Why Palestinian Statehood obviates Israeli Victory

For fruits of Israeli victory to endure, any post-victory reality must preclude a self-governing Palestinian entity, which would always be subjected to external incitement to fight the Jewish “intruders”

Of all the nations at the UN the Palestinian state would be the only one which has limits imposed on its sovereignty, the only one without an army or air force. It would be the only one in the world that would be classified as second-class state; it would resemble the black protectorates in South Africa. Such inferiority…would mean a deepening of Palestinian humiliation, an intensification of the enmity towards Israel and the perpetuation of the Arab-Jewish conflict. This is the real pitfall in the proposal to establish a separate Palestinian state between us and the desert. – Prof. Amnon Rubinstein “The Pitfall of a Third State (Hebrew), Ha’aretz,  August 8, 1976.

This was not really the topic I originally intended to write on this week.

Indeed, having devoted my last three columns ( see  here,  here and here)  to the newly launched Congressional Israel Victory Caucus  (CIVC), I thought the time had come to turn to other issues—like, for instance, an analysis of the rambling 5000-word rant  in Haaretz by Ehud Barak, trying to prove that the “Right” (and reality) got it wrong, while  the “Left”, despite being proven continuously and catastrophically wrong,  got it right.

Eagerly accepted invitation

However, following this week’s response by Daniel Pipes, the driving force behind CIVC, to my tripartite analysis of his initiative, a good number of readers urged me to address the points he raised—particularly the few on which our views appear to diverge.

Accordingly, I will forgo the tempting opportunity to lampoon the presumptuous gall of the man, who, as prime minister abandoned South Lebanon to Hezbollah and under whom the Second Intifada erupted, and who as defense minister oversaw two inconclusive (to be charitable) campaigns against Hamas in Gaza, purporting to have the definitive prescription for the nation’s security.  Instead, I shall turn my attention once again to the issue of Israeli victory and Pipes’s comments on the positions I articulated thereon.

I do this because I feel the CIVC is an initiative of critical importance with genuine paradigmatic game-changing potential for the discourse—and hence, policy formulation – regarding both the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the wider Arab-Israel one.   

I begin this week’s discussion with an expression of thanks to Pipes for his thoughtful–and thought-provoking—reply, which, revealed wide areas of agreement between us, leaving me greatly heartened.  Indeed, he sums up: “I’m encouraged that we agree on so much and look forward to working together to promote a goal whose time has come: Israel victory.

Similarly encouraged, I eagerly accept his kind invitation to work together to promote the notion of—and the need for—Israel to be victorious.

Revolutionizing the rhetoric?

Arguably one of the most significant contributions the promotion of the CIVC initiative has made to the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the realm of the rhetoric in which it is conducted.  

For the first time in several decades, certainly within the post-Oslo period, has a prominent center of intellectual endeavor, the Middle East Forum, headed by Pipes, himself a scholar of international repute, adopted language invoking harsh coercive measures, specifically designed to break the will of the Palestinian-Arabs to sustain their struggle against Israel.

Thus, with commendable daring, Pipes has opened up the mainstream discourse for the use of terms, previously beyond the pale in “polite company”.

Thus, he unabashedly calls for  subjecting the Palestinians to “the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair” and does not shy away from prescribing that Israel  “dismantle  the PA’s security infrastructure…reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies…occupy and control the areas from which…gunfire, mortar shelling, and rockets…originate.”

This is both refreshing and beneficial, for it will contribute greatly to breaking up the semantic “logjam” that the tyranny of political correctness has imposed on the discussion of Israeli policy options.  By dispelling sematic taboos that restrict open debate, the CIVC rhetoric can contribute greatly to a more robust and unfettered appraisal of such options.

Debating disagreement

Pipes concisely sums up the principal point of disagreement between us: “Sherman and I directly disagree on only one point – Israel accepting the possibility of a Palestinian state”.  He goes on to speculate that “… the allure of a state after the conflict ends offers benefits to both sides. Israelis will be free of ruling unwanted subjects. Palestinians have a reason to behave.

He elaborates on his rationale for the benefits he envisions emerging from the establishment of a Palestinian state, pursuant to an Israeli victory: “…when Palestinians do finally give up the fight against Israel, their centrality to the conflict will enfeeble anti-Zionism from Morocco to Indonesia….” He admits: “That shift won’t happen instantly, to be sure”, but somewhat optimistically suggests that “sustaining a more-Catholic-than-the-pope position gets harder over time. A Palestinian defeat marks the beginning of the end of the wider Arab and Muslim war on Israel.”

I confess to a certain amount of surprise at encountering this view from someone as knowledgeable and well-informed as Pipes.  For he appears to be embracing the unfounded thesis that Arab/Muslim enmity towards the Jewish state centers solely—or at least , almost so—on the issue of self-determination for the Palestinian-Arabs.

Sadly, this is demonstrably untrue—or at least, only very partially true.

Indeed, it is a matter of historical record that rejection of a Jewish state pre-dates the dispute over the establishment of a Palestinian-Arab one in Judea-Samaria—and there are manifold reasons for believing that it will definitely post-date any such event.

“Root cause” or “red herring”?

The crucial question is therefore whether the demand for Palestinian statehood is indeed a genuine grievance, which, once addressed, will remove any further pretext for rejection of Jewish statehood? Or whether it is not?  There is little to substantiate the former and much to corroborate the latter.

After all, the entire area of Judea-Samaria, now claimed as the Palestinian-Arabs’ ancient homeland, was under Arab control for two decades after Israel’s founding (1948-1967). without even the feeblest of effort being made to set up an independent state for them. Moreover, in their original National Covenant – formulated in 1964(!) the Palestinian Arabs themselves eschew any sovereign claim to that territory—see Article 24.  It was thus not a desire to liberate Nablus, Hebron or Ramallah that prompted the murderous pan-Arab attempt to obliterate the Jewish state in June 1967, accompanied by bloodcurdling declarations of genocidal intent by leaders across the Arab world—before Israel held a square inch of the “West Bank” or laid a single brick in the construction of any “settlement” – see  Reassessing ‘Root Causes’ And ‘Red Herrings’ .

Indeed, it would take a giant leap of (largely unfounded) faith to believe that the establishment of a micro-mini statelet (presumably demilitarized), established as the result of a humiliating defeat, would defuse the ample Judeophobic frenzy rampant across the Arab/Muslim world today.

As Professor Amnon Rubinstein, Israel Prize Laureate and long serving Left-wing Knesset member, of the far-left dovish Meretz faction,  once pointed out (see opening excerpt), this is even liable to induce “a deepening of Palestinian humiliation and an intensification of the enmity towards Israel and the perpetuation of the Arab-Jewish conflict.”

Inevitable symbiosis with hostile environment

The surrender of the Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria (and presumably Gaza as well) to the hated Zionists is unlikely to placate hatemongers of the ilk of the hugely influential Qatar-based Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qardawi, the head of Hezbollah, Hasan Nassrallah , the theocratic tyrants in Tehran, or the countless Salafist/Wahhabi firebrands across the Arabian peninsula and beyond.

As I suggested in earlier columns, unless there is some formula for decoupling the defeated Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria-Gaza from the wider Arab/Muslim world (to which they see themselves belonging and vice versa) any self-governing Palestinian entity would by easy prey to the deluge of incitement that would almost inevitably follow its inception.

Even Shimon Peres, seems to have been alive to this danger, when in his book, The New Middle East  he asked how any future Palestinian state (even if initially demilitarized) could  “guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the lowlands?” Perhaps even more pointedly, he pressed: “And if the Palestinian state would be unarmed, how would it block terrorist acts perpetrated by extremists, fundamentalists or irredentists?”

It is this almost inevitable symbiosis with the surrounding hostile Arab/Muslim world, unaffected by Palestinian surrender within Judea-Samaria-Gaza, that sets the Palestinian conflict apart from other historical precedents such as the surrender of Germany and Japan in WWII.


Who is doing the surrendering?

Israel has repeatedly—and rightly—raised—the question of who, among the Palestinian-Arabs, is authorized to sign a binding peace agreement with it.  But an equally valid question is which Palestinians would be authorized to sign a binding document of surrender?

Thus, could Mahmoud Abbas, widely perceived as an illegitimate president, surrender in the name of the Palestinian Authority? Or Fatah? Would a Fatah surrender be binding on Hamas? If not what would be the consequences? Would Hamas’s acquiescence to surrender commit the Islamic Jihad or the host of Salafist Jihadis in adjacent Sinai?

Given the critical strategic importance of the territory designated for any prospective Palestinian state (see here and here), these are questions that cannot be left long unaddressed – for they impinge directly and dramatically on the validity of the CIVC as a policy-relevant enterprise.

It is the foregoing analysis that has led me to what, in my mind, is an unavoidable conclusion: For the fruits of an Israeli victory to be lasting, any post-victory reality must preclude the establishment of some self-governing Palestinian entity, which would always be subjected to external sources of incitement designed to reignite the Palestinian will to fight the Jewish “intruders” on land they consider Arab.

The only way to ensure that such resurgent irredentist forces do not emerge is to remove the potentially recalcitrant population from the disputed areas—for good.  

In order to avoid the need to effect that removal by inflicting large-scale casualties on the Palestinian population I have advocated a less kinetic approach, involving generously funded emigration for individual non-belligerent Palestinian-Arabs.

Unwarranted skepticism

I have proposed achieving this by setting up a comprehensive system of ample material incentives for leaving, and daunting disincentives for staying. The former would include highly attractive grants for relocation and rehabilitation in third party countries, while the later would include the coercive dismantling of the Palestinian Authority and the phased withdrawal of services currently provided by Israel to the Palestinian collective—measures Pipes himself has endorsed (see above).

Pipes, however, has expressed reservations as to the practical efficacy of funded emigration. He writes: “Due to intense nationalism, even stronger social pressure, and likely threats of violence, I highly doubt this scheme will find significant numbers of takers” although he does concede that “it’s certainly worth a try”.  


It is not precisely clear on what the skepticism regarding the effectiveness of funded emigration, is based. Indeed, much of it would appear unwarranted. After all, not only is its conceptual logic far sounder than other alternatives but it also rests on far more empirical support than they do –particularly the two-state proposal.  

There is, in fact, ample evidence—both statistical and anecdotal—indicating a wide- spread desire among the Arab residents of the “West Bank” and Gaza to seek their future elsewhere—even without an effective system of incentives/disincentives being put in place.

Unwarranted skepticism (cont.)

Thus several years ago, the New York Times wrote of the growing desire to emigrate: “Where young Palestinians once dreamed of staying to build a new state, now many are giving up and scheming to get out”, reporting that “According to…polls for Birzeit University, 35 percent of Palestinians over the age of 18 want to emigrate. Nearly 50 percent of those between 18 and 30 would leave if they could”.  When a prospective emigrant was asked by the NYT “What about those who would accuse you of giving up your rights in your land?” he replied “I don’t care…I want to live happily”.

A similar picture was reflected in a Jerusalem Post account of sentiment among the Palestinian-Arabs:  “Alarmed by the growing number of Palestinians who are emigrating from the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian Authority’s mufti has issued a fatwa [religious decree] forbidding Muslims to leave.”

Recent polls conducted by leading Palestinian institutes consistently show between 45-55% of Gazans wish to emigrate permanently, while 25-35 % in Judea-Samaria express such wishes. Clearly, if Israel were to reduce and eventually cease provision of goods and  services, while offering significant financial incentives to leave, the numbers could be expected to rise considerably…

This is a very truncated presentation of the evidence indicating that large-scale economically incentivized emigration of the Palestinian-Arabs is eminently feasible.

My appeal to the CIVC

Accordingly, since the CIVC cannot remain a politically viable enterprise if it restricts itself to generic calls for victory—especially if it plans to partner with a sister victory caucus in the Knesset—I urge its authors to adopt the funded emigration paradigm as its preferred path to victory.  

I therefore issue a reciprocal invitation to its enterprising initiator, Pipes, to jointly explore ways to advance it and overcome/circumvent obstacles to its implementation by demonstrating its political acceptability, economic affordability, practical applicability, legal compatibility and above all, its moral superiority.


ISRAEL VICTORY CAUCUS: Can We Ask the Palestinians to Leave?

Original title: Israel victory caucus – Assessing actionable alternatives

The Humanitarian Paradigm, advocating funded emigration of Palestinian-Arabs  appears the most plausible method for achieving the goals of the Israel Victory Caucus.

The major issue is not [attaining] an agreement, but ensuring the actual implementation of the agreement in practice.  The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than number which they have kept – Shimon Peres, Tomorrow is Now (Hebrew),  1978

Even if the Palestinians agree that their state have no army or weapons, who can guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the lowlands? And if the Palestinian state would be unarmed, how would it block terrorist acts perpetrated by extremists, fundamentalists or irredentists?Shimon Peres, The New Middle East, 1993

Last week’s column was devoted to the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CVIC) by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), and initiated by the Middle East Forum headed by Daniel Pipes its founder and president.

In the column, I began an analysis of the initiative, setting out some of its considerable merits and pointing out several difficulties that need to be addressed and others that need to be avoided;  and undertook to continue to discuss further aspects relating to the practical implementation of this crucially important enterprise.

A brief reminder

Readers will recall that the underlying spirit of the CIVC departs sharply from long-standing conventional wisdom regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It rejects the view that the resolution of this conflict is contingent on ongoing and ever-more generous Israeli concessions.  Instead, CIVC holds that this can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory –and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat. Accordingly, US policy should reflect understanding of this restructured rationale and allow Israel to implement it.

While warmly commending this prescription for a radical redirection of endeavor, I cautioned that several aspects of the initiative will have to be fleshed out if it is to be transmuted from the sphere of well-intentioned generic guidelines to the realm of actionable policy prescriptions for Israel.  

Accordingly, I urged the authors of  CIVC to provide an operational definition of what would comprise an irrefutable Israeli victory and an undeniable Palestinian defeat. For absent such a definition, it is neither possible for Israel to know what to accomplish on the one hand, nor to impose on the Palestinians on the other.  

This is particularly pertinent as a parallel caucus is planned for launch in the Knesset this summer—and which, if it is to be in anyway  politically relevant, will have to champion the implementation of specific policy prescriptions.

Moreover, I observed that it would be necessary to outline what Israel’s post-victory policy should comprise—lest surrender (real or feigned) become a means to attain the very “fruits of victory” denied prior to admission of defeat.

The relevance of this latter point is thrown into sharp relief by the third element I raised: The need to avoid being misled by inappropriate historical analogies in which victory/defeat did, in fact, result in ending conflict and war.  This is particularly true in the case of Germany and Japan, neither of which were adjacent to large swathes of ethnically kindred nations, which could provide a constant stream of incitement, insurgents and armaments to undermine any arrangement or undercut any post-victory resolution the victorious party may wish to implement.

Post-Victory Policy & the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim nexus

This is something that has—or at least, ought to have—dramatic impact on the design of post-victory policy regarding the Palestinian-Arabs, pursuant to their acceptance of defeat.

After all, what might seem prudent and pragmatic under one set of circumstance (in which the defeated populace is effectively decoupled from inimical extraneous influences) may well be foolhardy, even fatally fanciful under another (in which the defeated populace is effectively exposed to such influences).

Of course, the term “influence”, would embrace diverse elements such as the supply of materiel and personnel, financial support and ideological reinforcement.

Painted in admittedly very broad brush strokes, this is essentially the seminal difference between the possible post-victory arrangements that were plausible in the case of Germany and Japan on the one hand, but not in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other.  Clearly any post-victory scenario in the case of “Palestine”, embedded as it is in an Arab-Muslim milieu, would resemble Iraq/Afghanistan scenario rather than the German/Japan one.

Indeed, the Palestinian-Arabs have always identified themselves as an integral part of the “Arab nation” and, conversely, the wider Arab world has always identified them as an integral part of itself.

It is not difficult to see how this fact has direct and far-reaching bearing on the prudence and the practicality` of establishing a state (or even some other self-governing quasi-state entity).   

Post-victory Palestinian policy

Accordingly, in a scenario, in which the defeated Palestinian-Arabs are detached and insulated from hostile inputs from the wider Arab world, it might well be reasonable to envisage the feasibility of a durable and docile Palestinian entity, chastened by defeat, and insulated from hostile incitement and insurgency, living in relative harmony alongside the Jewish nation-state.  

However, in an alternative –and a patently more plausible –scenario, in which they are not, this is hardly a likely outcome.

After all, any  Palestinian-Arab administration, established in the wake of an unconditional surrender, will almost inevitably be seen in the wider, and largely inimical, Arab world,  as a perfidious “puppet regime”, in the service of the heinous Zionist entity. As such, it is certain to be branded as illegitimate by much of the Arab/Muslim world, to which the bulk of Palestinian-Arabs, exposed to the perspectives of their ethnic kinfolk beyond their borders, see themselves as belonging. Cooperation with it is likely to be condemned as cowardly treason and resistance to it, lauded as a noble duty.

Without ongoing Israeli control, incipient revolt will always be simmering near the surface, threatening to erupt.  

Adding the emerging potential for turmoil in neighboring Jordan, where the majority of the population is reportedly of Palestinian origins, only exacerbates this imminent threat of incitement and agitation against any post-victory arrangement with Israel.

Ensuring the fruits of victory

Indeed, Pipes himself in Jordan at the Precipice, underscores the precarious position of the current regime, warning that for Jordan today “dangers are manifold. ISIS lurks in Syria and Iraq”.

He cites dour evaluations from senior Israeli diplomatic sources that the Hashemite kingdom faces growing instability amid economic woes and an influx of Syrian refugeesissuing “a pessimistic assessment on the firmness of the regime”.

Little imagination is required to grasp what a tectonic effect regime-change in Jordan would herald for the viability of any arrangement involving a neighboring, perhaps even abutting, self-governing Palestinian entity, particularly if established on the assumption of that regime’s durability.  

Accordingly, unless Israel is willing to maintain permanent control of any post-victory Palestinian-Arab entity, it is virtually certain that any compliant Palestinian-Arab administration would be a target of irredentist subversion from a myriad of Judeophobic actors (both state and non-state) across the Arab world and beyond.

The most plausible conclusion that emerges from this analysis is that any post-victory policy, aimed at sustaining the fruits of Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat, must convey the unequivocal message that no such entity is forthcoming—ever.

For unless such hopes are extinguished permanently, there will always be room for belief that defeat is merely temporary and that, at some later stage, the Jewish state will somehow be purged from the region.  

The question now, of course is:  How is this to be accomplished?

Achieving Victory: The “kinetic” route

Of course, the most common manner in which victory is achieved, and defeat inflicted, is by the use of naked military might.   Indeed, it appears this is more or less what Pipes envisages. Thus, in his A New Strategy for Israeli Victory  he writes “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair…”

In last week’s column I raise a question as to the feasible scope of devastation that can be wrought upon the Palestinian-Arabs in order to bring about their unconditional capitulation. How many Palestinian casualties would Israel need to inflict in order to achieve this?  10,000 fatalities?  20,000? As a somber reminder—and a very rough yardstick—it should be recalled that in the 1948 War of Independence, Israel suffered losses of over 6000—around 1% of the total Jewish population then—without bringing about any thoughts of unconditional surrender.

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

And once the fighting subsides, would Israel be responsible for providing the defeated populace with food and shelter, and for shouldering the burden (at least partially) for the massive reconstruction called for?

Achieving Victory: The “non-kinetic” route

There is, however, an alternative route to victory, one that is essentially “non-kinetic”,(or at least considerably less “kinetic”, than a full scale military invasion of Judea-Samaria and Gaza). It is an alternative that I have been advocating for over a decade and which I have designated the “Humanitarian Paradigm”.

In broad brush strokes, this involves differentiating between the Palestinian-Arab collective and individual Palestinian-Arabs. It calls for declaring the Palestinian-Arab collective precisely what it—and its leadership—declares itself to be, an implacable enemy of the Jewish nation-state…and for treating it as such.

The unavoidable imperative for this was aptly articulated by Israel Harel in Haaretz :“As long as Israel refrains from unequivocally defining the enemy, even the four brigades sent as reinforcements to Judea and Samara and the thousands of exhausted soldiers” will be of little avail, adding incisively: “The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy. Terrorism is the means of combat that the Palestinians are using. Their ultimate goal is to expel us from our land.” 

Accordingly, the Jewish nation-state has neither moral obligation nor practical interest to sustain the social fabric or economic well-being of a collective dedicated to its destruction. To the contrary, an overwhelming case can be made – on both ethical and practical grounds – that it should let them collapse.

How Humanitarian Paradigm & Victory Caucus dovetail

Israel should, therefore, give notice that it will begin a phased withdrawal of all merchandize and services it currently provides that enemy collective—water, electricity, fuel, postal services, communications, port facilities, tax collection or remittances.  

In parallel, it should cease recognition of the authority of the Palestinian-Arab regimes in Judea-Samaria and Gaza, while offering generous relocation grants to non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals to provide them and their families with the opportunity of a better, safer life elsewhere in third party countries out of harm’s way and free from the clutches of the cruel corrupt cliques–who have callously misled them from disaster to disaster for decades.

The political feasibility and the economic affordability of this policy paradigm have been discussed elsewhere so I will forego a repeated review of them here. However it should be clear that, given the abundance of external sources of inimical sentiment that can ignite aggression, it is only by permanently denuding the hostile Arab presence in the disputed territory, that Israel can ensure that this territory will not become a platform from which to launch attacks against it in the future (see Shimon Peres in introductory excerpts).  This is the only way to smother Arab hopes of someday prising  loose the Jewish hold on land they consider Arab.

But given the manifest obstacles in achieving this by means of wholesale expulsion by kinetic measures, this non-kinetic formula appears to be the most plausible method for achieving the goals of the Victory Caucus—and one that  should be vigorously explored by its authors.

It’s Time for Israel to Win

Originally published under the name: The Israel Victory Caucus: Kudos and Caveats

The launch of Israel Victory Caucus is an initiative that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer in the discourse on  the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error…there is no shortcut.Daniel Pipes, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, Commentary, December 14, 2016.

At just about the time that this column was submitted for publication (Thursday, April 27, 2017), an event of potentially great long-term significance was taking place in Washington. This was the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) by Congressmen Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).

Welcome & Timely

The launch was the culmination of an initiative of the Middle East Forum (MEF), headed by its president, prominent scholar, Daniel Pipes, aided by MEF Director, Gregg Roman.

According to a MEF press release : “The caucus calls for a new U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the emphasis on Israel making ‘painful concessions’ and instead putting the onus on Palestinians – they must give up the goal of destroying Israel and recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

A similar sentiment was conveyed in a remark by Rep. DeSantis : Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, as we share common national interests and possess similar national values. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East; it is the solution to many of the problems that bedevil the region.American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence.”

This launch of a congressional caucus promoting the notion of Israeli victory, rather than Israeli appeasement, is a decidedly welcome and timely—indeed, a long overdue—development.  This is particularly true since in the political and strategic discourse in Israel itself, the idea of “Victory” seems to have been entirely expunged from the lexicon of the nation’s decision-makers—both as an attainable (alas, even a desirable) operational goal and as a valid cognitive notion. Disturbingly, this appears to be the case even among the senior echelons of the IDF officer class and other branches of the security establishment.

Indeed as MEF president Pipes lamented several years ago: “no one at the upper echelons of Israel’s political life articulates the imperative for victory. For this reason, I see Israel as a lost polity, one full of talent, energy, and resolve but lacking direction…”

It is left to hope that the newly launched CIVC will constituent a step towards remedying this grave lacuna.

Collapse of conventional wisdom

The conceptual foundations of CIVC are eminently sound and derive from the indisputable failure of conventional wisdom regarding conflict resolution, in general and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in particular.  

Thus, in his recent Israeli victory is the only way to advance peace process, Roman challenges prevailing precepts: “Today’s conventional wisdom holds that conflicts are best resolved through negotiation and compromise. But let’s look at the facts. After 40 years of negotiations to reunite Cyprus, the island remains divided, and 60 years of standoff over the Korean peninsula have achieved little. In Syria, the killing continues unabated despite five years of talks to reconcile Sunnis and Alawites. And at the same time, years of diplomatic efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear program ended with the West’s capitulation to Tehran’s demands.”

He adds pointedly: “The negotiations fallacy is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

Roman goes on to stipulate the elements of a bold new strategy for attaining peace. Citing several historical examples to corroborate his contention –from the time of the Roman Empire, through the American Civil War to World War II—he asserts “For most of human history, military victory ended wars”. Applying this to the Arab Israeli context, he concludes: “In order for there to be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel must win and the Palestinians must lose.”

Condemning concessions

The elements of Roman’s blueprint closely mirror the principles laid out by MEF president Pipes, in several earlier pieces, including a recent piece in Commentary, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory .

In it, he articulated the imperative for imposing defeat sufficiently devastating on the Palestinians so as to break their will to persist in fighting Israel and their endeavor to destroy the Jewish state.  He provides a compelling case against Israel’s two decades long policy of concessions intended to generate Palestinian goodwill and argues, as I have done repeatedly in the past,  that these have not only proven to be futile but detrimental, Indeed, they have tended to whet the Palestinians appetite, rather than satiate it.

Pipes castigates successive Israeli governments: “Thus [Rabin’s] government and all its successors agreed to a wide array of concessions…always hoping the Palestinians would reciprocate by accepting the Jewish state…They never did. To the contrary, Israeli compromises aggravated Palestinian hostility. Each gesture further radicalized…the Palestinian body politic. Israeli efforts to “make peace” were received as signs of demoralization and weakness.”

Against this backdrop of the recurring failure of repeated concessions and conciliation, Pipes proclaims: “Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat.”

“The bitter crucible of defeat…”

Accordingly, he proposes striking out in a new (or more precisely, a renewed) direction: “This brings us to the key concept of my approach, which is victory, or imposing one’s will on the enemy, compelling him through loss to give up his war ambitions…”

He observes: “Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted the will to fight,” and correctly cautions that,  by contrast: “…so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume.”

In applying these general principles to the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian context, Pipes presents (see opening excerpt) a stark and stern prescription for ending the conflict: “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair…

In this, Pipes largely embraces the spirit of measures I called for just over a decade-and-half ago in an Op-Ed piece entitled Conquer or capitulate (and again, in a later version),  in which, I argued (much like Pipes and Roman) that, without inflicting devastating defeat on the Palestinians, there would be no end to the conflict.

There were, however, some important differences between our approaches—which brings me from the kudus to the caveats.

Defining “Defeat”  

If the idea of “peace through victory” is to become more than an academic exercise in political theorizing, it needs to be advanced from its conceptualization to its operationalization.  

This means the prescribed “Victory”—and its derivative “Defeat”—cannot be left as abstract concepts.  Clearly, if they are to be adopted as practical policy goals, they need to be given clear operational definitions.  For without a clear idea of  what has to be achieved on the one hand  and what has to be inflicted on the adversary on the other, the notion of “peace through victory”—and any congressional caucuses founded on it—will never, indeed can never,  lead to any actionable policy prescriptions.

It is, thus, not sufficient to merely advocate desisting from a policy of conciliation and concessions, but it is essential to designate what would be considered an adequate victory and a resultant effective defeat?

Moreover, given the attainment of such “victory”, what are the ramifications of victory to be and what should the elements of “post-victory” policies comprise?  

Can the currently declared demands of the Palestinians, prior to “defeat” (i.e. statehood), be acceded to, pursuant to “defeat”—without such defeat becoming, paradoxically and perversely, a medium for attaining the fruits of victory that previously eluded them.

These are questions that the CIVC initiative cannot ignore or evade if this worthy endeavor is to be translated into practical policy.  This is particularly true, since, according to the previously cited MEF press release, a parallel caucus in Israel’s Knesset is to be launched in Jerusalem this July.  For while it may be possible for the US-based legislative caucus to confine itself to well-intentioned generic policy guidelines, this is a luxury an Israeli-based legislative caucus does not have.

Victory: From Conceptualization to Operationalization

For if such a caucus is to be in anyway politically relevant, it will not be able to avoid formulating actionable policy prescriptions relating to the conditions that need to be achieved for Israeli victory and to be imposed for Palestinian defeat.

This would involve addressing questions such as:

Would “victory”/”defeat” entail the formal declaration of surrender by the Palestinians?  If so, by which Palestinians?

Would this have to be binding on both Fatah and Hamas? If not, what would the repercussions of this be? If it would include Hamas, would it be binding on other radical extremist organizations?  If not, what would the repercussions of this be?

Would “victory”/”defeat”   call for exile (permanent or temporary?) of the belligerent Palestinian political leadership? If so, to where? If not, what would be its fate and status? Would they be prosecuted/ incarcerated?

Would “victory”/”defeat” entail dismantling all of the armed Palestinian organizations and a resumption of Israeli responsibility for law and order? For how long?
Perhaps most crucially: How many Palestinian casualties would Israel need to inflict in order to achieve “victory” (i.e. unconditional Palestinian surrender)? Could Israel inflict this number without incurring highly detrimental international sanctions? Could Israel inflict such a number without precipitating international intervention, even military – by, say, Turkey, Iran, or other Arab states?

But beyond such specific questions,  perhaps the most elemental  and  daunting challenge would be not to stipulate what constitutes “victory” but to persuade decision-making echelons that such “victory” actually is feasible.

Given the hold that concessionary political correctness has on the mindset of many Israeli decision-makers this will be no easy task even if the potential advantages of obtaining such a victory are not disputed. This would require initiating and fostering/promoting vigorous and ongoing public debate to apply pressure on decision makers to adopt a concept now largely discredited as unobtainable.

Avoiding Inappropriate Analogies.

In stipulating parameters for Israeli victory, and the resultant ramifications for subsequent Israeli policy, it is important not to be misled by inappropriate historical precedents.

In making the historical case for the victory-induced peace, both Pipes and Roman invoke  the cases of Germany and Japan. Roman writes: “….German and Japanese ill-will toward Western democracies in World War II rapidly dissipated, thanks to the bitter pill of defeat; friendship soon followed.”; while Pipes remarks: “…if Germans and Japanese, no less fanatical and far more powerful, could be defeated in World War II and then turned into normal citizens, why not the Palestinians now?

While this is factually true, these instances are unlikely to be instructive for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, at least as far as post-victory policy design is concerned.

After all, it should be recalled that in these cases the vanquished powers were not surrounded by, or adjacent to, countries with large populations of ethnic kin/co-religionists, who could sustain resistance and incite unrest within their borders.

Thus, Germany was not surrounded by a swathe of Teutonic nations, nor Japan by a swathe of Nipponese nations, which could provide a constant stream of insurgents and armaments to undermine any arrangement or undercut any resolution the victorious powers wished to implement.

This, however, would definitely be the case in the Israeli/Palestinian situation, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, where neighboring Islamic states constituted a virtually unending source of instability and incitement after initial victory.

Clearly, this is an element that has dramatic implications  for post-victory policy—especially with regard to the prospect of relinquishing Israeli control over any territory to Palestinian rule—even after a crushing defeat has been inflicted.

To be continued…

The CIVC initiative is an enterprise that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer with regard to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As such, it merits more than one column in this INTO THE FRAY series.  

Accordingly, subject to breaking news, I will devote next week’s column to further analysis of the possible pay-offs and pitfalls this commendably daring initiative could herald.  

In it, I intend to broach such topics as: “Distinguishing deterring enemies from defeating them”; “The Palestinian-Arab-Muslim nexus”; “Kinetic and non-kinetic routes to victory”  and perhaps most importantly “The Victory  caucus and the Humanitarian Paradigm: Two highly compatible concepts

Until then: Happy Independence Day