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Friday, February 04, 2011

What hath we wrought?

Omri Ceren's description of the way in which Israel has made 'peace' with its neighbors is dead on.
For Israel, the cold peace with Egypt and the intermittent peace with the Palestinian Authority have always been conducted against the backdrop of a see-no-evil approach to incitement. As long as Cairo and Ramallah cooperated with Jerusalem on security issues, Israeli and Western diplomats looked the other way as those regimes violated their Camp David and Oslo pledges to undertake normalization.

Put more bluntly: as long as Egypt and the Palestinian Authority helped stymie the terrorists of today, Israel and the West were content to let them go on creating the terrorists of tomorrow. Because at least those regimes were stable!

Those terrorists of tomorrow were made possible through geography textbooks that erased Israel, and through television programs that vilified Jews, and through official government propaganda that scapegoated the Jewish state for every imaginable social ill. As of this morning, the Mubarak regime is parading “protesters” in front of state-TV cameras to explain how they were trained by the Mossad to bring down the regime.

The result is that Egyptian and Palestinian civil society is a feverish cesspool of anti-Semitic conspiracism — recall the minor hysteria a few weeks ago over Zionist attack sharks — while Egyptians and Palestinians continue to very publicly indulge in fantasies of eradicating Israel itself.

These are the wages of making peace with governments while allowing normalization between societies to atrophy. Israel let its partners in peace purchase domestic tranquility by demonizing the Jewish state in terms that often crossed the line into outright bigotry, and so now that its partners in peace are collapsing — Cairo, Palileaks, etc. — we’re in a situation where serious people are talking about a return to cyclical nation-state war-fighting.
So is it better to have no peace at all or is it better to have the kind of peace we have had with the Egyptians for the last 30 years? I would argue that the answer to that question depends upon the ability and willingness of the other side to control the hostile acts of its population against us, and upon the price that we have to pay for that control.

Based on that formula, there is nothing to discuss with the 'Palestinian Authority' since they have neither the willingness nor the ability to control the hostile acts of their population against us. The Dayton Forces notwithstanding, it should be clear to everyone that but for the IDF's presence in Judea and Samaria, Hamas would have taken over a long time ago.

Hamas may have the ability to control the hostile acts of its population against us, but it does not have the desire to do so, and it will likely never have the desire to do so.

Egypt under Mubarak had both the willingness and ability to do so, but the price we paid in terms of our security was far too high, given that we were - as Omri points out - making peace only with the leaders and not with the population as a whole. But whoever takes Mubarak's place is far less likely to have the willingness - and maybe even the ability - to control hostile acts against us.

The lesson for the future is that you can't make peace with leaders, only with nations. Paradoxically, the only way to make peace with a nation is to utterly defeat them militarily so that they abandon hope of destroying you. Unfortunately, Israel has passed again (Lebanon 2006) and again (Gaza 2008-09) on the opportunities to bring about the sort of military defeat that could lead to real peace.

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At 12:07 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

The argument would go like this:

For now at least, hostility to Israel among POPULATIONS in the Middle East is so high that nothing can be done to reduce it.

It is preferable, however, to have peace agreements with governments of neighboring countries since Israel cannot destroy them or reduce them to abject humiliation.

Stablity is better than instablity (Lebanon for example is harder to deal with than Syria). Cold peace with governments is better than mere stability (Syria is harder to deal with than Egypt or Jordan).

If a stable, cold peace--or at least a lack of active aggression--can be reached, there is hope that over a long time, real peace between populations may emerge.

The fundamental problem for Israel is that it is actively hated by the surrounding population and there is nothing it can do to stop that in the short run.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

As long the Arabs hate the Jews, peace will never happen.

The most one can expect is a cold truce. But no peace.

The Israeli Left likes to believe if you sign a piece of paper with an Arab regime, you will have peace but if it doesn't change the way people think on the other side, its worse than no peace at all.

Israel should stop deluding itself into thinking that if it amputates parts of its homeland, it will win Arab gratitude and acceptance. That will never happen.

For far too long, Israel's leaders have repeatedly apologized for their country's existence. Its time to turn things around and declare the Jewish homeland and its current borders are not subjects up for discussion or compromise. The Arabs can make peace with Israel the way it is or they can remain in a state of war with it.

To gain Arab respect, Israel needs to begin to respect itself first.


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