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.
For many years my wife has tolerated my concerns about the sickening treatment of Israel by our President, the worsening of affairs here and abroad and the sense of doom that I seem to portray when discussing Israel and the US with her. Because of the influx of mostly Muslim refugees to Europe, a hijraa for not-just-Syrians, she has been in a bad mood about her native Netherlands. I no longer have to initiate these discussions, and she has a similar sense of doom about the way things are going.
I mention this, because I was struck by Shalom Freedman’s discussion after your last essay, and the further elaboration of your journey from Left to Right that today’s piece describes for its justification. My comments these last many months might be viewed as a sort of American Jewish incitement, because the counsel of my words has been exactly what you’ve stated, with the difference that you and Shalom are living it and I’m at a remove and merely sympathetically appalled by what I see happening.
Nevertheless, the argument for me is just very compelling, logically and emotionally: Imagine giving all of Judea and Samaria and half of Jerusalem to the ‘Eastern’ Palestinians as their new state. Gaza would be the Hamas and Western version, and at the rate of capitulation we’re talking about, there would be no impediment to having Gaza become another member state in the UN. Making itself stronger, as Shalom recommends, will become the Jewish state’s full time goal as the pincer effect of having two hostile states exert pressure on Israel would be a no-brainer; it is the concept of a Jewish state that inflames Palestinian passions, the mere existence of such a thing. No one should expect that hostilities will subside because Israel has removed itself from Palestinian affairs. This is so obvious that to those who could rationalize ‘now’ not being a good time to do anything drastic, it is still clear that there is no escaping the politics of a people who cannot countenance your existence.
For me, the ‘now’ of not being able to act revolves solely around the hostility of the US. Our President will let every bad action that diminishes the US in the Pacific where China has aggrandized itself by building islands where they interfere with commerce in the South China Sea and threaten neighbors, accelerating its weapons programs (especially their hypersonic missiles), stealing incredible stores of US military secrets and stealing away our neglected allies in the Far East…, or every bad action that Russia conceives in Crimea, Ukraine, Syria (an Israeli or a Jew can’t honestly detest anything Putin does right now, since he has the good sense to make Turkey apologize for daring to shoot down a Russian SU-24 and denying import of Turkish produce, not to mention bombing Turkey’s baselets inside Syria, and he has very good relations with Israel)… or every Muslim Brotherhood initiative in Egypt, or every anti-Israel initiative by the EU… The point is, that the one no-go area for this President is Israel and he would exert himself to stymie Israel without hesitation. And this is a big problem, because one can see that the US-based systems in Israel need resupply during periods of intensified conflict, and the President is quite capable of running things terribly into the ground, at a more fevered rate, to empower Israel’s enemies (witness the Iran deal that guarantees Iran gets a bomb [it’s a near certainty they already have one courtesy of the North Koreans]) even without bold action on Israel’s part.
Imagine then that there is an undeclared but well-recognized contest in place that involves not upsetting the Russians, keeping an eye on the Iranians and Palestinians, all the while absorbing local intifadas and encroachments by IS, Hezbollah and Hamas, warding off European BDS, taking another punch at the UN…, and waiting till the last possible second to do just that which Israel must to defend itself. For this competition, the trick is to time everything to a tee… make the action come as close as possible to the end of President Obama’s last term, and moving toward… what? To do what? Buck the trends and hope you’re not noticed? Disagree forcefully? Threaten?
I don’t have the answer, but the timing of this sort of sport is too fine to just let things ride along and hope you cut over perfectly. Better to have a real strategy and work towards it. What would that look like? It would assert Israeli sovereignty wherever it was compromised or threatened, and wherever the country’s security is likely to be enhanced. It would punish extravagantly and swiftly the families of Palestinian Islamist terrorists, punish BDS-supporting governments, destroy Hamas in Gaza, remove the PLO/PA, make stricter rules for participating parties in the Knesset (one can’t openly be a fifth column where the platform supports the state’s destruction), and basically tell the story of how Israel has tried mightily to deal with what amounts to a local manifestation of a wider Islamist attempt to extinguish Israel and democracy, and that since the experiment has failed in Israel, and is failing everywhere that shariah-compliant Islam infiltrates a democratic state, Israel has to draw the line and refuse to be a lab rat for the sake of European appeasement, or Saudi and Qatari ambitions or US leftist dreams that are destroying this country too.
It doesn’t seem like waiting out the storm is moving Israel to a safer spot. Instead it’s making the inevitable flashpoint more dangerous.
I thought Israel already annexed the Golan but had merely asked Obama to recognize this as legitimate (I agree, dumb move to ask Obama for any favors of this nature).
But I thought there wasn’t anything else Israel could do in Golan. That is already part of Israel “proper”, as far as Israel is concerned, is it not?
Israel extended Israeli law to the Golan, which is something more than the Civil Administration that rules the parts of Judea/Samaria that is under Israeli civil control, and something less than “annexation” which is what Israel did with eastern Jerusalem. See http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/golan%20heights%20law.aspx
Your words are my words. Bravo Vic!