The point of the spear

I’ve written about this before, but it’s time to repeat it.

One of the problems in talking to people about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that some of us start with very different premises, and end up arguing past each other. It is not helpful to dispute whether Qassam rockets are better or worse than the security barrier.

Here are two ways to look at the conflict, which produce entirely different ideas about how to solve it:

One side presents it as a human rights issue, in which a powerful nation oppresses a minority. In this view, the conflict is between Israel and Palestinians, and the Palestinians are at a great disadvantage because Israel has a strong army and actually controls the land where they live. The implication is that Palestinian terrorism is a response to ‘oppression’ and would end if it did.

The other sees it as part of a much larger struggle between Israel and the Arab world — and also non-Arab Iran — an extended war which has been going on since before the founding of the state of Israel, in which the Arabs and their allies tried to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state and now are trying to destroy it. This is what I think.

In my view, the Palestinians represent only a small part of the forces arrayed against Israel — the point of the spear, so to speak.  If we look at it this way, Israel is at a disadvantage because of the disparity in numbers, the huge oil wealth of her enemies, and the strategic vulnerability of her small size.

And of course, the implication for solutions is that making concessions to the Palestinians, rather than reducing terrorism, would increase it. The only real solution can come from persuading the Arab world to give up trying to eliminate Israel.

Which side is correct? I offer the following evidence, based on recent events, that my view is the true one:

In 2005 Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers and even exhumed its dead from the Gaza strip.  The Palestinian authority, then in control, received subsides and donations to help create jobs, to start building the infrastructure for a state. The response to the withdrawal was to destroy donated equipment and buildings, to shell border crossings, to launch missiles into Israel, to dig tunnels under the border to plant explosives or capture soldiers, and to bring in huge quantities of weapons via other tunnels from Egypt.

The Hamas organization which was most responsible for the above receives major support from Iran — as does Hezbollah, which provoked a war in 2006 and fired thousands of missiles into northern Israel.

Israeli attempts to stop various forms of terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip, from limiting the range of Palestinian fishing boats to placing an embargo on steel reinforcing bars (used by Hamas to construct fortifications) and pipe (used for rockets) have been interpreted as  ‘oppression’. But the fact is that these measures were imposed after and as a result of the use of these materials for military purposes.

If the problem was ‘oppression’, one would expect that the total withdrawal from Gaza would have produced a concomitant lessening of tension. Instead, the opposite happened. 

Similar arguments can be made about Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In the words of PM Netanyahu,

…the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.  The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is [sic] confusing cause and consequence.

The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the Six Day War, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel.

All this occurred during the 50 years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria…

Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected.

We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted dozens of settlements and evicted thousands of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children…

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

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One Response to “The point of the spear”

  1. pavelaw says:

    I would call it, rather, the edge of the steam-roller. With Israel so greatly outnumbered and surrounded by people hostile to it, the only thing keeping Israel from being overwhelmed is Israel’s edge in militray might and technological instruments. Without this edge, Israel is at extreme risk. Put differently, the playing field cannot ever be level because military might and technological intruments being equal, Israel would soon be steam-rollered into non-existence.

    Nuclear arms might be looked at as the final edge, since many of Israel’s advanced instruments are being matched by counterparts in the Islamist armories. Our submarines must always, therefore, be better than theirs, our airplanes must be better, our tanks and our missiles must be better, and so forth. If all were to be equal, we could be quickly vanquished. Yet, our edge is shrinking daily.

    This is why, to me, President Obama represents a glaring danger to Israel. All he needs to do, and he controls the US legislative arm, is slow down the pace of supply and/or resupply, and trouble is quick to follow. If Iran, for instance, were to buy Russia’s new missile shield, we would need stealth technology or else forget about an attack from the air. If stealth technology were delayed, then we would be at risk.

    Similarly, if we diminish or use up our armamentarium of weapons on a strike against Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah and we are not immediately resupplied, we are, again, at risk. Our window in which to take military action, so to speak, is closing on us as we speak.

    We must, therefore, wean ourselves away from great dependence upon the United States’ good will and good weapons. We must become self-sufficient and obtain, also, alternative sources of supply. When we purchase US jets (at full retail, mind you), we are locked-in to the US for spare parts. Under extreme usage conditions, spares disappear very rapidly. Second sources are necessary.

    Obama is teaching us what other countries have learned throughout history about US friendship: The US is one’s friend only so long as the friendship is useful to the US. If it is no longer useful, one is cut loose to make one’s way on one’s own. The US is good for periods of four years at a time, sometimes eight years. That is because the US has no permanent policies. The US notoriously plays it by ear, according to the goverment du jour.

    Remember the jazz song about the woman who took in a snake? One day the snake bit her and the woman cried that now she is going to die and asked why did the snake bite her when she was so kind to it? The snake answered: “Oh, shut up silly woman, you knew darned well I was a snake before you took me in.”

    By analogy, Israel knew all about the US’ treatment of its friends. It may still not be too late to protect ouselves from the snake bite that is likely to find us one day. We need to get a supply of antivenin. Are we doing that? If not, why not? It’s out there and we should be purchasing it right now.

    Stupid is as stupid does, according to Forrest Gump.