goes wrong with the peace process, most of the West blames Israel. Indeed, the fact that Washington (pre-Barack Obama) was the one exception to this rule goes far toward explaining why Israel's standing remains strong in America.

Because this knee-jerk response has remained unchanged for 16 years, Israelis are now convinced it will continue even after a final-status agreement is signed: The moment Palestinians voice a new demand post-agreement or engage in anti-Israel terror, the West will insist that Israel accede to the demand or refrain from responding to the terror, and vituperate it for not doing so. In short, Israel is liable to make all the concessions entailed by an agreement [and even post-agreement concessions demanded by the Arabs] and still see its relationship with the West deteriorate.

The bottom line that emerges from both Benn and Strenger is that no peace deal is likely unless both the West and Israel's Left radically alter their behavior. The million-dollar question is whether anyone in either camp is listening.

(©) The Jerusalem Post


[Note:  This author argues for Full Reoccupation and Partial Deportation, reasoning that it would be suicidal for Israel to turn over the high ridges of Judea-Samaria to a hostile Arab entity even if doing so would maintain a large Jewish demographic advantage within Israel’s newly-shrunken borders.   Instead, it is his opinion that Israel can maintain both maximum Jewish territory and maximum Jewish demography by simultaneously (a) exercising sovereignty over all of Judea-Samaria and (b) substantially reducing the Arab population thereof.  Read on!]

Into the Fray: Preserving the Jewish nation-state — Post-Paris imperatives?

Jerusalem Post             By MARTIN SHERMAN \  11/19/2015

"If Israel is to survive as the nation-state of the Jewish people, it will have to contend adequately with two fundamental imperatives: the geographic imperative and the demographic imperative."

A member of the Israeli security forces runs past a Palestinian flag during clashes with Palestinian stone throwers in the West Bank town of Tul Karm. (photo credit:AFP PHOTO)

 Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose 

– attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, (1808 –1890, editor of Le Figaro). Translated “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”

Truth be told, the post-Paris imperatives for the survival of the Jewish state are, for all intents and purposes, identical to the pre-Paris ones. The only difference is that now they just might be more starkly evident.

Two fundamental imperatives: Geographic & demographic 

After the Paris terrorist strikes over the weekend, just as before them, if Israel is to survive as the nation-state of the Jewish people, it will have to contend adequately with two fundamental imperatives: the geographic imperative and the demographic imperative.

Contending effectively with the former entails avoiding territorial concessions that will make any semblance of socioeconomic routine in the heart of Israel’s urban megalopolis, impossible to maintain. The latter entails avoiding the inclusion of large potentially fractious non-Jewish ethnic groups into the permanent population of the state, making its dominant Jewish character impossible to maintain.

The geographic imperative rules out the two-state solution , founded on the principle of “land-for-peace,” which would leave the nation’s parliament and only international airport within mortar range and much of the trans-Israel Highway 6 within tunnel reach.

The second rules out the one-state solution, based on the concept of annexing the territory across the pre- 1967 armistice lines, together with the Arab population resident in them, which, depending on which version is referred to, will result in either the Lebanonization or the Balkanization of Israel.

While these imperatives were always valid, even in the pre-Paris era, the carnage in the French capital has thrown – or, at least, hopefully, should have thrown – them in indelibly sharper relief.

Has ISIS concentrated minds?

The crucial question now is whether the Paris massacres have in fact concentrated minds of both the policy- makers and the public at large.

Indeed, the jury is still largely out on that question. Disturbingly, a number of maddeningly moronic insinuations by several EU politicians, including the Swedish foreign minister, that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is to be blamed for everything – from the shrinking polar ice caps to the spread of AIDS in Africa, provide ample reason for avoiding premature optimism.

Yet despite these lamentable lapses, there can be little doubt that hearts and minds have been primed, at least potentially, for a positive change of sentiment in understanding Israel’s predicament and the nature of the enemy it faces.

After all, the brutal developments in the Arab/Muslim world, particularly in the last half-decade, and culminating in the indiscriminate slaughter last Friday, have radiated through, and resonated with, large segments of the Muslim population in the region and beyond. Indeed, there are disconcerting signs that they have had a perceptible impact on the Palestinians – on both sides of the pre-1967 Green Line. Accordingly, whether or not these regrettable circumstances are formally acknowledged, two things should be crystal clear to anyone not suffering from advanced intellectual rigor mortis.

The highly likely & the no less unlikely 

The first is that it is highly likely, indeed virtually certain, that any land surrendered by Israel to any Arab interlocutor will fall, probably sooner than later, to extremist Islamist forces of one variant or another – as happened in Gaza and southern Lebanon, the former to Hamas, now being harassed by even more radical Jihadi elements, the latter to Hezbollah, a proxy for Tehran’s theocratic tyranny.

The second is that it is no less unlikely, indeed virtually impossible, that Palestinian-Arab residents across the 1967-line could be incorporated into the permanent population of Israel, without creating an explosive potential of a society riven by unbridgeable interethnic schisms and irreconcilable national animosities.

To call on Israel to adopt either of these formats, in effect, is to gravely jeopardize its continued long-term survival, as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The former will make Israel geographically untenable, with a mega Gaza-like entity, with an almost 500 km. front abutting Israel’s most populous urban areas, and dominating virtually all its strategic infrastructure installations – from which recalcitrant renegade terrorists could disrupt, even cripple, at will, the routine of daily life – armed with no more than the primitive weapons currently deployed in ostensibly “demilitarized” Gaza.

The second will make Israel demographically untenable – even if the optimistic demographers are right and Israel would still retain a Jewish majority of around 60 percent. For there is little chance that the country could maintain even a semblance of social stability without drastically diminishing/diluting its Jewish character if it included a Muslim minority of up to 40% of its population, who not only do not identify with, but vehemently reject its flag, symbols, anthem – even its very source of sovereignty as the Jewish people.

Myth of ‘managing the conflict’

Accordingly, both the territorial concessions implicit in the land-forpeace– two-state paradigm and the incompatible national allegiances implicit in the one-state-of-all-its citizens are inimical to the Zionist ideal of Jewish self-determination.

Thus, any policy proposal compliant with the preservation of the Zionist ideal and an enduring Jewish nation-state, must address both of these imperatives of national survival: defensible geographic contours and a sustainable demographic composition.

Trying to achieve one at the expense of the other will be just as disastrous as its equally perilous converse.

For anyone believing that the conflict can be “managed” or the status quo “maintained” by repeatedly “mowing the lawn,” a cursory glance at the late Yitzhak Rabin’s last Knesset address should suffice to dispel any such illusions. Indeed, were the much-reviled Benjamin Netanyahu to embrace – verbatim – the last publicly articulated vision of the much-lauded Rabin for a permanent resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians, he would be excoriated as an unrealistic and unreasonable extremist.

This illustrates dramatically just how severely Israeli positions have been eroded by trying to “manage the conflict” and “sustain the status quo” – aka “kicking the can down the road.”

Accordingly, the pressing – indeed existential – Zionist challenge is to devise a paradigm that offers a clear proactive path capable of adequately addressing the twin imperative of retaining the indispensable geography/ topography while maintaining a population with a minimally coherent and manageably compatible demographic composition.

Intellectual integrity for only Zionist-compliant alternative

If this challenge of meeting Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives is indeed the point of departure for securing its long-term future as the nation-state of the Jewish people, then it follows, almost as an inescapable deduction, with virtually mathematical logic, that – since the geography/topography are largely – immutable, it is the demographic variable that must be addressed.

Consequently, all Zionist energies must be focused on reducing the Arab presence west of the Jordan River.

The only non-coercive – or at least, non-kinetic – method of achieving this is through economic inducements – by dramatically increasing the incentives for leaving, enhancing the economic rewards for doing so; and by commensurately increasing the disincentives for staying, intensifying – equally dramatically – the material penalties for doing so.

This would require the intellectual integrity not only to identify the Palestinians as what they really are – and what they themselves declare they are: an implacable enemy, but also to undertake a policy that reflects this underlying and undeniable truth.

And as an implacable enemy, Israel has no moral obligation or practical interest in sustaining its economy or social order. On the contrary, an overwhelming case can be made – on both ethical and pragmatic grounds – that it should let them collapse by refraining from providing it with any of the goods or services it – perversely – provides it today: water, electricity, fuel, tax collection and port services to name but a few.

In order to extricate themselves from the inevitable crisis such measures will entail, non-belligerent individuals should be given generous relocation grants to allow them, and their dependents, the opportunity to seek prosperous and secure lives elsewhere.

Recalcitrant belligerents must be dealt with coercively – and, if need be, “kinetically.”

Who has the moral high ground?

It is perhaps understandable that, initially, some might feel a sense of discomfort – even aversion – to such a radical departure from conventional wisdom that has dominated the debate hitherto. However, I would urge anyone prone to such reaction to distinguish between initial reflexive distaste for the unfamiliar on the one hand, and considered and substantive dissent with the unpalatable but unavoidable on the other.

Indeed, to dislike an unpleasant remedy does not mean that one should – or can – disagree with it, or dispute the necessity for its application to effect a much needed cure or preserve a highly desired objective.

But beyond the question of initial adverse reaction, the crucial question must be forced into the debate: Who in fact has the moral high ground? Those who promote the establishment of (yet another) Muslim-majority tyranny, which will, in all likelihood, comprise the diametric and utter negation of the very values its advocates invoke for its establishment – gender discrimination, gay persecution, religious intolerance, oppression of political dissidents? Or those who advocate providing non-belligerent Palestinian individuals with the opportunity of building a better life for themselves elsewhere, out of harm’s way, free from the recurring cycles of death, destruction and destitution that have been brought down on them by the cruel, corrupt cliques that have controlled their lives and led them astray for decades? Moreover, dissenting opponents must be forced to explain a glaring moral anomaly. After all, why is paying Jews to evacuate their homes to facilitate the establishment of said homophobic misogynistic tyranny, which, almost certainly, will become a bastion for Islamist terror, considered morally acceptable – even commendable; while the notion of paying Arabs to evacuate their homes to prevent the establishment of such an entity, considered morally reprehensible? 

Depraved indifference of conventional wisdom

The received wisdom that has hijacked the agenda of the public discourse is clearly and irrefutably at odds with prevailing realities. Political correctness has eclipsed political truth and obscured factual correctness.

For anyone not willfully blinded by deceptive allure of its falsehoods, or intimidated by the brutal intolerance of its mind-control diktats, it should be painfully clear– particularly in light of the emerging realities regarding trends in Arab/Muslim society – that both territorial withdrawal, and territorial annexation, are fraught with grave – and eminently foreseeable perils: Either long bloody and recurring wars of attrition along torturous, and topographically inferior frontiers, or long bloody interethnic strife among irreconcilably inimical segments of the population.

The undeniable plausibility of these uninviting scenarios, and the very limited ability to prevent their occurrence, makes continued insistence on their implementation nothing short of “depraved indifference” – i.e. the wanton disregard for the harmful consequences of a clearly apparent risk.

For unless two-staters can provide a persuasive “Plan B” of how to deal with the clear and present danger of the territory allotted for a Palestinian state falling to an Islamic State-like affiliate; unless one-staters can provide an equally persuasive “Plan B” of how to respond to rebellion by irredentist segments of the Palestinian population, who refuse to resign themselves to permanent submission to Jewish sovereignty, such proposals are no more than irresponsible and perilous pipe-dreams.

Overriding intellectual imperative: A countervailing ‘New Israel Fund’

It is of course highly improbable that this radical abandonment of accepted molds of thinking will be initiated from within the current body-politic, which, sadly seems to possess neither the required intellectual depth nor the intellectual daring to contemplate, never mind, make, such a conceptual leap.

Accordingly, what is called for is the establishment, within civil society, of influential (read “well-endowed”) centers of intellectual endeavor that can lay down a new intellectual architecture for the discourse on the Arab-Israel conflict, in general, and the Israel-Palestinian one, in particular; infuse new perspectives on the possibilities and the constraints for policy into the debate; and impose a new agenda on the elected politicians – just as the “Left” did with the “New Israel Fund,” its affiliates, off-shoots and ideological fellow travelers...

For this to materialize, what is called for is a bold and imaginative private benefactor(s) to come forward, pick up the gauntlet and provide the wherewithal to spark a brave new wave of intellectual rebellion and national resurrection.

Given the urgency, we can only hope this does not take too long… 

Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic- israel.org).

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As to commentary and clarifying comments in [          ] only:    © Mark Rosenblit

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