The Enemy – What the “Right” seems unable to grasp

The time has come for the “Right” to “bite the bullet” & give up trying to advance convoluted political prescriptions in lieu of the two-state formula. It is time to identify the Palestinian-Arabs as the enemy

The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises…the goal of this violence is the elimination of Zionism from Palestine in all its political, economic and military aspects…We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else Yasser Arafat – 1970, 23 years before the signing of the Oslo Accords

The PLO will now concentrate on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps…We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. Jews will not want to live among Arabs. I have no use for Jews. They are and remain Jews –Yasser Arafat – 1996, 3 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords

The Arabs are [the same]Arabs … the sea is the same sea, and the aim is the same aim: extermination of the State of Israel – even if you call it ‘self-determination.’– Yitzhak Shamir, 1989

In my column last week, I made the case for Israel to identify the Palestinian-Arab collective for what it openly admits itself to be—an implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner—and urged that it to formulate policy commensurate with this diagnosis.

Hardly a hapless victim

In this regard, I underscored that it is imperative to keep in mind that, while there are certainly many Palestinian-Arabs with fine personal qualities, the Palestinian-Arab collective is not the hapless victim of radical terror groups.

Quite the opposite.

It is, in fact, the societal crucible in which they were forged, and from which they emerged. Its leadership is a reflection of, not an imposition on, Palestinian-Arab society.

Corroboration for this dour appraisal is provided (probably unintentionally) by the European Council for Foreign Relations’ Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney, hardly an avid pro-Israel hardliner, who aptly describes the affinity that the general Palestinian-Arab population has for Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization: Hamas…can claim more popular legitimacy than the IRA ever could. It was, after all, chosen by the people of Gaza to govern them the last time they were able to express their views through the ballot box, in 2006 – an election which, indeed, delivered a plurality of votes for Hamas across the occupied territories.”

Regrettably, this is a reality that many seem reluctant to acknowledge—even otherwise astute scholars, who appear acutely aware of the deeply flawed nature of the current Palestinian leadership—and even more of the grave defects of the Oslowian peace process that brought them to power.

Reluctance to recognize reality

This reluctance  to recognize that innate hostility towards the Jewish state is a societal characteristic of the Palestinian-Arab public (which engenders its Judeophobic leadership), expresses itself in two broad categories of policy proposals ,

The first of these categories  involves waiting for some alternative, more amenable leadership to emerge—by means of some unspecified chain of events—that will have both the requisite pliancy and authority to conclude a lasting accord with Israel—the pliancy to accept Israeli conditions, and the authority to induce the Palestinian-Arab public to accept them.

The second category involves prescriptions for dissolving the current leadership, dismantling the mechanisms of its administration and incorporating the Palestinian-Arab residents into the permanent population of Israel under Israeli governance, typically invoking some—usually unspecified—process towards their eventual full or partial enfranchisement as citizens of the country.

Neither of these two alternative proposals have any real empirical evidence to support their feasibility or theoretical reasoning to underpin their plausibility.

To the contrary, most of the available data and reasoned conjecture would seem to negate any merit in such formulae.

“Palestinians cursed with incompetent, corrupt leaders…”

Two recently published articles illustrate the logical flaws in proposals of the first category.

One was a piece that appeared in “The Forward”, “How Aid To Palestinians Hurts — Not Helps — The Peace Process”, authored by Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Alex Joffe of the Middle East Forum. (Clearly, neither of the organizations with which the authors are associated endorses anything approaching the kind of extreme concessionary dogma promoted by radical left-leaning groups such as J-Street.)

The other was a piece posted by political analyst, Daniel Krygier , entitled Time to demand the Palestinian Authority’s unconditional surrender, which in itself tends to reveal the author’s hawkish predilections.

In their article, Romirowsky and Joffe cogently call for cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that perpetuates the deceptive and detrimental fiction of Palestinian refugees and convincingly explains why continuing such funding is likely to sustain—rather than curtail—the conflict. (I have advocated much the same for over a decade.)

Accordingly, I found myself agreeing with virtually everything they wrote—until the last paragraph.

In it, they assert:Palestinians are cursed with incompetent and corrupt leaders whose fantasies, violence and rejectionism have been a disaster since the 1920s Replacing their leaders is a vital next step to reforming the Palestinian Authority and making real progress toward creating a state that treats Palestinians with decency, not as refugees but as citizens, and one that is capable of living in peace alongside Israel.”

Leadership a reflection of, not an imposition on, Palestinian society

In his article, Daniel Krygier takes a similar line.

After vividly cataloging the years of nefarious malfeasance of the Palestinian leadership, in his concluding paragraph, he writes: “The time has come for Israel and America to demand an unconditional surrender of the PA and replace it with a new Arab leadership committed to genuine peace and progress.”

This of course immediately raises a number of trenchant questions.

Firstly, if the Palestinian-Arabs have been saddled with “incompetent and corrupt leaders” for almost a century, why have they not cast them off and replaced them with leaders less incompetent and corrupt? After all, history is replete with examples in which people threw off the rule of regimes far more onerous and entrenched than that with which the Palestinian-Arabs are purportedly burdened. So why have the Palestinian-Arabs not even made a feeble attempt in this regard? Indeed, when they were given the chance to determine their leadership they elected…Hamas.

So could it be that, as I argued last week, the kind of leadership the Palestinian-Arabs have had over the past decades is not an unwanted imposition on them, but merely a reflection of their society, of their societal choices and their societal values.

Delusion that two-statism can be fixed

Moreover, when Romirowsky, Joffe and Krygier called for reforming and replacing the Palestinian leadership, who is supposed to do the reforming and the replacing? And how is this to be done? If it is the Palestinian-Arabs themselves who are supposed to do it, what reason to believe that they will do now what they have not done “since the 1920s”?

If the intention is that others do the reforming and replacing, how are these reformers/replacers to be selected? And how are their actions/decisions to be legitimized by the Palestinian public—never mind accepted by any surviving replaced leader?

At the root of this flawed thinking is the belief –even by those who excoriate the Palestinians—that the two-state paradigm can still be fixed- and need not be nixed.

This is a dangerous delusion. For, although it is perhaps conceivable that in the next hundred years, the Palestinian- Arabs could morph into something they have not been for the last hundred years, there is very little—empirically or theoretically—to support such forlorn hope. Moreover, even if this unlikely metamorphosis does materialize, it is likely to take many years, even decades, to come about.

Accordingly, it would appear wildly irresponsible to adopt, as the basis for the current formulation of long-term national strategy, a scenario that is both highly improbable, and is only likely to occur, if at all, in the distant future.

In the meantime, prevailing problems must be addressed and far more plausible possibilities dealt with —like how to contend with a Palestinian leadership that remains un-replaced and unreformed –and just as inimical as it is today.

Lebanonizing Israel

This brings us to the second category of policy prescriptions.

These do not focus on any future reformation/replacement of Palestinian leadership, but on dissolving the current leadership, dismantling the mechanisms of its administration and incorporating the Palestinian-Arab residents into the permanent population of Israel, under Israeli governance.

This is an approach founded on the wildly optimistic (the less charitable might say irresponsible) belief that Israel could forge a coherent and cohesive society with two roughly equal, disparate and largely rivalrous ethnic groups with irreconcilable mutually exclusive defining narratives. Proponents of this view base their credo on demographic assessments that if Israel were to annex the territories of Judea-Samaria, it would still retain a 60-65% Jewish majority –which clearly means an initial 35-40% Muslim minority.

Relying on this assessment (which, generally, I do not dispute), “Right-wing” one-staters typically suggest that some kind of process of enfranchisement would be instituted over time to allow the annexed Palestinian-Arabs full or partial political rights. One of the first, and arguably the most prominent, proponents of this idea from the ranks of the “Right”, was Caroline Glick in her “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East”.

However, this would, in effect,  comprise an almost certain recipe for the Lebanonization of Israeli society. Indeed, I have warned repeatedly how devastating this would be for Israel in terms of the socio-cultural and economic fabric of the country—despite the initial electoral arithmetic—pointing out how/why a process of demographic dynamics could kick in to erode any Jewish majority —see for example here; here; here; here; and here .

Lebanonizing (cont.)

Last week a new article appeared advancing this notion , by Michael Wise, a veteran “Right-wing proponent of “one-statism”.

Entitled One Jewish Democratic State, it proposes that when“… Israel declares sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, it should grant immediate universal citizenship to the Arab residents of the West Bank — but only when regional peace breaks out. Jihad and suicide bombings must end, and Muslim leaders and groups must stop lauding violence. And Arab leaders, in both Israel and the region, must recognize Israel as a Jewish state”.

Wise continues,  suggesting  the restoration of the old and discredited idea of “autonomy”: “In the interim, Arab residents of the West Bank will have full civil and religious rights. They will autonomously manage their municipal affairs, and democratically elect their local leadership — but should not participate in national elections. Clearly, as long as Hamas and Fatah seek Israel’s destruction — and as long as global Islamic violence continues — one cannot expect that Israel would be suicidal and risk giving national voting rights to a population that wants to undermine its very existence.”

This is a blatant prescription for an “apartheid state”, in which large segments of the permanent population are denied political rights on the basis of ethnicity. It raises a myriad of thorny questions.

Here are a just few:

Is Wise seriously suggesting that Israel condition the political rights of members of its permanent population on the behavior of outside governments and organizations, over which they have no control? Would continuing violence against Israel, instigated by foreign countries, be grounds for precluding the political rights of Arab residents—or stripping them of such rights, should violence flare after they were granted?

And if it would be suicidal for Israel to “giv[e] national voting rights to a population that wants to undermine its very existence”, how much less “suicidal” would it be to sustain that population by providing it with water, electricity, fuel, education, and unrestricted freedom of movement throughout the country—shopping malls, beaches and all?

Time for the “Right” to the bite the bullet

The time has come for the “Right” to “bite the bullet” and give up trying to produce all sorts of convoluted political prescriptions in lieu of the two-state formulathat propose replacing Palestinian leaders, reforming Palestinian  governance or co-opting Palestinian residents. It is time to identify the Palestinians for what they are and for what they claim to be–not prospective peace partners but implacable enemies–and to formulate policy prescriptions that treat them accordingly.

Identifying the enemy as…the enemy

The entire issue of “Palestinian national identity” is a giant hoax, intended to be no more than a temporary ruse, until the Jewish hold on sovereignty in the Holy Land—any part of the Holy Land—is prised loose.

We do not have a “dispute,” but a war—and confronting us is an enemy – Elyakim Haetzni, Arutz 7, January 23, 2018.

Enemy: [a person or group] that is antagonistic to another; especially: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponentMerriam-Webster Dictionary.

D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberationThis is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave. We will facilitate their departure to their former homes. Any of the old Palestine Jewish population who survive may stay, but it is my impression that none of them will survive…. We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport themAhmed Shukeiry, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor, in a premature flush of triumph, just days prior to the Arabs’ crushing defeat in June 1967, before Israel held a square inch of “occupied territory”.

The war between Arab and Jew for control over the Holy Land has dragged on for well over 100 years. For the last seven decades, the Arab effort has focused on an attempt to first thwart the establishment of a sovereign Jewish-nation state, and then, when that failed, to destroy it.

“…we shall enter Palestine with its soil saturated in blood”

Up until the early 1970s, the Arab war effort principally comprised an endeavor to obliterate the Jewish presence by means of conventional military might, involving frontal assault and invasion by regular armies of sovereign state-actors.

Indeed, this brutal credo is perhaps best illustrated by the late Gamal Abdel Nasser’s pre-war bravado, when he threatened the gory obliteration of Israel—within its 1948 frontiers: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood” (March 8, 1965). 

With their Judeocidal efforts repeatedly frustrated and after the failure of the coordinated surprise attack against the Jewish state in October 1973, it seems that the Arabs began to despair of this unvarnished and unabashed use of conventional martial force.

Gradually, a more multi-faceted strategy of aggression emerged, which no longer portrayed Israel as easy prey to be crushed by overwhelming Arab might. This time, the major emphasis was on the role of non-state actors (i.e. terror organizations) and offensive diplomacy, designed to isolate Israel in the international arena and portray her as an ogre-like oppressor, whose every action of self-defense to protect its civilian population is excoriated as an unjustified and disproportionate use of force.

Attrition not invasion
Thus, although the overriding objective remained the same, i.e. the eradication of the Jewish state, the method by which this was to be achieved shifted from cataclysmic destruction by Arab armies to a process of ongoing attrition by means of political, diplomatic and economic beleaguerment; and asymmetrical warfare launched by non-state-actors.

The former was aimed at discrediting and delegitimizing Israel internationally so as to curtail, even cripple, its ability to effectively employ it military prowess to confront the latter, which was aimed at weakening national resolve and undermining national morale.

The clear goal of this was to erode Israel’s national resolve and coerce her into accepting perilous concessions that would make her eventual demise easier to achieve in the future.

(For anyone tempted to believe that the Sunni Arabs have been significantly swayed from this long-term objective because of their fear of ascendant Shia power, I would suggest the astute analysis by the prominent scholar of Islam, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, who cautions against falling prey to this seductive illusion.)

In this ongoing endeavor of attrition, and in which Keidar warns that “For both religious and nationalist reasons, the Arabs…are incapable of accepting Israel as the Jewish State that it is”, a leading role has been assigned to the Palestinian-Arabs.

“Palestinian identity” as a temporary ruse

The notion of a distinct collective identity for the Arabs, whose origins trace (or allegedly trace) to mandatory Palestine (herein under “Palestinian-Arabs”) began to emerge in the mid-1960s. This, according to some senior East European intelligence sources, was the brain child of the now defunct Soviet spy agency, the KGB, with the express purpose of damaging US and Israeli interests. (For some reports on collaboration between the KGB and the PLO—Palestinian Liberation Organization—in Judeocidal terror operations, including the involvement of the previous and present PLO heads, Arafat and Abbas—see for example here, here, and here.)

But, of course, one does not necessarily have to lend credence to allegations of the KGB generated origins of the PLO to grasp that the whole issue of “Palestinian national identity” is a giant hoax, intended to be no more than a temporary ruse, until the Jewish hold on sovereignty in the Holy Land—any part of the Holy Land—is prised loose.

For that, all one needs to do is to examine the deeds, declarations and documents of the Palestinian-Arabs themselves.  

Perhaps the most explicit – but certainly by no means, the only – articulation of Arab design was that of the oft-quoted, but ne’er-repudiated, Zuheir Muhsein, former head of the PLO’s Military Department and a member of its Executive Council.

Spearhead against Jewish sovereignty

Muhsein underscores, quite unequivocally and unabashedly, that the contrived collective identity of the Palestinian-Arabs as a “national entity” is little more than a flimsy and openly admitted pretext to advance the wider Arab cause of eradicating the “Zionist entity”. He openly confesses: “The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel…. It is only for political and tactical reasons that we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”

He then starkly elucidated the rationale for a staged Arab strategy, and the crucial role the fictitious construct of a “Palestinian identity” had to play in implementing it: “For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

It is thus clear, that as a collective, the Palestinian-Arabs comprise the spearhead in the Arab struggle against Jewish sovereignty.

It would be a grave error to dismiss this as merely the opinion of a single, long-forgotten Palestinian leader. Indeed, it is a view that, over the years, has been expressed by many Arabs, Palestinian or otherwise, from  Farouk Kaddoumi to King Hussein.
More recently, it was baldly and brazenly articulated by Mahmoud Abbas himself, in his January 14 tirade before the PLO’s Central Council, where he spewed: “Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews”.

Palestinian identity as a temporary anti-Israel ruse
But more important, it is a sentiment that permeates the entire Palestinian National Charter. For example, in Article 22, we read: “Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods.” And of course: “Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement”.

Moreover, this primal enmity is immutable and immune to the passage of time and predates the 1967 “occupation”. Thus, in Article 19 we read: “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time…”

But no less significant—and revealing—is the proviso, expressed in Article 12, regarding the transient nature of Palestinian-Arab collective identity: “The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity...”

What could be more revealing than that?

After all, what other nation declares that its national identity is merely a temporary ploy to be “safeguarded” and “developed” for the “present stage” alone? Does any other nation view their national identity as so ephemeral and instrumental? The Italians? The Brazilians? The Turks? The Greeks? The Japanese? Of course, none of them do.


Correctly conceptualizing the conflict

It was eminent social psychologist, Kurt Leven, who wisely observed that: There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” After all, action without comprehension is a little like swinging a hammer without knowing where the nails are—and just as hazardous and harmful. In this regard, good theory creates understanding of cause and effect and hence facilitates effective policy.

Accordingly, to devise effective policy to contend with abiding Arab enmity, Israel must correctly conceptualize the conflict over the issue Jewish sovereignty in Holy Land.

In this regard, it should painfully clear that the conflict is one between two irreconcilable collectives: A Jewish collective and an Arab collective—for which, today, the Palestinian-Arab collective is its operational spearhead.

They are irreconcilable because the raison d’etre of the one is the preservation of Jewish political sovereignty in the Holy Land, while the raison d’etre of the other is to annul Jewish political sovereignty in the Holy Land. Therefore, for one to prevail, the other must be prevailed upon. With antithetical and mutually exclusive core objectives, only one can emerge victorious, with the other vanquished.

As a clash of collectives, whose outcome will be determined by collective victory or defeat, it cannot be personalized. The fate of individual members of one collective cannot be a deciding determinant of the policy of the rival collective—and certainly not a consideration that impacts the probability of collective victory or defeat.

An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner
To underscore the crucial importance of this seemingly harsh assessment, I would invite any Israeli to consider the consequences of Jewish defeat and Arab victory. A cursory survey of the gory regional realities should suffice to drive home the significance of what would accompany such an outcome. Accordingly, only once a decisive Jewish collective victory has been achieved, can the issue of individual injustice and suffering in the Arab collective be addressed as a policy consideration.

Indeed, had the imperative of collective victory not been the overriding factor of the Allies’ strategy in WWII, despite horrendous civilian causalities that it inflicted on the opposing collective, the world might well have be living in slavery today.

In weighing the question of the fate of individual members of the opposing collective, it is imperative to keep in mind that, while there are doubtless many Palestinian-Arabs with fine personal qualities and who wish no-one any harm, the Palestinian-Arab collective is not the hapless victim of radical terror groups. Quite the opposite. It is, in fact, the societal crucible in which they were forged, and from which they emerged. Its leadership is a reflection of, not an imposition on, Palestinian-Arab society.

The conclusion is thus unavoidable: The Palestinian-Arab collective must be considered an implacable enemy—not a prospective peace partner…and it must treated as such.

Accordingly, the provision of all goods and services that sustain it must be phased out over a clearly defined period of time. After all, what is the morality of sustaining your enemy if that only sustains its ability to wage war against you—prolonging the suffering on both sides!

Recognizing enmity is realism, not racism

These are, of course, harsh policy prescriptions, but at the end of the day, they will be unavoidable. Elsewhere, I have set out the principles for extricating the non-belligerent Palestinian-Arabs from the severe humanitarian predicament they are likely to precipitate—chiefly by means of generous grants for relocation/rehabilitation in third party countries, out of the “circle of violence”.

Of course, the crucial point to realize here is that even the most moral and democratic societies can have enemies.

Recognizing such enmity—and the policies required to repel it—is not racism. It is merely realism.

The anti-BDS effort – Targeting the symptoms, not the sickness

BDS is not an attempt to delegitimize Israel, but rather a product of Israel’s delegitimization; it is thus a consequence, rather than a cause, of that delegitimization

The Palestinian narrative claims that the Jews of Israel are colonialist interlopers who stole the land from the Palestinians, its rightful owners. The narrative makes no distinction between Tel Aviv and Hebron. All of Israel is a crime against the Arab world. All of Israel is illegitimate. Caroline Glick, June 1, 2017.

I recently participated in a rather animated televised debate on the new English language channel, ILTV, dealing with the BDS campaign against Israel.

Given the objective time constraints of such a program, it is inevitable that one cannot fully elaborate on all the points raised in it, or adequately articulate arguments to underpin the positions taken on it. Accordingly, I should like to devote this week’s column to a more detailed, orderly and comprehensive presentation of the issues I broached in that debate.

Sign of a welcome change of attitude?

Late last month, it was announced that the Israeli government had approved a plan to set up a fund of $72 million to counter the ongoing international BDS campaign against Israel. According to this plan, the funds will be allocated to a yet-to-be-established not-for-profit organization whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, and which will oversee what is reportedly to be the first major “civil-society infrastructure servicing the State of Israel and the pro-Israel community in the fight against the de-legitimization of Israel.”

The planned initiative appears to signal a welcome—and long overdue—change in the hitherto dismissive attitude of Israeli officialdom towards public diplomacy and towards the pernicious effects such disregard was having not only on Israel’s international standing, but also on the predicament it created for pro-Israeli advocates abroad.

This detrimental insensitivity was starkly displayed by none other than the person who ought to have been most alive to it – Israel’s then-incumbent Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, a few years ago, in a regrettable exchange with a young pro-Israeli activist at an international conference in New York.

During question time from the audience, Liberman was asked by a young pro-Israel undergraduate activist (Justin Hayet of Binghamton University): “What is the Foreign Ministry doing to stand with college students, like myself, to fight BDS on campus?

A small step in the right direction

Dispensing with any semblance of civility, and any expression of encouragement for the voluntary efforts of young pro-Zionist activists in defense of Israel on hostile campuses, Liberman brusquely conveyed to him that endeavors like his were essentially unnecessary, and largely a waste of time—since, according to the then-Foreign Minister, BDS should not be a great source of concern for Israel. (For Hayet’s impassioned and dismayed response – see here)

Liberman’s response was, of course, disturbing and, as I wrote back then: “it encapsulated all the misperceptions, and mismanagement that have characterized Israel’s diplomatic strategy. In particular, it spotlighted the incomprehension and incompetence Israeli officialdom has displayed in the conduct of our public diplomacy, going a long way to explain Israel’s growing international beleaguerment.”

Accordingly, the newly announced initiative appears, overall, to be a step in the right direction, and seemingly heralds a refreshing, new awareness of the vital importance of public diplomacy in the nation’s strategic arsenal.

Indeed, in some aspects it resembles—albeit on a far smaller scale—measures I have long advocated.

Almost half a decade ago, I called for setting up an extra-ministerial “national authority for the conduct of strategic diplomacy” which would “interface with Zionist NGOs and help finance their pro-Israel activities, enhance their impact and expand their reach – as a counterweight to the massive funding that post- and anti-Zionist NGOs receive from foreign governments”.

Moreover, given the strategic importance and urgency of enhancing Israel’s public diplomacy performance, I urged assigning 1% of the state budget (then $1 billion, now considerably more) for this purpose annually —far more (almost ten-fold!) than the budget planned for the newly envisaged entity.

“Intellectual warriors, not slicker diplomats”

In broad brush strokes, I set out the kind of activities, with which this strategic diplomacy authority would be tasked, and for which the prescribed budget would be utilized.


  • Its activities would be assertively offensive, geared to uncompromisingly attacking and exposing the mendacious and malicious nature of Israel’s adversaries – a necessary condition for international understanding of Israel’s policy imperatives.
  • Its staff would not be professional diplomats but articulate and committed intellectual ideologues, neither bound by the constraints of diplomatic protocol nor versed in the niceties of diplomatic etiquette but rather adept in the mechanism of mass media, cyberspace and social networks (see my “Intellectual warriors, not slicker diplomats”).
  • Their task would not be to interact with foreign counterparts but to wage diplomatic warfare, at home and abroad, with a $1bill. budget at their disposal to saturate the Web with polished, professional Zionist content – on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and by means of full-page “infomercials” in the leading printed media.”

In this, there is a fair amount of overlap between my prescription and the reportedly planned operation of the nascent anti-BDS non-profit initiative.

There are, however, some important differences—apart from those of scale—between the two proposals. These relate to substantive issues of scope, focus and ongoing proactivity.

Focusing on the symptoms, not the sickness

According to press reports, the creators of the planned entity envisage it operating on “a regular basis to counter pressure applied to artists, performers and commercial enterprises not to engage with Israel. But it would shift into high gear at sensitive periods such as fighting, waves of terrorist attacks, and anti-Israel votes at international forums

Clearly, then, it would appear that the nature of the planned operation will be essentially reactive, rather than proactive, designed almost exclusively to deal with –i.e. rebuff, negate, discredit—BDS-related attacks against Israel, with the level of intensity of such activities determined by largely exogenous events such as hostile military or diplomatic offensives against Israel.

These are grave shortcomings, which are liable to seriously undercut the efficacy of the prospective initiative—for two different, but interrelated, reasons, the one substantive, the other methodological.

The first of these relates to the restriction of the focus to BDS related activity. In many ways, this is like focusing on the symptoms of an illness, rather than on its origins, in search of a remedy. Sadly, it is likely to be just as ineffective.

For what is crucial to realize is that, in essence, BDS is not an attempt to delegitimize Israel, but rather a product of Israel’s delegitimization. In other words, it is a consequence, rather than a cause of that delegitimization.

Two incompatible narratives

On reflection, this should be an almost self-evident truth. After all, if Israel was perceived internationally as legitimate, anything remotely resembling the BDS campaign against it would be inconceivable.

Accordingly, without contending with the underlying sources of the delegitimization of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, there is little hope of effectively stifling the impulses that give rise to phenomena such as the BDS movement.

In this regard, it is crucial to grasp two things:

The first is, as Caroline Glick alludes to in the introductory excerpt above, the Palestinian narrative and the Zionist narrative are, for all intents and purposes, inconsistent with each other. In other words, they are mutually exclusive narratives.

Accordingly, enhancing the legitimacy of one necessarily implies undermining the legitimacy of the other. (For a more detailed elaboration of this matter see Deciphering delegitimization).

The second is that it is the Palestinian narrative, and its perceived legitimacy that underpins the legitimacy of the claim for Palestinian statehood. In other words, undermining the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative undermines the validity of the claim for Palestinian statehood.

Thus, as I have argued elsewhere, “for the notion of a secure Israel [as the nation-state of the Jews] to regain legitimacy, the notion of a Palestinian state must be discredited and removed from the discourse as a possible means of resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict.”  

A viable Israel as “occupation”

But the converse is also true: As long as the Palestinian narrative is perceived as legitimate—and, hence, the claim for Palestinian statehood is seen as valid—the legitimacy of a secure Israel will always be challenged—and hence vulnerable to measures that arise from that challenge, such as the BDS campaign.,

For those who find this too disturbingly adversarial to accept, I would refer them to an article authored by Omar Dajani and Ezzedine Fishere, published in the prestigious “Foreign Affairs” and entitled “The Myth of Defensible Borders”. In it, the authors – an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team and an adviser to the then-Egyptian foreign minister, respectively—write, not without significant justification: “A policy of defensible borders would… perpetuate the current sources of Palestinian insecurity, further delegitimizing an agreement in the public’s eyes…

They therefore conclude “… Palestinians are likely to regard defensible borders as little more than occupation by another name.”  

Consequently, for any settlement to be perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the Palestinian public, Israel must resign itself to being indefensible—as claims for it to be defensible (i.e. viable) would delegitimize it as an occupier!

Thus, as I pointed out in The political algorithms of the Arab Israeli conflict, there is a chain of algorithmic-like reasoning, which inexorably demonstrates that Israel’s acceptance of the legitimacy of Palestinian national claims has, in effect, laid the foundations for the assault on its own legitimacy.

An inconvenient, but inevitable, conclusion

The architects of any anti-BDS enterprise will ignore this reasoning at the peril of fatally undermining the success of their endeavor.

For as long as the Palestinian-Arabs are perceived as having a legitimate claim to statehood, any counterclaim by Israel to ensure its viability will be perceived as thwarting that claim –thereby, ipso facto, delegitimizing such counterclaims—and, hence, exposing the very legitimacy of the notion of a viable Israel to attack—such as the BDS initiative.

Accordingly, just as focusing on reducing the temperature of a patient suffering from a severe infection will not cure that infection, so focusing on BDS will not remedy the delegitimization drive against Israel. Just as the source of the infection must be diagnosed and treated, so must the sources of the delegitimization of Israel.

Clearly then, if the Palestinian narrative is diagnosed as the source of the de-legitimization of the Zionist narrative, then the re-legitimization of the latter calls for the de-legitimization of the former. No amount of politically-correct gobbledygook, decrying such a stark “zero-sum” assessment, can obscure this inconvenient, but inevitable, conclusion.

The operational implications of this are clear.

The BDS campaign is not—and cannot—be treated as a “stand alone” problem. To eradicate it, one must eradicate its root causes—and since the roots of BDS sprout from the delegitimization of the Zionist narrative, the causes of this delegitimization must be eradicated.  However, as the delegitimization of the Zionist narrative can be traced to the legitimization of the incompatible, mutually exclusive Palestinian narrative, the unavoidable imperative is that for any anti-BDS initiative to be successful in the long run, it must focus efforts on the discrediting and delegitimizing of the Palestinian narrative.  

Expose mendacious myths underpinning a fallacious narrative  

Accordingly, any successful long term anti-BDS strategy cannot confine itself to responding to manifestations of anti-Israel calls for boycotts, sanctions or divestment—however infuriating these might be, and however telling such responses may be.

It must go on a genuine, proactive offensive against the primary sources of those calls—by resolutely and relentless exposing the mendacious myths that underpin the fallacious Palestinian narrative, while highlighting how these contrast with the fact-based foundations of the Zionist narrative.

After all, if the Palestinian narrative is discredited and delegitimized, who would want to instigate boycotts, sanctions or divestments in order to endorse or promote it?

Are the wheels falling off Obama’s “signature” foreign policy endeavor?

The ongoing turmoil in Iran highlights both the duplicity to which the Obama administration resorted & the missed opportunity for a better deal.

The alternative is a region wide explosion with totally unpredictable consequences….Just think how that would work out in the end… I think that is a policy of self-destruction  – Zbignew Brzenski, trying to justify Obama’s Iran deal by scaremongering, Apr. 4, 2015, MSNBC.

We created an echo chamber…They [legions of ‘freshly minted” arms-control experts who became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say. Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s Advisor for Strategic Communications, revealing the duplicity resorted to in order promote the 2015-Iran nuclear deal, New York Times, May 5, 2016.

Things are going badly—very badly—for the Barack Obama “legacy”.

Myopic, moronic or malicious?

Nowhere is this more apparent than with what had been dubbed his “signature foreign policy goal”—the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Indeed, as time passes it is becoming ever-more evident that the entire arrangement with Tehran is on an inevitable collision course with recalcitrant realities.

For as more and more comes to light regarding what was done—and what was not—in order to ruthlessly and recklessly railroad the dubious deal through, the more astonishing—indeed, inexplicable—the Obama administration’s behavior seems to be.

Or does it?

After all, as more and more revelations emerge, so does what appears to be almost incomprehensible incompetence, and/or deliberate dereliction, making it increasingly difficult to accept unquestioningly that the negotiations with Tehran were conducted in good faith.

Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, the really chilling aspect of the Obama incumbency is that it is genuinely difficult to diagnose whether the abysmal results it produced,  represent a crushing failure of his policies—or a calculated success; whether they are the product of chronic ineptitude or purposeful foresight; whether they reflect myopic misunderstanding, moronic incompetence or malicious intent.

At least two recent developments have propelled this quandary into even sharper relief —in two different ways: The one alludes to the depths of the duplicity to which the Obama administration was prepared to resort in order to push the deal through; the other, to the needlessness of the generous accommodation of the Iranian demands, which the deal entailed.

No rabid radical right-wing rag

The first of these developments was the December 2015 Politico exposé  charging that the Obama administration purposely impeded a federal investigation into the drug and weapons trafficking of Tehran’s terror surrogate, Hezbollah, to avoid undermining the nuclear deal—a topic I dealt with in a recent column.

The other is the current wave of unrest sweeping across Iran, sparked by the dire economic conditions, spiraling unemployment and rampant corruption in the country, reflecting wide-spread disaffection and discontent with the incumbent tyrannical theocracy. This evident socio-economic disarray and civic dissatisfaction portray a picture of a country with a precarious political regime and a poorly performing economy—even in the relatively conducive post-sanctions conditions. This utterly belies the perception conveyed by the Obama team of a formidable foe, which could compel the US and its powerful allies to accept the highly accommodative 2015 deal, and the consequent ominous warning that there was “no alternative”, other than catastrophic war.

The fact that the almost 15,000 word exposé on the obstruction, orchestrated by the White House, of a federal investigation into Hezbollah was published in a major mainstream media outlet such as Politico, imparts weight to the gave allegations its lays out. After all, Politico is hardly a rabid rightwing rag, purveying radical Obama-phobic rumors. Indeed, soon after publication, Secretary of Justice Jeff Sessions, ordered the Department of Justice to initiate a review of the conduct of the federal investigation into Hezbollah’s illicit operations—including the funneling of cocaine into the US.

Obama’s obsession

Accordingly, whatever the outcome of such a review, the fact that such grave allegations are not publicly perceived as totally implausible, is sufficient to cast a pall of doubt not only on the merits of the substantive content of the deal and the manner in which it was concluded, but inevitably, also on the underlying motivations of those who pursued it with such unswerving—read “obsessive”—vigor. Indeed, in the words of Bloomberg columnist, Eli Lake: “Obama from the beginning of his presidency tried to turn the country’s ruling clerics from foes to friends. It was an obsession.”

This diagnosis appeared in a 2016 analysis by Lake of why Obama turned his back on the Iranian demonstrators, who took to the streets in protest against the regime in what has become known as the 2009 “Green Revolution”.

This brings us back to the issue of civil discontent in Iran, and what it reveals about Obama’s fixation with making a deal—any deal—with the ayatollahs, and about what other alternatives, which could—indeed, should—have been pursued.

Indeed, Lake catalogues the sharp divergence between the manner in which the US responded to other cases of popular uprisings against despotic rulers, where it actively supported them; and the manner in which it responded to the Iranian uprising, where it explicitly prohibited extending backing to any opposition to the incumbent regime.

“A deal at any cost…”

Lake’s bleak analysis is largely corroborated by former Israeli ambassador to the US during the Obama-era, Michael Oren.

In a recent interview, Oren noted that: “The Obama administration’s lack of support for the Green Revolution was part of a pattern in which it did not hold Iran accountable for any provocation. It would seem it was part of a general approach that began in Obama’s first week in office in 2009 of wanting to reach a deal with Iran at pretty much any cost.”

Indeed, perhaps one of Oren’s most troubling claims is that Obama failed to follow through on the “red line” he himself imposed on the Iranian backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, regarding the use of chemical weapons, so as not to undermine the prospects of the nuclear deal.

This excessive eagerness on Obama’s part for a deal, matched only by his far-reaching reluctance to hold Iran (or its proxies operating under its auspices) responsible for any malfeasance, however nefarious, cannot but raise disturbing and dismaying speculation by any fair-minded person as to the real motives that lay behind the Iran nuclear deal.

This sense of unease is heightened by the stark divergence between the stated objectives, set by the Obama administration itself, that were purportedly to be attained in any agreement with Tehran, and those actually attained in the final agreement.

Disturbing divergence

Thus, in a debate in his 2012 bid for reelection, Obama himself proclaimed that the US’s goal was what he later claimed to be unattainable: “Our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the UN resolutions that have been in place…the deal we’ll accept is: They end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward”.

Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, who played the leading role in ushering in the Iran deal, echoed very similar sentiments. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on December 10, 2013, Kerry declared: I don’t think that any of us thought we were just imposing these sanctions for the sake of imposing them. We did it because we knew that it would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear program. That was the whole point of the [sanctions] regime.

Of course, the deal eventually concluded, came nowhere close to meeting these professed goals. Indeed, former Secretary of State and Nobel Peace laureate, Henry Kissinger, aptly articulated the abandonment of the original goals, lamenting that the US had shifted its focus from preventing, to permitting, proliferation. Thus, in a January 2015 appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee he warned: “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six U.N. resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability…The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”

Iran on a glide path to nuclear weapons

Underscoring the deadly detriments in the then-emerging Iran deal, John Hannah cautioned ominously in “Foreign Policy” a few months prior to its conclusion.

Make no mistake,” he warned “ …It puts us on a glide path to a world in which a militant Islamic theocracy — with the blood of at least a thousand Americans on its hands — that wants to destroy Israel and spread terror and violence across the Middle East is but a stone’s throw away from having the capacity to achieve a nuclear arsenal that… no one will have time to stop.”

He reminded his readers: “This is exactly the outcome that U.S. policy has fought so mightily to prevent for the better part of two decades,” adding caustically: “That strikes me as a pretty good definition of a bad deal.”

He disdainfully dismissed the contention that no better alternative existed, pointing out that it was “irrelevant to the standard that the president himself has repeatedly insisted would guide his strategy. That is: No deal is better than a bad deal period. Full stop. End of sentence.” He ends his article endorsing the “No deal is better than a bad deal” principle, urging Obama to adhere to the policy parameters he himself set: “The president is right. Now, difficult as it may be, he needs to follow his own policy.

Sadly, Obama chose not to.

What current unrest exposes: Cowardice or complicity

The claim that the US and its powerful allies could not coerce an impoverished, economically emaciated, drought stricken Iran to agree to a far more advantageous deal, that would not only compel it terminate its nuclear program, but also to curtail its other nefarious and bellicose operations—such as sowing regional instability, developing longrange missiles, and propagating global terror—has a distinctly hollow ring to it.

Elsewhere, I have detailed the overwhelming imbalance of power in favor of the US, essentially making a mockery of the implicit claim by the Obama White House that Iran could deter America from imposing the dismantlement of its nuclear facilities by threatening a military response.

However, the recent riots in Iran amplify the absurdity of such a claim. For they expose Iran—even after the lifting of sanctions–as an inherently weak, mismanaged nation, with a politically challenged leadership and dismally dysfunctional economy–crippled with cronyism and corruption and massive unemployment (13% overall, almost 20-30% among young people and in some cities reportedly as high as 60%).

The country is facing a dramatic water crisis, which according to some sources will compel the relocation of up to 60% of its population within the next 25 years.

It is thus inconceivable that if a pre-deal Iran, facing economic implosion, social unrest and simmering political insurrection, were confronted with a resolute demand to dismantle its nuclear installations; or face the specter of enhanced sanctions backed by a credible threat of coercive action aimed at destroying its national infrastructure – dams, power-stations, bridges, harbors and airports –it would not have been compelled to comply.

Only cowardice or complicity of the US administration can explain why this policy was not adopted.

Iran’s inalienable rights vs. the West’s unavoidable duty

To be sure, in an international system comprised of sovereign states, Iran, as a sovereign state, has an inalienable right to pursue weaponized nuclear capability.

However, as the current regime is manifestly inimical to everything the Free World purportedly holds dear, the countries comprising that group (aka “The West”), led by the US, have an unavoidable duty to prevent it from exercising this right.

That is the unavoidable dialectic dynamic that must be maintained in the international system, if it is  not to spiral into a cataclysmic nuclear confrontation.

In the short-run, the potential for such a clash can only be averted by confronting Iran with a credible coercive option along the lines outlined above. In the long-run, it can only be avoided by a regime-change, in which the current rulers are replaced by less aggressive and less expansionist successors.

However, if the West could not find the resolve or courage to implement such a strategic blueprint when facing a non-nuclear Iran, economically depleted by sanctions, how plausible is it that it will be willing/able to do so when facing a nuclear Iran, economically replenished by sanction relief?

Could it be that ,at least on the Iranian issue, many Netanyahu-phobic critics, both in Israel and abroad, have some serious soul-searching to do?

The UN vote on Jerusalem: A disturbing diplomatic debacle

When India supports an anti-Israel resolution, while Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine do not—invoking ingrained anti-Semitism rings somewhat hollow, and alternative explanations are called for

The General Assembly …[a]ffirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded … and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem—Excerpt from UN General Assembly resolution ES-10/L.22, December 21, 2017 proposed by Yemen and Turkey, demanding that the US retract its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a measure rejecting the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a stunning rebuke of a U.S. decision that allies and adversaries alike warned would undermine prospects for peace – Washington Post, December 21, 2017

A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individuallyIf Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions Abba Eban, Israel’s Foreign Minister, 1966-74.

On Thursday, December 21, 2017, the world—almost unanimously—voted against the Jews and their nation-state, Israel.

Reprehensible resolution

On that day, the United Nations General Assembly, in an Emergency Session, voted by an overwhelming majority in favor of a resolution so absurd that it would be inconceivable in almost any other context in which Jews were not those singled out by it for rebuke.

It was a reprehensible resolution!

Indeed, it flew in the face of historical truth, current reality and any ethical standard of common decency.

Under any other circumstances, it would be unthinkable that a sovereign country would be denied the right to determine which city should serve as its capital—especially when that city is inseparably associated with its history, predating the existence of virtually all its UN critics. Similarly, under any other circumstances it would be inconceivable that another sovereign nation would be singled out for reprimand for recognizing such historical association and acknowledging the city as the designated capital of that country.

To make the phenomenon even more absurd, the alleged rationale for the resolution was that it was designed to prevent prejudging the outcome of the decades-long dispute between Arab and Jew for control over the Holy Land, in general, and over Jerusalem, in particular—and keep open the possibility of somehow resolving the conflict by the establishment of a Judeophobic, homophobic, misogynistic Muslim-majority tyranny in the areas (including the eastern section of Jerusalem) lost by Jordan in 1967 in its failed attempt to annihilate the Jewish state.

Go figure!

Double disgrace

The decision—affirmed by 128 member states and opposed by 9, with 35 abstaining and 21 absenting themselves from the vote—to deem US recognition of Jerusalem (albeit within undefined borders) “null and void” was a double disgrace.

Firstly, it was a mark of shame for all the countries that did not oppose it—including those who abstained and/or absented themselves from the vote. For there is scarcely more honor in refraining from such an ignominious motion than there is in supporting it—especially when such feigned neutrality ensures its overwhelming endorsement.

But there was another element of disgrace attached to the results of UN vote on Jerusalem, and it is one that Israel, itself, must bear—or at least one that those charged with formulating and executing Israel’s strategic diplomacy (assuming any existence thereof) must bear.

For the results of vote reflect a devastating failure of Israeli diplomacy–despite the unwavering backing of the most powerful UN member state, the US.

Indeed, had Israel, over the past near-decade, since the so-called Israeli “Right” regained the reins of power, conducted an effective and adequately funded strategic diplomatic offensive, this kind of international rejection of elementary Jewish rights would have been unthinkable.

I realize that many will find this a highly contentious contention—but I am convinced of its validity and the urgent need to address the peril it portends.

Raining on the parade: What if Hillary had won?

Of course, I do not wish to “rain on the parade” and diminish the significance of the diplomatic victory entailed in the Trump administration’s decision to acknowledge the indisputable facts on the ground and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—and to set in motion preparations to transfer the US embassy to the city.

However, this fortunate outcome is hardly the result of Israel’s diplomatic strategy, but rather the unexpected outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the US.

Indeed, one shudders to think of what would have happened, if ,as widely predicted, Hillary Clinton had won—especially given the precedent set by the Obama-administration in withholding the US veto against a virulently anti-Israeli resolution, allowing it to pass unopposed in the Security Council in December 2016. After all, it is far from implausible that, if the elections has gone as expected, Israel would have been facing a very different, and far more hostile, global environment—with the prospect of international sanctions, not merely international censure, becoming increasingly tangible.

Accordingly, with so much at stake, it hardly seems a reasonable or responsible policy to leave such fateful issues dependent on the fortuitous workings of chance. So, perhaps the most important lesson to be derived from the dismal UN vote last week, is something that should have been painfully obvious for years—but sadly has not been: Israel needs to adopt a far more robust and proactive posture in determining is international stature among the nations of the world.

Cold comfort

For the results of vote were in fact far worse than the mere numerical tally—in itself dismaying enough—would suggest.

For the fact that nine nations voted against the resolution is cold comfort indeed. After all, out of those nine, two were Israel and the US themselves, against whom resolution was directed. Of the remaining seven, a majority—four—were tiny and remote islands in the Pacific (Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia), whose combined population is less than 200,000, and whose total area comprises under1500 sq km. The remaining three—Togo, Guatemala and Honduras—are, with all due respect, not countries that marshal huge international influence.

Accordingly, it would, in large measure, be accurate to admit that Israel and the Trump administration were left in splendid isolation against the entire world. This should be a matter of serious concern—for there is little guarantee as to the durability of the Trump incumbency or of the political proclivity of any potential successor.

This, then, is a totally unacceptable situation and one on which Israel can ill-afford to be either complacent or fatalistic—complacent in the sense that the resolution has no practical effect and thus there no need for serious concern; fatalistic in the sense that because of inherent anti-Semitism, the dice is inevitably “loaded” against Israel and hence, there is no point in serious concern.

Both these claims should be resolutely rejected.

Inexcusably and inexplicably remiss

For years Israel has been inexcusably and inexplicably remiss in presenting its case to the world and equally remiss in undermining and discrediting that of its Arab adversaries.

This dangerous disregard is best reflected by two grave lacunae: (a) the hopelessly inadequate resources devoted to Israeli diplomacy in general and to public diplomacy in particular; and (b) Israel’s official embrace of “Palestinian nationhood” and its consequent reluctance to delegitimize the fallacious narrative on which it is based, and the mendacious myths that underpin it.

This dereliction of diplomatic duty is having dire consequences on several levels. Arguably, among the two most severe are the growing threat to bi-partisan backing Israel has traditionally enjoyed in the US, and the disturbing erosion of support among the younger generation (i.e. tomorrow’s leaders)—even within the generally overwhelming pro-Israel Evangelical community

For over more than half-a-decade I have warned, constantly and consistently, of the potential perils entailed in this ongoing mindless neglect of the indispensable role  public diplomacy has in the nation’s strategic arsenal, and how defeat in the field of public opinion is liable to lead to setbacks on other, more tangible, battlefields. I have urged that Israel dramatically upgrade the resources devoted to public diplomacy—on which it is currently spending,globally,less than a medium-large sized Israeli corporation would spend on promoting fast food and snacks! Indeed, I have called to allot 1% of state budget – one billion dollars—for a strategic public diplomacy offensive, designed to create a diplomatic “iron dome” to protect Israel from incoming barrages of delegitimization and demonization that precipitate the kind of debacle that occurred last week at the UN.

The stirring annals of Zionist endeavor

What makes a resolution voiding and nullifying Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital particularly galling, is the total obfuscation—indeed, concealment—of the conditions that reigned in the city prior to it falling to Israel in the Six-Day War: When Arab Legion snipers, atop the walls of the old city, shot at random passers-by in the western sector of the city, when Jews were barred from entering the Jordanian controlled portions, when Jewish holy sites were desecrated, and when Jewish gravestones were used as building material. Yet no emergency session of the UN was convened to discuss and denounce these outrageous violations of religious and historic rights. Only today, when religious freedoms are scrupulously observed, does the international community find it fit to express its concern over the situation in the city.

But Israel has been partially complicit—at least passively—in permitting this perverse state of affairs to emerge—at least by default—and allowing pejorative connotations to be attached to the word “Zionism”.

After all, the rebirth of Jewish nationhood and the annals of Zionist endeavor are, undoubtedly, one of most stirring chapters of modern history. It is an enterprise that has achieved remarkable feats against impossible odds. Indeed, Zionism, as the national freedom movement of the Jewish people, has been the most successful of all national freedom movements in the last century. It has attained a combination of political independence, economic prosperity and individual liberties for its people, unmatched in virtually any other country born of the dissolution of the European empires. Beyond its borders, Israel has made amazing contributions to humanity – in medicine, agriculture, computing, communications. It has conducted remarkable humanitarian operations in disaster areas across the globe—from Nepal to Haiti.

Diplomatic incompetence not inherent anti-Semitism?

Yet instead of being held up as a model to be emulated, Zionism is being portrayed as a scourge to be denigrated.

The knee-jerk reaction to all this bitter enmity has been to attribute it to inherent and pervasive anti-Semitism. Now, while I do not want to dismiss—or even downplay—the pernicious impact of innate Judeophobia in many countries today, to attribute all, even most, anti-Israel animosity to it, is a little like searching under the light of a lamppost for the proverbial coin which was lost elsewhere in the dark,.

Indeed, as an explanation, it is a very partial one at best. For when a country like India, whose history is virtually devoid of any anti-Semitism, disappointingly supports the resolution, while countries like Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine, whose histories are replete with such infamy, do not, then invoking ingrained anti-Semitism rings somewhat hollow—and alternative, or at least supplementary, explanations are called for—like diplomatic incompetence for example.

The two, however, might not be totally unrelated. Indeed, as I have pointed out elsewhere “[c]ontinued impotence and incompetence in the (mis)conduct of Israel’s public diplomacy is becoming not only a strategic threat to the country but is beginning to imperil Jewish communities abroad.” For when the Jewish state allows itself to be so vilified, so too are those seen to be associated with it—i.e. the Jewish communities abroad.

“Israel…has vacated the battlefield of ideas”

In an incisive and insightful interview on Israel television several years ago, prominent British journalist, Melanie Phillips, excoriated Israel’s public diplomacy (hasbarah) as a “joke” and contended that in that, in the fight for world opinion, Israel had “vacated the battle field of ideas

Today’s leadership should heed her words, and launch a massive assault on international public opinion to ensure that the recent diplomatic debacle at the UN will in the future be impossible—or at least, highly, unlikely.

After all, no-one knows who the next White House incumbent will be—or when his/hers incumbency will begin…

Obama: Worse than Chamberlain?

“Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy…strategic power.”- Victor Davis Hanson

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States…Meanwhile, Hezbollah — in league with Iran — continues to undermine U.S. interests in Iraq, Syria and throughout wide swaths of Latin America and Africa, including providing weapons and training to anti-American Shiite militiasJosh Meyer, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook, Politico, Dec. 18, 2017.

It is becoming clear that the liberal President Obama…in complete contradiction of his saintly statements, effectively gave a green light to an entire web of ongoing crimes, based on his perception – ridiculous in itself – that it was in America’s national interest to do soProf. Abraham Ben-Zvi,  No moral backbone Dec. 19, 2019,

The really chilling aspect of the Obama incumbency is that it is genuinely difficult to diagnose whether the abysmal results we see represent a crushing failure of his policies or a calculated success; whether they are the product of chronic ineptitude or purposeful foresight; whether they reflect myopic misunderstanding, moronic incompetence or malicious intent. – Into the Fray: Will the West Withstand The Obama Presidency?, Nov. 28, 2013.

Earlier this week, a scorching piece of investigative journalism in the widely-read political publication, Politico, catapulted the ill-conceived 2015 Iran nuclear deal, mendaciously railroaded through by the Obama administration, back into the center of media attention.

Well, sort of.

No record in “The paper of record”?

For although numerous media channels did swoop down on the report that, in order to secure some agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program, the Obama White House deliberately strove to obstruct an extensive Drug Enforcement Administration operation, codenamed “Project Cassandra”, targeting the Iran-backed terror group, Hezbollah–it appears to have been studiously ignored by several major Obamaphilic outlets.

Indeed, Google as I might, I could find nary a reference—even the most oblique or remote— in the New York Times to the almost 15,000 word investigation. Or in the LA Times. Or the Washington Post. Or on CNN. Or MSNBC…

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on the other hand, did address the matter. In an editorial headlined “Obama’s Pass for Hezbollah”, it called for a Congressional investigation into the allegations that the Obama administration “had shut down, derailed or delayed numerous…Hezbollah-related cases with little or no explanation”—despite evidence that “Hezbollah had transformed itself…into an international crime syndicate that…was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities”.

In fairness, it should be noted that the liberal-leaning National Public Radio (NPR) did air an interview with the exposé’s author, Josh Meyer. However, in a breathtaking example of politically partisan obfuscation, the host of NPR’s Morning Edition, Rachel Martin attempted to defend the indefensible.

Media mumbo-jumbo

Summing up Meyer’s deeply disturbing investigation, she concluded: “this was obviously a historic deal, the Iran nuclear deal.. It has become a central part of Barack Obama’s presidential legacy. [T]he premise was all about making the world safer.” Then transparently trying to minimize the gravity of Meyer’s revelations, Martin suggested: “The takeaway from your piece and your reporting seems to be that there were just more tradeoffs involved in this deal than the public knew about.

Just more tradeoffs involved than the public knew about???!!! Really?

Turning a blind-eye to tons of cocaine” smuggled into the U.S. by a Mexican cartel; rivers of dirty cash, traced to “the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran”; procurement of deadly weapons used to “kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers” Just another trade-off???   Imagine if the American people had known!

In his closing comment, Meyer managed to dispense with Martin’s mumbo-jumbo of “making the world safer”: “It is somewhat ironic…that in their efforts to make the world a safer place they did allow a group that was a regionally focused militia-slash-political organization with a terrorist wing to become a much more wealthy global criminal organization that has a lot of money that can now be used to bankroll terrorist and military actions around the world.”

“Making the world safer…”?
Indeed, there could be little more ludicrous than the contention that Obama’s foreign policy made the world “a safer place”. For virtually in every corner of the globe, the opposite is clearly the case. Virtually, everywhere it was applied, the Obama-doctrine was dramatically and definitively disproven. Indeed, wherever the administration took action—or refrained from action—disaster followed debacle, leaving a gory trial of death, destruction and devastation. America’s traditional allies were alienated and abandoned; its traditional adversaries embraced and emboldened. Time and again, the US saw its prestige as a power degraded; its credibility as an ally drastically diminished.

Whether in Egypt, or Libya; in Yemen or Iraq; Syria or Turkey, Obama never failed in putting the wrong foot forward.

In Egypt, he embraced the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood but coldshouldered General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the man who managed to oust it, and save the county from plunging into an Islamist abyss. In Libya, Obama “led from behind” into ousting a chastened Kaddafi—and into the ongoing bloody turmoil that has engulfed the country ever since; In Syria, his reticence left the more moderate rebel forces without support, emboldened Russia and created a vacuum that Iran, with its capabilities greatly enhanced and its coffers greatly replenished by the 2015 nuclear deal, eagerly rushed to fill; In Iran, during the 2009 Green Revolution, he turned his back on the millions protesting against the incumbent tyranny, thus making the  prospects for any positive regime-change increasingly remote. In Iraq, his grave underestimation of the threat ISIS posed precipitated gruesome carnage of genocidal proportions…  

And so, under Obama, the world got safer and safer…

Puzzling, perturbing and perverse

It is against this backdrop of pervasive foreign policy failures that the fateful Iran deal should be scrutinized—together with the reasons for the exorbitant price the Obama administration was willing to pay for it, and the light this might shed on the motivations behind the US endorsement of it.

For as I pointed out in a previous INTO THE FRAY column (see introductory excerpts): “… it is genuinely difficult to diagnose whether the abysmal results we see represent a crushing failure of his policies or a calculated success; whether they are the product of chronic ineptitude or purposeful foresight… whether they reflect myopic misunderstanding, moronic incompetence or malicious intent.”

For, as more and more emerges as to what we know – and what we don’t– about the noxious deal brewed by Obama and his minions (e.g. the obstruction of Project Cassandra), it is becoming increasingly difficult to accept that negotiations with Iran were conducted in good faith.

Indeed, this very question is posed by Prof. Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institute. In in a scathing essay, Is Obamism Correctable?, he writes: “Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of strategic power.”

It is a question that cannot be skirted—for much that surrounds the actions of the previous administration regarding its policy towards Iran is puzzling and perturbing—even perverse.

From preventing to permitting proliferation

It would appear that, for Obama, there were good reasons to keep the US public in the dark as to the details of the nuclear deal. As I pointed out elsewhere (POTUS vs US),

not only was there significant—and increasing—opposition to the deal, but the more people knew about it, the more they opposed it- see here and here.

But beyond the question of duplicity and concealment, there lies the question of motivation.

After all, the deal with Tehran was in large measure, a dramatic point of inflection in US policy towards Iran. Rather than being a hard-won triumph, it was an unexplained, unnecessary capitulation, which not only departed from, but contradicted, long-held principles.


This is vividly illustrated in a WSJ article, The Iran Deal and Its Consequences, by two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. They point out that “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it.”

However, under Obama, they warned: “…negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability…”


In an earlier appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kissinger reiterated the far-reaching weakening of US positions: “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six U.N. resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability…The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”

Thus, under Obama, the US moved from a firm commitment to prevent proliferation to feebly consenting to permit it—hopefully somewhat delayed.

Untethered to America’s founding Judeo-Christian heritage

How is this radical sea-change to be accounted for?

As I have underscored in numerous previous INTO THE FRAY columns, Obama himself was in effect a point of inflection in the history if the US presidency.

Indeed, it is difficult for anyone—other than the willfully blind or the woefully biased—to deny that in the formative environment, in which Obama’s political credo coalesced, many of the influences, and many of the personalities/organizations that shaped his political consciousness, were, at least partially, sharply divergent from – even antithetical to – the ethos that made America, America.

Accordingly, only the overly naïve—or excessively partisan—could believe that these inputs would not color his political instincts and policy preferences. Consequently, under his administration, US national interests – and the manner in which they should be pursued – were perceived being fundamentally different from the way they were perceived by almost all his predecessors.

Indeed, Obama was the first US president who was explicitly and overtly untethered–cognitively and emotionally—from the moorings of America’s Judeo-Christian cultural heritage, and who genuinely conceived of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or interests.

This –for anyone who understands that the US constitution is not a Sharia-compliant document—is likely to a problematic perspective

The Chamberlain analogy

The Chamberlain analogy has been applied to Obama; and the Munich analogy, to the Iran nuclear deal he was so eager conclude, as to reflecting a repetition of the kind of appeasement of tyranny that led to the horrors of World War II. Indeed, it has been invoked not only by his political adversaries, but concerned political supporters as well.

Thus, two-time Obama voter, Prof. Alan Dershowitz warned that, if as a result of the nuclear deal, Iran acquired nuclear weapons, Obama’s legacy would be similar to the disgraced British prime minister, whose capitulation to Nazi Germany precipitated arguably the greatest carnage in human history.

However, capitulation by Obama to Tehran is far more difficult to comprehend than Chamberlain’s to Hitler. For the disparity between the strength of the mighty US and the then economically emaciated and drought-ravaged Iran was vastly greater than the power differential between Britain and the resurgent Germany of the late 1930s.

After all, America’s  GDP outstrips Iran’s by a factor of more than 40, its per capita GDP is 10 times higher; it has over four times the population of Iran, and is six times its size.

But perhaps the most significant comparison concerns military prowess.

While the US defense budget is around $600 billion, most published estimates put Iranian defense expenditure at that time at around 2% -3% of that of the US.

Worse than Chamberlain?

Accordingly, with more than 40 times the resources devoted to military capabilities than Tehran, the claim, that some other more favorable deal could not be imposed on an impoverished Iran, rings decidedly hollow – if not manipulatively mendacious.

It certainly seems wildly implausible that the only other alternative was to allow Iran to pursue, with virtual impunity, all its other nefarious , non-nuclear malfeasance across the globe, while empowering it militarily, enriching it economically and entrenching it politically—thus  making any regime-change in the foreseeable future highly unlikely.

Clearly then, the question of whether Obama will be judged as worse than Chamberlain cannot be avoided.  But will America be able to muster the moral courage to contend with it honestly?

A Palestinian State? What could possibly go wrong?

There is precious little reason to believe that any Palestinian state established in areas evacuated by Israel would not swiftly degenerate into a mega-Gaza overlooking greater Tel Aviv.


The nightmare stories of the Likud are well known. After all, they promised rockets from Gaza as well. For a year, Gaza has been largely under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. There has not been a single rocket. Nor will there be any ... – Yitzhak Rabin, Radio interview, July 24, 1995. 


In the history of international politics, there have been numerous ideas that proved both myopic and moronic. But few—if any—have proved more so than the ill-conceived idea of foisting statehood on the Palestinian-Arabs. Compounding the folly of this fatal fiasco is the fact that it was not only completely predictable—but persistently predicted.


Particularly puzzling—indeed perverse—is the fact that any prospective Palestinian state is almost certainly likely to embody the very antithesis of the values invoked for its inception by the liberal-Left Establishment.


Corrupt kleptocracy or tyrannical theocracy


After all, there is little reason to believe that any such state would be anything other than a misogynistic, homophobic Muslim majority tyranny and a bastion for Islamist terror groups–whose hallmarks would be gender discrimination against woman/girls; persecution of homosexuals, prosecution of political dissidents, and suppression of non-Muslim faiths. Indeed, its liberal-Left devotees have certainly never provided any remotely compelling argument why it would not be. Neither has the empirical precedent set since the ill-considered 1993 Oslo Accords began the ill-fated process of prodding the unprepared Palestinian-Arabs towards self-government.


After all, since Arafat’s triumphant return to Gaza in July 1994, despite massive financial aid, almost unanimous international endorsement, and a series of Israeli governments, whose pliant leniency towards repeated Palestinian malfeasance exceeded the bounds of reason and common sense, the Palestinian-Arabs have failed to create anything remotely resembling a sustainable, productive society. Indeed, all they have managed to produce is a corrupt keptocracy under Fatah and a tyrannical theocracy under Hamas.


Thus, after a quarter-century, notwithstanding the huge advantages it enjoyed —that, arguably far outstrip those that any other national liberation movement has had at its disposal—the Palestinian-Arab leadership has little to show for its efforts. All it has brought its people is an untenable and divided entity, with a dysfunctional polity, barely capable of holding even municipal elections; and an emaciated economy, crippled by corruption and cronyism, with a minuscule private sector and bloated public one, patently unsustainable without the largesse of its alleged “oppressor”, Israel.


Gaza: The gravest indictment of two-statism.


Gaza, where the misguided experiment in two-statsim was first initiated back in 1994, sparking a surge of deluded optimism, has now become its gravest indictment—for both Jews and Arab alike.


For Arabs in Gaza, the specter of “humanitarian disaster” hovers over the general population, awash in untreated sewage flows, with well over 90% of the water supply unfit for drinking, electrical power available for only a few hours a day, and unemployment rates soaring to anything between 40-60%. Accordingly, there should be no surprise that a recent Palestinian poll found that only 6% of Gazans had a positive perception of prevailing conditions in the enclave, while almost 80% considered them bad or very bad.


For Jews in Israel, ever since governance of Gaza has been transferred to the Palestinian-Arabs, it has been a hotbed of terror from which numerous deadly attacks have emanated.


Israel’s unilateral 2005 evacuation of the entire area, with the demolition of over a score of thriving Jewish settlements and the erasure of every vestige of prior Jewish existence—including the exhuming of graves and the removal of graveyards for fear of desecration by Palestinian-Arab hordes—did little to temper the Judeophobic fervor of the Gazans.  Significantly, the only remnant of Jewish presence left by Israel were two dozen synagogues, which were all immediately razed to the ground by frenzied Arab mobs.


Huge enhancement of terrorist capabilities


Moreover, if there were any hopes that Israel’s departure from Gaza would spur the Palestinian-Arab leadership to divert the focus of its efforts from terror-related activity to constructive nation-building, they were soon to be dispelled.


Indeed, quite the opposite occurred. Exploiting the absence of the IDF, the Palestinian-Arab terror groups in Gaza embarked on a feverish drive to enhance their capabilities to inflict harm on Israel and Israelis. To illustrate the point, when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the rockets which the Palestinian terror groups had at their disposal, had a range of barely 5 km and a carried an explosive charge of around 5 kg. Today, they have missiles with ranges over 100 km and warheads of 100 kg—i.e. they have enhanced these capabilities by a factor of 10!


Moreover, they have developed additional abilities that were barely conceivable back in 2005—such as a naval strike force to attack Israel from the sea. But arguably the most menacing development is the excavation of an extensive array of tunnels underneath much of Gaza—including attack tunnels reaching into Israel to facilitate raids to murder or abduct Israeli citizens and soldiers.


Incessant terror attacks from Gaza forced Israel into three large-scale military operations (in 2008, 2012 and 2014) to restore some semblance of calm on its southern border—and a fourth round seems increasingly unavoidable as rockets continue to be fired at Israeli civilian centers.


Costly campaigns; considerable casualties


These campaigns inflicted considerable Israeli casualties—almost a hundred fatalities and well over a thousand wounded. The Palestinians suffered far higher losses—among other things, because of the tactics employed by Hamas of using civilians to shield their armed combatants.


Moreover, these campaigns cost the Israeli economy many billions of dollars—in direct military and civilian outlays, as well as lost production—as millions of Israelis remained huddled in shelters for weeks, with the country’s cities, towns and villages under repeated bombardment – see here, here and here. To this must be added the massive expense of protecting the civilian population from continual interbellum terror attacks—such as the need to build numerous fortified structures in homes, public buildings, educational centers and kindergartens.


Israel has, of course, also been forced to invest huge sums in a quest to find an effective response to the overhead threat of rockets/missiles and the underground menace of tunnels.


The former has resulted in the largely effective “Iron Dome” which has generally kept the Israeli civilian population safe from overhead attack—by intercepting generally very cheap, primitive projectiles with very expensive and sophisticated ones.


The underground tunnels have proved a more challenging problem, and Israel has diverted enormous resources in search of a solution to the threat they pose. Recent successes in discovering and destroying some of such tunnels suggest that good progress has been made in regard.


In addition to these technological efforts, Israel has undertaken the construction of a physical anti-tunnel barrier along the entire fifty-plus km border with Gaza, dubbed by the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the largest project” ever carried out in Israel’s military history. Reportedly planned to extend into the sea, this giant barrier will comprise a six meter wall above ground and an underground concrete barrier, replete with advanced sensors, reportedly reaching depths of 40 meters.


Now imagine a giant Gaza overlooking Tel Aviv


Accordingly given the resounding failure of the endeavor to confer self-determination on the Palestinian-Arabs—and the enormous cost incurred in contending with that failure—it seems utterly incomprehensible that not only do demands to persist with it continue—but also to greatly expand it!


For despite the Palestinian-Arabs proven inability to successfully meet the challenges of self-determination—even on a minuscule scale in Gaza—pressures still endure—in defiance common sense and intellectual integrity—to extend the experiment to the territory of Judea-Samaria.


The scale of this predestined folly is perhaps best illustrated by the size, cost and complexity of the previously mentioned anti-tunnel barrier under construction.


After all, if the IDF were to evacuate Judea-Samaria, there is little reason to believe that it would not follow the same path as Gaza and descend into tyrannical Islamist theocracy. Indeed, the proponents of such evacuation have not—and cannot—provide any persuasive assurance that it will not. Certainly, such an outcome cannot be discounted as totally implausible—and hence must be factored into Israel’s strategic planning as a possibility, with which it may well have to contend.

Accordingly, if Israel’s evacuation of Gaza gave rise to the need to build a multi-billion shekel barrier to protect the sparsely populated, largely rural south, surely the evacuation of Judea-Samaria is likely to give rise to a need to construct a similar barrier to protect the heavily populated, largely urban areas, which would border the evacuated territories.


A giant Gaza overlooking Tel Aviv (cont.)


There would, however, be several significant differences.


For, unlike Gaza, which has a 50 km border with Israel, any prospective Palestinian-Arab entity in Judea-Samaria would have a frontier of anything up to 500 km (and possibly more, depending on the exact parameters of the evacuated areas).


Moreover, unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority over its surrounding environs, the limestone hills of Judea-Samaria dominate virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.


Under these conditions, demilitarization is virtually irrelevant—as illustrated by the allegedly “demilitarized” Gaza. For even in the absence of a conventional air-force, navy, and armor, lightly armed renegades with improvised weapons could totally disrupt the socioeconomic routine of the nation at will, with or without the complicity of the incumbent regime, which given its despotic nature, would have little commitment to the welfare of the average citizen.


Faced with this grim prospect, any Israeli government would either have to resign itself to recurring paralysis of the economy, mounting civilian casualties and the disruption of life in the country, or respond repeatedly with massive retaliation, with the attendant collateral damage among the non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab population and international condemnation of its use of allegedly “disproportionate force.”

What could possible go wrong?


But it is not only demilitarization that is largely irrelevant. So too is the alleged sincerity of any prospective Palestinian “peace partner”. For whatever the deal struck, its durability cannot be assured.

Even in the unlikely event of some Palestinian, with the requisite authority and sincerity to conclude a binding deal with Israel, did emerge, he clearly could be removed from power – by ballot or bullet – as the Gaza precedent clearly demonstrates. All the perilous concessions made to him, on the assumption of his sincerity, would then accrue to a far more inimical successor, whose political credo is likely to be based on reneging on commitments made to the “heinous Zionist entity.”


Accordingly, based on both past precedent and sober political analysis, there is every reason to believe—and precious little not to—that any Palestinian state established in any area evacuated by Israel would swiftly degenerate into a mega-Gaza, overlooking greater Tel Aviv—with all the attendant perils such an outcome would entail.


So, in response to the question “What could possibly go wrong?” the answer must be “Pretty much everything”.

Sinai – The Descent into Depravity

Ironically, the case of Sinai, once held up as the crowning vindication of the land-for-peace principle is likely to turn out to be its one of its most tragic and traumatic failures.

Militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others. Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history. New York Times, November 24, 2017.

The Sinai Peninsula with its strategic depth, mineral wealth and economic potential is now deteriorating into a lawless “no-go” region, rapidly falling under the control of the most ruthless extremists on the face of the globe. – INTO THE FRAY: Suicide Nation? August 11, 2011.

If the Egyptian authorities do not move quickly to crush the extremists and regain control, the Sinai Peninsula could soon become a separate Islamic emirate run by Salafis, Hamas and Al-QaedaKhaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone, August 5, 2011.

In my column last week, dealing with just how fortunate Israel was in not adopting the land-for-peace formula in the Golan, and detailing the deadly dangers that ensued from attempting to apply it elsewhere, I wrote: Sinai [is] now descending into the depravity and brutality of a jihadi-controlled no-man’s land — with no good options on the horizon.

Gruesome corroboration

Tragically, almost at the exact time that the column was being posted, the grim prognosis was given gruesome corroboration. Reportedly over three dozen “militants”, attacked a mosque in Northern Sinai, near the town of Bir al-Abed, on the coastal road connecting El-Arish and Port Said. Using explosives and automatic weapons, they cut down hundreds of worshipers including almost 30 children. Most of the attackers appeared to have escaped.

Its dreadful dimensions aside, such gory incidents as this are is not uncommon in Sinai. Indeed, it is “merely” yet another link in a chain of ongoing murderous assaults by jihadi groups against Egyptian forces stationed in the peninsula, dating back over half-a-decade, to the period immediately following the end of the Mubarak-era (from mid-2011). However, there has been a discernable uptick in attacks since the 2013 ousting of Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim-Brotherhood affiliated government by a military coup, headed by incumbent president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum

There is —or at least, there should be—little surprise at the advent of lawlessness and violent insurgency in one form or other in Sinai.

After all, following the evacuation of the peninsula by the IDF under the terms of the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, strict conditions for its demilitarization were imposed. For Israel, this was the central pillar of the entire peace accord and a critical element in its overall security.

However, these conditions seriously curtailed Cairo’s ability to enforce law and order in a relatively “undomesticated” region, where dutiful respect for central authority, never mind meticulous observance of its laws, were hardly the hallmarks of the indigenous inhabitants’ ways and mores.

Accordingly, with Egypt’s emaciated capacity to assert control, the largely nomadic gangs, clans, and tribes that comprise much of the population, were left relatively unfettered to pursue lawless activities, which included gun-running, drug-smuggling, human trafficking, abduction and extortion. There have even been horrific reports of rape, beheadings and trafficking of organs taken from African kidnap victims, trying to reach Israel.

With the ascendancy of radical Islam across much of the Mid-East, this fundamentalist doctrine found fertile ground among the fractious Bedouin tribes of Sinai, with their contentious relations with the regime in Cairo—particularly after the removal of the largely likeminded Morsi by the military in 2013. Indeed, they showed an increasing affinity for the most extremist jihadi ideology. Thus, one of the most active jihadi groups, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) was previously an al-Qaeda affiliate but in late 2014, pledged its allegiance to ISIS, changing its name to Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province of the Islamic State).

Demilitarization endangered

Significantly, the reverses suffered by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have increased the attractiveness of Sinai as a destination for many racialized fighters looking for alternative methods to wage Jihad. Indeed, by some reports, today they constitute up to 80% of the Sinai Province’s fighting force. This not only poses an increasing challenge for the Egyptian regime, but for Israel it imperils the major component of its peace treaty with Egypt – the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula.

For clearly, the strict enforcement of demilitarization leaves Egypt incapable of imposing law and order. According, it is only if Egypt is allowed to breach the conditions of such demilitarization that it can acquire the ability to contend with the increasing challenge of lawlessness and rejection of government’s authority.

And indeed, in the past Egypt has repeatedly asked Israel to consent to it deploying troops that exceed the stipulations of the peace treaty—including the introduction of tanks, helicopters and fighter planes. As a rule, Israel has agreed to such requests—and has even refrained from responding when increased deployments have been made without its prior approval.   

But such largesse could be—indeed is more likely than not to be—a dangerously slippery slope—for a number of reasons.

Firstly, as Yoram Meital of Ben Gurion University points out, even if Egypt is successful in quelling the jihadi resistance, there is a distinct danger that it will not subsequently remove the excess forces. He warns: “… the Egyptian leadership would find it difficult to order the evacuation of its forces from the Sinai once the operation is over. Egyptian public opinion would no doubt demand that the troops remain in the Sinai, as a testimony to Egypt’s control over its entire sovereign territory.”

And indeed it well might!

Creeping remilitarization of Sinai

Clearly, this raises the specter of the creeping remilitarization of Sinai—a prospect which may be a little less troubling were it possible to ensure that al-Sisi or some likeminded successor were to continue to hold the reins of power in Egypt indefinitely. But this would be a highly imprudent hypothesis on which to base Israel’s long term strategic planning.

After all, in the last decade, the volatility and unpredictability of Egyptian politics has been amply demonstrated—from the unexpected fall of Mubarak, through the surprising rise of Morsi and his equally unforeseen fall, to the astonishing coup of al-Sisi, whose current hold on power is anything but secure.

But more on that a little later.

There is however, a no less disconcerting prospect. This is that despite the reinforcements, over and above the peace treaty stipulations, the Egyptian military will not be able to subdue the jihadi insurgency. Indeed, in this regard there is growing concern over, and criticism of, al- Sisi’s strategy—and increasing doubts as to whether it has any chance of success.  

Reflecting this skepticism is the following caveat from a prominent security studies institute: “… questions remain if Egypt can destroy or even contain Wilayat Sinai [the ISIS affiliate, Sinai Province]. The IDF is preparing for the likelihood that the group will strike across the border: targeting Israeli civilian towns or military positions the same way it has attacked Egyptian security posts.”

An excruciating dilemma?

This clearly raises several trenchant questions of crucial importance for Israel:

–  If the Egyptian forces lack the tenacity and motivation to meet the challenge of containing the Islamist aggression, what will be the fate of all the excess weaponry introduced into Sinai to defeat them?

–  What if these weapons, like the US arms in Iraq, fall to the insurgents—then to be turned against Israel?

– And if the jihadis turn their attention to Israeli targets, how is Israel to respond?

Inevitably, this will leave Israel impaled on the horns of an excruciatingly difficult dilemma. It shares a 200 km border with Sinai, which also abuts the Gaza Strip from the south-east.

If, as in the scenario suggested previously, Egypt fails to impose its rule in Sinai and hostilities break out regularly along Israel’s southern border, possibly in coordination with Hamas and other radical elements in Gaza, Israel may well find itself facing the threat of its southern Red Sea port, Eilat, being cut off from the rest of the country and much of the Negev under constant attack.

In these circumstances, it is difficult to see how Israel could contend adequately with such a menacing situation without being compelled to take—and hold—large portions of Sinai, still formally under Egyptian  sovereignty -and thus blatantly violate the peace accord with Cairo.

The repercussions of such an initiative are difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to calculate.

The Muslim Brotherhood: “Down”, but not “out”

It is beyond dispute that the al-Sisi regime is interested in avoiding hostilities with Israel and has dealt its Islamist rivals—particularly, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)—a devastating blow. However, while it is clear that the MB has been severely eviscerated and is obviously “down”, it would be more than ill-advised to consider it “out”.

For not only has the organization shown considerable resilience and resourcefulness in adversity in the past, it still retains considerable public support. Moreover, al-Sisi is facing severe challenges at home. As a 2016 Brookings Institution report cautions:

In a classic authoritarian bargain, President Sissi came to power two years ago promising security, stability, and economic prosperity in exchange for near-total political control. Now, that bargain is in the process of breaking down, since he’s failed to deliver on all three fronts.”

Against this backdrop, one other source warns: Unemployment among Egyptian youth, who have been the jihadi foot soldiers, is above thirty per cent—a ticking time bomb…”

Accordingly, while the current regime is indeed well-attuned to Israel’s security needs, the prospect of a future regime-change can certainly not be discounted as wildly implausible, nor can the ascendance of a successor regime, far less amenable—even vehemently inimical—to the Jewish state and its security.

Ethiopia: Egypt’s “elephant in the room”

Ethiopia, separated from Egypt’s southern border by Sudan, a vast country in its own right, is rarely bought up in the discussion of Sinai and future scenarios that may emerge.

This is a grave omission! For Ethiopia, in many respects, is Egypt’s “elephant in the room”.


Ethiopia is currently in the final stages of construction of a massive high dam on the Blue Nile, Egypt’s most important water source, which provided  the bulk of the country’s of   supply.

Accordingly, Egypt has grave concerns that the dam, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), will adversely affect the downstream flow it receives today.

So serious are Cairo’s fears that it has even hinted that it would be prepared to use military force to halt construction or even destroy the dam.

To date, the two countries have been unable to come to any agreement on the construction of GERD, or how to contend with the repercussions for the downstream flow to Egypt—making the prospect of conflict between them ever closer.

However, conflict with Ethiopia would be a daunting prospect for an impoverished Egypt. Apart from the great distance it would have to project military force to be effective is the (not widely- known) fact that Ethiopia’s population is significantly larger than that of Egypt’s and its economy (one of the fastest growing in the world) is significantly stronger.

Thus, a clash with Addis Ababa is likely to siphon off huge resources from other activities in Egypt, leaving it with scant means—and motivation—to quell the insurgency in Sinai— and leaving the jihadis with greater freedom to pursue their brutal goals there.

The writing on the wall

For Israel then, the writing is on the wall. For as I wrote back in August 2011, the country may well have to face an emerging lose-lose strategic predicament ,which will force it to decide between: 

• Allowing Sinai to degenerate into an Afghanistan-like haven for al-Qaida and ISIS-like jihadi organizations; or

  • Allowing a possibly hostile Egypt to remilitarize the area in an attempt to reestablish law and order; or
    • Reasserting Israeli control of Sinai, effectively repudiating the peace agreement with Cairo.

So, ironically, the case of Sinai, once held up as the crowing vindication of the land-for-peace principle, may yet turn out to be one of its most tragic and traumatic failures.

But for the grace of God- Iran in Syria & the lessons for Israel

Only by resisting territorial concessions on the Golan, Israel prevented deployment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the fringes of the Galilee; only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent them from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Israel has a strategic interest in disassociating Syria from the extremist axis that Iran is leading. Syria is not lost, Assad is western educated and is not a religious man. He can still join a moderate grouping. –  Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of IDF, Nov 13, 2009.

…we should not belittle the signals of peace coming from Syria. – Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, Nov 13, 2009.

Syria is the key to regional change for us. If I was prime minister, I would pin all my hopes on Syria.” – The late Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Israeli Defense Minister (2001-2002), May 23, 2010.

Just how appallingly wrong these assessments by the most senior echelons of the Israeli security establishment proved to be was driven home by a recent BBC report, indicating that the Iranian military is engaged in the construction of what appears to be a permanent military base in Syria. But more on these—and other—disturbing lapses in judgment a little later.

Permanent Iranian presence in Syria?

Based on satellite images commissioned by the BBC, the report suggests extensive ongoing construction between January and October this year, just outside a site used by the Syrian army near the town of El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus.

It comes on the heels of evermore disturbing accounts of the increasingly pervasive presence of Iranian forces throughout Syria – with Russian endorsement and US acquiescence – together with growing concern that Tehran will soon attempt to deploy both air and naval forces, including submarines and set up weapons production plants to supply its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

In the discussion of the ramifications of these revelations, attention appeared to focus mainly on two cardinal issues: (a) The significance for the completion of the “Shi’ite arc of influence”, stretching from east of the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and the creation of a land-based logistical supply line from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon; and (b) the stern warnings issued by Israel that it would not permit an Iranian takeover of Syria, hinting that it would be prepared to use military force to prevent this.

However, there is another vital element germane to the expanding Iranian military presence in Syria—and one that has received remarkably little media attention. It is, however, one whose relevance Israel will ignore at its peril.

Inconvenient but incontrovertible fact

After all, as ominous as the current Iranian military deployment in Syria is, it might well have been far more menacing. Indeed, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not perched on the Golan Heights, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is solely because Israel did not fall prey to the seductive temptation of the land-for-peace formula, as urged by many, in both the international community and in its own security establishment (see introductory excerpts)—and did not cede the strategic plateau that commands the approaches to the entire north of the country.

One can only shudder with dread at the thought of the perilous predicament the country would be in, had it heeded the call from the allegedly “enlightened and progressive”  voices, who – up until the gory events of the Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011—hailed the British trained doctor, Bashar al-Assad, as a moderate reformer, with whom a durable peace deal could be cut – f only an intransigent Israel would yield the Golan to his regime.

Indeed, it is an inconvenient—albeit incontrovertible—fact that every time Israel has relinquished/abandoned territory, to Arab control, that territory has – usually sooner rather than later – become a platform from which to launch lethal attacks against Israel – almost immediately in Gaza; within months in Judea-Samaria; within years in south Lebanon and after several decades in Sinai, now descending into the depravity and brutality of a Jihadi-controlled no-man’s land—with no good options on the horizon.

This is something Israeli policy makers dare not disregard. For as dangerous and detrimental as the outcomes of previous withdrawals proved to be, they are likely to pale into insignificance compared to consequences of territorial concession in Judea-Samara (a.k.a. the “West Bank”).  

Compounding the gravity

Indeed, even the Golan, with all its vital strategic significance, cannot match the importance of the highlands of Judea-Samaria, commanding Israel’s urban megalopolis in the coastal plain. As I have pointed out elsewhere, any forces deployed on these highlands command all of the following: major airfields (civilian and military) including the country’s only international airport; major sea ports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power transmission, water systems, and communication networks); main land transport routes (road and rail); principal power plants; the national parliament and most government ministries; crucial centers of civilian administration and military command; and 80% of the civilian population and the commercial activity in the country.   

Significantly, all of these strategic objectives will be within easy range of weapons being used today against Israel from territories previously relinquished to Arab control.

Compounding the gravity of any threat entailed in Israel yielding sizeable portions of Judea-Samaria to the Palestinian-Arabs are reports of renewed ties between Iran and Hamas, purported to be stronger than ever.”  

An Iranian proxy over-looking Tel Aviv?

Addressing journalists in Gaza last August, Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar declared that the terror group had restored relations with Iran after a five-year rift, due to Hamas’s refusal to support Assad, and is using its newfound financial and military aid to gear up for new hostilities against Israel. According to Sinwar, “Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent”, adding that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” of the organization’s military wing.

Clearly, were Israel to withdraw from Judea-Samaria, there is little that it could do to curtail the spread of Iranian influence. Indeed, without the IDF to prop up the corrupt kleptocracy of Fatah, it is more than likely that Hamas, increasingly an Iranian proxy in the mold of Hezbollah—despite being on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shia divide—could mount an effective challenge for power. This could be done either via the ballot (a recent Palestinian poll shows that Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would trounce Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas) or by the bullet—as it did in in Gaza in 2007, and could well do again in Judea-Samaria, especially if bolstered by Iranian backing

Accordingly, just as it was only Israel’s resistance to territorial concession on the Golan that prevented the deployment of Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the fringes of the Galilee, so only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent Iranian Revolutionary Guards (or any other Jihadi elements) from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Assessing new “peace initiatives”: Rank is no recommendation

These are the grim realities that any future “peace initiative” must take into consideration.

This caveat takes on special significance in light of rumors that a new “peace” initiative is currently brewing within the Trump administration, seemingly enamored with the allure of cutting “the ultimate deal”.

In this regard, Israel must internalize the lessons of the past and robustly resist pressures to relinquish further territory to Arab control. In particular, it must be wary of counsel from individuals and organizations, who have demonstrated, consistently and conclusively that—no matter what their past experience and seniority—their judgement cannot be trusted (see introductory excerpts). After all, as the past clearly indicates, when assessing such initiatives, rank is rarely any recommendation.

Indeed, not only have the “top brass” of Israel’s security establishment been hopelessly and hazardously wrong in appraising Assad’s role as a peace partner, they have been equally wrong in predicting his imminent fall – see for example here,  here, here, here, here and here.

Israel can ill-afford such lapses in judgement when it comes to making fateful decisions regarding concessions in Judea-Samaria that would critically imperil the vast majority of the nation’s population.  

With this in mind, it cannot for a moment forget what–but for the grace of God—our fate in the Golan would have been.

Israel’s Ruinous Right

Perhaps the gravest threat facing the nation today is the twin perils of a dangerous, delusional “Left” and an impotent, incompetent “Right”, unable to decisively and definitively discredit it.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions – attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, circa. 1150

It is neither an easy nor an enviable undertaking today for anyone trying to alert the public as to the perilous vulnerability in which the nation currently finds itself.

Deceptive signs of success and strength

After all, there are so many reassuring signs that seem to contradict such dour and dire assessments. Everywhere one looks, there are myriad signs of increasing success, affluence and strength—ever-wider highways, spanned by ever-more impressive interchanges, snake through ever-wider areas of the country, ever-more imposing glass and steel skyscrapers soar into urban skylines across the nation, the economy continues to be robust, with GDP spiraling upwards and—almost inconceivably a few years ago—the shekel was deemed the second strongest currency in the world.

Israeli technological achievement is increasingly sought after across the globe, living standards continue to surge, ever-more luxurious hotels and ever-more sumptuous restaurants abound, frequented increasinglyby domestic clientele. Overseas travel, once a rare extravagance for a privileged few, is now an experience enjoyed by millions of Israelis, who flock to far-flung destinations every holiday season. A burgeoning leisure industry, once unimaginable a few decades ago—from mountain biking and wind-surfing through gourmet dining to blue water yachting—flourishes, attracting growing circles of the population.

On the security front, Israel far outstrips its enemies in terms of martial prowess. Many of its traditional adversaries have disintegrated. The meltdown in much of the Arab world has all but eliminated any threat of conventional military assault on the country—at least until very recently.  

Dangerous sense of complacency…or denial?

While all of this is true—and Israel has indeed much to be proud of—it seems to have given rise to a dangerous sense of complacency. Or is it denial?

For while some of the dangers that once confronted Israel have undeniably diminished—even disappeared—others, no less menacing, have emerged. (Indeed, it may even be—as we shall see—that some of the allegedly erstwhile dangers may well be reappearing—with a vengeance).

Of course, compared to the 1970’s, the threat of large-scale invasion by armies of Arab states has considerably receded. However, today the new threat is that of ongoing attrition by state-backed non-state, or quasi-state actors. To gauge the gravity of this threat, consider the following assessment by one well informed pundit regarding Israel’s northern border: “Hezbollah’s augmented arsenal has transformed it, from an Israeli perspective, from a manageable border menace to a strategic threat.” Reflecting similar concern is the ominous caveat from the left-leaning Institute for National Security Studies: “Hezbollah remains the most serious conventional threat Israel is facing, more than Hamas or Iran.

Likewise, in the south, the quasi-state entity, Hamas, has increased its capabilities exponentially since Israel’s 2005 unilateral abandonment of Gaza, enhancing its high trajectory weaponry from ranges of 5 km to ranges of 100 km, and from war heads of barely 5kg to over 100 kg—while excavating a menacing system of attack tunnels and developing naval capability for assaults from the sea.

Unlearnt Lessons from deeds done…and undone

Underpinning the burgeoning military prowess of Hezbollah and Hamas is the support provided by Iran which, if it ever acquired weaponized nuclear capability, could supply a deterrent “umbrella” under which both could operate with relative impunity—together with any other terror organization that Tehran chose to sponsor.

But in recent months, the Iranian factor has acquired even more—and more immediate—significance. Exploiting the gory turmoil of the Syrian civil war, Iran has, with recent Russian backing and with no US objection, managed to set up a formidable military presence in Syria, virtually on the border with Israel, with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) operating unimpeded to recruit, train and equip locals to prepare for “battle against ‘the Zionist enemy’.

So with the Iranian presence in Syria, Israel might soon find that it is once again faced with the need to contend with the threat of conventional military forces—on precisely the front where it was considered no longer relevant!

For Israel, the lessons of what it has done—and what it hasn’t—should be clear.

After all, the previously cited instances of non-state/quasi-state actors developing into strategic threats, able to menace millions of Israelis and to paralyze the nation’s economy, were the direct result of Israel abandoning territory to Arab rule—the center piece of the policy prescriptions promoted by the Israeli Left wing.

Conversely, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not perched on the Golan Heights, overlooking the entire north of the country, is precisely because Israel did not act in accordance with this perilous prescription.

(Significantly, had the fortunes of war turned out differently, and Sunni rebels prevailed, Israel would still have been in the unenviable position of having ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates deployed there.)

The significance for the Left/Right divide  

For readers wondering what this rather lengthy appraisal of Israel’s geo-strategic situation has to do with the domestic political divide within the country, the answer is simple.

Wherever the concessionary policy of the Left has been adopted, dreadful danger and devastation—for Jew and Arab—have ensued. Indeed, it is difficult to identify a single danger that the Right warned of that did not materialize, nor a single benefit that the Left promised that did.

By contrast, wherever the policy of the Left has been eschewed, terrible trauma and tragedy has been avoided.

Clearly then, a quarter century, since the Land-for-Peace paradigm was adopted as the centerpiece of Israel’s security and foreign policy, the jury is no longer out—or at least should no longer be out.

After all, virtually all that has —and has not—happened has totally vindicated the Right-wing claim that Israeli territorial concessions would not bring peace and security; and totally eviscerated the Left-wing claim that they would.

Accordingly, it seems almost inconceivable that despite being repeatedly disproven, the political doctrine of the Left has never been decisively discredited and certainly never definitively discarded.

Indeed, the very fact that this hopelessly failed formula continues to be not only a viable political prescription domestically, but one that continues to enjoy dominant international status, is the most strident condemnation of the political acumen of the Right in Israel—and its financial benefactors.

Dangerous delusional Left vs impotent incompetent Right  

Accordingly, if one were called upon to best articulate the prevailing syndrome that characterizes Israeli domestic politics one would be hard pressed to find a more apt and accurate stipulation than the following: A dangerous and delusional Left promoting a fatally flawed and failed formula which an incompetent and impotent Right is neither capable of invalidating nor of producing a convincing, comprehensive and compelling alternative.

Indeed, for a good number of years, the Right conspicuously refrained from offering any countervailing paradigm and focused almost exclusively on denigrating the Left-wing Land-for-Peace proposal and (correctly) underscoring its deadly defects and detriments.

Accordingly, as I pointed out several years ago: “…the political “Right” has found itself unable to respond effectively to the pointed and pertinent question from ‘left-wing’ adversaries: “So what’s your alternative?” With no comprehensive countervailing paradigmatic position to promote or defend, the ‘Right’ found itself gradually forced to give way under the weight of this onerous question, and to adopt increasing portions of the failed formula it had rejected.”  Lamentably, this culminated in Netanyahu’s calamitous 2009 acceptance of Palestinian statehood—which hitherto he had vigorously opposed.

Indeed, “today the formal position of the major ‘right-wing’ faction, the Likud, the party of Menachem Begin, founded on the ideas expounded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, has, except for detail in nuance and tone, become indistinguishable from the positions [once] expounded by the ‘far-left’ Meretz faction.

Left’s sins of commission vs Right’s sins of omission?

Accordingly, up until a few years ago, it could be deemed with a large degree of accuracy, that Israel is mired in an impasse that is the regrettable product of the sins of commission by the Left and the sins of omission by the Right.

However, in the last 4-5 years, some ideas—originating largely from civil society initiatives, rather than incumbent politicians—have emerged and are being advanced as an alternative to the pernicious two-state, Land-for-Peace proposal.

But as well intentioned as they undoubtedly are, virtually all these alternatives are poorly thought through. Almost without exception, their point of departure appears not be Israel’s strategic imperatives and how to adequately address them, but rather an endeavor to provide a proposal that is something other than the two-state Land-for-Peace formula.

Sadly, as appallingly risk-fraught as the two-state concept is, not everything that is not a two-state proposal is necessarily better than the two-state proposal. Indeed, most the alternatives being advanced by the Israeli Right demonstrably endanger the future of the Zionist enterprise no less—arguably, even more—than the two-state paradigm, which they are meant to replace.

Typically, such alternative proposals fall into three major categories:

– Those that propose to preserve the status quo by means of “conflict management”.
– Those that propose the annexation of all the territory in Judea-Samaria, together with its Arab residents.  

– Those that propose partial annexation of Judea-Samaria and suggest allowing some sort of self-rule to Arab residents in a quilted patchwork of miniscule disconnected enclaves in about 40% (or less) of the territory.

The Lebanonization or the Balkanization of Israel

None of these proposals chart a clear path to a strategic future, in which Israel can fulfill the raison d’etre for its establishment – i.e. can endure over time as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Indeed, as I have repeatedly been at pains to point out:

– The “conflict management” approach is little more than “kicking the can down the road”  towards an even more risk-fraught future, waiting for the Palestinian Arabs—for some yet-to-be-articulated reason—to morph into something they have not been for the last 100 years and show little signs of becoming in the foreseeable future. Last week, I underscored the increasingly untenable situation that attempts to “manage the conflict” have wrought in the environs of Jerusalem by quoting the caveats of an erstwhile advocate of this approach. Indeed, it is difficult to comprehend what outcomes “conflict management” adherents envisage resulting in the long-run, from a policy of open-ended discriminatory rule over an increasing—and increasingly recalcitrant—population, held in indefinite political limbo.

– The full annexation of Judea-Samaria and the incorporation of the Arab residents into the permanent population with some form of enfranchisement will inexorably result in the Lebanonizaton of Israeli society and the eventual Islamization of the country—even if the optimistic demographers are right in their assessment, and after annexation, the Muslim sector will comprise “only” 35-40% of the population.

– Partial annexation of Judea-Samaria and restricting the bulk of the Arab population to a  patchwork of miniscule disconnected semi-autonomous enclaves will lead to an unsustainable Balkanized situation—with a tortuous border of anything up to 2000 km, making it almost impossible to demarcate and secure Israel’s sovereign territory, effectively rendering that sovereignty meaningless.  

Failure on the Right   

The political Right in Israel has failed to capitalize on its adversaries’ failures, on its own electoral successes and the clear, innate support it enjoys in the Israeli public.

It has failed to convey how ludicrous it is for anyone professing to subscribe to enlightened liberal values to endorse the establishment of yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim majority tyranny—which is of course what the real significance of the two-state formula is.

Inexplicably, still somehow intimidated by disproven dictates of political correctness, the political Right fails to identify the Palestinians for what they really are—and how they define themselves as a collective – an implacable enemy and not a prospective peace partner.

The political Right has failed to correctly conceptualize the conflict as a clash between two collectives with irreconcilable core objectives in which only one can emerge victorious and the other vanquished—and hence, both morally and practically, Israeli collective security must be given priority over individual enemy rights.

It has failed to formulate a policy which adequately addresses Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives necessary to ensure its survival as the nation-state of the Jews. To the contrary, instead of Israel’s strategic imperatives dictating the objectives of its diplomacy, it has allowed diplomatic difficulties to dictate Israel’s strategic policy.

Only once these failures have been adequately redressed, can the Israeli Right begin to formulate policy alternatives that will be any less perilous than the two-state, Land for Peace paradigm which it rightly—and righteously—rejects.