Israel is in great danger.
From the outside…the Arab Spring which is not a Spring but a Nightmare, has weakened Israel greatly
From the Outside…the role of the US Government and of the EU Governments
From the Outside…the role of the Vatican and Protestant Churches
From the Inside also…lack of leadership
The issues in this article by Martin Sherman we will in the next days take up in as much detail as we can
START SHERMAN ARTICLE
Michael Orin who was ambassador to the United States and who Martin Sherman disagrees with here
One solution could be a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian population centers in the West Bank… but unlike in Gaza, most Israeli settlements would remain within Israel, and Israeli troops would still patrol strategic borders. Of course, the preferable solution is two states for two peoples. But if that proves unattainable, then Israel can still end the occupation of the Palestinians, preserve its security, and perhaps lay new foundations for peace. – Former ambassador Michael Oren, in answer to the question, “What if the process fails?” – CNN, January 11, 2014
The only alternative for Israel to save itself as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating most of the settlements. – Dr. Michael Oren, prior to his ambassadorial appointment, Haaretz, April 24, 2009
Having proved itself – completely and conclusively – a disastrous and delusional debacle, the nutty notion of unilateral withdrawal (a.k.a. capitulation) is surging back into fashion with the fashionable bon ton set – big-time. That anyone with half a brain could still place any credence in this failed, foolhardy fantasy beggars belief.
Yet, over the past few weeks, there has been an alarming spate of public expressions of support for this harebrained and hazardous hallucination.
Erudite, eloquent, elegant
One of the more newsworthy voices endorsing this ill-advised policy prescription was that of Michael Oren, until recently ambassador to the US.
To his credit, the affable Oren is endowed with many laudable qualities. He is eminently erudite, eloquent and elegant. Born in the US, a graduate of an Ivy League university, an acclaimed, articulate author, and well-versed in the mores and customs of US society, it is difficult to fault his appointment as envoy in Washington.
Indeed, there have been few – if any – suggestions that he discharged his challenging duties with anything but polished professionalism.
That said, however, Oren’s recent (and not so recent) pronouncements as to his policy preferences regarding the Palestinian problem indicate that deft diplomatic skills are no guarantee of political prudence or strategic acumen.
For in light of the catastrophic consequences of unilateral abandonment of Gaza, any rational observer might be excused for attributing a remarkably flat-learning curve to anyone who persists in advocating such a fatally flawed formula. Only this time, on a dramatically larger scale.
Unilateralism and ‘breaking news’
Graphically underscoring the pertinence of this was the following item in The Jerusalem Post’s Breaking News section at the beginning of the week.
Headlined “Schools closed in Ashdod following IAF strikes on Gaza,” it went on to report: “Following the IAF air strikes on Gaza, the Ashdod Municipality decided to cancel schools in unfortified buildings on Sunday…” This, of course, underscores the gravity of the consequences of the 2005 unilateral evacuation of the Gaza Strip and its subsequent inevitable takeover by radical extremists. In the wake of the IDF’s departure, the terror organizations there can now operate against Israel with low-cost weapons with relative ease. The Palestinians are able to disrupt the socioeconomic routine in the South at will, and, as the Post news item indicates, even the prospect of IDF punitive responses to terror attacks can lead to such disruption – because of the fear of retaliation to those actions.
The folly of unilateral withdrawal is so starkly evident that even someone like Jeffrey Goldberg, who has elevated getting it wrong to almost an art form, seems to have grasped this. Writing in Bloomberg (January 11), he remarked: “Sharon made one terrible mistake in Gaza.… His mistake was leaving unilaterally… [The] radicals in Gaza were empowered by Sharon’s unilateralism.
They believed, not entirely incorrectly, that their terrorism had paid off… The fallout from the withdrawal is well known: Hamas soon came to power and turned Gaza into a launching pad for missile attacks.”
One can only scratch one’s head in puzzlement and wonder which part of this Oren doesn’t get. Recklessly irresponsible
After all, there is little reason to believe that what once was, will not be again. In any case, in the absence of persuasive evidence to the contrary, it would be recklessly irresponsible not to adopt such a working assumption for future policy.
Little imagination is needed to envision the havoc that would result if anything like the realities which the civilian population in the South has been subjected to, courtesy of unilateralism, were to be inflicted upon the residents of the central Coastal Plain. As I have warned repeatedly in previous columns, it would be impossible to maintain any semblance of socioeconomic routine if 80 percent of the nation’s population and commercial activity, crammed into a narrow strip, stretching roughly 65 km. north of Tel Aviv and 50 km. south of it, had to endure the bombardments the residents of Sderot experience.
Moreover, unlike in the case of the low-lying Gaza area, this heavily populated belt would lie hopelessly exposed to any hostile elements deployed in the highlands of Judea-Samaria that rise to its east and comprise much of the territory to be unilaterally abandoned.
It seems inconceivable that anyone committed to the national security of Israel and the physical safety of Israelis could contemplate forgoing Israeli control of this territory, thereby laying the foundations for the emergence of a mega-Gaza in areas evacuated by the IDF or a giant South Lebanon in areas where it remains deployed. More on this later. Dangerous delusion of “neo-unilateralism”
To be fair, some of today’s unilateralists (hereafter “neo-unilateralists”) acknowledge that the 2005 unilateral pullout from Gaza has been less than a stunning success, and hence, suggest that this time it be conducted differently. Typically, this difference focuses on continued IDF deployment in all, or part, of the territories over which Israel will declare it has no claims, and from which Jewish communities are to be removed – see, for example, Oren’s “unlike in Gaza… Israeli troops would still patrol strategic borders.”
Golly, what a good idea! So the Israeli military will be deployed in (read “occupy”) areas that Israel admits belong to someone else (as in pre-2000 South Lebanon), instantly and inevitably transforming it from the “Israel Defense Forces” to the “Zionist Occupation Forces.”
Unpersuasively, neo-unilateralists try to counter this by suggesting that this deployment will only last until Israel’s security can be ensured – predictably never stipulating what such assurances would be, or from whom they are to be attained – and sustained over time. But setting this “minor” omission aside for a moment, this prescription for “temporary occupation” would be dismissed as so much claptrap, with a brusque retort something along these lines: “How can you expect security while you are occupying someone else’s land. Withdraw, and you will have security.”
If Israel rejects such counsel, it will continue to maintain a situation reminiscent of pre-2000 South Lebanon. If it complies with it, it will simply be duplicating the realities indistinguishable from those created in post-2005 Gaza. Folly of rejecting quid pro quo for quid pro nil
Oren, who according to Haaretz (April 24, 2009), admits he “supported the disengagement from the Gaza Strip,” seems to continue believing that by unilateral withdrawal in Judea-Samaria, Israel “can still end the occupation of the Palestinians, preserve its security, and perhaps lay new foundations for peace.”
This wistful sentiment is so hopelessly unmoored from any trace of reality that it compels one to puzzle over just what is it about the Palestinian problem that makes otherwise seemingly smart people expound such utterly stupid ideas.
For anyone with even a minimal grasp of Mideast realities, it should be crystal clear that nothing will totally obliterate any chance of a negotiated peace accord more effectively than unilateralism. Gee, even Jeffrey Goldberg gets that – well, almost.
For the unmistakable message that Israeli willingness to contemplate unilateral retreat conveys, is this. If one confronts the Jews with sufficiently robust intransigence, they will capitulate and surrender everything – or at least, significant things – in exchange for absolutely nothing. Ergo, why negotiate or compromise.
Thus, even if some Palestinian partner, sincerely willing to negotiate and compromise, were to emerge at some future date, his more militant opponents could swiftly undermine his position by, rightly, pointing out that past unilateralism has proven that there is a need for neither.
Accordingly, for someone who hopes someday to “lay new foundations for peace,” nothing could be more counterproductive and foolish than advocating to replace the sober principle of quid pro quo for the fanciful quid pro nil.
Demography: The other side of the equation
Of course the alleged “ace” that unilateralists claim in their pack, is the demography card. But, in reality, it is far more like the joker.
For we should not forget that the demographic balance in the country is a function of two elements: The number of Jews and the number of Arabs.
One of course might question how realistic it would be to believe that even if Israel evacuated all, or part, of Judea-Samaria, the presence of a large, impoverished Arab population with a GDP per capita about 5% (!) that of Israel’s, would not generate irresistible economic pressures – similar to those along the US-Mexican frontier – for a large Arab influx into the country.
Even without the specter of this very plausible prospect, unilateralists ignore the detrimental effect their proposal is likely to have on the other side of the demographic equation – the Jewish side.
In this regard, a highly significant demographic fact should not be ignored. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, despite the massive influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, Israel’s Muslim population, within the pre-1967 Green Line, has, as a proportion of the population , almost doubled since independence – from just over 9% in 1949 to over 17% in 2011. The ratio of Jews to Muslims plunged from over 9 Jews to every Muslim to less than 4.5.
Now imagine the impact of a mass exodus of Jews because of a gravely deteriorating security situation.
Israel can only retain its Jewish character if it retains its Jewish population and attracts Jews around the world to choose it as their place of abode. But this can only happen if Israel affords them acceptable security and prosperity. Nothing would make it a less inviting choice than visiting the realities of Sderot on upmarket locations like Ramat Aviv and Ra’anana, Ramat Gan and Rishon Lezion – and, oh yes, Herzliya, where Oren has recently taken up a teaching position at the Interdisciplinary Center.
I urge him to consider the demographic impact of ongoing volleys of Kassam rockets landing in the vicinity of the IDC-campus – situated barely 11 km. from the pre-1967 lines…
My challenge to Oren
I hereby challenge Oren to meet me in open debate to address the points raised in this essay, and many that I have not – but that necessarily emerge from his policy prescriptions.
I challenge him to produce a map delineating the frontiers to which he sees Israel unilaterally withdrawing, and to explain how they will be delineated and secured.
I challenge him to stipulate whether Palestinian villages like Rantis and E-Luban that overlook the runway at Ben-Gurion Airport, will or will not be under Israeli control. And the hills of northern Samaria that dominate the massive Rabin power station adjacent to prestigious Caesarea, home to many from Israel’s moneyed classes? And what of areas abutting the Trans-Israel Highway (Route 6) and the approaches to Jerusalem?
I challenge him to specify whom he sees as administering the “unoccupied” Palestinian territories. Who will supply them water, electricity, postal services, tax collection? If, as is likely, the Palestinian Authority will – with good reason – refuse to take responsibility for what Israel deigns to confer to it unilaterally, who will provide civilian services to the population? And if, as in Gaza, extremists take over the reins of power, how would he recommend Israel respond? Who would be responsible for health issues, sewage, pollution control…? I challenge him to address these and numerous other issues that would drastically impact the lives of all Israelis… and the decisions of those contemplating becoming Israelis.
If he cannot do so convincingly, I call on him to desist from advancing the perilous idea of unilateralism.
Unilateralism as intellectual surrender
In conclusion, unilateralism is not a well thought out strategic choice. It is a knee-jerk reaction of those who oppose the settlement enterprise, a flimsy excuse rather than a serious policy option.
It reflects, at best intellectual surrender, at worst a preference to make Israel’s situation untenable rather than admit to error.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org)
REACTIONS TO THE MARTIN SHERMAN ARTICLE (one day after writing above)
The first thing I did was to read the comments to the Sherman article and challenge to Oren on the original Jerusalem Post site. All except one were in agreement with Sherman and against Oren.
Who was this “one”?
… Itzik Sivosh. Is he from the Israel Labour Party? On his Facebook Page Sivosh has this quotation from Golda Meir. I followed up this quotation
START GOLDA MEIR QUOTE
We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.Golda Meir, to Anwar Saddat just before the peace talks. Israeli (Russian-born) politician (1898 – 1978)
This must be one of the worst things any Israeli leader has ever said.
However Sivosh on the Jerusalem Post in opposing Sherman is in a minority of one
Leaving aside Sivosh, who seems deadly to me, and his attacks on Sherman remind me of Stalinism, very personal attacks, very bitter, not principled. He opposes Sherman completely and backs Oren up as much as he opposes Sherman. i would like to get to know Sivosh better tan I do.
…One comment emphasised the key point made by Sherman in this article, which is also my thinking. If Jews are not happy in the Jewish Homeland, and do not feel secure in the Jewish Homeland, then many will leave for pastures new. But this is catch 22 because if you take the same view of capitalist crisis that I do, a major US default could spell economic disaster, thus growth of Antisemitism as scapegoat, so all escapes blocked as in the late 1930s.
Another comment drom Alan Miller in Tel Aviv was very sharp on the danger posed by handing over any land to an enemy. He wrote
“If Mr. Oren has served in the IDF, then he may have known that next to Nablus is a mountain with a view from its peak of the whole Israeli plane from Ashdod in The South to Hadera in the North and Ben Gurion Airport exactly in the middle. I’ve seen the view from that peak when I served in the IDF. To turn it over to the PA is inviting suicide. And I doubt Mr. Oren is an advocate of that.”
But it appears he is…FQ
I added many links on Holocaust Remembrance Day to my Facebook Page on www.Facebook.com/felix.quigley and this morning following yesterday remembrance I added this comment “A Study of the Holocaust is essential for Socialists
by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on FOX News.
It is Holocaust remembrance time at the United Nations. Once a year, Jews from around New York, a dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, occasional celebrities, and precious few friends, file into the General Assembly Hall and grant the U.N. the privilege of appearing to care.
This year’s speakers include Steven Spielberg. When it is over, the year-round ritual censure of the Jewish state will resume.
Characteristic of “International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust” is the scarcity of express emphasis on Israel, save for the remarks of the Israeli ambassador.
Modern Israel, if it had existed, would not have allowed six million Jews or one million children to perish while railway lines delivering human cargo to their final destination were left intact. And yet, the well-being of the only country dedicated to saving the Jewish people is generally peripheral.
At first, the pattern seems odd, given that the U.N.’s Holocaust Remembrance Day and associated activities of its “Holocaust Outreach Programme,” are supposed to be about ‘never again’ and a U.N. commitment to genocide prevention.
Strange also, since the U.N. member state of Iran is openly pursuing the annihilation of Israel, and a repeat of the Holocaust that it denies.
Of course, it is no secret that the U.N. has failed miserably to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity in countries from Africa, to Europe and Asia.
The explanation, however, does not lie with general incompetence. For the organization has managed to devote its energy, time and resources to the denunciation and delegitimization of Israel – the embodiment of Jewish self-determination.
The behind-the-scenes story of the 2005 General Assembly resolution creating a U.N. Holocaust remembrance day sheds light on the connection between Holocaust remembrance and Israel-bashing at the U.N.
Despite the fact that the U.N. was erected on the ashes of the Jewish people, the General Assembly has never adopted a resolution dedicated specifically to anti-semitism. Periodic mentions of the word antisemitism appear in lists. By contrast, for instance, there have been resolutions and reports focusing on Muslims, Arabs and Islamophobia.
In 2004, Israel proposed the adoption of a General Assembly resolution on antisemitism. And off-camera all hell broke loose.
For its initial backing, Germany was given to understand that such a role would jeopardize its hoped-for permanent seat on the Security Council, and its support vanished.
The State Department was content to leave the matter to the Europeans. Arab and Muslim opposition led the European Union to condition support on garnering consensus, thus handing a veto to antisemites. The idea went no further.
Why was an anti-semitism resolution so vociferously opposed?
It would undermine the very agenda being pursued so successfully at the U.N. itself. Modern anti-semitism encompasses the grotesque demonization of Israel, the U.N.’s Jew among nations.
The Holocaust resolution was the consolation prize. Despite the grumblings, it was less politic for Israel’s enemies to oppose.
In the end, the resolution was adopted minus the word “anti-semitism,” though it did mention the Jewish people along with “countless members of other minorities.” Subsequent exhibits have included: “The Holocaust against the Sinti and Roma.”
The current condition is a moral swamp.
Last fall the General Assembly’s criticisms of human rights abuse amounted to 19 resolutions against Israel, one each for five other states (including the United States), and zero for the other 187 U.N. members.
The only country in the world criticized annually by the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women for violating women’s rights is Israel – for violating Palestinian women’s’ rights.
Half of all the emergency sessions of the General Assembly have been on Israel – and not one on the catastrophes of Rwanda, Sudan, or Syria.
On January 20, 2014, the U.N. kicked off its first “civil society” event for the new U.N. Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
U.N. Headquarters hosted a public screening of a film supporting the U.N.’s notorious Goldstone report. Among other things, a young Palestinian is heard to say: “The Israeli soldiers were shooting at the people, as if they were not human, as if they were chickens or mice. For the Israeli army this is something without meaning. But the victims were very precious to us, even though they didn’t consider them human.”
When the film ended, Palestinian speaker Laila El-Haddad told the audience that Israel engages in the “systematic targeting of the Palestinian civilian sector.” In short, it was a typical U.N. afternoon in which Israelis are portrayed as Nazi-like wanton baby killers.
But here’s the kicker. The U.N.’s perceived antidote to criticism of the U.N.’s anti-Israel policies is Holocaust remembrance.
Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has made attacking Israel a principal feature of her U.N. career. She is the leading champion of the racist “anti-racist” Durban Declaration, which charges Israel alone with racism, and a zealous backer of the Goldstone report.
In an effort to draw attention to U.N. double-standards, last October Israel threatened not to participate in another U.N. Human Rights Council inquest. This particular hearing, known as the “universal periodic review,” was scheduled to take place on October 29, 2013.
Israel’s threat to blow the cover off the universality of the universal review presented a very serious challenge to the UN.
This is how Pillay responded. She scheduled a visit to Auschwitz on October 13, 2013, had photos taken and, unusually, held the photos back from publication.
Suddenly on October 29, 2013 she pasted the photos of herself at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum front and center on the U.N.’s human rights home page, choosing precisely the same moment that Israel might have succeeded in putting U.N. discrimination front and center.
It was pure political theater. Holocaust remembrance activities sponsored by the largest global platform for modern anti-semitism are more than paradoxical.
We will know if the U.N. has learned the lessons of the Holocaust when it does more than remember history’s unique horror and its Jewish victims.
When the General Assembly adopts a resolution dedicated to anti-semitism, commissions a report on its current manifestations, adopts recommendations for combating antisemitism in all its forms, and ensures their implementation.
A strong Israel, supported by the community of nations, is the central remedial lesson of the Holocaust.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky