Some Bedouin wisdom

NY Times:

JERUSALEM — Israel worked Wednesday to defuse rising international anger by agreeing to a rapid release of all detainees — including those suspected of attacking its soldiers — taken after the deadly nighttime raid of six ships seeking to break its blockade of the Gaza Strip…

The release seemed most immediately aimed at repairing dangerously eroding ties with Turkey, Israel’s main ally in the Muslim world [where has the Times been for the last few years?], as demands continued to intensify around the world to end a blockade that critics say has kept Gazans isolated and impoverished…

Still, Turkey, which withdrew its ambassador to Israel, continued to press for an end to the blockade as a condition for restoring full diplomatic relations.

Why is it so hard to see that this won’t work?

It’s not possible to appease them. In the Middle East — in fact, in life in general — the weak guy loses. When you back down in front of your enemies, they don’t say “you are being reasonable, we’ll be fair to you.” On the contrary, they say “you’re weak, you can’t protect yourself, so we’ll take even more.”

Israel’s soldiers were beaten up, humiliated. Now isn’t the time to let their assailants go free. On the contrary, now is the time to be tougher. Now is the time to humiliate the enemy, to re-establish deterrence.

The Times calls it “a bid to quell anger.” Anger? Israel should be angry that its soldiers were hurt. Turkey should be relieved that its ship wasn’t torpedoed. The Turks should be the ones trying to “defuse anger.”

All the jackals are circling now. The Obama Administration, famously never allowing a crisis to go to waste, is preparing to sink its teeth into the juicy carcass as well.

NY Times again:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.

The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity [!] to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.

“There is no question that we need a new approach to Gaza,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy shift is still in the early stages. He was reflecting a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the administration.

“Increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority,” of course, means things like extending the construction freeze and humiliating Israel further by damaging its sovereignty in Jerusalem. And “a less harsh policy toward Gaza” means empowering Hamas, politically and physically.

This is precisely the opposite of the approach that Israel should take.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the academics of the Obama Administration don’t understand this, but surely Netanyahu and Barak, who live in the real Middle East should.

Here is what is supposed to be an old Bedouin story:

There once lived a rich and powerful man. One day, bandits stole a water jug; but instead of taking it back and punishing the bandits — which would have been easy, since he had many sons — he said “it’s only a jug, it’s not worth a fight. Anyway, I have more jugs.” Then they took  a goat. “Oh well, I have more goats, and after all the bandits were hungry,” he said. One day he woke up to find that they’d killed his sons, taken his camels, his tent and his wives to boot. Then, since he had no goods, no sons and no honor, they killed him.

The moral of the story, of course, is this: do not allow your enemies to humiliate you, because it weakens you and strengthens them. And always maintain a credible deterrent.

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