The strategy of the Palestinian Arabs is simple. We can see it in operation in “micro” and “macro” forms. Everyone is familiar with the micro form: an Arab protester, even a child, comes up to an Israeli soldier and tries to provoke him. The protester might throw rocks or he might push the soldier. If he responds, the protester has been successful. The more violent a response that can be provoked, the more successful the tactic. The goal is to delegitimize and demonize Israel and to stimulate the ‘world community’ (the US and Europe) to punish her.
In the macro form, the Arabs launch massive rocket barrages at Israeli towns, or, as they have done recently, send masses of brainwashed children out to stab Jews on the streets of Israel. When Israel responds by bombing or invading Gaza, or by placing restrictions on the movement of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, then the Arabs appeal to the ‘world community’ to intervene to force Israel to give in to demands that will in the long run weaken the state.
In the background there is the ongoing highly professional and well-financed campaign to demonize Israel, including anti-Israel polemics masquerading as academic research, BDS campaigns, student activism, and pressure in every arena, including sports, the UN, academic conferences, and even entertainment.
The strategy will succeed when the UN Security Council, backed by muscle from the US and Europe, declares Judea and Samaria to be Palestine, thus legitimizing Arab terrorism and delegitimizing Israel’s attempts to defend herself. Weapons embargoes and economic sanctions will be follow, weakening our capability to resist, and pressure from terrorism will supposedly crush our will, causing Jewish emigration and the ultimate collapse of the state.
Israel’s response until now has been ineffective. For years after the Oslo accords until at least 2008 we attempted to conciliate our enemies by offering compromises and concessions, reaching a peak with Ehud Olmert’s 2008 offer of territory equal to 100% of Judea and Samaria that was contemptuously rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.
Since the Arabs’ objective was not to establish a state but to destroy ours, none of our proposals (which after all couldn’t simply be the unconditional surrender that they wanted) was accepted. The ‘process’, however, was a useful way for them to get piecemeal concessions and to expose our population to terrorism.
All during the ‘process’ – and continuing to this day – the Arabs carried out their dual cognitive warfare offensives: the one aimed at the world to delegitimize and demonize Israel, and the one aimed at their own people to create a generation so marinated in hate that they would do anything, even lose their lives, for the Palestinian Cause.
I think and hope that our leadership has finally learned that the path of conciliation leads nowhere but to more war and terrorism. So what is the alternative?
It must be the opposite: to recognize the enemy as an enemy and to forcefully oppose it. This might mean disarming the PLO and retaking full control of Judea and Samaria, overthrowing Hamas in Gaza, annexing the Golan, expelling terrorists, and other aggressive steps.
This sort of action can be looked at in two ways: either a) we are falling into the trap set by the Palestinian strategy and will be slapped down by the West for it, or b) we are calling their bluff and can break up their plan for once and for all.
Of course there is also the alternative of doing nothing except responding in an ad hoc way to terrorism and diplomatic challenges, ‘mowing the grass’ in Gaza every few years, trying to keep game-changing weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah, and hoping that an opening of some kind (it’s not clear just what that might look like) will appear. This seems to be the alternative chosen by the present government.
This is not a totally bad plan, given the chaos in today’s Middle East, and the dangerous anti-Israel administration in the White House. But it isn’t really a strategy.
I am not saying that Netanyahu should emulate Vladimir Putin, but there are things we can learn from him. One of them is not to be too timid and to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. This would be a good time to annex the Golan, although asking for permission from Washington was not at all a good idea (really, what did Netanyahu expect?).
Another is the importance of public relations. The Russians are pulling out all stops to (effectively) take credit for fighting Da’esh in Syria, despite the fact that they have so far done little against it. We, on the other hand, are talking about how victimized we are, while the international media barely cover Palestinian terrorism.
Israel needs to put the Palestinian Authority out of the delegitimization/demonization and incitement business and at the same time present its own case as the holder of historical, moral and legal right to Judea and Samaria as the homeland of an indigenous people. It isn’t easy or cheap, but we have to do it.
And we should be thinking about bold moves to change the situation on the ground as well. How did it happen that the despised terrorist PLO became a “non-state member” of the UN, a more respected international entity than the state of Israel?
The US and Europe have their own problems today. Obama is weak – he folded in the face of Russia, and even Bashar al-Assad made a fool out of him – but he could lash out at us. So we will have to do our homework and see to our alliances first.
But then let’s call the PLO’s bluff. We created this monster, and we can destroy it.