Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sultan Knish on the final showdown

The esteemed Sultan has an interesting perspective on the whole situation. Needless to say, I disagree pretty strongly, but it's not a bad read and is fairly thought-provoking in areas.

The United States and Europe [demand Israel turn over land to a terrorist regime] not merely out of Anti-Semitism, though that is undoubtedly a factor particularly in Europe. They do this because they believe it will pacify the Arabs. This is the refrain and has been the refrain in collumns, in publications, by politicians and diplomats all in one voice proclaiming that the extremism, the terrorism and the hostility towards America and Europe would die down if Israel didn't exist. Never mind the absurdity of this belief, it is premised on a colonialist vision of the world in which the Arabs can be pacified by feeding them a little Israel.

Conflating the US and Europe is already starting off on the wrong foot, particularly given that, regardless of how dis/favorably one views its assistance, the US is generally acknowledged to be Israel's strongest ally. There is certainly something of a colonial element in presuming that giving someone part of what they want is enough to "buy them off", but this is also a basic tenet of diplomacy and any negotiation: compromise. Furthermore, proposing that the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel MIGHT mollify pragmatic Palestinians is hardly the same thing as saying that Arabs or Muslims hate the US and Europe because of Israel. It's also unfair to present the US and all European govts. as agreeing with the "Israel causes the world's problems" sentiment. Certainly Bush doesn't seem to think so. Newspaper op-eds and the odd diplomat rant do not official policy make.

It has never worked and it will never work. But that too doesn't matter. What does matter is this, independence. A final end to colonialism. While the British flag went down in Israel long ago, other flags have always risen in its place. The French flag, the American, even the Russian. Israel and most of the world's Jews believe that Israel needs a friend, a big brother, a protector to survive.

Most countries do, particularly when surrounded by hostile neighbors. Israel's founding generation understood this quite well, which was why it courted public opinion, instead of taking a piss on it.

They forget that the true protector is in heaven and that the big countries we ally with become nothing more than crutches that break under us.

Funny, Israel seemed to be quite happy to have the military aid of "big countries" in all of its wars. I wonder how well it would have fared in 1948 without guns from France or Czechoslovakia, or from America in 1967. And I don't see you suggesting that it should stop using- or asking for- American military or economic aid. I wonder how 1948 would have gone if Ben-Gurion had stuck with a locally-printed Chumash instead of a Sten gun?

Colonialism will not end and independence will not be achieved until the psychological cycle of dependency is finally broken.

This is true enough, though dependency does not automatically equal colonialism. Many of the world's top countries, including America, are dependant on other countries in some capacity. Is America an OPEC colony because it is dependant on it for oil?

...
The illusion Israel faces today is the belief that it can satisfy the demands of the world and still survive. That there is some way out that will satisfy the Palestinian arabs with enough land and thus satisfy the world and still live on in security. There is no such way. There never was.

The Arab desire from the beginning has been the destruction of the land of Israel and the creation of Arab states on that land to redeem their honor. There has never been a different agenda on the table. They are willing to fight for that and die for it and if things go on as they are now, they will succeed. There will not be an Israel, there will be only millions more dead Jews and a stream of refugees seeking shelter around the world.

This is the really interesting part. I agree that as long as the primary Palestinian goal remains maximalist (and, to a certain degree, genocidal), attempts to placate them with territorial give-aways will be unsuccessful, even dangerous. However, it does not follow that this goal is permanent and unchangeable. The creation of a viable pragmatic Palestinian faction would be a condition under which I would say a program of coexistance and two-states would become much more promising. Some would argue that Fatah under Arafat met this description, though this seems overly simplistic, at best. It would be more accurate to say that Fatah included some of the pragmatists, though they certainly don't seem to have been in the overwhelming majority. Indeed, the more that Fatah seemed to move towards endorsing some sort of co-existence (again, the degree is highly debateable), the less power it seemed to exert. Abbas seems to be on his way to becoming the Hamid Karzai of Palestine, the President of his House, essentially.

Some will continue to label this paranoid or far fetched but what is happening now are the early stages of that very process, the anhiliation of Israel and the majority of the Jewish people who now reside there.

Just because Hamas and Hezbollah have that goal does not mean that this is actually what is happening.

They may point to Israel's technological and military superiority but like any strategic tool, they only matter when the nation's leaders are prepeared to use them. When you bomb empty buildings and airports, it may work as a bluff once or twice, but when you keep doing it, it becomes obvious that you're bluffing. The enemy's response to your bluff will then be to call your bluff by escalating further.

True enough, though I remain unconvinced that Olmert, et al, would be willing to bluff themselves into nonexistence. Their lives, political and otherwise, depend on their ability to act otherwise.

...As the Arabs increase their demands, the world follows suit. If Israel retreats from the West Banks, the Arabs will demand the Galilee and soon the Negev. Then they will demand Haifa and any part of Israel with a sizeable Arab population. At no point will the world say enough is enough.


Which is why Israel has to listen to its friends and internal advisors and then IT has to decide what to do for itself. Having the leadership of a country ignore its citizens OR allies at a time of crisis can lead nowhere good. That said, the implication that the Disengagement started an endless slippery slope is ridiculous. Sharon never said he would give away the farm. Israel can stop or start withdrawls anytime it wants; it has all the cards.

...The awfull question of the moment is whether Israel really wants to survive and is willing to do what it takes. The first step is a declaration of independence. Independence from the world's demands, from the road map and oslo, from American and European pressure and money. There will be consenquences of course but there are consenquences already. Boycotts by Churches and Universities are being planned and implemented regardless of what Israel does. They will spread regardless of what Israel does. Israel will not survive by the favor of the world but by taking its fate into its own hands.

And if it takes its fate into its own hands AGAINST the rest of the world? How well will that work out? Israel should not sacrifice its own security for the sake of staying friendly, but neither should it be so eager to make itself into a total pariah state.

...
Peace has been tried. Co-existance has been tried. Every effort has been made to appease the Arabs and the world short of steps that would outright anhiliate Israel.

Demonstrably untrue. Arafat did not live up to his agreements, but Israel has dragged its feet quite strongly as well. Settlements kept being built throughout the Oslo years, for one thing. Israel has always approached the Palestinian situation from the perspective of, "how much can we get away with?" That's hardly unusual or unexpected, but it's also quite different from saying Israel has always had nothing but the best of intentions, or has implemented them.

Cold peace treaties were signed with the Arabs and kept only after it was clear to the Arab side that further conflict was futile. No such ray of light has penetrated the Palestinian Arabs or the Shiite terrorists in Lebanon or the Iranian government. We are approaching a conflict, whether we want one or not.

Agreed.

...Oslo began the road to this war. It will no longer be a war against outside enemies but against internal ones as well. If Israel is to survive, a Palestinian state cannot exist within or near its borders. Nor can there be any sizeable numbers of Arabs within Israel driven by a hostile intent towards the country.

Oslo and Madrid can only be treated as experiments that failed. All 1967 territories must be annexed to Israel. All Arabs inside them have a choice of taking on Israeli citizenship and swearing allegiance or leaving. The same choice has to be offered to Arabs in Israel as well... the world is a big place and Israel is a very small one. Too small to house millions of sworn enemies bent on its destruction.

This will result in collective global outrage even though half the UN has done similar things with far less cause... Countries have regularly drawn and redrawn their borders and expelled foreign populations. In fact Kuwait and Iraq expelled their own Palestinians after the two Iraqi wars. Israel should be no different.

But it is, and you know it. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, it is, and if Israel intends to finally "solve" the conflict through the deportation option, it has to be prepared to be treated as a pariah state for a fairly long time.

Some, such as Sultan Knish, might say that the trade-off is worth it. I'm not so sure, particularly when some of Israel's hostile neighbors might well take advantage of a lull in Israel's popularity among its allies and neutrals. (To say nothing of whether it is right to punish a whole generation of Palestinian children for their parents' political decisions.)

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