Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Can Israel Win?

Two articles I read today indicate that Israel will be hard pressed to win the current war in Gaza. Batya Melamed writes in YNET that Israel has no faith in the justice of its cause or its actions.

A moment before we lose more kids, God forbid, in the coming battle in Gaza, we must ask the Israeli government to stop the tanks, ground the planes, call the battleships back to port and silence the artillery. We must do more than ask: We must plead with our government not to go out to this extraneous battle.

Just let us avoid this war. It is doomed to failure from the start.

There are two reasons for this: One, because our weak spot was been revealed for all to see during hostage crises in the past, and Israel's "diplomatic attempts" to bring about the release of hostages in the past. Those who had anything to do with those negotiations (both families and negotiators) now admit our government has been weak of hand and weak of will when dealing with murderers.

Secondly, they will not succeed because when we compare Israel's military power to that of our neighbors – we never talk about the main point. We compare weapons, or talk about the lack in technological advancement between the two sides.

But no one measures the power of the most important weapon a country who wants to live, who is dedicated to defeating its enemies, can have: Faith in the justice of its cause and its actions. The ability to walk upright, and even the willingness "to die for one's country."

Melamed may be right that on a political level, Israel lacks faith in the justice of it's cause or actions. However, on a strategic level most Israelis are resolute that the current incursion into Gaza is the most moral and just mission possible; the rescue of IDF soldier Gilad ben Aviva Shalit, and ensuring the cessation of Qassam rocket attacks against Southern Israel. Whether the political echelons will allow the IDF to fully complete this mission is another story, but you would be hard pressed to find an IDF soldier who would not want to satisfy these 2 objectives.

Daniel Pipes explains Israel's attitude towards war is that of management & containment, not victory. Pipes feels that Israelis don't understand the concept of total victory and therefore they always stop before it is achieved or worse, never try to achieve it in the first place.
Wars are won, the historical record shows, when one side feels compelled to give up on its goals. This is only logical, for so long as both sides hope to achieve their war ambitions, fighting either continues or potentially can resume. For example, although defeated in World War I, the Germans did not give up their goal of dominating Europe and soon again turned to Hitler to try again. The Korean War ended more than a half century ago, but neither North nor South having given up its aspirations means fighting could flare up at any time. Similarly, through the many rounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict (wars in 1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982) both sides retained their goals.

Those goals are simple, static, and binary. The Arabs fight to eliminate Israel; Israel fights to win the acceptance of its neighbors. The first is offensive in intent; the second is defensive. The former is barbaric, and the latter civilized. For nearly 60 years, Arab rejectionists have sought to eliminate Israel via a range of strategies: undermining its legitimacy through propaganda, harming its economy through a trade boycott, demoralizing it through terrorism, and threatening its population via WMD.

Rather than seek victory, Israelis have developed a lengthy menu of approaches to manage the conflict.

These include: [updates by Jameel]

  • Unilateralism (building a wall, partial almost complete withdrawals): the current policy, as espoused by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and the Kadima Party.
  • Lease for 99 years the land under Israeli towns on the West Bank: the Labor Party of Amir Peretz
  • Palestinian Arab economic development: Shimon Peres.
  • Territorial compromise: The premise of Oslo diplomacy, as initiated by Yitzhak Rabin.
  • Outside funding for the Palestinian Arabs (on the Marshall Plan model): U.S. Representative Henry Hyde.
  • Retreat to the 1967 borders: Israel's far left center to left.
  • Push the Palestinian Arabs to develop good government: Natan Sharansky (and President Bush).
  • Insist that Jordan is Palestine: Israel's right. [JATM: haven't heard this one in a while]
  • Transfer the Palestinian Arabs out of the West Bank: Israel's far right.

    These many approaches are very different in spirit and mutually exclusive. But they have a key element in common. All manage the conflict without resolving it. All ignore the need to defeat Palestinian rejectionism. All seek to finesse war rather than win it.

  • In simplistic terms, Israel has no long term vision. The Israeli left believes in short term solutions and hope things will work themselves out over time (even if they don't, like Oslo and the Disengagement). The Israeli right believes in not offering serious solutions at all -- and if they do, they are often for election campaigning only and not for implementation. A serious rightwing proposal is here...but it was from a think-tank, and never considered by a rightwing politician.

    As Israel breathlessly stands together today praying for the safe return of IDF soldier Gilad ben Aviva (Shalit), kidnapped Israeli Eliyahu ben Miriam (Asheri), and the success of the IDF mission into Gaza, I pray that Israel find unity in the belief in the justice of it's cause, and that we are worthy of leaders who can lead Israel together towards unity.

    Once we stand united, as a people and nation -- will victory be assured.

    Cross-posted to DovBear

    Wherever I may go, my blog always turns towards Eretz Yisrael


    Olah Chadasha said...

    I agree with Daniel Pipes and the same part of the Ynet article that you agreed with. I believe that your assessment is correct. This government is looking and short term goals without taking the time to step back and look at the bigger picture, especially on the Palestinians side.

    I know this may not be the best time to say this, but I want to get something my chest, and I want to say it to you publically. Last summer, we had some heated debates on the legitimacy of the Disengagement. We both admitted that our emotions carried us farther than what was probably warranted. I, perhaps naively, believed Sharon and his government when he said that after the Disengagement, the first rocket to hit Israel from Gaza would be considered an act of war, and we would respond accordingly. As the year anniversary approaches for the Disengagement, and in light of everything that has happened over the course of the past year, I have become so jaded and disenchanted with the current government and their actual will to stand up and defend Israel's sovereignty and her citizens. It seems to me now that the Disengagement was simply our government's (I specifically say government, but I do believe that the Army is ready, willing, and anxious to stand up and fight for her people, but the government is not allowing them to do their jobs.) first step in throwing in the towel and giving up. The next step was electing Ehud "I'm tired of fighting" Olmert as Prime Minister. Basically, I would like to apologize for any harsh criticism I may have directed your way during last year's tumultuous time. You were right about a lot of things you said, and I see that in retrospect. I still hold by my opinions, from a stricly military point of view, but what you said about the government, and your predictions for what would happen to the people expelled, etc were right on the money, and I want to say that. You were so right about so many things. I hope you can accept my apology and know that I have changed my opinion about so many things. The past few days have been very emotional, and I just felt compelled to write this and get it out in the open. That's why I didn't just e-mail it to you. I want every-one to know how I feel. Thank you.

    Jameel @ The Muqata said...

    OC: You don't have to apologize for your views, or for changing them...

    (and of course your apology is accepted!)

    Right now, Israel needs to seriously try to think "unity" (and security). This is the wrong time (if ever, but that's another story) for Olmert to go head to head over evacuating outposts. Israel has much more pressing issues to deal with, than forcing another tragic Amona-type situation.

    (Lastly, kol hakavod for your chain-blog-prayer idea)

    Anonymous said...

    i suggest you post here and on db's blog a link to akiva eldar's column in todays haaretz to show how far off the deep end the israeli left has gone.

    i wont include the link so as not to hijack your blog.

    Olah Chadasha said...

    Jameel, thank you. I really appreciate it. And, I totally agree with you. I really can't even begin to fathom the logic that's going through Olmert's and Peretz's heads right now by thinking that what has to happen, what's most important at this moment in time is getting rid of illegal outposts. I just can't even begin to imagine what they're thinking when they say things like that. But, then, again I haven't gone off the left deep-end. Therefore, I really can't begin to put myself in their heads. Thank G-d for that!!

    Anonymous said...

    Amen to that Jameel, well written.

    I long for a normal Israel... there's so much potential in the Land yet these wars and poor leadership complicate everything.

    JoeSettler said...

    You lifted an entire paragraph from my blog and didn't give me credit!!!! I hope I get a mention on DovBear at least.

    Jameel @ The Muqata said...

    Joe: I thought we gave up hattiping each other after you took my Simpson comic idea and *forgot* to mention me. Besides, we talk on the phone so often, its hard to remember who said what to whom, first.

    You wanna hattip? Wait till tomorrow...

    Anonymous said...


    JoeSettler said...

    The Simpson's comic wasn't your idea.

    You said, and I quote, "It's like a mantra they keep repeating, 'I will trust the government, I will trust the government'."
    Perhaps we mentioned the Simpsons, but we talk too often, so I don't remember anymore.
    But that's what gave me the inspiration for the modified comic.

    Now your post is completely based on the issues I raised with you the day before, and then you clearly read my my post on it as you lifted a paragraph (and link) word for word.

    Hattip? Wait till you see the next illegal (out)post.

    daat y: Playing for the same team? Wasn't that something from Seinfeld?

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