Islam Undressed: Hard Options in Israel
So much emphasis is being placed on finding Peace in Israel, so much unwarranted blame for the world’s Islamic problem laid at the feet of the Israeli people for their failure to sufficiently accommodate and pacify Palestinian demands. The whole conflict, couched as it is in terms of a disenfranchised persecuted people, is not the force that guides Islam’s hand against Israel and the West. Arabs and Muslims living in Israel as citizens are treated infinitely better than Palestinians living in Jordan, Kuwait, and other Arab lands. For orthodox Muslims, it’s all just a convenient pretext to practice Jihad on the world stage while hiding behind the cloak of more widely accepted nationalistic goals. We go back to this topic for study because the struggles facing Israel and the stark options she faces against a world sympathetic to the Palestinian cause may be similar to the options the US faces in its "War" on terror.
In a misguided attempt to be even-handed, liberal editorialists suggest Palestinian terrorist activities against Israel should be viewed as legitimate wartime action against a more powerful adversary, but all such suggestions are nothing more than immoral attempts to manipulate public opinion to accept suicide bombers and terrorists as legitimate. Without saying as much, these arguments presumably extend from the 'total war' philosophy adopted to justify attacks against a nation’s infrastructure and civilians as necessary for defense and victory. However, absent from these suggestions is the implication that any nation or people adopting a 'total war' fighting philosophy, must also accept the same approach from their declared enemies without complaint. As such, Israeli incursions are as legitimate as the bombers, and anyone who laments Israelis response, while at the same time justifying the bombers and those who send them as legitimate wartime activities, are nothing more than hypocrites. In fact, by extending the logic, carpet bombings, or indiscriminately targeting the entire Palestinian population by any means is as legitimate as the homicide bombing activity of the Palestinians.
Lets not beat around the bush, if a people or culture declare total war against another people or nation, and employ total-war methods against that nation, that nation has the legitimate right of self defense and must respond with even greater destructiveness and effect to avoid becoming the vanquished. Those who support Islamic militant actions have absolutely no right to whine and complain about fences being built or Israeli incursions. A people as a whole deserve any resulting hardship or loss as natural consequences of their gross thinking errors and the acts that come from them. They and their children will undoubtedly continue to point fingers at Israel, the US, the West et. al., but they lie to themselves. They are individually and collectively responsible for all natural consequences arising from the actions of terrorist leaders, sons, daughters, and neighbors springing from amongst them. On July 11th 2002 even Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization normally against Israel, condemned Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians as "crimes against humanity" and unjustified by Palestinian political grievances.
The range of effective measures Israel could apply to protect itself against an autonomous neighbor is limited. It would seem to be an impossible situation with no easy answers. Indeed there is nothing currently on the table, which the warring parties can agree upon. The hard answers are rarely spoken. If the current ‘cessation of hostilities’ does not hold, the possible Israeli approaches to improve the safety of its citizens are guaranteed to be impalpable to all, and include the following:
1. The do nothing approach, simply hope that international pressures and good conscience result in the Palestinians abandoning their violent methods, so that Oslo or other ‘road map’ negotiations will later become possible.
History has taught Jews more than any other people that weakness is not respected, but ruthlessly exploited. Empirical data shows, and survival now dictates, that the passive, patient, and measured approach now be rejected. Few live under illusions that any accords bearing similarity to Oslo offer any real hope. Most would agree that Israel is correct in believing that pacifism means suicide. The mindset is very instinctive, fight or flight. With each passing day, Israeli pacifists are becoming harder to find.
2. The April 2002 approach. Send in military units to find, arrest, disassemble, and/or destroy terrorists groups and their physical infrastructure. Temporarily occupy the areas as necessary to undermine terrorist planning, and arrest those responsible for past terrorist acts, surging as needed to dissuade terrorists.
The hope is that it will serve to persuade Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah to abandon violence, or at least weaken, delay, and/or prevent the number and frequency of suicide attacks. The political reality is that it is a weak approach and not respected by the Palestinians. It actually serves to further radicalize moderate Arabs and generate more extremists to plan and carry out terrorist events, along with more foreign support for terrorists. Imbedded in this approach lies two opposing goals, the goal of the Israelis to punish the attackers and alter Palestinian policy thus preventing attacks, …and the goal of the Palestinians to demonstrate that the attacks will continue or increase until Israel changes its policies or capitulates. Both the Palestinian and Israelis are mistaken in hopes for a change in the other sides policies and tactics. The extremists will not change, and their lot will grow, their deepest religious convictions require it. The Israelis will not yield to terrorist’s tactics as further concessions could compromise security and endanger the nations existence.
3. Capitulate to the terrorists terms, hand over all pre-1967 areas to Palestine, capitulate to the ‘right-to-return’, (plus whatever else they demand), and hope and pray the people currently trying to kill you will suddenly become kind, considerate, tolerant, and forever respect the rights of the new Jewish minority, and never harm them or their children again.
To the Palestinians, it seems this is their minimum hope for the outcome of all the current infada and, however strange it may seem to us, is actually what they expect the rest of the world to support. The inherit problem in this approach is two-fold. First is that the extremists in the area have well known aspirations that would likely drive them to continued violence despite any concessions. Second (and related), is that the Israelis have a healthy and normal desire to breath. Consider the promises just made preceding the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. The Hezbollah have already proven they cannot be taken at their word except, perhaps, their word articulated in the goal to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean. Arafat proved on numerous occasions that he is a dishonest and untrustworthy broker, Abbas has also demonstrated duplicity.
4. Physically separate the two groups where they stand and live today. Under the premise ‘Good fences make good neighbors’, allow the Palestinians to have their de-facto state behind the fences. [This was a big part of Sharon’s disengagement plan]
The hope is that both countries will eventually find it in their best interest to avoid costly war and cooperate in mutually beneficial ways. Thus far the fence is proving to result in further hardships to the Palestinians, many who depend on access to the Israeli economy, and hardship to the Israeli economy, which depends on Palestinian labor. Upon completion the Palestinian population is totally and permanently dependent on foreign aid from the EU, the US, and Arab nations. Building a fence to separate combatants (who have demonstrated that they cannot make peace between themselves in 60+ years of continuing conflicts) is actually a practical approach to a huge national security problem. It is certain, however, that the Palestinians and their supporters will find a way to continue their methods despite any fence, and the main Palestinian export would not change from what it is today, ... terror and violence. The other problem is that state to state relationships from nearby hostile regimes would quickly result in the formation of a much more lethal and dangerous Palestinian national army not likely to behave themselves behind new fences and walls they loath, so such an approach seems certain to end up resulting in a nasty war, followed by another occupation (back to square-one). It is all but certain that improved Quasam rockets, missiles, and artillery, along with successful efforts to breach the structure, will force Israelis to re-enter the walled territories.
5. An extension of the June 2002 approach. Revoke permanently autonomy in progressive sections of the occupied territories from which terrorist activities originate, controlling and limiting the scope, power, and limits of Palestinian lives within the newly drawn borders. Were talking true occupation, …a police state, …annexation. Occupy the areas and control resident’s lives as necessary to undermine and prevent all armed resistance and all terrorist activity. The logical extension to this policy is to outlaw violent political opposition and deport anyone who refuses to live under Israeli law.
This did not work from 1967 to the mid 1990’s in its various forms, and so returning to it would surely fail to stop extremists today. There is obviously no future in this for anyone, but has been implemented temporarily in the past presumably as a potentially less dangerous and costly option to allowing things to continue as they were. The problem with this approach is that for the common Palestinian, it is not in reality very much different than the existing political climate, and so there will be little or no perception of loss or cost by continuing violent opposition to Jewish police or military attempting to put down violence. This approach will always be deemed weak, and despite the fact that such attempts are always in response to violence, will always be used as an excuse (pretext) for continued murderous acts by Islamic terrorists worldwide.
6. A combination of methods, including more effectively and ruthlessly attacking and dismantling the groups using more heavy handed methods similar to Egyptian approaches to terrorists. Increasing boarder security and travel restrictions between Israel/territories and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and by sea. Decreasing access from the Palestine areas by stricter internal border controls (less freedom of movement for foreign and perhaps even Israeli Arabs). Fences and walls and/or other high tech monitoring systems that make practical and economic sense. More manned checkpoints with a forgery proof national personal and vehicle ID/tracking system that makes it easier/faster to identify legitimate individuals cross-referenced with the vehicles they occupy and any legitimate need/rights to be at a given location. Occupying or annexing for long periods areas or regions from which the worst terrorist activities originate. Immediate, irrevocable deportation of anyone involved in illegal groups or tainted by terror. Relocation and/or massive demolition for areas tainted by terror groups. Targeting leaders for assassination.
The problems related to a combination of responses are the cumulative problems related to each individual reaction, and the prohibitive costs associated with implementing a comprehensive Orwellian police state. Targeting terrorist leadership and recruiters has proven helpful in reducing attacks, but have not stopped them.
7. The Sharon unilateral disengagement plan. Many hoped in vain that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank would adequately appease militants and finally result in real peace. In Germany during the Second World War, unarmed Jews walked helplessly into the ovens and gas chambers.
often enough, but the big question of this century is: Will fully armed Jews continue to paint themselves into a smaller and smaller box, walking carefully but deliberately towards slaughter? The Israeli government's removal of its own citizens from Gaza will go down in history as a suicidal error of huge proportions, a tactical political/military error serving only the ambitions of a resurgent Hamas. The retreat under fire from Gaza could not but encourage more terrorism, because it sent an unambiguous signal to Hamas: Terrorism works. Terrorist groups like Hizbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made it clear their campaign to destroy Israel will continue unabated. Even PLO leaders have declared their intent to continue tried and true methods of violence to rid Jerusalem and the entire West Bank of Jews. The military retreat is seen by passionate Palestinian Islamists as a signal that Israel is weak and ready to be pursued and destroyed. The withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank will soon enough be followed by a terrorist push to cause even greater harm. The move was perplexing considering Sharon’s earlier statements; surely one assumes he must have understood this. In 2003 Sharon defeated Labor party candidate Amram Mitzna. At the time Sharon ridiculed Amram for advocating unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, declaring then:
Later that year he did an apparent Kerry flip-flop articulating a nonnegotiable policy of abandoning Gaza. To many, this represents betrayal of core principals of Zionism. Whether this is in fact a betrayal, or Sharon simply accepting the inevitability of war and positioning Israel to fight an unavoidable battle with the Palestinian militants, is anybody’s guess at this point. Sharon has promised to respond to any violence with greater force after the withdrawal, which is the only encouraging sign that the man has not lost it. Unfortunately, there are even more signs that Sharon does not always act in militarily cognizant ways. In a clear tactical error, Sharon exchanged 429 living terrorists and 59 dead ones for one captured Israeli civilian and the remains of three soldiers in Feb 2004. Not to mention the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon five years ago. The results of these actions were: a) more Israeli deaths as many of the release criminals returned to their terrorist ways, and b) Hizbollah committed unspeakable atrocities on Israel’s former Lebanese Christian allies and deployed huge numbers of rockets aimed at northern and central cities. Does Sharon know what he is doing? It is hard to guess.
The only way an evacuation could possibly work to stop Muslim terrorists would be if Israel backed up the Gaza giveaway by loading up the Israeli side of the security barrier with missiles and artillery, and to fire multiple warheads into population centers for every rocket coming over the other way, and lob even more shells for every terrorist act inside Israel, …until all Palestinian barrages stop. But somehow that seems out of character for Israel. Currently only Palestinians are employing brutal but effective methods of Total War, while Jews are employing 'measured responses' (which is why the Muslims have no motivation to stop). As such, the current equation of war is solidly against the long term survival of Israeli Jews considering the increasing number and range of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, future Palestinian armaments, and Iranian missiles (Palestine will soon enough get a major sea port in Gaza with unfettered access to support by sea, to go along with virtual free land access via Egypt). Creating a Lebanon type buffer zone will not suffice, as to guarantee security any new buffer zone would have to extend from the Egypt to Afghanistan.
8. All out war, including the expulsion of the entire Palestinian population into Syria, Jordan and/or Lebanon. Attacking the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian forces protecting and supporting them, followed by creating wide unpopulated buffer zones and effective borders as necessary (along the lines of the effective Korean demarcation line).
This is dangerous and costly, but actually the most practical and reasonable solution if one was to accept the premise that the probability of the two peoples ever living as peaceful neighbors is at (or near) zero. If that premise is true, then the only answer is for one group or the other to truly be victorious and the other become the vanquished. Although tragic and unnecessary, this approach may eventually become the only realistic option left on the table in order to guarantee one of the groups remains viable to survive intact. Pessimists wait for such a final solution to be eventually adopted by the parties, optimists hope to avoid the calamity. However, for many civilized, intelligent, and educated peoples in the world, if forced to choose as neighbors either; a) the existence of Israel, and end of Palestine, or b) the existence of Palestine, and end of Israel, the choice would be uncomfortable, but easy. The world should not be surprised if this ‘final solution’ is adopted by Israel should Palestinians start killing Israelis in the thousands in Mega attacks.
All familiar with Middle East history realize that there are trained killers claiming to represent both Islam and the Palestinian people determined to prevent any form of a real, lasting, negotiated peace. Their path is set in concrete; they will not be converted to accept another way, and so the fact is that the only way to stop them … is to eliminate them. This is a hard thing to think about. As peaceful options evaporate with ever increasing Palestinian militancy, and as Israel continues to be maneuvered into a corner, no one should be surprised at Israelis responses, which must become increasingly severe and violent. The options to insure survival and prosperity are hard and distasteful, but are probably preferable to a continuation or escalation of the existing situation.
The (latest) declared cease-fire will not hold forever, as it can only be considered temporary (hudna) by Islamic terrorists while they re-group and re-arm. Sadly the obvious eventual logical course of action, and possibly the only approach with any hope permanently ending hostilities, is also guaranteed to be the most painful and distasteful. Perhaps when thousands upon thousands have died, the people of Israel will be prepared to take such a drastic decision. What ever that point is, when the pain and anguish has reached a tragic crescendo of intolerable proportions, some ugly scenario will likely be played out.
Many in Israel and even America are beginning to understand that the problem was not Arafat, or is not Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen or Abu whoever; it is the existence of the Palestinian Authority itself, which is little more than a hothouse for terror, corruption and bloodshed. Installing a new Godfather does not make the Mafia less of a criminal organization. Palestinian leaders have made their true aspirations plain all along, in Arabic: There are no Palestinian leaders who want peace, and there never were. Oslo was a sucker's game from the beginning, nothing more than a diversionary war tactic. The Palestinian Authority is what it has always been: A terrorist organization at war with Israel and the West, willing to settle for nothing less than total victory, starting with Israel's total destruction. Thus, it's not just Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda that must be destroyed for Israel to survive and for America to win the broader war on terror: It's the PA itself. The idea that a Palestinian state under the PA would ever be anything other than a terror state also needs to be retired. In fact, a survey released March 19th, 2003 showed that 60 percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad should continue their armed struggle against Israel even if Israel leaves all of the West Bank and Gaza, including East Jerusalem, and a Palestinian state is created, and also 80 percent say that the Palestinians should never give up the ‘right of return’. (The poll of Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs was released in Washington by Itamar Marcus, founder of Palestinian Media Watch and written by pollster Frank Luntz. It was conducted by two polling firms, the Public Opinion Research of Israel and The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.)