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Friday, January 13, 2006

The ethos of national security

Israel Matzav

Caroline Glick gets it right once again:

The ethos of national security

Since Ariel Sharon coined the term "disengagement," opponents of Israeli territorial withdrawals have complained about the Orwellian nature of the term. And yet, as hard as opponents of the leftist view that Israel's security is enhanced by Israeli land transfers to Palestinian terrorists fought against the withdrawal policy and pointed out its dangers, their warnings were no match for the concept of "disengagement."

In Israel's geographic, ethnic, and military contexts, the term "disengagement" is first and foremost a psychological concept. It is concerned not with reality but with the deep-seated Israeli yearning to escape from our hostile environment. It holds the promise that Israel can determine a border that will separate us from our hostile neighbors.

In an article published immediately after the conclusion of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria last August, Ha'aretz commentator Ari Shavit upheld the notion of the border. He claimed that the significance of the operation was that "after the era of the settlement ethos and after the era of the peace ethos, the turn has now come for the border ethos."

The problem is that a border can only be meaningful if the people on both sides of the divide recognize it and understand its meaning in the same way. Since the Palestinians do not recognize Israel's right to determine its borders, any border that Israel chooses will only operate in one direction. While Israel will honor Palestinian territorial integrity, the Palestinians will insist on their "right" to cross the border at will.

But reality is no match for psychological yearning. Israelis want to disengage.

Israelis are not unique in their desire to cut themselves off from their culturally alien - not to mention hostile - neighbors. The one-way border syndrome has stricken wide swaths of the Western world. For instance, the conflict between the US and Mexico over regulation of their border is becoming increasingly acute as the Mexican government continues to encourage its citizens to illegally migrate to the US.

Similarly, the leaders of the Arab states along the Mediterranean, such as Morocco, Tunis and Algeria, have obstinately refused repeated European requests to take steps to prevent the massive illegal immigration of their citizens into Europe.

These examples illustrate the complexity of the concept of a border when people on its opposite sides differ on their interpretations of its meaning and importance. Yet Israel's border syndrome is even more hazardous than that suffered by the Americans and the Europeans because at least the Mexican, Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian governments accept the fact of American and European sovereignty. Their conflicts are limited to divergent interpretations of what that sovereignty entails. In Israel's case, the Palestinians have never accepted Israel's sovereignty along any borders whatsoever.


That reality is that regardless of what happens in the elections, and regardless of whether Israel and the Palestinians ever renew negotiations, the contours of the Palestinian state are well known and have been known since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. The anarchy, terror, corruption, poverty and ideological commitment to the destruction of Israel that have been the consistent characteristics of the Palestinian Authority since its inception provide us with a precise description of what the realization of the vision for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel entails.

Regardless of who emerges victorious in the coming elections (if they actually take place), it is absolutely certain that the Palestinian leadership will be comprised of terrorists, terror sympathizers and terrorist organizations - because these are the only people and parties who are running. The Palestinians themselves explain that in everything relating to the desire to destroy Israel (or what the media and the international diplomatic corps refer to as the parties' "diplomatic platforms"), they see no difference between Hamas and Fatah. For Palestinian voters, the principal difference between the two movements is that Fatah is viewed as corrupt and Hamas is viewed as honest. This stark distinction has prompted even Christians to support Hamas.

And so we arrive at the main fact that we have refused to acknowledge since the Palestinian Authority was established. We already know what a Palestinian state is because we have been living next to it for 11 years.


ALL OF this leads to one simple conclusion. Israel's desire for a border cannot be translated into an effective policy. The fact of the matter is that no Israeli security interest is advanced by transferring territory to the Palestinians or by continuing to support the establishment of a Palestinian state that in point of fact already exists and in point of fact will never acknowledge its own existence.

The question then is what is Israel to do? The answer lies in recalling Sharon's actions as premier before his leftist metamorphosis. In March 2002, when Sharon ordered the IDF to carry out Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria, he proved one thing. When our leaders uphold Israel's right to defend itself, the Israeli people rally behind them.

Since the Palestinians are not going to cure themselves of their national pathologies any time soon, Israel's national policies must be built not on the dream of a border that will never be recognized, but on the necessity of guaranteeing its security. Happily, Israel has the ability to defend itself.

But in order to realize our abilities, our national leaders have to make the majority of the public recognize the reality in which we live is a reality from which we cannot disengage. The ethos of the border is a false ethos. The only national ethos that we can reasonably unite behind and prosper from for the long haul is the ethos of national security.

Read it all....


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