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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Israel has not learned its lesson

In Thursday's Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby asks whether Israel has learned its lesson over the last 15 years (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
But it remains an open question whether Israel's leaders have learned the most critical lesson of all: that genocidal jihadists and other mortal foes cannot be wheedled, negotiated, bribed, or ignored into quietude. In a war with enemies like Hezbollah and Hamas and the PLO - enemies explicitly committed to Israel's destruction - goodwill gestures beget no goodwill, and peace processes do not lead to peace.


The hard truth is that no matter how much Israelis crave peace, they cannot achieve it through concessions and compromises and "road maps" - not when their enemies view such overtures and agreements as signs of weakness, and as proof that terrorism works. For 60 years, Israel has had to contend with the hostility of its neighbors and the heavy costs of war; its yearning for peace is understandable. But there will be no peace without victory, and no victory without fighting for it.

For a long time now, Israel's leaders have resisted this fact - "We are tired of fighting," Ehud Olmert infamously declared in 2005. For 15 years, beginning with the sham of the Oslo peace process in 1993, Jerusalem has tried to appease its way to tranquility. It allowed Yasser Arafat and his PLO killers to take control of the West Bank and Gaza. It embraced the goal of Palestinian statehood. It responded to terrorism with ever-deeper concessions. It abandoned Lebanon and Gaza. It reiterated, over and over, the false mantra that "you make peace with your enemies." And from the ongoing captivity of Gilad Shalit to the rockets slamming into Israeli cities to the dysfunction and radicalization of Palestinian society, the results have been disastrous.
Sorry, Jeff, but the short answer to your question is no, Israel has not learned its lesson.

One has to listen to what the politicians are saying to the Israeli media in Hebrew to appreciate that this is the case. Without exception, every politician in power here - and Binyamin Netanyahu - is going out of their way to see that we are not going to 're-occupy' Gaza. The closest anyone came to an exception that I have heard was an interview on Israel Television's news magazine Mabat tonight with Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon - who was forced out as IDF Chief of Staff after he opposed to the Gaza expulsion. Yaalon said that the result of the current action should be much closer to the result of Operation Defensive Shield (six years later, the IDF is still sitting in 'Palestinian' cities in Judea and Samaria but they are trying to get out) than to the results of the Gaza expulsion or Ehud Barak's unilateral retreat from Lebanon.

Furthermore, Jeff was wise enough to include the PLO with Hamas and Hezbullah as a terrorist organization. Unfortunately, Israel's politicians do not do that. They still believe that Abu Mazen is a man of peace, and they would be more than happy to turn Gaza over to him when this ends.

So sorry Jeff, the answer to your question is no. All that tough talk is just that - talk. We have the same delusional set of leaders we have had since 1999. And I'm afraid that a lot of young Israeli soldiers are about to be sent to fight and die in Gaza so that we can transfer it from one terrorist group to another.


At 1:00 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - I concur. Until Israel realizes it cannot make the Arabs change by being the only side to change - then no - it has not learned its lesson. If this war is about defeating Hamas and permanently reoccupying Gaza, its clear that its not in the cards since Israel's leaders have yet to absorb the lesson of the disastrous Oslo process they have pursued in one form or another for last 15 years.

At 1:20 AM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

Carl, Norman,

I hate to get all religious at a time like this, but fortunately or not, it's part of who we are. The parallel situation is Levi and Shimon's method of handling the evils in Shechem-- the town that had similar motivations to the current enemies. The point is that although the brothers were successful, Jacob vehemently disapproved of their methods.

That said, I believe the current battle must be fought. But it's still very important to learn Jacob's alternative method, because that is the only way to solve this. And in our soul of souls, I believe we know this. We are under no illusions about the nature of this enemy. However, we do lack the tools to solve this properly.

Bottom line, this is an extraordinarily complex situation, and Israel is handling it most admirably.

At 1:49 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Naftali - perhaps. If the situation was reversed, the Jews would be exterminated and Hamas would not be looking for a ceasefire. The Jewish weakness is being kind to an enemy who does not deserve it. That is the wisdom of Chelm.

At 4:05 AM, Blogger Naftali2 said...


Of course if the situation were reversed they would slaughter us and the world wouldn't mind at all.

But you've still got to answer the question of what Jacob objected to. Surely it's not the principle of warfare since we get all of our general strategy of battles and survival from Jacob's encounter with Esau. And the Tanach contains narratives of many battles, most of which we win.

I'm saying that as a group, we haven't quite mastered all of those techniques. So we fight today with the army we have, with the techniques we know, and we don't use the techniques we've forgotten.

Victory without those techniques is certainly possible, it's just much more difficult.

At 5:20 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think Jacob's message is Jews cannot win a battle by their own initiative. That is a cardinal error. It is with the help of G-d that wars are won. That must never be forgotten. The other side may die for Allah. The Jew dies to sanctify Hashem.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Naftali2 said...


That's right. That's the secret. So it's not just the task of the IDF. And although it's necessary to point out the flaws and hatreds of the media and the anti-semites, who are frequently one and the same, it all boils (no pun intended) down to the lives that each of us live, how skillful each of us is at cultivating this harmonious relationship with Gd.

Praying, like playing music, is an acquired skill. I'm a Levite, so that's my position and I'm sticking to it. :-)


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