Bubbles Bursting in Air

Published in Israel Hayom, November 20, 2012. Click for a printer-friendly copy.

Quite a few “bubbles” have popped over the past week. Whether the current round of warfare with Hamas ends today in another bad ceasefire or extends into an even worse ground fight, quite a few political myths already have been demolished.

The “Tel Aviv bubble” is the first to go. Neither Hamas (nor Hezbollah) had directly slammed their nasty calling cards into Gush Dan before. It’s no longer so easy to preach Palestinian statehood from the pretty porches of Kadima and Meretz headquarters in Tel Aviv. Residents of the south, of the settlements, and of the sushi bars of Tel Aviv are all in the same boat. Good morning.

The second myth completely vaporized is the notion that Israel would and could clobber the Palestinians in Gaza the minute they used violence and terrorism against us. Remember Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza disengagement bravado? ‘If they use Gaza as a launching pad for terrorism after Israel withdraws, Israel will respond with no holds barred and have international legitimacy for doing so’ – or something to that effect.

Poppycock. The New York Times has given us sanction to bomb Hamas’ “empty training sites” (yes – that’s what a Times editorial actually suggested), and the world community is letting us get away with a few days of pinpoint terrorist targeting. But we have no international sanction for truly disarming the Palestinians, bunker by bunker. We have no international legitimacy for clobbering or dismantling the Iranian-backed terrorist state that has been established on our southern border.

Which brings me to the next bubble that has been burst: the notion that there ever can be or will be something called a “demilitarized Palestinian state.” Alas, this is nonsense. The Gaza experience has shown that if given a state (or in the case of the Hamas, when they grab a state), the Palestinians inevitably develop their own foreign and defense relationships and arm their state to the teeth. All international guarantees and so-called “security arrangements” to the contrary come to naught. Nobody has stopped Gaza from becoming a client-state of Iran and part of the Iranian army. Nobody has prevented Hamas from developing strategic partnerships with the radical Islamic governments of Egypt and Turkey.

Another myth that should now be put to rest is that Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has a legitimate, serious claim this month for international recognition through the United Nations as a state representing “the Palestinian People in the West Bank and Gaza.” There already is an independent Palestinian state, in all but name in Gaza. That state is in no way under the control of the PA, it does not come close to meeting UN definitions for legitimate statehood, it is not peaceful, and Abbas has no realistic plans for making it so.

Another burst bubble is the inane intellectual argument that religiously-extreme, anti-Semitic radicals (like the Hamas) can be co-opted into peace (or at least long-term diplomatic cooperation) by giving them power. This argument posits that the holding of sovereign power and the assumption of day-to-day responsibility for the welfare of a people willy-nilly moderates a radical movement. That Western recognition and cooperation, Israeli respect, economic aid, open borders and peace-minded Western educational efforts will massage the jihadists into pragmatists.

Nay, the evidence shows that jihadists like the Hamas are willing to sacrifice all of the above on the altar of permanent holy war against Israel. Thus only the naive can continue to make the cooption argument. Only appeasement-minded diplomats dare try to impress this notion yet again upon Israel.

Finally and fortunately, it’s good to be able to burst the bubble and belay the myth that Israelis are exhausted and have no strength for their continued national struggle. Not true. Our national resilience and spirit is strong!

Israelis are indeed mentally so very tired of the conflict, but we nevertheless have plenty of fight left in us. In point of fact, 99 percent of reservists showed up for military duty this week, with high motivation. That is tens of thousands of men and women; people with families and careers, many of them from Tel Aviv.

Nobody is thrilled about a ground offensive into Gaza, but most Israelis understand and accept, alas, that we still have to fight for our sovereignty and security. And we are determined to do so.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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