Has the Democrats’ push to depose Biden begun?

“A significant portion of the public does not believe that the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election was fairly conducted. … Once again, four justices on this court cannot be bothered with addressing what the statutes require to assure that absentee ballots are lawfully cast.” — Patience D. Roggensack, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Dec. 14, 2020

“ … [A] majority of this court unconstitutionally converts the … Elections Commission’s mere advice into governing ‘law,’ thereby supplanting the actual election laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives in the legislature and defying the will of [the state’s] citizens. When the state’s highest court refuses to uphold the law and stands by while an unelected body of six commissioners rewrites it, our system of representative government is subverted.” — Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley, Dec. 14, 2020

“Investigators have been examining multiple financial issues, including whether Hunter Biden and his associates violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, principally China. … Some of those transactions involved people who the FBI believe sparked counterintelligence concerns, a common issue when dealing with Chinese business … .” — CNNDec. 10, 2020

The November 2020 elections were an extraordinary event in which the bizarre, even the outlandish, became an integral part of the everyday humdrum routine.

The implausible and even more implausible?

This is not a politically partisan observation for it is valid no matter which side of the Democrat/GOP political divide one might happen to be on. After all, it is difficult to know what is more implausibly far-fetched:

(a) that, as the Republicans claim, there was pervasive electoral fraud on a scale so massive that it determined—indeed, inverted—the outcome of the ballot; or (b) that, as the Democrats claim, as a lackluster and lackadaisical candidate, perceptibly frail and aging, Joe Biden genuinely managed to amass the highest number of votes ever in a presidential election, surpassing former U.S. President Barack Obama’s previous 2008 record by almost 12 million votes.

Making this latter scenario even more difficult to accept at face value is that Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, was hardly an electrifying vote-getter, having being forced to drop out quite early on in her own party’s primaries for its choice of a presidential candidate. Indeed, Biden’s choice of Harris as his prospective vice president was, in itself, more than a little incongruous, as she had viciously excoriated him during the primaries for his record on race relations, complicity with segregationists and sexual impropriety, adamantly proclaiming that she believed the women who had complained about his unwanted sexual advances.

‘Many doubt the fairness of November elections’

Indeed, in light of his anemic, largely “no-show” election campaign, in which he studiously avoided articulating his position on a number of crucial issues, Biden’s apparent electoral achievement is even more bewildering. Indeed, referring to the Biden campaign, one media outlet observed dourly: “There is no surge of feeling, zero passion. … Instead, the closest thing to enthusiasm … among voters is resigned, faint praise. ‘He’s a decent man’ … but you can’t move the needle of history with flaccid decency.”

Another noted: “Biden’s performance [in exceeding Obama’s 2008 record] is incredible considering the voter enthusiasm, especially among young people, that his former boss had … .”

Accordingly, the sentiment expressed by the chief justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, Patience D. Roggensack, was hardly surprising when she warned: “A significant portion of the public does not believe that the Nov. 3 presidential election was fairly conducted.”

These words were part of Roggensack’s dissenting opinion in a hearing on several challenges by U.S. President Donald Trump to Wisconsin’s election results. Although the motion was rejected by a 4-3 vote, at least one of the majority justices is on public record as being vehemently inimical to Trump, and the decision was severely criticized by the dissenting minority as being judicially unsound.

Thus, Justice Annette Ziegler, wrote, “The majority seems to create a new bright-line rule that the candidates and voters are without recourse and without any notice should the court decide to later conjure up an artificial deadline concluding that it prefers that something would have been done earlier. … That has never been the law, and it should not be today.”

Abdicating constitutional duty

Disapprovingly, she chastised: “It is a game of ‘gotcha.’ I respectfully dissent, because I would decide the issues presented and declare what the law is.”

Accusing the majority of “abdication of its constitutional duty,” she lamented: “Unfortunately, our court’s adoption of laches as a means to avoid judicial decision-making has become a pattern of conduct. A majority of this court decided not to address the issues in this case when originally presented to us. … In concluding that it is again paralyzed from engaging in pertinent legal analysis, our court, unfortunately, provides no answer or even any analysis of the relevant statutes, in the most important election … of our time.”

Ziegler was at pains to underline: “To be clear, I am not interested in a particular outcome. I am interested in the court fulfilling its constitutional responsibility.”

Expressing grave concern over the majority’s indecision, Ziegler chided: “While sometimes it may be difficult to undertake analysis of hot-button legal issues—as a good number of people will be upset no matter what this court does—it is our constitutional duty. We cannot hide from our obligation under the guise of laches.”

Accordingly, she concluded that “the rule of law and equity demand that we answer these questions for not only this election, but for elections to come.”

Indeed, given the relative proximity of the court hearing to the actual ballot process, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in order to comply with the majority conditions for the motion to be heard on its merits, the Trump legal team would have had to submit its case against the alleged infractions before those infractions were committed.

Covering corruption or not?

The apparent judicial reluctance to deal with allegations of widespread fraud leads us to another manifestation of partisan reticence, that of the mainstream media in their pre-election coverage of news highly pertinent to the voters’ decision at the ballot box—which seems to have drastically subsided in the wake of the elections.

Arguably, this was best capsulated in the Dec. 10 headline in an established Tennessee daily: “Uninterested before the election, national media now find the Hunter Biden story worth mentioning.”

The ensuing editorial shrewdly observed: “Too late to help the voting public form an objective opinion about their presidential choice, the national media has suddenly decided that the Chinese business dealings of Hunter Biden are worth mentioning.”

It continued: “We have long believed—and said—that the younger Biden’s business dealings, and his father’s major or minor role in them, was at least a disqualifying criterion for the elder Biden’s presidential election. It is clear, after all, that the younger Biden would not have been involved with various businesses in the Ukraine and China over the last decade had his father not been vice president at the time.”

Indeed, it is clear.

In a grave reproach of the mainstream media, it asserted: “National media outlets knew before last month’s election that federal prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China, but they did not pursue the story.”

In a stinging rebuke, it charged“They also refused to further investigate the New York Post pre-election story about e-mails allegedly contained on the younger Biden’s laptop pointing to shady dealings between Joe Biden and Ukraine. … In truth, they withheld critical information from readers and viewers so that Biden might beat President Donald Trump, the man they l[o]ve to hate.”

‘Too disgusting to repeat’

For example, leaked recordings exposed CNN’s president and political director blocking coverage of the New York Post’s explosive exposé on Hunter Biden“s shady business dealings overseas.

Thus, on Oct. 14, political director David Chalian was heard on a conference call, instructing: “Obviously, we’re not going with the New York Post story right now on Hunter Biden.”

Just two days later (Oct. 16), CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, informed his staff: “I don’t think that we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the right-wing media suggests that we should.”

On Oct. 22, in a televised discussion, CNN anchor Jeff Tapper told his colleague, Bakari Sellers, that “ … the right-wing is going crazy with all sorts of allegations about Biden and his family. Too disgusting to even repeat here.”

The Media Research Center (MRC) conducted a review spanning the period Oct. 14-22 of ABCCBSNBC’s evening and morning shows and their Sunday roundtable programs, as well as ABC’s and NBC’s townhall events with Biden and Trump.

According to MRC: “Out of a total of 73.5hours of news programming, there were less than 17minutes (16 minutes, 42 seconds) spent on the latest scandals involving Joe Biden’s son.”

To be precise, the media watchdog found that ABC devoted zero (!) seconds to the reported Hunter Biden scandals, NBC just six minutes, nine seconds, while CBS led the broadcast networks with a “still-measly 10 minutes and 33 seconds.”

All-pervasive ‘Russian disinformation’

Moreover, even when the Biden story was mentioned, it was, by and large, denigrated as “Russian disinformation” (see for example here and here).

On Oct. 19, Politico published a report, dramatically headlined “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.”

It commenced with the following unequivocal pronouncement: “More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of e-mails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son ‘has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.’ ”

However, in the letter itself, the “former intel officials,” who—unsurprisingly—included the ardently pro-Biden and fervently anti-Trump John Brennan (former CIA director), and James Clapper (former director of National Intelligence), seem to be far less unequivocally clear-cut and strident. Indeed, they were at pains to insert a paragraph, clearly formulated to protect their professional “rear-ends”: “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post … are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement. … [However], there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.”

This, of course, leaves the reader to puzzle over the question: If the “former intel officials” had no clue whether or not the e-mails were, in fact, authentic or the product of “Russian involvement,” how could they possibly make the determination that they were—and why would they lend they names and reputations to create a politically partisan impression, which, by their own admission, they could not substantiate?

Or were they counting on the assumption that few ever read beyond the headlines and the opening paragraph?

An abrupt change of heart

With the election over, there seems to have been a perceptible shift in the media attitude towards the allegations of malfeasance in the Biden family’s overseas business activities.

For example, CNN anchor Tapper seems to have undergone an abrupt change of heart as to the gravity of these allegations, having, prior to the election—as we have seen—dismissed them in the strongest possible terms. However, several weeks after the presidential election, with Biden preparing to become the 46th president, Tapper apparently had few qualms in raising the subject publicly and the Biden family’s business ties began to be gradually emerging as fair game to him (see here).

A similar shift in journalistic sentiment was evident in other media outlets.

Take, for example, The Los Angeles Times. As early as March 6, it ran an editorial headlined: “The GOP’s Senate investigation into Hunter Biden is a charade—and they know it,” proclaiming that the entire probe into the Biden’s far-flung business dealings was little more than flimsily disguised political shenanigans.

However, soon after the elections, this changed markedly.

On Dec. 9, LAT ran a report headlined: “Hunter Biden tax inquiry examining Chinese business dealings.” It disclosed that “the Justice Department’s investigation scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s taxes has been examining some of his Chinese business dealings, among other financial transactions.”

The report continued: “… The investigation was launched in 2018, a year before his father, Joe Biden, announced his candidacy for president”—i.e., months before the LAT editorial board dismissed GOP claims regarding the existence of such a probe as “a charade.”

Indeed, a little over a month after the polls had closed, it conceded that “the younger Biden has a history of business dealings in a number of countries, and the revelation of a federal investigation puts a renewed spotlight on the questions about his financial dealings that dogged his father’s successful White House campaign.”

Three days later (Dec. 12), LAT again raised the subject in a piece titled: “Hunter Biden subpoena seeks information on Burisma, other entities,” stating that a “subpoena seeking documents from Hunter Biden asked for information related to more than two dozen entities, including the Ukraine gas company Burisma … .” Significantly, it added: “The breadth of the subpoena, issued Tuesday, underscores the wide lens prosecutors are taking as they examine the younger Biden’s finances and international business ventures.”

The harbinger of far-reaching political change?

This post-election metamorphosis of media mood could also herald the onset of a far-reaching political shift within the Democratic Party.

After all, in contrast to the accusations against Trump of colluding with Russia and conniving with Ukraine, based largely on third-party hearsay and innuendo, the evidence accumulating against the Biden family seems far more solid and compelling, including firsthand witness accounts and emails whose authenticity have yet to be denied.

As coverage on the alleged Biden scandal continues—and certainly if it turns out that Biden has been untruthful over his complicity in his family’s questionable business operations—his continued incumbency is likely to be increasingly challenged until it is no longer tenable, and he is compelled to transfer power to Harris.

Of course, there will be those who discount this possibility as being beyond the bounds of probability. However, they would do well to bear in mind that the overwhelming preponderance of the ideo-political energy in the party comes from the more radical left-wing, which has already proven that it can assert its will on the party apparatus in the past.

Recently, rumblings for changes in leadership within the party have begun, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) calling for a structural change in the party and for the old guard to be replaced with younger legislators to promote the radical policies she advocates. Indeed, she has even called explicitly for the replacement of the party’s congressional leadership of both Chuck Schumer in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House.

Will frailty and mendacity ensconce Harris as president?

The contour lines of an approaching scenario in which Biden, exposed as both frail and mendacious, is forced to step down and concede the presidency to Harris are gradually coming into focus.

With an ever-more critical press and an ever-more radical intra-party opposition, we may well be on the cusp of a new American (or rather un-American) revolution—a revolution in which a cardboard-cutout president is driven from office by people imbued with a  political credo, forged by figures and ideas not only different from, but entirely contrary to, those that made America America.

It is indeed a scenario that risks transforming America into a de-Americanized post-America—an unrecognizable shadow of its former self.

That will be the terrible price the American electorate has inflicted on itself for submitting to the fit of puerile and petulant pique that molded its choice this November.

Israel Identifying the Enemy as the Enemy Is Not ‘Racism’

Originally Published in NewsMax.

One of the most mendacious and widely propagated myths regarding the Middle East conflict is that Israel’s defensive actions against hostile Arab initiatives, whose sole aim is to murder or maim Jews, simply because they are Jews, constitute “racism.”

The apparent reason for these grave accusations is rooted in the fact that some of the coercive measures, necessary for the effectiveness of these defensive Israeli actions, are carried out differentially (and therefore, allegedly, discriminately) against Palestinian Arabs, on the one hand, and Israeli Jews, on the other. 

Even Democracies Have Enemies

Of course, in principle, the claims that counter-offensive actions by a given collective, against hostile initiatives of an adversarial collective, are tainted by some sort of improper, indiscriminate group prejudice against that collective, are clearly unfounded — conceptually, morally, and practically.

In the particular case of the Israeli-Palestinian clash, such claims are even more baseless.

After all, to call on any collective entity to treat a rival entity, with which it is engaged in violent conflict, in precisely the same way that it treats its own members, is not only patently irrational, but also patently immoral. For, in effect, it includes the inherent demand to forgo — or at least, to gravely curtail — the right of self-defense, i.e. the right to protect both the collective and its members from the aggression of the rival entity.

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the theory of democratic governance that precludes the possibility of a democracy — even one totally devoid of racial prejudices — from having enemies. Likewise, there is nothing to preclude the possibility that the ethnic identity of the enemy entity will differ from that of the majority of the citizens of the democracy.

No Ethical Flaw in Identifying the Enemy as the Enemy

So, does this mean that measures intended to thwart, deter, or punish aggressive acts against a democracy — and/or its citizens — violate some hallowed rule of proper democratic conduct? Moreover, how is it possible to claim any ethical flaw in the behavioral code of a democracy when it identifies its enemy as an enemy, and treats it as such?

When couched in these terms, the answers to these questions seem simple and straightforward — indeed, almost self-evident.

Sadly, however, this is not true with regard to Israel — especially when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.

In this conflict, democratic Israel is confronted with a bitter and irreconcilable adversary that harbors a profound desire to inflict harm on the Jewish state and its citizens — a desire, which is, for all intents and purposes, its very raison d’ etre.

Certainly, by the declarations of its leaders, the text of its foundational documents, and the deeds of its militant activists, the Palestinian collective has unequivocally defined itself as Israel’s enemy.

Accordingly, it would be wildly unreasonable to expect Israel to restrict the measures it employs to counter Palestinian enmity, to measures it employs against its own citizens — who harbor no such enmity!

Arab Enmity Not Arab Ethnicity

This, then, is the context, in which the various countermeasures that Israel undertakes against the members of the Palestinian enemy collective — but not against its own citizens — should be perceived — such as: travel restrictions on certain roads; intrusive security inspections at roadblocks and checkpoints; preemptive administrative detentions; demolition of convicted terrorists’ homes; dawn raids on households suspected of harboring members of terror organizations; and so on.

However, the enforcement of these coercive counter measures is not motivated by any doctrine of racial superiority, but by well-founded security concerns for the safety and security of Israel’s citizens — concerns that are neither the product of mere arbitrary malice, nor of some hate-filled delusional prejudice. To the contrary, they are the result of years of bitter experience, of death and destruction, wrought on the Jews by Arab hatred.

Of course, one might dispute the wisdom, the efficacy and/or the necessity of any — or even all — of these measures; but not the reason behind their use. This is, without a doubt, due to Arab enmity — not Arab ethnicity.

Accordingly, Israel would do well to clarify, forcefully and resolutely, this simple truth, which has been either unintentionally forgotten or intentionally obscured: Identifying one’s enemy as the enemy is not “racism” — it is merely an imperative dictated by common sense and by a healthy instinct for survival.


Israel Victory Initiative – Quo vadis?

It is unrealistic to expect that the Palestinians will experience a sudden “aha moment”, slap their forehead in epiphanic realization of the futility of their Judeocidal endeavors—and, of their own volition, docilely declare defeat

“… what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.” – Winston Churchill, House of Commons, May 13, 1940.

As readers who follow this column will know, I have been a keen supporter of the Israel Victory Project (IVP) – see (here, here, and here), initiated by the Middle East Forum, and its president, Daniel Pipes.

Launched in the Fall of 2016, it was, to my mind, potentially one of the most important intellectual initiatives regarding the bloody, and seemingly intractable, conflict between Jews and Arabs for control of the Holy Land—and which, if it could impact Israeli policy, might well induce a much needed paradigmatic shift in the formulation and conduct of that policy.

At the heart of the IVP is the commendable recognition that the policy of unending concessions towards the Palestinian-Arabs has not only failed to achieve its goal of bringing peace and stability, but has, in fact, exacerbated the situation, making the chances of ending the conflict even more remote. Accordingly, peace, genuine and lasting, can only be attained if the Palestinian-Arabs acknowledge that they have failed in their quest to destroy the Jewish State and permanently relinquish their endeavor to do so.

For this to occur, Pipes himself stipulates that:Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error.” 

In principle, this is a position with which I heartily concur. Indeed, it largely reflects the prescription I have long advocated—for more than a decade and half—when I chastisedthe total futility of the Israeli government’s current policy towards the Palestinian violence”.

Since its launch two years ago, the IVP has, by means of a range of promotional events, succeeded in building laudable public awareness for the initiative, both in Israel and the US. However, judging by Israel’s reticent responses to the continuing violence along the Gaza border, the essence of the Victory concept appears to have made little inroads into the thinking of Israeli policy-makers—and even less into their consequent actions.

“Victory” cannot be all things to all people

On Wednesday evening, I attended the second IVP Conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center, in which various aspects of, and perspectives on, the project were discussed and the progress, that has been achieved in promoting it, was presented.

I came away with a sense of unease and the distinct impression that an invaluable idea was being dangerously diluted in an attempt to make it seemingly sufficiently inclusive and accommodative in order to embrace a wide range of existing political credos and to avoid alienating potential critics.

In this regard, Pipes has been scrupulously and purposefully “policy agnostic”, studiously avoiding backing any of the specific action-oriented prescriptions.

Admittedly, I understand Pipes’s stated desire to make the idea of “‘Israel Victory’ as palatable as possible”, so as to render it to “appealing to a wide swathe of Americans”.

Likewise, I see his logic in distinguishing between the more conceptual objectives in the US arena and the inevitably more practical ones in the Israeli arena. He writes: “my goal is to change the foundation of U.S. policy, not to work out Israeli tactics… I am an American foreign policy analyst, not an Israeli colonel.”

While I might disagree with Pipes’s characterization of the Israeli challenges as “tactics” rather than “strategy”; and while I believe that they need to be addressed at levels far above the rank of “colonel”, I can accept the “division of labor” to which he alludes: In the US arena, the objective is to create a political climate that will permit Israel to fully implement a Victory-compliant policy; while in Israel, the objective is to formulate that Victory-compliant policy itself.

But such well-intentioned agnostics can only go so far. After all, “Victory” cannot be all things to all people.

Palestinians must suffer the “bitter crucible of defeat”

Clearly, policy prescriptions that were compatible with the previous pre-Victory, pro-concessions perspective are far less likely to be compliant with the pro-Victory ones (entailing subjecting the Palestinian-Arabs to Pipes’s prescribed “bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair”.

Indeed, the very concept of victory of one side in any conflict–which unavoidably entails the defeat of the other opposing participants—clearly calls for the adoption of some form of coercion, which results in the imposition of the will of one (the victor) over the others (the vanquished).

After all, it is, of course, wildly naïve to believe that, somehow, through some yet-to-be specified process, the Palestinian-Arabs will, autogenically, morph into something they have not been for over 100 years and show little sign of doing so in any foreseeable future. Indeed, in recent years, developments in Palestinian-Arab society would appear to have made such a benign metamorphosis distinctly less likely.

Accordingly, it is clearly unrealistic to expect that the Palestinian-Arabs will experience a sudden “aha moment”, slap their forehead in epiphanic realization of the futility of their Judeocidal endeavors—and, of their own volition, docilely declare defeat.

Indeed, they would rather go and fly a kite…

This, of course, us brings up back to the nature of the coercive policy—and what has to be wrought on the Palestinian-Arabs for Israel to attain victory—and what the Palestinian-Arabs must be subjected to in order to concede defeat?

The question of casualties

In previous articles on the IVP, I have raised the question of how many casualties Israel would need to inflict on the Palestinian-Arabs to induce them to admit bona fide defeat. This, of course, immediately interfaces with the previously-mentioned conditions that need (or can) be created in the US to facilitate such punitive measures.

As a somber reminder — and a very rough yardstick — in the 1948 War of Independence, Israel suffered over 6,000 fatalities and 15,000 wounded— around 1% and 2.5% respectively of the then-total Jewish population— without bringing about any thoughts of unconditional surrender.

Could Israel cause a commensurate number of Palestinian-Arab casualties — between 30,000-40,000 fatalities and over 100,000 wounded, depending on which demographic estimate one accepts — without incurring international censure and sanctions? Could Israel inflict such death and devastation without precipitating massive popular clamor for international — even military — intervention, across the Arab world and in other Islamic countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and Iran?

No less important, if this is the Victory-compliant strategy that Israel chose—or was compelled to choose—could the IVP in the US generate the political conditions to facilitate pursuit of such a policy?

Clearly this raises questions, which challenge the ability to remain indefinitely policy agnostic.

Post-Victory two-statism: What if…?

It also challenges the feasibility/validity of scenarios that envisage a sustainable two-state

Post-Victory reality—or indeed, any sustainable post-Victory scenario which allows for the continued presence of a large Palestinian-Arab population across the pre-1967 Green Line.

For if the kind of kinetic coercion required to sustainably subdue the Judeocidal impulses of the Palestinian-Arabs (as a collective) are unacceptable in the US and elsewhere, how is defeat to be inflicted on them or victory achieved by Israel?

This predicament is exacerbated by the fact that, unlike the oft-quoted examples of WWII, where Germany was not part of a larger Teutonic world, and Japan not part of a larger Nipponic world, the Palestinian-Arabs are of a larger hostile Arab/Muslim world—which can keep the embers of Judeocidal sentiment moldering, ready to burst into flames at some future moment.

Clearly, then, as long as a large Palestinian-Arab population remains resident in the areas across the pre-1967 lines, there will always be a tangible possibility that externally sourced insurgents and/or incitement will upend any post-Victory settlement. This, in turn, will require perennial Israeli surveillance and supervision to preemptively suppress any such threat, sowing the seeds of perennial Palestinian-Arab resentment…

Coerced into a state or coerced out of one?

So, what if to permanently break the Palestinian-Arabs Judeocidal urges requires kinetic coercion beyond the limits that  even a Trump administration is willing to condone? And what if, even if it did, the Palestinian-Arabs would always be subject to subversive influences from hostile elements from their kinfolk in the wider Arab/Muslim world?

Somber prudence and sheer logic—as opposed to well-intentioned hope—would seem to mitigate towards the only other alternative Victory-compliant strategy that can result in a sustainable post-Victory reality: The physical relocation of the Palestinian-Arab population in third-party countries—preferably by use of non-kinetic means, such as economic inducements by setting up a comprehensive system of generous material incentives for leaving and daunting material disincentives for staying.


As I have discussed in great detail the political feasibility, moral acceptability, and economic affordability of this Victory-compliant paradigm elsewhere, I will not delve into these important issues here.


However, given past precedents, prevailing present realities and plausible projections for the future, the only policy prescription that can generate sustainable stability in any probable post-Victory reality—with acceptable levels of kinetic coercion—is that of incentivized emigration of Palestinian-Arabs (The Humanitarian Paradigm).

Indeed, in light of the preceding analysis, it would be clearly preferable to coerce the Palestinian-Arabs out of a state rather than to coerce them into one.

Neither policy agnostics nor purported pro-Victory two-staters can ignore this!

I would therefore urge the IVP team to forego its hitherto policy agnostics and embrace policy specifics; to progress from the conceptual to the operational; to advance from generic declarations of goodwill to promotion of actionable policy prescriptions, to move on from action and instead, opt for direction…

Instability in Jordan: The impact on Trump’s “Ultimate Deal”

“Jordan sees largest anti-government protests in years” “Al  Jazeera ”, June 4,2018.

 “Jordanians take to the streets to protest austerity measures” CNN, June 4, 2018

“Jordan: thousands protest against IMF-backed austerity measures”,  -“The Guardian , June 3, 2018

These are  merely a small sample of the international media coverage of the  wide spread unrest and protests against new IMF mandated austerity measures, that rocked the kingdom of Jordan  last month. They raised troubling questions as to the long term durability of the country’s incumbent monarchical regime and of the ruling Hashemite dynasty.

Jury still out?

In response to public anger at the austerity measures, King Abdallah, the third member of the Hashemite line to rule Jordan since its inception in 1946, replaced his prime minster and ordered a review of the IMF prescribed reforms.

The jury is still out on whether these steps will placate public anger—and if so for how long. For, with persistently high unemployment (now hovering just under 20%), a national debt reaching 95% , rising inflation (the highest in years), sluggish growth and increasing poverty, Jordan faces daunting domestic socio-economic challenges.

However, beyond its own internal woes, the kingdom has been plagued by severe external problems  induced by the tribulations of others in the turbulent region in which it is located. Thus, the war in Syria–and earlier in Iraq– led to a deluge of refugees into the hapless country—straining its social services to their very limits.

None of this augurs well for future stability—and even if reports that most of the public ire has been directed at the government rather than the king are true—there seems scant room for optimism as to what is to come.

Crucial strategic terrain

One of the possible repercussions of the challenge to the stability of the Hashemite regime, that has received meager attention in the public discourse, is the potential impact that political upheaval in Jordan may have on the feasibility of Donald Trump’s “ultimate deal” Mid-East peace plan which is rumored to be announced soon.

This is particularly pertinent with regard to the practicality and prudence of any territorial concessions this plan may call on Israel to make. After all, the identity of a prospective successor to the current incumbent regime in Amman is of tremendous consequence to Israel.

In the past, I have been at pains to convey, as graphically as possible, the crucial strategic significance of the territory designated for any envisioned Palestinian state—whatever its precise geographical parameters—have for Israel (see for example, here and here).

For the most part, this territory comprises limestone hills, that rise above Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain, and totally dominate the country’s major population centers (where around 80% of the civilian population resides and 80% of Israel’s commercial activity takes place).

Crucial terrain  (Cont.)

The same is true for a large portion of Israel’s vital infrastructure systems and installations (military and civilian) – including many of the country’s military airfields, IDF bases and its only international airport, Ben Gurion; its major seaports and naval bases; much of its principle transportation axes (road and rail); important desalination plants and water conveyance systems; power generating facilities; as well as crucial centers of civilian government and military command.

All of these would be in range of cheap, primitive weapons, readily available to renegade non-state actors (read “radical terror groups”)—of the kind already being used against Israel from territories relinquished by Israel in the past—who could at will disrupt Israel’s ability to maintain any semblance of socio-economic routine in the heart of the country. Clearly, such weapons could be used from any territory to relinquished in the future, with or without the tacit approval of any potential Palestinian “peace partner”

Back to the Trump plan: It is portions of this strategically vital territory Israel may be called on to yield.

Jordan is immediately adjacent to this territory from the east. It is separated from it by only by the Jordan Valley, whose steep slope constitute a formidable topographical barrier between the Hashemite monarchy and the strategic highlands of Judea-Samaria, making the Valley itself a vital military asset.

Back to the “Ultimate Deal”

Clearly then,, for Israel, who controls Jordan  is a matter of critical importance—especially in light of the grim experience of the “Arab Spring”.

Indeed, despite all the grievances Israel may have regarding the repeated displays of diplomatic animosity by the current Jordanian regime, its seems highly implausible that any successor regime is likely to be more amicable. Quite the opposite. Barring some unforeseen development, pundits would generally agree that the most likely candidates to take over the reins of power are extreme Islamist elements, who would be more radical and more inimical to Israel by far.

Accordingly, when weighing any territorial concessions, it matters hugely whether Jordan is governed by a relatively moderate pro-western monarch or by an extremist Jihadist regime—whose territorial reach  extends from the Jordan River to the western fringes of Iraq.

Putting aside for the moment the weighty question of whether any Palestinian interlocutor can be trusted to honor any deal struck with him, it is clear that in the latter case, territorial concessions are likely to be far more perilous than in the former. After all, the territory conceded will be far more accessible to hostile anti-Israel elements and far more susceptible to incendiary incitement from Jihadi elements.

Planning for “the day after”….

For Israel, then, strategic prudence dictates that its working assumption must be that the Hashemite regime has a limited “shelf life”.

The forces of instability in Jordan are beyond Israel’s control, and although it might be able to attenuate them in the margins, it cannot determine their eventual outcome—or who will seize, or sustain, command of the country.

So, whatever advantages might be entailed in the continued rule of Abdallah,

Israel must prepare for “the day after” and tailor its ability to accede any territorial concessions in the Trump peace plan accordingly.

The Elements of Oslo: Drug trafficking & high treason?

The arrest of former Minister Gonen Segev, on charges of treason, constitute a regrettable vindication of my assessment of the man – over 25 years ago.

….the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments…. He rots the soul of a nation…he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist…The traitor is the plagueMarcus Tullius Cicero, (106-43 B.C.), on Treason.

It has been an eventful week—and several other topics could well have been the focus of this INTO THE FRAY column—for example, the court decision to quash the confessions extracted under duress from the suspects of the Duma arson; or the ineffective IDF response to the continuing violence emanating from Gaza; or the looming “ultimate deal”, which, it is rumored, is soon to be advanced by the Trump administration.

Tectonic impact

I chose, however , to deal with the announcement on Monday, that former government minister, Gonen Segev, had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran and detained on charges of treason involving “espionage, aiding an enemy in war time, as well as providing information to the enemy.”

The reasons for this choice were both personal and substantive: Personal, because of my acquaintance with Segev in the past when I warned of his grave character flaws; and substantive, because of the tectonic (albeit seldom conceded) impact these flaws have had on the fate of the nation since then.

Of course, this is not the first brush the ex-minister has had with the law, nor the first time he has brought disgrace to the political edifice of the nation.

Readers will recall that in 2004, he was arrested on charges of  drug smuggling—along with credit-card fraud and misuse of an expired diplomatic passport—and subsequently convicted and jailed for several years. Following his imprisonment, Segev moved to Nigeria, where apparently, his initial contacts with Iranian officials were made—and his alleged espionage activities began.

Of course, it is yet unclear how much damage Segev’s suspected betrayal of his country in recent years has caused. There can, however, be little doubt as to the huge damage that his betrayal of his voters, 26 years ago, wrought on the nation—when he crossed ideological lines, abandoned his hawkish electoral pledges and facilitated the ratification of the Oslo Accords.

Segev & Oslo: The Ethical Parallels

Accordingly, up until Monday, we knew that the Oslo Accords, which:
– conferred international acclaim on the arch-murderer Arafat;

-cost thousands of Israelis their lives—and many more, their limbs;

– provided Judeocidal gangs access to military grade explosives; and

– allowed armed terrorist militias to deploy within mortar range of our nation’s capital;

owed their existence to a convicted drug smuggler that betrayed his voters, who sent him to the Knesset to prevent precisely the policy he permitted.

Since last Monday, we know that these appalling accords, that brought so much death and destruction to Israeli streets, buses, and sidewalk cafes, came about not only due to someone who dealt in drugs and who betrayed his voters—but someone who, it seems, betrayed his country and his people—in the very real sense of the word.

There are numerous  parallels between Gonen Segev and Oslo.

Indeed, in many ways, Segev and Oslo are the moral (or rather “immoral”) reflections of each other.

While Segev himself represents a mark of shame on Israel’s public life and “point of singularity” in terms of deceit and duplicity; so too the Oslo Accords represent a mark of shame on our national history, a reprehensible nadir of broken promises, public deception and self-delusion.

Almost like Siamese twins

Moreover, in many ways, almost like Siamese twins, neither Segev nor Oslo would exist without the other—without the essential symbiosis between them. After all, without Segev and his uninhibited proclivity for treachery, there would be no Oslo. So too, without Oslo and the desperate desires of those who concocted it, there would have been no Segev in a ministerial post, which gave him access to the information he allegedly supplied to the enemy.

So just as Oslo embraced bitter enemies –so did Segev.

Indeed, in large measure, Oslo was a point of inflexion in the history of Zionism, after which nothing was as it was before. Everything once a hallowed virtue (such as attachment to the homeland and proactive Jewish settlement throughout it) became a heinous vice.

So too Segev, in large measure became a point of inflexion in the annals of Israeli politics, a point beyond which a sense of shame disappeared as a constraint on the behavior of elected incumbents, and after which “prostitution” of the profession of politics became acceptable, even expected. Political pledges became worthless and commitment to ideological principles, nothing more than bargaining chips to be swiftly exchanged if and when a more personally advantageous opportunity was detected.

Unbridled individual ambition became the supreme value, pushing aside any obstacle in the way of its pursuit and consuming any moral inhibition that might impede its fulfilment.

Oslo’s deadly derivatives

Earlier, I suggested that Segev’s treachery had a “tectonic” impact on events that subsequently unfolded.

Allow me to elaborate—and corroborate—this seemingly far-reaching condemnation.

After all, Oslo was not a stand-alone disaster. To the contrary—it was the harbinger of successive calamities, which inevitably arose from its implementation.

In large measure, Segev was their midwife—their indispensable facilitator.

For, as mentioned, Oslo owes its birth to Segev, who clearly had it in his power to prevent it–but chose to deliver it instead.

So, just as without Segev, there would be no Oslo, so without Oslo there would be no Second Intifada, there would be no Disengagement, there would no uprooting of Jewish communities in Gush Katif, there would be no Hamas takeover of Gaza, no terror tunnels, no arsenal of fearsome rockets aimed at Israeli cities and towns far removed from Gaza.

All of these, and more, were, incontrovertibly, the pernicious progeny of Oslo; each, demonstrably, a deadly derivative of that infamous and ignominious initiative, all the pestilent products of Segev’s perfidy.

But beyond the gory procession of failures that the Segev-facilitated Oslo Accords ushered in, there was a far more profound—and sinister—degenerative effect, which began to afflict the tenor of Zionist thinking. For once the Oslo process began to dominate the political stage in Israel, its continued sustenance called for a sea-change in what hitherto had characterized Zionism’s approach to Israel’s foes. Whereas in the pre-Oslo era, the emphasis had been on robust, uncompromising deterrence; in the post-Oslo era all this changed—since persisting with it would have resulted in the swift demise of the initiative. Instead, the political leadership now embraced appeasement and far-reaching leniency toward enemy excesses and violations of commitments.

The consequences of this tectonic conceptual shift, we see today in the raging fires, the burnt out fields and the charred forests in the areas surrounding Gaza…

A personal perspective

I first encountered Gonen Segev, in early 1992, when I served as the Secretary-General of the TSOMET movement.  He then appeared out of nowhere, after years during which he had not been seen participating in any activities of the movement, to compete for second place in the TSOMET list for the Knesset. (For readers whose political memory does not go back 26 years, TSOMET was a non-observant, hawkish party, which vehemently opposed the “land-for-peace” concept , on which the Oslo Accords were based.

To many—apparently including the TSOMET chairman, former IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt-Gen. Rafael (“Raful”) Eitan—he appeared to be “the salt of the Earth”, a sturdy, good-looking young man, an authentic Israeli with a medical degree and a record of IDF combat service, who was both charismatic and charming. Many—apparently including Raful— were led astray by his deceptive charms–which eventually led to the demise of the movement in which they placed their trust and the decline in public support for the principles in which they believed.

Similarly, to many—apparently including former IDF chief-of-staff,  Yitzhak Rabin—the Oslo Agreements were perceived as a refreshing and innovative initiative, a masterstroke of far-reaching and far-sighted statesmanship, ushering in a new era of regional peace and prosperity, in an EU-like “New Middle East”,  stretching from Kuwait to Casablanca, from the slopes of the Atlas Mountains to the shores of the Persian Gulf.

Like Segev, so Oslo.  Many—apparently including Rabin—fell prey to its deceptive allure (or rather, sinister spell) and allowed themselves to be led astray—until the disintegration of  their “noble” vision.

A compulsive liar who gives deceit a bad name

In summation, allow me a brief lapse of modesty and a short personal epilogue.

As opposed to many, I was not deceived by Segev’s ample guiles. On the contrary, I quickly identified him as a compulsive liar, who “gives deceit a bad name”. As proof of this, the moment he was elected—with the support of Raful—to the number two slot on the TSOMET list, in place of the late Yoash Tsiddon, one of the most outstanding parliamentarians the Knesset has ever known, I withdrew my name from the list of contenders for other slots—and resigned from my post of Secretary-General .

The rest is history—and at times I wonder how different that history would have been if others had followed my lead…

The IDF & Gaza: Soldiers or Sociologists?

Has the IDF brass forgotten that they are soldiers, charged with providing military solutions to physical threats to the nation’s security; not sociologists, tasked with diagnosing the societal ailments of its enemies?

…the IDF General Staff has been insisting there is only one thing Israel can do about Gaza. According to our generals, Israel needs to shower Hamas with stuff. Food, medicine, water, electricity, medical supplies, concrete, cold hard cash, whatever Hamas needs, Israel should just hand it over in the name of humanitarian assistance. Every single time reporters ask the generals what Israel can do to end Hamas’s jihadist campaign, they give the same answer. Let’s shower them with stuff. – Caroline B. Glick, Who Leads Israel? June 1, 2018.

Israel’s security establishment continues to look for solutions to the situation in the Gaza Strip, as security sources on Monday warned about an approaching complete economic collapse in the Gaza Strip…Those sources pointed out that preventing a humanitarian disaster in Gaza is an urgent matter of national security for Israel. – David Isaacs, Israeli Defense Establishment Warns of Complete Economic Collapse in Gaza, Jewish Press, June 11, 2018.


We are still faced with the absolutely crucial problem of making the intellectual and imaginative effort not to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation onto the products of totally different cultures… [People] assume that the light of their own parochial common sense is enough. And they frame policies based on illusions. Yet how profound is this difference between political psychologies and between the motivations of different political traditions, and how deep-set and persistent these attitudes are. Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century, 1999.  

Earlier this week, the Israeli security cabinet convened to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Thankfully, the meeting, which took place against the backdrop of the ongoing violence on the border with Gaza, did not produce any operational decision or any undertaking on the part of Israel to attempt to alleviate the situation in Gaza.

A recipe to enrich Hamas

However, the very fact that a security cabinet meeting took place at all to discuss how improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza could somehow contribute towards easing the security situation, is in itself disturbing and disappointing.

For the connotation that this clearly conveys is that (a) the violence is a result of the dire socio-economic conditions in Gaza, rather than obdurate Arab refusal to accept any semblance of Jewish political independence in any portion of the Biblical Land of Israel, regardless of its geographical contours; and (b) Israel bears responsibility for these dire conditions and hence, for the violence that they allegedly precipitate. Thus, according to this “logic”, it is incumbent on Israel to find ways to alleviate the socio-economic distress in Gaza as a form of “enlightened self-interest” to reduce the threats to its security.

This, of course, is an utter distortion of reality and, as I have been at pains to argue in my last two columns (see here and here), reflects a total inversion of causality. For it is demonstrably incontrovertible that the privation in Gaza is the result of, not the reason for, the incandescent hatred of the Jewish state. Indeed, any enhancement of the humanitarian effort will inevitably empower, enrich and entrench Hamas, which, invariably, will either physically expropriate much of any influx of goods, or impose taxation on them—and replenish its coffers to finance its nefarious activities.

Beyond the IDF’s professional purview

Arguably, one of the most disconcerting elements of the security cabinet meeting was that it seems to have been convened under pressure from senior IDF officers, who consider that a collapse of civilian infrastructures in Gaza was imminent, and such collapse would precipitate a severe security predicament for Israel.

This, in many ways, is an inappropriate overreach by the IDF, well beyond its professional purview.

For, although the IDF has admirably shouldered numerous domestic social tasks, which are usually beyond the range of duties other armed forces take upon themselves—such as providing educational frameworks for disadvantaged youth—it is nevertheless not a social welfare organization—especially when such welfare concerns hostile aliens rather than Israeli citizens.

Indeed, as the national defense force, its overriding responsibility is to deter external enemies from attacking Israel, or if such deterrence fails, to defeat them—preferably by preempting such attacks, or by decisively repulsing them.

But, it is one thing to deter one’s enemy from attacking because they fear the consequences of the response that attack will precipitate. It is quite another to cajole them into delaying attack, by offering benefits—especially if the delay is exploited by them to rearm, redeploy and regroup, only to initiate future aggression with enhanced capabilities at some later time of their choosing.

Tactical genius, strategic myopia

As someone who served for several years in operational capacities in the Israel security establishment, I have great respect for the ingenuity, dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who serve in it.

Moreover, the IDF and Israel’s other security services have shown extraordinary prowess in their ability to obtain detailed operational intelligence on the country’s adversaries, and to deal swiftly with specific targets.

Accordingly, it is no easy task for me to level criticism at those for whom I have a sense of genuine regard and natural comradeship. However, it is becoming increasing apparent that the Israeli security establishment is seemingly incapable of translating its indisputable and undisputed technical/tactical genius into clear and coherent strategic wisdom.

Of course, while it is true that national power is more than mere military might, the IDF is increasingly straying into realms which are outside its field of professional expertise and should be beyond its legitimate intervention.

Thus, as I lamented in my last column, in recent years—perhaps due to the professors and political credos they are exposed to during their academic studies—it appears that many in the senior echelons of Israel’s security establishment have forgotten that they are soldiers, charged with providing military solutions to physical threats to the nation’s security and not sociologists, tasked with diagnosing the societal ailments of its sworn enemies.

Both inappropriate and invalid

Indeed, not only are the IDF forays into the realm of sociology formally inappropriate, they are also substantively invalid.

After all, the grim state of affairs is not the result of any scarcity of international funding or Israeli largesse. In past years, Gaza has had an abundance of both –and has squandered them both, because—as a collective—its communal aspiration is not greater prosperity and material well-being for its individual inhabitants, but the physical annihilation of what is perceived as an enemy collective—the Jewish nation-state.

No amount of humanitarian aid can address this aspiration. Quite the reverse! Increasing it will only increase the drive to fulfil it.

It is beyond distressing that the senior echelons of the IDF seem oblivious of this. For it is a blatant violation of Robert Conquest’s caveat (see introductory excerpt) not to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation onto the products of totally different cultures.”

Indeed, it is to ignore “how profound is th[e] difference between political psychologies and between the motivations of different political traditions, and how deep-set and persistent these attitudes are.”

Of course, if one surveys the history of the last half-century, there does appear to be one way—and only one way—to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But it is hardly one that the IDF is likely to endorse.

For, alas, it entails…reinstating the “Occupation”.

Occupation as a humanitarian remedy??

After all, under Israeli occupation, societal conditions in the “West Bank”/Gaza soared beyond all recognition—only to plunge once it ended.

Last week, I urged readers to familiarize with themselves with an article, “What Occupation?”, by Prof. Efraim Karsh, formerly of King’s College, London, now director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. It provides staggering statistics on the meteoric socio-economic development of the Palestinian-Arabs under Israeli administration.

It should be compulsory reading, not only for Israeli politicians, but for the senior echelons of the IDF. The following is a brutally condensed summary:

Karsh writes: “At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent.”

He points out: “Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.”

The improvement in employment was dramatic: “the number of Palestinians working in Israel rose from zero in 1967 to … 109,000 by 1986, accounting for 35 percent of the employed population of the West Bank and 45 percent in Gaza. Close to 2,000 industrial plants, employing almost half of the work force, were established in the territories under Israeli rule.”

Astonishingly: “During the 1970’s, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world—ahead of such “wonders” as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea…with per-capita GNP expanding tenfold between 1968 and 1991 from $165 to $1,715 (compared with Jordan’s $1,050, Egypt’s $600…).

Occupation as a humanitarian remedy?? (cont.)

Under Israeli “Occupation”, the Palestinians-Arabs made vast progress in social welfare: “… mortality rates in the West Bank and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while life expectancy rose from 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000

No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians’ standard of living: “By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967; 85 percent had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16 percent in 1967…. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria.”

Karsh is not alone in assessing the contribution of Israeli administration to Palestinian development and welfare. In his Rivers of Eden, (Oxford University Press), Daniel Hillel, a scholar largely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, noted that in agriculture the pattern was similar: “The Israeli occupation changed local agriculture profoundly. It introduced modern technology, including mechanization, precision tillage, pest control… It also introduced efficient methods of irrigation…especially drip irrigation. Consequently, output increased greatly, and farming was transformed from a subsistence enterprise to a commercial industry.

Sadly, after 1993, when Israel relinquished control of Gaza to Arafat and his cronies, the socio-economic conditions deteriorated precipitously—until today we seem be perennially on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Carpe diem: Humanitarian crisis as an opportunity

Clearly then, as the last quarter-century shows, the Palestinian-Arabs have unequivocally demonstrated that they have failed the test of history, utterly unable to establish a viable self-governing entity. Moreover, since the IDF would certainly balk at the prospect of re-instating the “Occupation”—especially if it is indeterminate and open-ended, while we wait for Palestinian-Arabs to morph into something they have not been for the last century and show no sign of doing so in any foreseeable future, there is only one other alternative to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

This is to fund the permanent relocation/rehabilitation of non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals to third party countries, “outside the circle of violence” and free of the clutches of the cruel corrupt cliques who have led them into disaster after disaster for decades.

In this regard, the current humanitarian crisis is an opportunity—and should be recognized as such.

The time has come for Israel to seize the moment. Carpe diem!

The “Humanitarian” Hoax

The privation in Gaza is not the cause of the enmity towards the Jewish state. Quite the opposite! It is the enmity towards the Jewish state that is the cause of the privation in Gaza.

No cliché has dominated the discourse on the Gaza situation more than the perception of Palestinian violence as a corollary of the Strip’s dire economic conditionProf. Efraim Karsh, It’s Not Gaza’s Economy, Stupid, June 3, 2018.

Many experts claim that an easing of economic conditions in Gaza…is the way to achieve political stability in a Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas. This is a fallacious argument. Prof. Hillel Frisch, Economic Benefits Will Not Bring Stability to Gaza , June 6, 2018.

It is refreshing to see what appears to be an emerging challenge to the mindless Pavlovian response, propagated by most of the Israeli media, to the horrific hatred and violence on display along the border with Gaza.

Soldiers turned sociologists?

Sadly, and perhaps, most disturbingly, it is none other than the IDF and the security establishment that appear to be one of its principal advocates.

Reflecting this hopelessly unfounded perspective was a recent report, headlined, “Israeli military recommends easing humanitarian situation in Gaza”, which cited a senior military source advising that “Israel should ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza and reach a long term ‘arrangement’ with Hamas”.  A day later, this was followed by a similar report,” Army calls to lift some economic restrictions on Gaza, boost chances of quiet”, citing “A top official in the IDF’s Southern Command [who stated that ] Israel must take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which would likely bring quiet to the Gaza region.”

The latter item provoked a brusque response from an exasperated talk-backer: “Sometimes I wonder if there are any sane people left in the top people. All Gaza wants [is] Jews dead and off the land and yet the army wants to give them the tools to do it…!

Indeed, in recent years—perhaps due to the professors and political credos they are exposed to during their academic studies—it appears that many in the senior echelons of Israel’s security establishment have forgotten that they are soldiers, charged with providing military solutions to physical threats to the nation’s security and not sociologists, tasked with diagnosing the societal ailments of its sworn enemies.

Misleading malicious mantra

Perturbingly, the recommendations to reach an agreement with Hamas to alleviate the humanitarian conditions blithely ignore that Gazans did everything in their power to exacerbate them—repeatedly vandalizing and setting fire to the Kerem Shalom crossing, which provides vital gas and fuel and humanitarian supplies to the Strip. Indeed, during the ongoing events on the border, Hamas explicitly refused to accept humanitarian supplies donated by Israel, including medical equipment such as fluids, bandages, equipment for treating children and disinfectants.

Accordingly, to attribute the incandescent hostility toward Israel in Gaza to the dire humanitarian situation plays directly into the hands of Israel’s detractors. Indeed, as I have pointed out elsewhere it is, in effect, to be complicit with the enemy—endorsing its mendacious and malevolent narrative.

For it necessarily implies that, if only Israel would somehow initiate/facilitate an improvement in Gaza’s living conditions, the violence would subside. This not only reinforces the false claims that Palestinian terrorism is driven by Israeli-induced economic privation, but also that Israel bears the responsibility for such terror, which is, therefore, no more than an understandable reaction to hardship and despair, externally imposed by a cruel, alien “oppressor”.

This, of course, is not only to distort—but to invert—the realities on the ground.

Conventional wisdom and the inversion of causality

Last week I wrote: “… the penury in Gaza is not the cause of Arab enmity towards the Jewish state. Quite the opposite! It is Arab enmity towards the Jewish state that is the cause of penury in Gaza.”

Accordingly, I was gratified to see my diagnosis echoed this week, by Prof. Efraim Karsh, who categorically affirmed this inversion of causality that afflicts conventional wisdom “…it is not Gaza’s economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has caused the Strip’s humanitarian crisis.

Karsh,  formerly of King’s College London, now director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) is, to my mind, one of the most astute scholars of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In the past, he has torn to shreds the defamatory accusations regarding Israel’s alleged mistreatment of the Palestinian-Arabs during its pre-Oslo administration of Judea-Samaria. Indeed, he has meticulously shown how the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian-Arabs soared beyond recognition during that period, outstripping those in many “unoccupied” countries in the Muslim/Arab world—only to disastrously deteriorate once control was relinquished to Arafat and his cronies. Elsewhere, he has excoriated the frightful follies and foreseeable failures of the ill-fated and ill-conceived Oslo Accords—and I would urge readers to familiarize themselves with his incisive insights on these matters.

“No causal relationship between economic hardship & mass violence”

In his piece this week, Karsh recalls that: “At the time of the September 1993 signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, conditions in the territories were far better than in most Arab states…But within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza (in July 1994), the standard of living in the Strip fell by 25%, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israel.”

Significantly, he notes: “…. at the time Arafat launched his war of terrorism in September 2000, Palestinian income per capita was nearly double Syria’s, more than four times Yemen’s, and 10% higher than Jordan’s – one of the better-off Arab states. Only the oil rich Gulf states and Lebanon were more affluent.”

With regard to Gaza, Karsh underscores: “…countless nations and groups in today’s world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions than the Palestinians, yet none have embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale.”

He aptly points out “…, there is no causal relationship between economic hardship and mass violence. On the contrary, in the modern world it is not the poor and the oppressed who have carried out the worst acts of terrorism and violence but, rather, the militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed circles of society.”

So, as Karsh reiterates: “…it is not socioeconomic despair but the total rejection of Israel’s right to exist…which underlies the relentless anti-Israel violence emanating from these territories and its attendant economic stagnation and decline.”

Couldn’t put it better myself!

Right diagnosis, wrong remedy?

But it is not just that economic aid to redress Gaza’s humanitarian predicament would be ineffective. Worse, it would be counterproductive. For as Karsh’s BESA colleague, Prof. Hillel Frisch points out: “Economic largesse at this point would only augment Hamas’s resources, as it taxes incoming goods and aid. That money will be funneled back to its hard core through campaigns such as the March of Return.

Accordingly, given the fact that Hamas would undoubtedly expropriate much of any incoming aid for its own nefarious needs, it stands to reason that persisting with such aid will only sustain its ability to continue its offensive action against Israel—thus sustaining the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the population.

This, of course, raises the trenchant question of what should be done.

It is here that I diverge from both Karsh and Frisch in my reading of what is called for to redress the problem. For while I largely concur with their diagnosis of the malaise, I have grave reservations as to their respective prescriptions of how to remedy it.

For in essence, both invoke comparisons with the defeat of Germany and/or Japan in World War II and the ability of the victorious Allies to remold formerly aggressive totalitarian countries into peaceable democracies.

Right diagnosis, wrong remedy? (cont.)

Thus, Frisch refers to “the total defeat of Nazi Germany, and its subsequent occupation and division by the winning coalition, [which] meant that the US and its allies could mold West Germany to their liking through denazification and democratic rule”.

In similar vein, Karsh writes: “Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so, too, it is only when the local population sweeps its oppressive rulers from power, eradicates the endemic violence from political and social life, and teaches the virtues of coexistence with Israel that Gaza can look forward to a better future.”

Regrettably, both these learned scholars overlook one crucial element when it comes to dealing with—i.e. defeating—a recalcitrant adversary in the Muslim world today, which largely undermines the validity of any analogy with the fortunate outcomes and the defeat of tyranny in World War II. Indeed, it is one the US overlooked when it embarked on its “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11.

Indeed, quite apart from the fact that to implement both Frisch’s and Karsh’s proposal, Israel would presumably have to retake and hold Gaza for an indeterminate period of time—to enable it to remold Gazan society and implement the required “comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation”, there are important differences in the geo-political structure of the situation prevailing in post-WWII Japan and Germany, on the one hand, and those facing Israel today vis-a-vis the Palestinian-Arabs, on the other.

These would gravely undermine the ability of any attempt to remold or transform Palestinian-Arab society in general, and Gazan society in particular.

Unlike Germany and Japan…

For unlike any prospective self-governing Palestinian entity, which sees itself unequivocally bound culturally, ethnically and religiously to the larger Islamic world, Germany was not surrounded by a swathe of kindred Teutonic nations—nor Japan by kindred Nipponic nations—which, driven by a radical Teutonic/Nipponic ideology, strove continually to undermine the stability and legitimacy of any peaceable regime that foreign powers might install.

This, however, was the case in both Iraq and Afghanistan—and is certainly likely to be the case for any self-governing Palestinian entity ,whether in Judea- Samaria or in Gaza.

Unlike defeated Berlin (and Tokyo), Baghdad (and Kabul) along with their environs, were continually assailed by Islamic insurgents, financed, armed and equipped from surrounding Muslim countries, to undermine any arrangement or undercut any resolution the victorious powers wished to implement and imperiling any government, not to their liking.

Clearly, this is very likely to be the case in the Israeli/Palestinian situation, with regional Muslim-majority countries constituting a virtually unending source of post-victory instability and incitement. Accordingly, because any attempted remolding or “sociopolitical and educational transformation” is likely to be impeded—even up-ended—by external sources of incitement and agitation, the only way Israel can ensure that Gaza (or Judea-Samaria) will not be taken over by some inimical radical regime is to govern these areas by itself.

But the only way Israel can govern these territories itself, without the need to rule over a recalcitrant alien ethnic group, is to remove that ethnic group from those territories.

What could be simpler or more self-evident??

The real humanitarian solution to Gaza’s humanitarian crisis

Clearly then, persisting with the current format of humanitarian effort will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. Accordingly, this effort must be restructured and redirected.

Indeed, the only durable humanitarian solution that can ensure Israeli security and relieve Israel from the burden of “ruling over another people”, is to generously finance the relocation/rehabilitation of the non-belligerent Gazan population to third party countries, and allow them to build more prosperous and more secure lives, outside the “circle of violence”, to which they will inevitably be subject, if they remain where they are—no matter what the level of humanitarian aid.

All we need now is leadership with sufficient political will, intellectual daring, and ideological commitment to undertake what must be undertaken.

Why would that be a problem??

Gaza – A “simple” solution

Denying—or delaying—the inevitable does not make it any less inevitable, only more costly


To remain at peace when you should be going to war may be often very dangerous….Let us attack and subdue…that we may ourselves live safely for the future. – Thucydides (c. 460–395 BCE)

No government, if it regards war as inevitable, even if it does not want it, would be so foolish as to wait for the moment which is most convenient for the enemy .– Otto von Bismarck (1815–1890)

If you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


This week, Gaza was once again simmering on the brink of largescale military conflict, the fourth in just under a decade.

Yet, even as the specter of recurring tragedy looms ever closer, the discourse (even—indeed especially—in Israel) on how to avoid “another round of violence” remained mired in a rehashed potpourri of previously disproven formulae—which ranged from the patently puerile to the positively preposterous; and from the blatantly inane to the borderline insane.

They are all doomed to fail—just as they did in the past. Indeed, even if the current efforts to sustain the current fragile calm succeed, it is only a matter of time until the inherent volatility reasserts itself and erupts once again. And again. And again.


Misunderstanding Palestinian pathology

Last week, I referred to a 2016 article in “Commentary”, by Prof. Michael Mandelbaum, of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, entitled, The Peace Process is an Obstacle to Peace. In it, the author attributes the failure of the effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to“…an inadequate understanding of the pathology it attempted to cure…[Accordingly], it did not solve the problem it was intended to fix, and it sometimes made it substantially worse.”

This is precisely the syndrome that we are witnessing right now.

None of the prescribed remedies address effectively the underlying causes of the malaise, which are being mistakenly imputed, by misinterpreting its symptoms.

Worse! What we are seeing is more than a mere misdiagnosis. It is nothing less than an utter reversal of causality; a complete inversion of cause and effect.

This is particularly disturbing when it comes from within much of the Israeli leadership. For although, overall, there is little disagreement that Hamas, and its even more radical Islamist offshoots, are responsible for the current outburst of violence, the dominant theme advanced for restoring and maintaining calm is through the improvement of the humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

This is a grave error! For, it is—demonstrably—both untrue factually and detrimental strategically.

Indeed, to base any policy initiative on such a tenet would, to paraphrase Mandelbaum, reflect a hopelessly “inadequate understanding of Palestinian pathology”. Accordingly, it would “not solve the problem it was intended to fix”, but, in all likelihood, will make “it substantially worse.”

Complicit with the enemy

To attribute the hostility toward Israel to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza plays directly into the hands of Israel’s detractors. Indeed, it is, in effect, to be complicit with the enemy—endorsing its mendacious and malevolent narrative.

After all, it necessarily implies that if only Israel would somehow initiate/facilitate an improvement in Gaza’s living conditions, the violence would subside. This not only reinforces the false claims that Palestinian terrorism is driven by Israeli-induced economic privation, but also that Israel bears the responsibility for such terror, which is, therefore, no more than an understandable reaction to hardship and despair, externally imposed by an alien power.

But this, as mentioned previously, is a malicious inversion of causality.

For, the penury in Gaza is not the cause of Arab enmity towards the Jewish state. Quite the opposite! It is Arab enmity towards the Jewish state that is the cause of penury in Gaza.

The current conditions in Gaza are the result of neither a lack of international humanitarian aid, nor of Israeli largesse. Gaza has enjoyed an abundance of both, only to   squander them on efforts to harm Israel by diverting massive resources to the construction of a vast military infrastructure with which to assault the Jewish state.

Indeed, for anyone with even a smidgeon of familiarity with Israeli society and its basic impulses, must know that, had there been any genuine desire for peaceful coexistence with its Jewish neighbors, Gaza would have flourished.  Israeli enterprise and expertise, which transformed Israel from a struggling agricultural-based country to a super-charged post-industrial powerhouse in a few decades, would have flooded into the enclave, providing opportunity and employment for its impoverished residents.


Gaza: “Cutting its nose to spite its face”

So, in effect, the only thing that the Gazans need to do to extricate themselves from their current predicament is…nothing! All they need to do is stop what they are doing now—attacking Israel. Indeed, the only thing that needs to happen for Gaza to thrive is for them to convincingly foreswear hostility and embrace peaceful coexistence with Israel.

But of course, that will not happen! For that is not in the nature of the Gazan populace, who overwhelmingly (70%) endorse a return to armed intifada and who prefer “armed resistance” by a factor of two to one over “nonviolent resistance” or “negotiations”.

Nothing could symbolize the Gazan’s willingness to “cut one’s nose to spite one’s face” better than the destruction of the hi-tech greenhouses left behind by the Jewish farmers in the 2005 Disengagement. Rather than operate them for their own benefit, a frenzied mob trampled them into mangled ruin the moment the IDF left the area.

It should therefore be clear that the  priorities of the Gazan people, as a collective, are not to improve their socio-economic lot, but to inflict harm on the Jewish state, whose sovereign existence they obdurately refuse to accept—except as a temporary tactic to allow them to enhance their offensive capabilities to pursue a later endeavor to destroy it.

In this equation of enmity, resolving the conflict has nothing to do with what the Jewish state does (or does not do). It has everything to do with what the Palestinian-Arabs are—and what they are not!


Greatly enhanced military capabilities

Of course, the Gazans have shown considerable initiative, innovation and ingenuity—none of which has been directed towards developing socio-economic realities in the enclave.

If one surveys the enhancement of Gaza’s military capabilities since Israel withdrew in 2005, it is impressive indeed. In fact, had such progress been envisaged before the pullout, it is doubtful whether it would have been undertaken at all!

After all, back then, the most formidable weapon the terror organizations had at their disposal was a primitive rocket with a 5 kg explosive charge and 5 km range. Today, not only do they have an arsenal of missiles with a range of 100 km (possibly more) and a warhead of 100 kg (possibly more), but in December 2016, Hamas Political Bureau Member, Fathi Hammad, proudly informed Al Aksa TV: “If you look into the missile or weapon industries of developed countries, you will find that Gaza has become the leading manufacturer of missiles among Arab countries…

To this must be added the huge investment in the maze of underground terror tunnels (the last one discovered reaching almost a kilometer into pre-1967 Israel), the development of naval forces and of drone capabilities.

Significantly, after each round of fighting, despite the heavy damage inflicted by the IDF, the Gazan-based terror groups have ypically emerged with vastly enhanced military capabilities and political standing.


Soon drones with biological/chemical payload??

They have shown that they can transform everyday children’s playthings, such as kites, into instruments of extensive destruction, and forced Israel to develop hugely expensive defenses (such as Iron-Dome interceptors) to deal will risibly cheap weapons of attack (such as mortar shells).

Indeed, it is hardly beyond the limits of plausibility that Israel might soon have to face incoming missiles with multiple warheads, which disperse just before being intercepted, greatly challenging its missile defense capabilities. Or the development of some kind of anti-aircraft capabilities that could restrict—or at least hamper—Israel’s present unlimited freedom of action over the skies of Gaza.

Or worse, will Israel have to contend with the specter of a swarm of drones, armed with biological or chemical payloads, directed at nearby Israeli communities—rendering the billion dollar anti-tunnel barrier entirely moot? For those who might dismiss this as implausible scaremongering – see here, here, and here.

Israel’s decade long policy of ceasing fire whenever the other side ceases fire has allowed Hamas, and its terror affiliates, to launch repeated rounds of aggression, determining not only when they are launched and when they end, but also largely controlling the cost incurred for such aggression –ensuring it remains within the range of the “acceptable”.

This is clearly a recipe of unending and escalating violence—and must be abandoned before it culminates in unintended, but inevitable, tragedy.

Over 180 cases of attempted murder

Earlier this week, over 180 rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israeli civilian targets in a 24 hours period.

Each one of those projectiles was intended to take the lives of innocent Israeli civilians. As such, each launch was a clear case of attempted murder—and Israel should relate to them with commensurate severity. Poor aim on the part of the would-be murderers can—and should—not be a mitigating factor. The fact that, fortunately, no Israeli lives were lost is hardly the point here. Indeed, in the case of a shell landing in a kindergarten, terrible tragedy was averted only by happenstance—and a few minutes.

Persisting with the same policy as in the past will produce precisely the same results it produced in the past: Continued attempts at mass murder!

After all, there is not a shred of evidence that the Palestinian-Arabs will morph into anything that they have not been for over a hundred years, nor that they are likely to do so within any foreseeable time horizon. Indeed, as time progresses, such an outcome seems increasingly remote.

Accordingly, any policy paradigm based on the assumption that, somehow, they can be coaxed or coerced into doing just that, is hopelessly fanciful and fraught with grave perils.

Gaza: The “simple” solution

To formulate an effective policy regarding Gaza, we need to understand the pathology of what we are attempting to address. The source of the conflict is the physical presence of a large, implacably hostile Arab population on Israel’s southern border. Simple logic therefore dictates that to remove the source of conflict, that hostile population must be removed.

Israel will not be able to indefinitely endure recurring bouts of fighting—whenever the enemy on the other side feels sufficiently bold to launch an attack or sufficiently desperate not to be able to refrain from one.

Accordingly, the solution for Gaza is not, and cannot be, its reconstruction, but its deconstruction and the generously funded humanitarian relocation and rehabilitation of the non-belligerent Gazans to third party countries, outside the “circle of violence”.

To achieve this, the IDF cannot content itself with periodic punitive sorties, followed by a limited interbellum, in which the enemy regroups, rearms and redeploys, ready for the next round. It must conquer the entire Gaza Strip, apprehend (otherwise dispose of) the current Gazan leadership, dismantle the current mechanism of governance and begin a vigorous program of incentivized emigration of the non-belligerent population.

This is the “simple” solution for Gaza—and the only durable one. Of course, to say that it is “simple” does not imply that it is “easy”. Indeed, the great difficulty it entails is rooted in its brutal simplicity of “Them or Us”.

Clearly, the fact that it is relatively easy to propose such a harsh policy prescription in the air-conditioned comfort of my study does not make it any less imperative or less inevitable.

After all, denying or delaying the inevitable does not make it any less inevitable, only more costly when it inevitably comes about.

Inane …Again! Tom Friedman on Gaza

Tom Friedman’s last piece on Gaza is a “masterful” blend of personal bile & bias, liberally laced with logical inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies and even blatant non-sequiturs

What if all two million Palestinians of Gaza marched to the Israeli border fence with an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other, saying, “Two states for two peoples: We, the Palestinian people of Gaza, want to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish people — a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed adjustments. – Thomas L. Friedman, Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature, New York Times, May 22, 2018.

…the American conduct of the peace process bears an unhappy resemblance to the custom of treating diseases by placing leeches on the body of the afflicted person: It was based on an inadequate understanding of the pathology it attempted to cure, it did not solve the problem it was intended to fix, and it sometimes made it substantially worse. – Michael Mandelbaum, The Peace Process Is an Obstacle to Peace, Commentary, April 14, 2016.


The really disconcerting thing about the New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, is that, at times, he can actually produce some sensible and insightful articles—as long as he is not writing (or more precisely, ranting) on Israel. Or Trump. Or the Palestinians. Or Barack Obama…

Sadly however, whenever he makes one of his far-too-frequent forays into any of these “touchy” topics, his journalistic output invariably degenerates into patently partisan pamphleteering.


Lip-service to “balance”

But even compared to his past inanities, his latest column, “Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature”, is a real doozy—a “masterful” blend of personal bile and bias, liberally laced with logical inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies and even blatant non-sequiturs.

Friedman begins his column feigning journalistic impartiality and paying perfunctory lip- service to “balance”, with some cursory condemnation of Hamas, acknowledging “its utter failure to produce any kind of decent life for the Palestinians there, whom Hamas has ruled since 2007”.

He accuses the Islamist terror group of “Cynici[al] and Reckless Disregard for One’s Own People in Pursuit of a Political Fantasy [capitals in original- MS] ”, and of “facilitating the tragic and wasted deaths of roughly 60 Gazans by encouraging their march, some with arms, on the Israeli border fence in pursuit of a ‘return’ to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel”.

But then, predictably, he quickly reverts back into his almost Pavlovian, Israel-bashing, Bibi-phobic mode—basically dismissing the importance of his previous censure of Hamas and shifting the onus onto…Israel: “So much for the “bad” Palestinian leadership. What’s Israel’s approach to the secular, more moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank…Answer: nothing.”


Moderate, secular Palestinian Authority??

The secular moderate Palestinian Authority!


Gee, I wonder if Friedman was referring to the same “moderate secular” Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, not too long ago, referred to the Jews as desecrating the Temple Mount with their “filthy feet”? Or who recently explained that the slaughter of millions of Jews during the Holocaust was due to their practice of usurious moneylending? Or who orchestrated a vicious campaign of incitement against the Jewish state, and praised the bloody violence in terror attacks against the Jews, proclaiming: “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”

That moderate, secular Palestinian Authority???

Friedman has of course, been long been captive to the seductive deception of two-statism. At the base of this dogma is the belief that, among the Palestinian-Arabs, there is a leader sufficiently reasonable to cut a deal acceptable to Israel and sufficiently authoritative to ensure its implementation.

Accordingly, in order to sustain their political credo, (or rather, “cult”), two-state adherents have to conjure up imaginary Palestinian-Arabs and an imaginary Palestinian-Arab society, significantly different from those that actually exist on Planet Earth.


Favoring fantasy over facts

Indeed, Friedman would do well to heed the somewhat contrite confession of yet another dogged advocate of two-statism, Aaron David Miller, formerly a senior State Department official, deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and today, vice president of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In a recorded exchange, with the suitably gloomy title, “Today’s Bleak Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace”, Miller acknowledged: “I would draw from my own experiences that when we failed in diplomacy, and particularly in the pursuit of Arab- Israeli negotiations, it was almost always because Americans – let’s forget the Israelis and the Palestinians for a moment—chose to see the world the way they wanted it to be, rather than the way it actually was.”

Significantly, this closely parallels the assessment expressed in the opening excerpt by Michael Mandelbaum, Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, that “the American conduct of the peace process …was based on an inadequate understanding of the pathology it attempted to cure.”

Indeed, Mandelbaum puts his finger precisely on what Friedman, and those of his obsessive ilk, refuse to acknowledge. Writing in the final stages of the Obama administration, Mandelbaum counsels: “The next administration should tell the truth about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: namely, that the responsibility for creating and perpetuating it rests with the Palestinian side.


Friedman: Favoring fantasy over facts

Of course, Friedman will have none of this hardnosed realism. For that, heaven forfend, would be to admit error of staggering proportions.

Accordingly, he embarks on a flight of fantasy into the realm of “what if”.

Wistfully, he asks: “What if all two million Palestinians of Gaza marched to the Israeli border fence with an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other, saying, ‘…:We, the Palestinian people of Gaza, want to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish people …’”

Well, perhaps the question Friedman should ask himself is: Why don’t they??

A truthful answer to this would be: “Because it is not in their nature!”

For, if they did, they would not be who they are! Indeed, as I have argued repeatedly in the past, the Gazans are not the hapless victims of their leadership. To the contrary, they are the very crucible in which that leadership was formed and from which it emerged.

After all, it was the general public that elected Hamas into power, over a decade ago, in an election generally considered free and fair—and with the outcome by-and-large reflecting prevailing electoral sentiment. Even today, there does not seem to be a major anti-Hamas metamorphosis in the overall attitude of the Gazan public.


Scant regret over Hamas?

Quite the opposite.

According to the findings of a very recent poll, conducted just as the unrest on the Gaza border began to flare up, by the leading Palestinian polling institute (in conjunction with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung), in a presidential election, a Hamas candidate would trounce Fatah’s incumbent Mahmoud Abbas by almost 2 to 1. Even in legislative elections, it seems that Hamas would hold its own against the rival Fatah faction.

Underscoring just how detached Friedman’s prescription is from reality is another finding in the poll: Almost 70% of Gazans support a return to an armed intifada. Moreover, Gazans chose “Armed Resistance” by about 2 to 1 over “Negotiations” and “Popular Non-Violent Resistance” as the preferred course of action against Israel.

Indeed, Friedman’s idea of Palestinian-Arabs, extending an olive branch with one hand, and placards proclaiming peaceful intent with the other, is not entirely new. He proposed the identical formula back in a 2011 anti-Bibi screed shortly after the fall of Mubarak in Egypt and in which virtually all his analyses/prognoses proved to be embarrassingly mistaken.

Yet, unchastened by his massive misreading of Mid-East realities back then, Friedman sallies forth yet again with his implausible proposal—now, if anything, even more implausible than before.


Banking on amnesia or ignorance?

Friedman empathizes (at least partially) with the Gazans’ rage: “I appreciate the Gazans’ sense of injustice. Why should they pay with their ancestral homes for Jewish refugees who lost theirs in Germany or Iraq?

Of course, unless Friedman is woefully misinformed, he is wildly—perhaps even willfully—misleading!

For the Arab residents of Israel did not lose their homes during the 1948 War of Independence to accommodate Jewish refugees, fleeing persecution in Europe and the Arab countries.

They lost them because of the failure of their Arab patrons’ aggressive initiative to annihilate any vestige of Jewish political independence. Accordingly, the 1948 displacement of Arabs was a result of categorical Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state and of the resultant Arab defeat in the Arab attempt to destroy it.

Friedman goes on to speculate on how better things might have been “if only” the hopelessly improbable had transpired. He laments: “If Hamas had chosen to recognize Israel and build a Palestinian state in Gaza modeled on Singapore, the world would have showered it with aid and it would have served as a positive test case for the West Bank. Hamas chose otherwise.”

On reading this, one can only shake one’s head in puzzlement and wonder whether Friedman is banking on the ignorance or the amnesia of his readers.

After all, the international community has showered aid on Gaza, only to have most of it diverted into construction of military infrastructure to be used against Israel, or into the personal bank accounts of the corrupt cliques who rule the enclave, and their complicit cronies.

Surely Friedman must know that Gaza has not degenerated into the current cesspool that it is because of any lack of international funding or of Israeli largesse. It has done so despite an abundance of both!


Infuriating and disingenuous
Friedman “graciously” acknowledges that “Israel has no choice but to defend its border with Gaza with brute force.”

But then, nimbly sidestepping the morass in Gaza, he goes on to berate Israel anyway, regarding Judea-Samaria: “… I find it a travesty that a country with so much imagination in computing, medicine and agriculture shows so little imagination in searching for secure ways to separate from the Palestinians in the West Bank…”

Of course to accuse Israel of showing insufficient endeavor in searching for ways to “separate” from the Palestinians is both infuriating, and disingenuous. Indeed, Israel has gone to incredible—even recklessly irresponsible —lengths to try and foist self-governance on the Palestinians—whether in terms of negotiated sovereignty under the 1993-5 “imaginative” Oslo Agreements or in terms of the unimaginably asinine unilateral abandonment of Gaza in the 2005 Disengagement, where even Jewish graves were unearthed to accommodate “separation”.

As it turns out, the real problem is not achieving “separation”—as the Gaza episode clearly shows. The real problem is to ensure that the post-separation realities will not be those that arose following the separation in Gaza—i.e. that Israel will not face a hostile mega-Gaza on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv, overlooking Ben Gurion Airport and abutting the trans-Israel highway.


Blatant Bibi-phobic bile

But oblivious to all this—to past precedents, present realities and future probabilities— for Friedman, the real culprits are easily identifiable: Netanyahu and Trump!

Clearly willing to stand up for his so called “liberal” principles down to the last Israeli, Friedman pontificates: Israel has never been stronger than it is today. Hamas has never been weaker. If there were ever a time for Israel to take a few calculated risks to try to nurture a different pathway with Palestinians in the West Bank, it’s now”.

Leaving the reader to puzzle over what on earth a weak Hamas in Gaza has to do with taking huge risks in Judea-Samaria, Friedman rails on with puerile pique: “Unfortunately, its [Israel’s] prime minister is too cowardly, and America is too slavishly supportive, for that to happen”.

While I have many criticisms of Netanyahu, it is patently absurd to accuse him of being cowardly, unless Friedman is suggesting that to be “courageous” Netanyahu must bow to enemy demands; unless to be “courageous” is to concede to pressures to expose Israeli citizens to unacceptable risks…

And as for the overly “slavish support” of America, Friedman seems to have forgotten that for eight years, the White House was occupied by a president who was anything but “slavishly supportive” of Israel—and yet nary a sign of separation appeared on the horizon… I wonder why!

Clearly then, drivel is drivel, even when it appears in the purported paper of record—leaving one to wonder how this stuff gets published!

Swastikas over Gaza!

Nothing could expose the true intent of the Judeocidal riots on Gaza border more than the Nazi-style swastikas on incendiary kites flown into Israel to set Jewish property (& if possible, Jewish people) ablaze.

Hamas supporters in Gaza held the world’s first peaceful protest with hand grenades, pipe bombs, cleavers and guns. Ten explosive devices were peacefully detonated. There were outbursts of peaceful gunfire and over a dozen kites carrying firebombs were sent into Israel where they started 23 peaceful fires. And Israeli soldiers peacefully defended their country leaving multiple Hamas attackers at peace – Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage Mag, May 15, 2018.

“We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.” Yahya Sinwar, Head of Hamas, clarifying the peaceful intent of the rioters on the Gaza border, April 6, 2018.

Nothing could expose the true intent of the Judeocidal riots on the border with Gaza more than the Nazi-style swastikas, brazenly emblazoned on many of the dozens of incendiary kites flown into Israel with the purposeful intent of setting Jewish property—and if possible, Jewish people—ablaze.

Yet, despite the blatantly violent nature of the mob activity on, and around, the border, and the bloodcurdling exhortations of the Gazan leadership to butcher Jews, Israel is being excoriated in international forums for allegedly using uncalled for lethal force to prevent its borders being breached by a manifestly homicidal horde.

Crucible, not victim

Indeed, one needs little imagination to envision the gory consequences, if only a few score of frenzied fanatics—perversely dubbed “protesters”—were to breach the fence and break into a nearby Jewish community. There is little doubt that they would butcher the residents, ravage the women and raze the properties. After all, this is precisely what their leaders urged them to do.

Thus, a week before the head of Hamas had urged the Gazans “to tear out their [the Jews’] hearts from their bodies”, he shifted his anatomical focus somewhat, and called on them to “eat the livers” of Jews across the border.

One can only image the outcry had any Israeli leader used such gruesome rhetoric vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Arabs. But when used by the Arabs against the Jews—nary a muted squeal of protest! Is it just me or is that a blatant display of the soft bigotry of low expectations?

Two flimsy excuses are being bandied about in the mainstream media for the ongoing displays of hostility at the Gaza border.

Both portray the inhabitants of Gaza as victims – either (a) as victims of their leadership and/or (b) as victims of Israel’s repressive blockade of the hapless enclave.

With regard to the former, the Gazans are not the blameless victims of their leadership.

Quite the opposite!

They are the very crucible in which that leadership was formed, and from which it emerged.

To underscore this, a poll, conducted less than a year ago by a leading Palestinian survey institute, found that 85% of Gazans supported maintaining payments to “security prisoners” (read “jailed terrorists”), who have murdered countless Israelis in cold blood.

Israeli sympathies for the Gazans should, therefore, be tailored to these sentiments.

Confounding cause with consequence

Indeed, an up-to-date poll, conducted this month by the same Palestinian institute, showed that the Gazans display little remorse for their election of Hamas. Thus, according to its findings, in a future presidential election, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would trounce incumbent Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah by almost two-to-one!

These revealed preferences of the Gazan public bring us to the other purported “victimhood” claim regarding Israel’s security quarantine.

The refrain currently being aired is that the violence manifested at the border is the result of pent up frustration of the public over the dire socio-economic conditions that prevail in the Gaza Strip: Largely undrinkable water, perennial power outages, raw sewage overflows and polluted beaches. The blame for this dismal condition is being laid at Israel’s doorstep for the alleged restrictions it imposes on the Gazan economy. Thus, according to this so-called “reasoning”, the only solution is the lifting, or at least the loosening, of the quarantine to alleviate the despair and desperation of the impoverished and suffering populace.

However, it is demonstrably and indisputably clear that the imposition of the quarantine on Gaza is the consequence—not the cause—of Arab enmity towards Israel.

It is the result of, not the reason for, the Judeophobic incitement and the Judeocidal aggression that have become the hallmark of Gaza ever since Israel unilaterally evacuated the enclave, well over a decade ago—and recently so irrefutably illustrated by the swastikas flying over the enflamed mob, chanting slogans calling for the slaughter of the Jews and destruction of their state.

Incipient anti-Semitism: Expecting Jews to die meekly

Accordingly, since the security quarantine was instituted to protect Jews from Arabs who sought to kill them, the demands to have it removed, or made less thorough in discharging that function, are inherently anti-Semitic. For the unavoidable significance of these demands is to undermine the ability of the Jews to defend themselves against those who would eagerly slaughter them—and as such, are in effect, a call for Jews to die meekly, or, at least, not to overly inconvenience their would-be murderers.

Moreover, the calls for increased humanitarian aid are a deceptive “red herring”—either maliciously misleading or naively misguided.

Indeed, for years, Gaza has been the recipient of massive humanitarian aid—reportedly among the highest per capita on the planet—both from international sources and Israel. Israel routinely—some might say, perversely—allows in thousands of trucks weekly, laden with merchandize to improve the welfare of a population, which if it could, would tear its citizens limb from limb—“rip out their hearts” and “eat their livers”, to reiterate the exhortations of their leadership.

However, regrettably and routinely, the bulk of humanitarian aid is promptly expropriated by Hamas for its own nefarious purposes and for lining its own nest—and those of complicit cronies.

Thus almost inevitably, any easing of current security restrictions would be exploited by terror organizations—as has been the case in the past—to perpetrate further assaults on Israelis.

Current humanitarian aid perpetuates the conflict

The socio-economic plight is neither the result of scarcity of cash nor of any lack of largesse on the part of Israel. To the contrary, the Gazans have enjoyed a plethora of both. Both have been purposely misused.

Indeed, it would take an exceptionally contorted mind to believe that Israel was investing huge effort and treasure in constructing a multi-billion shekel barrier—over 20 foot high above ground and 130 foot deep below ground—described by IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot as the “largest project” ever carried out in Israel’s military history, merely to make Gazans more miserable rather than to make Israelis more secure.

After all, the dominant (albeit, mistaken) view in Israel’s political and military Establishment is that a prosperous Gaza, which, it is presumed, will also be peaceful, is an Israeli interest. Accordingly, Israel should endeavor to prevent economic meltdown in the Strip.

This is a grave error.

Gaza has descended to its current depths not because of a dearth of dollars, or a deficit of Israeli good-will—but because of the brutal and dysfunctional nature of its society. Greater funding and more Israeli leniency will not remedy that malaise. To the contrary, they will only exacerbate it.

Worse—it will only prolong the conflict, increase the toll of casualties, allow the enemy to enhance its capabilities and extend the suffering it was designed to end.

“…a traumatic scar on collective Arab memory…”

In October 2000, close on two decades ago, just after the outbreak of what has become known as the “Second Intifada”,  I wrote a (Hebrew) opinion column, in which I warned: “the current outbreak of violence will not end without the use of massive military might that will leave a traumatic scar on the collective national memory of the Arabs”.

Today, almost two decades later, Israel is suffering the result of its unexplained—and seemingly inexplicable—reticence to use its overwhelming military dominance to achieve strategic victory over its far weaker adversaries—and lasting security for its own population.

Thus, in the North, it has allowed Hezbollah to exploit periods of calm to develop from a small guerilla group of mainly nuisance value, into a significant strategic threat, with well over 100,000 missiles, many of them precision guided, capable of hitting virtually any target—military or civilian—in the country.

Similarly, when Israel pulled out unilaterally from Gaza, the most formidable weapon Hamas had was a primitive rocket with a 5 kg explosive charge and a range of 5 km. Today, it has enhanced its capabilities beyond anything imaginable then—with not only missiles having ranges up to 100 km and warheads of 100kg, but a maze of underground attack tunnels, naval forces, and is developing its expertise in drones.

Thus, although the Gazans have failed miserably in developing the socio-economic foundations of their society, they have shown considerable initiative and creativity in developing means and methods of terror. Accordingly, it would be a grave error to underestimate the current threat of mass breaches of the border by murderous mobs. Indeed, the longer the attempts persist, the more likely they are to develop new tactics and the means to challenge IDF counter measures.

Decades of dereliction of diplomatic duty

But beyond the gravely detrimental operational implications involved in letting the violence at fence drag on, the implications in the diplomatic field are even more disturbing.

For as we have seen in the past, even if Israel does enjoy sympathy at the start of some violent encounter (like the 2006 offensive against Hezbollah), this is quickly eroded away as time draws on. Indeed, prolonged clashes allow Israel’s detractors to mobilize, concoct anti-Israel fabrications, garner support for fallacious accusations of “disproportionate” use of force and portray its adversaries as the blameless victims of the “Zionist ogre”.

But to give the IDF the freedom of action it requires to terminate the current threat permanently—or at least, for any foreseeable future—it needs diplomatic cover.

It is here that Israel has been derelict for decades in discharging its diplomatic duty—both quantitatively (in terms of resources allocated) and qualitatively (in terms of the objectives defined).

With regard to the former, Israel has been appalling miserly in the resources it has allotted to strategic diplomacy—if that concept was at all relevant in the country’s strategic planning. It has allocated literally miniscule sums to advance its case on the international stage and to undermine that of its detractors/adversaries.

As I have pointed out repeatedly, if Israel would apportion a mere 1% of state budget for a strategic public diplomacy offensive, this would make well over a billion dollars available for this purpose.

Indeed, unless one is convinced that deceit and deception are preordained to prevail over truth and justice, I am sure, even the skeptical would concede that with over a billion dollars, Israel could change a lot of minds and win a lot of hearts.

This then, is the first step in quelling the violence in Gaza.

General context, not eventspecific endeavor

With regards to the latter (qualitative) aspect, the principal focus of Israel’s diplomatic effort must not be on trying to explain/justify ex-post specific events—after they have taken place. Rather it must endeavor to redefine, ex-ante, the general context in which those specific events are perceived and interpreted.

This distinction is crucial—for the same event can be interpreted in very different ways depending on the context in which they are seen. After all, if Israel is persuasively portrayed as a lone democracy, valiantly striving to maintain western values in a surrounding sea of tyranny and theocracy, its actions are far more likely to win approval than if it allows itself to be presented as a cruel and avaricious behemoth, trampling the rights of the deprived indigenous natives. Likewise, the Palestinians are far less likely to receive international sympathy if they are—accurately—depicted, not as the victims of some brutal colonial interloper, but as comprising a cruel backward society, bent on nothing less than the extermination—or at least the subjugation—of the “Other”.

It is difficult to overstate the practical importance of this. For unless Israel can transform the context in which events—such as dealing with the homicidal thugs on the Mavi Marmara, or the murderous mobs massing on its borders—are perceived, it will never be able to provide its military the chance to achieve any lasting strategic solution to the threats the nation faces.

This is a topic to be elaborated on in future columns. Until then, it would be just as well to keep in mind the theme Netanyahu articulated several times this week: Policy should be based on truth.