I spent the weekend in the Sierra at 8500 feet. No Internet, not even cell service. When I returned, I found that the army had allowed Mohammad Morsi to be elected president of Egypt. Although the struggle for control isn’t over, I think that barring a violent confrontation (which the generals don’t appear to want), what we can expect is a gradual consolidation of power into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.This doesn’t mean that war with Israel is imminent or inevitable, but it does mean that it will be impossible to depend on Egyptian security forces to prevent — or even to not abet — terrorism on the southern border. It also means that the position of Hamas, the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, will be greatly strengthened.
This is just one of the recent developments that have increased pressure on Israel. The emergence of Turkey as a hostile power, the determination of Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons and the West’s tepid response, the ascendance of Hizballah in Lebanon, the threat from Syria’s non-conventional arsenal, the weakness of the non-hostile (we can’t quite use the adjective ‘friendly’) regime in Jordan, the unprecedented anti-Israel atmosphere in much of Europe — all of these combine to make Israel’s security situation as dangerous as it has been at any time since 1948.
As I wrote last week, the lever that Israel’s enemies depend on, our own Sudeten Germans, are the Palestinian Arabs. At this historical moment, as external threats mount, so does the force applied to this lever. It is absolutely necessary to develop a consistent and reality-based policy towards the Arabs of the territories (and also the so-called ‘Palestinian citizens of Israel’, as well as the Arabs who are permanent residents of Jerusalem but choose not to be citizens). But we continue to be bombarded with fantasies that have nothing to do with the world in which we live.
Martin Sherman boils over with frustration at the disconnect between the prescriptions offered and the real world:
Take for instance Dennis Ross’s latest “contribution” at this week’s Presidential Conference in Jerusalem – where he prescribed that Israel should not only undermine its security, but its economy as well, “to restore belief in a two-state solution.”
Predictably, Ross studiously disregarded the fact, once so compellingly conveyed by his host Shimon Peres, that “if a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, who will be equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger not only random passersby, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the Coastal Plain.”
Ross suggested that the first step Israel should take to demonstrate that it is serious about a Palestinian state in the “West Bank” is to publicly announce that the government will provide financial compensation to settlers who are prepared to leave their homes and to move to “Israel proper.”
Of course Ross, who today serves as a counselor for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and was a senior director in Barack Obama’s National Security Council, offered no assurances that what is sweeping through the Arab world would not sweep through “Palestine” or what occurred in Gaza would not occur in Ramallah. Nevertheless, he suggested that the government go ahead and plan not only to bring millions more Israelis within the range of weapons being used today from territory Israel ceded to the Palestinians, but it should take measures that would increase both the demand (and hence the price) of housing in country, and the unemployment. Stupid or subversive?
Even in the early 1990’s, when Iran and Iraq were exhausted and the Soviet Union had recently collapsed, the chance of a positive outcome from a “two-state solution” was negligible. Arafat’s PLO insisted — on pain of death — that it was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” and of course as we found out, had no intention of creating a peaceful state alongside Israel.
Today, after almost 20 years of Arafat’s educational system and media, the rise of Hamas, and the Second Intifada (which some call “the Oslo War”), the idea that yet another partition of the land set aside for “close Jewish settlement” by the Palestine Mandate could somehow end the conflict is as likely as the development of a perpetual motion machine or warp drive (actually, warp drive is more practical).
Despite this, the official position of the Government of Israel and its “hardline, right-wing” Prime Minister is to seek such a partition. The intention of the Obama Administration is to try to make it happen, almost entirely by pressuring Israel to make concessions. The official positions of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Union of Reform Judaism support it (in the US, opposition to the two-state solution is a litmus test for extremism of the Right or Left). And of course, many ‘experts’ like Dennis Ross have been presenting it as the Holy Grail since the 1980’s.
Sherman is almost beyond words:
For in light of the recurring failure of [the two-staters] prognoses, there are only two explanations for their obduracy – malice or idiocy. And whatever the truth is, it must be exposed.
As I like to say, “stupid or evil?” But there is a third possibility: mental illness, in particular, “Oslo Syndrome”. That’s another topic.
In any event, Sherman does not vent his anger only on the Left:
But when confronted with such infuriating dogmatism on the one hand, and inept dereliction on the other, everyone has his limit when it comes to courtesy and decorum.
And there are indeed limits – a limit to how long one can extend the benefit of the doubt to those who insist on advancing a consistently failed policy and still continue to believe they are doing so in good faith.
Or a limit on continuing to believe that those who ostensibly oppose this policy, but refrain from offering any real alternative, are sincere in their opposition to it. [my emphasis]
Mea culpa. I am one who criticizes the Left but doesn’t present alternatives. So I will outline an alternative now. I will leave it to the experts to fill in the details.
The Left continually says that the status quo is unacceptable; that if Israel doesn’t take “bold steps for peace” (by which they mean some form of surrender), then the international community will force Israel to accept a solution which will be worse for it. I am not sure about what the “international community” can or cannot do, but I do understand that the status quo is bad.
It is bad for the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem who have to deal with ongoing ‘misdemeanor terrorism’ like stone-throwing, which can easily become felony terrorism, like murder. It is bad for Israelis inside the Green Line, for the same reason. It is bad for Israel’s economy, and it is bad for Israelis who have to do reserve duty. It is bad because the so-called ‘occupation’ is used to transform self-defense into oppression, providing a never-ending justification for anti-Israel UN resolutions, prosecutions of officials, ‘human-rights’ investigations, etc.
The Left is right: the status quo is unacceptable. And they are right that it cannot continue forever. World opinion is increasingly getting used to the mistaken idea that the territories are ‘Palestinian’. Israel needs to take “bold steps.” For example:
- Israel will issue a white paper explaining that the Jewish people are the primary benficiary of the Mandate, and have prima facie rights to settle in all of the territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
- The paper will also state that the PLO has abrogated the Oslo agreements by continuing terrorism (to the point of war) and incitement, by not changing its charter, and by presenting a unilateral declaration of statehood to the UN.
- Israel will determine what parts of Judea and Samaria are either heavily populated by Jews, or strategically or historically important, and annex these areas. Arabs living in them will have the option of accepting Israeli citizenship or receiving compensation and leaving.
- Part of the application for citizenship — for anyone, Jew or Arab — will be a declaration of loyalty to a Jewish, democratic state. Incidentally, this is presently a requirement for Knesset membership (Meir Kahane was not allowed to take his seat on these grounds). It should be enforced for Arab MKs too.
- Israel will close and defend its borders.
Will there be an outcry in the “international community?” You bet. But the aforesaid “community” is now fixed on the idea that the only solution is to force Israel to commit suicide by agreeing to a partition that will provide its enemies a platform to destroy it. So there will be an outcry anyway.