Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The State of Israel spent the first 30 years of its modern existence reclaiming its territory, and the next 33 years negotiating the terms on which it would be returned to the neighboring countries which had made war on it, as well as an entirely new terrorist state created in the name of peace and maintained in the name of war.
33 years after the country's first 'hawkish' conservative PM allowed himself to be browbeaten by Jimmy Carter into turning over territory three times its own present size to an Egypt whose new leaders are now disavowing the accords-- its current 'hawkish' conservative PM is readying himself to offer a whole new raft of concessions in the hopes of preempting a unilateral solution by Obama or Abbas. For all the furious New York Times articles, there is little to distinguish Israel's hawks from its doves once they take up their residence in Beit Aghion on the corner of Lord Balfour's street. Like their American counterparts, they rapidly trade in the rhetoric about an "Undivided Jerusalem" and "War on Terror" for the burden of realpolitik built on a copy of the Art of Appeasement.
The governing mandate of every Israeli PM since 1992 (and perhaps even earlier) has been to try and make a deal with the Palestinian Arabs work. The folly of this has been amply demonstrated time and time again, filling Israel's cemeteries and hospitals, destroying its security and international standing, and dividing its people against themselves. And yet all these factors have only spurred on the perception that the deal must be somehow made to work. Somehow.
The doves have tried multilateral negotiations. The hawks tried unilateral concessions. The sum total of their efforts is the creation of two terrorist states, one recognized by the international community, one by the far left, and both at war with Israel inside its own borders.
The first state is run by the KGB trained funder of the Munich Massacre and backed by the international community. The second state is run by the local affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and funded by the Muslim world. These two states, popularly known as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas run Gaza, differ only in their tactics, not their aims. Neither are anything but unelected leaders of terrorist groups dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Almost two decades of negotiations have led to nothing but eighteen years of terror. A state of affairs ignored by everyone except the people living on the firing line, their family sedans scarred by bullets, their kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters and their children equipped with emergency cell phones to check in after every attack. As the international community, the media and the government push forward for more concessions and negotiations, they have no way to push back except through the occasional unheard protest.
Year after year, and leader after leader, the Israeli response has been to push forward in the hopes of finding light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel has only gotten darker and narrower. And it is growing obvious to even the dimmest observer that the tunnel of peace is really a dead end. Talk of a 'breakthrough' keeps alive the hope that Israel can slim down enough to squeeze through a pinhole that simply doesn't exist.
Israeli leaders are surrounded by technocrats and diplomats who favor retreating from territory, rather than from bad policies. So the land goes, the people die and the bad policies remain.
Though Rabin had remained dubious about the illegally negotiated Oslo Accords, the inevitability of an agreement has been adopted by the entire political establishment. Even the 'hawks' spend most of their time moving border lines on a map to find some acceptable formula for a Palestinian state. No one asks anymore whether there should be a Palestinian state. Only how big it should be. And how many Israelis should be evicted from their homes in the name of a lasting peace.
But few Israelis believe in a lasting peace anymore. Instead they expect that some form of negotiated separation will keep their sons at home and away from the firefights in Gaza and the West Bank. Never mind that such a separation is even more of an illusion. Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and Sharon's unilateral pullout from Gaza put Hezbollah and Hamas into power and brought on the Second Lebanon War and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.
Caught between Israelis who want security and an international community that demands passivity, the government has innovated Passive-Aggressive Warfare. Israel's security barriers meant to stop suicide bombers, traded in the bombings for constant shelling instead, now its new Iron Dome defense system is meant to stop the shelling, which doesn't mean an end to terror, but the beginning of another form of terror. From security measures to drones to counter-missile defenses, Israel is revolutionizing the passive-aggressive war on terror. And minimizing the pain of its self-destructive policies with new technological feats that address the symptoms, not the problem.
Even fewer in Israel's political establishment believe that terrorism will ever end. The obligatory Rabin festivals and video clips have taken on the air of a hippie festival, charmingly idealistic and completely unrealistic. Not even the left believes anymore. Whatever idealism it ever possessed has been replaced by a dedicated climate of hate. The New New Left is no longer interested in peace, but in assigning blame for the war. Haaretz columnists drag forward everyone from Netanyahu's wife to the settler boogeyman, while their grandchildren don keffiyahs and stone Israeli soldiers in the company of protest tourists from Norway and Scotland.
The logic of pushing forward to an agreement has little to do with stopping terrorism anymore. Not when all it takes to make your own terrorist group is a dozen friends and a Dubai bank account. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are umbrella groups supported by numberless militias, any of whom can form their own terrorist group at any time, or moonlight between working as police, running a protection racket and their own splinter terrorist organization for which the official leadership claims plausible deniability.
Israel's culture minister said this week that her nephew was murdered by a terrorist disguised as a security officer. But the difference between terrorists and security officers in the Palestinian Authority is that they're called security officers when they draw paychecks from the US and the EU, and terrorists when they murder Israeli civilians. This formal distinction allows Western diplomats their own plausible deniability, pretending that they aren't funding terrorism. When that's exactly what they're doing and have been doing since Arafat got his first aid package. But if they were to admit that Palestinian security forces are nothing more than terrorists in uniforms, they would also have to admit that the Palestinian Authority government is nothing more than terrorists in suits.
At stake is Israel's legitimacy, or at least that's how the politicians see it. To maintain its legitimacy in the international community, its relations with the United States and Europe, it must continue working toward an agreement. But the more it has labored over an agreement, the more the boycotts and the culture war have grown. The withdrawal from Gaza has done far more to feed hate against Israel, than any combination of checkpoints and security measures. Every effort to preserve Israel's legitimacy endangers it further.
Israeli leaders search for some magic formula that will either achieve a peace agreement or convince the world that the gangs of suit decked Palestinian Muslim terrorists are not serious about peace. This futile brand of alchemy, with the goal of turning hate into gold, is futilely perverse. No amount of negotiated failures will ever convince international diplomats that the Palestinian Arabs aren't serious about peace.
For Western diplomats, a Palestinian state isn't the goal, but the means of convincing the Muslim world that they are serious about their concerns. For Muslim leaders, a Palestinian state isn't the goal either, it's only a means of diverting attention from their domestic misery. It isn't even the goal for Palestinian leaders who have shown no ability or interest in running a state.
If a Palestinian state were declared tomorrow, regardless of what papers were or weren't signed, this state would still be economically dependent on Israel and on Western aid, and it would still be full of terrorists taking potshots at Israelis.
The 1967 borders are as legally and demographically random as any other. The 'Green Line' is nothing but a convenient talking point. With all the territory back to the 1967 borders in terrorist hands, their attention would turn to the territory beyond it. 1967 would give way to 1948. New terrorist attacks would be carried out in the name of claiming even more land for the 'refugees'. Israeli Arabs whose MK's already preach terrorism and align themselves as Palestinians would quickly scramble on board. And the international community would demand new concessions. And eventually a One State Solution.
Israelis have learned not to think about the future to avoid confronting this reality. The discredited leader of the last decade becomes the savior of the next, only to be discredited yet again. Peres, Barak and Netanyahu rise from the ashes of their failures. The discredited plans of the last government become the template for the failures of the next. Each leader denounces the past, but refuses to part ways with it. As a dog returns to its vomit, so Israeli leaders repeat the folly of the past.
Netanyahu's proposal will take the position of the kid who punches himself in the face half as hard as the bully would, in the hopes of dissuading the bully from beating on him. Or in the even fainter hope of gaining the sympathy of some well meaning observer. And every time Israeli leaders have tried this, the bully hits them twice as hard anyway, while the observers cheer on the bully. The observers hope that cheering on the bully will save them from his wrath. And Israel's leaders still think that they can minimize the pain, and outmaneuver the bully and the observers through some clever dealmaking.
The bully is Islam. His shouts about historical justice are motivated by a violent inferiority complex. Despite his belligerence, he is weak. But America, Europe and Israel suffer from national inferiority complexes that prevent them from standing up to him. So the bully rampages about the global playground. There is no use bargaining with him. Even less use appeasing him. You can either stand up to him, or keep getting beaten by him. For all the idealistic songs and images of flowers in gun barrels, there has never been a third way.
The Israeli flag is the symbol of the House of David, a lad who built a nation by standing up to Goliath. To be worthy of the flag, is to be worthy of the act. Israel survived by standing up to the armies of Islam. Not willingly, but reluctantly. After all other options had been exhausted. Not it faces a political war in which all the diplomatic options will never be exhausted, until its enemies overreach themselves with a full invasion. And by then Israel may no longer be capable of defending itself.