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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Israel's worst mistake?

Last week, Bradley Burston wrote an article in Haaretz in which he summed up Israel's 10 worst errors of the decade. All of them boil down to one thing: The 'siege' of Gaza (pictured at top left).

At The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg disagrees (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
For my money, the worst mistake Israel made was the mistake that led, ultimately, to the siege of Gaza: The 2005 unilateral withdrawal. Leaving Gaza wasn't the problem, of course -- you'd think the Jews would have learned sooner (see: Samson) that Gaza is no good for Jews, and Ariel Sharon was right to get out. But the method he used was tragic. By refusing to negotiate his exit from Gaza, he strengthened the hand of Hamas. If he had negotiated the withdrawal with the Palestinian Authority, he would have a) extracted concessions from the Palestinians, and b) strengthened the moderates. The moderates would have been credited by their people for coaxing Israel out of Gaza. Instead, Hamas won the round, and then won the election, and then won the coup, and then, in a way, won the most recent war against Israel, and certainly the public relations war, which is the sort of war that really matters in the Middle East, and which Israel almost never fails to lose.
Alas, Jeffrey is wrong. If Sharon had 'negotiated' with the 'Palestinian Authority,' there never would have been a withdrawal from Gaza and its Jews would not have been expelled from their homes. The whole reason Sharon made the withdrawal unilaterally was that he understood that he could never reach an agreement on it with the 'Palestinians.' But because he felt (or maybe because he was forced to present it as) it was the right thing to do, he went ahead and did it unilaterally.

Leaving Gaza was a mistake. It was a mistake for those who lived there, and it was a mistake for those who were moved into closer rocket range by Israel's withdrawal. It sent a message of weakness to both Fatah and Hamas, although it likely would have sent an even worse message of weakness had Israel done it pursuant to an agreement with either Fatah or Hamas. Was it Israel's biggest mistake in the past decade? We've made so many that's debatable.


At 9:35 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its hard to single out any one mistake Israel made. But if there was one, it was in presuming the Palestinians wanted peace as much as Israel did. Only time well whether Israel has learned from that lesson.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Ashan said...

Israel's earliest worst mistake was to permit Moshe Dayan, with his disdain for religious Judaism and his extreme liberal prejudice, to allow the Muslim wakf to retain sovereignty over the Temple Mount instead of restoring it to its rightful, historic owners, the Jews. Every mistaken step with the Palis stems from this failure.


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