Sunday, May 14, 2017

CIVC holds that peace can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory — and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat 3 parts

INTO THE FRAY: The Israel Victory Caucus Kudos and Caveats

The launch of Israel Victory Caucus is an initiative that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer in the discourse on  the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dr. Martin Sherman, 

Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error…there is no shortcut.—Daniel Pipes, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, Commentary, December 14, 2016.
At just about the time that this column was submitted for publication (Thursday, April 27, 2017), an event of potentially great long-term significance was taking place in Washington. This was the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) by Congressmen Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).
Welcome & Timely
The launch was the culmination of an initiative of the Middle East Forum (MEF), headed by its president, prominent scholar, Daniel Pipes, aided by MEF Director, Gregg Roman. 
According to a MEF press release : “The caucus calls for a new U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the emphasis on Israel making ‘painful concessions’ and instead putting the onus on Palestinians – they must give up the goal of destroying Israel and recognize Israel as the Jewish state.”
A similar sentiment was conveyed in a remark by Rep. DeSantis : “Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, as we share common national interests and possess similar national values. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East; it is the solution to many of the problems that bedevil the region.American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence."
This launch of a congressional caucus promoting the notion of Israeli victory, rather than Israeli appeasement, is a decidedly welcome and timely—indeed, a long overdue—development.  This is particularly true since in the political and strategic discourse in Israel itself, the idea of “Victory” seems to have been entirely expunged from the lexicon of the nation’s decision-makers—both as an attainable (alas, even a desirable) operational goal and as a valid cognitive notion. Disturbingly, this appears to be the case even among the senior echelons of the IDF officer class and other branches of the security establishment.
Indeed as MEF president Pipes lamented several years ago: “no one at the upper echelons of Israel's political life articulates the imperative for victory. For this reason, I see Israel as a lost polity, one full of talent, energy, and resolve but lacking direction…”
It is left to hope that the newly launched CIVC will constituent a step towards remedying this grave lacuna.
Collapse of conventional wisdom
The conceptual foundations of CIVC are eminently sound and derive from the indisputable failure of conventional wisdom regarding conflict resolution, in general and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in particular.  
Thus, in his recent Israeli victory is the only way to advance peace process, Roman challenges prevailing precepts: “Today’s conventional wisdom holds that conflicts are best resolved through negotiation and compromise. But let’s look at the facts. After 40 years of negotiations to reunite Cyprus, the island remains divided, and 60 years of standoff over the Korean peninsula have achieved little. In Syria, the killing continues unabated despite five years of talks to reconcile Sunnis and Alawites. And at the same time, years of diplomatic efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear program ended with the West’s capitulation to Tehran’s demands.” He adds pointedly: “The negotiations fallacy is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict”.
Roman goes on to stipulate the elements of a bold new strategy for attaining peace. Citing several historical examples to corroborate his contention –from the time of the Roman Empire, through the American Civil War to World War II—he asserts “For most of human history, military victory ended wars”. Applying this to the Arab Israeli context, he concludes: “In order for there to be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel must win and the Palestinians must lose.”
Condemning concessions
The elements of Roman’s blueprint closely mirror the principles laid out by MEF president Pipes, in several earlier pieces, including a recent piece in Commentary, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory .
In it, he articulated the imperative for imposing defeat sufficiently devastating on the Palestinians so as to break their will to persist in fighting Israel and their endeavor to destroy the Jewish state.  He provides a compelling case against Israel’s two decades long policy of concessions intended to generate Palestinian goodwill and argues, as I have done repeatedly in the past,  that these have not only proven to be futile but detrimental, Indeed, they have tended to whet the Palestinians appetite, rather than satiate it. 
Pipes castigates successive Israeli governments: “Thus [Rabin’s] government and all its successors agreed to a wide array of concessions…always hoping the Palestinians would reciprocate by accepting the Jewish state…They never did. To the contrary, Israeli compromises aggravated Palestinian hostility. Each gesture further radicalized…the Palestinian body politic. Israeli efforts to “make peace” were received as signs of demoralization and weakness.”
Against this backdrop of the recurring failure of repeated concessions and conciliation, Pipes proclaims: “Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat.”
“The bitter crucible of defeat…”
Accordingly, he proposes striking out in a new (or more precisely, a renewed) direction: “This brings us to the key concept of my approach, which is victory, or imposing one’s will on the enemy, compelling him through loss to give up his war ambitions...” 
He observes: “Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted the will to fight,” and correctly cautions that,  by contrast: “…so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume.”
In applying these general principles to the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian context, Pipes presents (see opening excerpt) a stark and stern prescription for ending the conflict: “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair…” 
In this, Pipes largely embraces the spirit of measures I called for just over a decade-and-half ago in an Op-Ed piece entitled Conquer or capitulate (and again, in a later version),  in which, I argued (much like Pipes and Roman) that, without inflicting devastating defeat on the Palestinians, there would be no end to the conflict.
There were, however, some important differences between our approaches—which brings me from the kudus to the caveats.
Defining “Defeat”  
If the idea of “peace through victory” is to become more than an academic exercise in political theorizing, it needs to be advanced from its conceptualization to its operationalization.  
This means the prescribed “Victory”—and its derivative “Defeat”—cannot be left as abstract concepts.  Clearly, if they are to be adopted as practical policy goals, they need to be given clear operational definitions.  For without a clear idea of  what has to be achieved on the one hand  and what has to be inflicted on the adversary on the other, the notion of “peace through victory”—and any congressional caucuses founded on it—will never, indeed can never,  lead to any actionable policy prescriptions.
 It is, thus, not sufficient to merely advocate desisting from a policy of conciliation and concessions, but it is essential to designate what would be considered an adequate victory and a resultant effective defeat?
Moreover, given the attainment of such “victory”, what are the ramifications of victory to be and what should the elements of “post-victory” policies comprise?  
Can the currently declared demands of the Palestinians, prior to “defeat” (i.e. statehood), be acceded to, pursuant to “defeat”—without such defeat becoming, paradoxically and perversely, a medium for attaining the fruits of victory that previously eluded them.
These are questions that the CIVC initiative cannot ignore or evade if this worthy endeavor is to be translated into practical policy.  This is particularly true, since, according to the previously cited MEF press release, a parallel caucus in Israel's Knesset is to be launched in Jerusalem this July.  For while it may be possible for the US-based legislative caucus to confine itself to well-intentioned generic policy guidelines, this is a luxury an Israeli-based legislative caucus does not have. 
Victory: From Conceptualization to Operationalization
For if such a caucus is to be in anyway politically relevant, it will not be able to avoid formulating actionable policy prescriptions relating to the conditions that need to be achieved for Israeli victory and to be imposed for Palestinian defeat.
This would involve addressing questions such as:
Would "victory"/"defeat" entail the formal declaration of surrender by the Palestinians?  If so, by which Palestinians?

Would this have to be binding on both Fatah and Hamas? If not, what would the repercussions of this be? If it would include Hamas, would it be binding on other radical extremist organizations?  If not, what would the repercussions of this be?

Would "victory"/"defeat"   call for exile (permanent or temporary?) of the belligerent Palestinian political leadership? If so, to where? If not, what would be its fate and status? Would they be prosecuted/ incarcerated?

Would "victory"/"defeat" entail dismantling all of the armed Palestinian organizations and a resumption of Israeli responsibility for law and order? For how long?Perhaps most crucially: How many Palestinian casualties would Israel need to inflict in order to achieve "victory” (i.e. unconditional Palestinian surrender)? Could Israel inflict this number without incurring highly detrimental international sanctions? Could Israel inflict such a number without precipitating international intervention, even military – by, say, Turkey, Iran, or other Arab states?
But beyond such specific questions,  perhaps the most elemental  and  daunting challenge would be not to stipulate what constitutes “victory” but to persuade decision-making echelons that such “victory” actually is feasible.
Given the hold that concessionary political correctness has on the mindset of many Israeli decision-makers this will be no easy task even if the potential advantages of obtaining such a victory are not disputed. This would require initiating and fostering/promoting vigorous and ongoing public debate to apply pressure on decision makers to adopt a concept now largely discredited as unobtainable.
Avoiding Inappropriate Analogies.
In stipulating parameters for Israeli victory, and the resultant ramifications for subsequent Israeli policy, it is important not to be misled by inappropriate historical precedents.
In making the historical case for the victory-induced peace, both Pipes and Roman invoke  the cases of Germany and Japan. Roman writes: “….German and Japanese ill-will toward Western democracies in World War II rapidly dissipated, thanks to the bitter pill of defeat; friendship soon followed.”; while Pipes remarks: “…if Germans and Japanese, no less fanatical and far more powerful, could be defeated in World War II and then turned into normal citizens, why not the Palestinians now?
While this is factually true, these instances are unlikely to be instructive for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, at least as far as post-victory policy design is concerned.
After all, it should be recalled that in these cases the vanquished powers were not surrounded by, or adjacent to, countries with large populations of ethnic kin/co-religionists, who could sustain resistance and incite unrest within their borders. 
Thus, Germany was not surrounded by a swathe of Teutonic nations, nor Japan by a swathe of Nipponese nations, which could provide a constant stream of insurgents and armaments to undermine any arrangement or undercut any resolution the victorious powers wished to implement. 
This, however, would definitely be the case in the Israeli/Palestinian situation, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, where neighboring Islamic states constituted a virtually unending source of instability and incitement after initial victory.
Clearly, this is an element that has dramatic implications  for post-victory policy—especially with regard to the prospect of relinquishing Israeli control over any territory to Palestinian rule—even after a crushing defeat has been inflicted.
To be continued…
The CIVC initiative is an enterprise that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer with regard to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As such, it merits more than one column in this INTO THE FRAY series.  
Accordingly, subject to breaking news, I will devote next week’s column to further analysis of the possible pay-offs and pitfalls this commendably daring initiative could herald.  
In it, I intend to broach such topics as: “Distinguishing deterring enemies from defeating them”; “The Palestinian-Arab-Muslim nexus”; “Kinetic and non-kinetic routes to victory”  and perhaps most importantly “The Victory  caucus and the Humanitarian Paradigm: Two highly compatible concepts”
Until then: Happy Independence Day
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Congressional Israel Victory Caucus - Actionable alternatives

CIVC holds that peace can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory — and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat

Dr. Martin Sherman, 
“The major issue is not [attaining] an agreement, but ensuring the actual implementation of the agreement in practice. The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than number which they have kept.” –– Shimon Peres, And Now Tomorrow (Hebrew),  1978.
“Even if the Palestinians agree that their state have no army or weapons, who can guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the lowlands? And if the Palestinian state would be unarmed, how would it block terrorist acts perpetrated by extremists, fundamentalists or irredentists?” — Shimon Peres, The New Middle East, 1993.
Last week’s column was devoted to the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CVIC) by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), and initiated by the Middle East Forum headed by Daniel Pipes its founder and president.
In the column, I began an analysis of the initiative, setting out some of its considerable merits and pointing out several difficulties that need to be addressed and others that need to be avoided;  and undertook to continue to discuss further aspects relating to the practical implementation of this crucially important enterprise.
A brief reminder
Readers will recall that the underlying spirit of the CIVC departs sharply from long-standing conventional wisdom regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It rejects the view that the resolution of this conflict is contingent on ongoing and ever-more generous Israeli concessions. Instead, the CIVC holds that this can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory — and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat. Accordingly, US policy should reflect understanding of this restructured rationale and allow Israel to implement it.

While warmly commending this prescription for a radical redirection of endeavor, I cautioned that several aspects of the initiative will have to be fleshed out if it is to be transmuted from the sphere of well-intentioned generic guidelines to the realm of actionable policy prescriptions for Israel.  
Accordingly, I urged the authors of the CIVC to provide an operational definition of what would comprise an irrefutable Israeli victory and an undeniable Palestinian defeat. For absent such a definition, it is neither possible for Israel to know what to accomplish on the one hand, nor to impose on the Palestinians on the other. 
This is particularly pertinent as a parallel caucus is planned for launch in the Knesset this summer — and which, if it is to be in anyway  politically relevant, will have to champion the implementation of specific policy prescriptions.
Moreover, I observed that it would be necessary to outline what Israel’s post-victory policy should comprise — lest surrender (real or feigned) become a means to attain the very “fruits of victory” denied prior to admission of defeat.
The relevance of this latter point is thrown into sharp relief by the third element I raised: The need to avoid being misled by inappropriate historical analogies in which victory/defeat did, in fact, result in ending conflict and war.  This is particularly true in the case of Germany and Japan, neither of which were adjacent to large swathes of ethnically kindred nations, which could provide a constant stream of incitement, insurgents and armaments to undermine any arrangement or undercut any post-victory resolution the victorious party may wish to implement.
Post-victory policy & the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim nexus
This is something that has — or at least, ought to have — dramatic impact on the design of post-victory policy regarding the Palestinian-Arabs, pursuant to their acceptance of defeat.

After all, what might seem prudent and pragmatic under one set of circumstance (in which the defeated populace is effectively decoupled from inimical extraneous influences) may well be foolhardy, even fatally fanciful under another (in which the defeated populace is effectively exposed to such influences).
Of course, the term “influence,” would embrace diverse elements such as the supply of materiel and personnel, financial support and ideological reinforcement.

Painted in admittedly very broad brush strokes, this is essentially the seminal difference between the possible post-victory arrangements that were plausible in the case of Germany and Japan on the one hand, but not in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other. Clearly any post-victory scenario in the case of “Palestine,” embedded as it is in an Arab-Muslim milieu, would resemble Iraq/Afghanistan scenario rather than the German/Japan one.
Indeed, the Palestinian-Arabs have always identified themselves as an integral part of the “Arab nation” and, conversely, the wider Arab world has always identified them as an integral part of itself.
It is not difficult to see how this fact has direct and far-reaching bearing on the prudence and the practicality of establishing a state (or even some other self-governing quasi-state entity).   
Post-victory Palestinian policy
Accordingly, in a scenario, in which the defeated Palestinian-Arabs are detached and insulated from hostile inputs from the wider Arab world, it might well be reasonable to envisage the feasibility of a durable and docile Palestinian entity, chastened by defeat, and insulated from hostile incitement and insurgency, living in relative harmony alongside the Jewish nation-state.  
However, in an alternative — and a patently more plausible — scenario, in which they are not, this is hardly a likely outcome.
After all, any Palestinian-Arab administration, established in the wake of an unconditional surrender, will almost inevitably be seen in the wider, and largely inimical, Arab world, as a perfidious “puppet regime,” in the service of the heinous Zionist entity. As such, it is certain to be branded as illegitimate by much of the Arab/Muslim world, to which the bulk of Palestinian-Arabs, exposed to the perspectives of their ethnic kinfolk beyond their borders, see themselves as belonging. Cooperation with it is likely to be condemned as cowardly treason and resistance to it, lauded as a noble duty.
Without ongoing Israeli control, incipient revolt will always be simmering near the surface, threatening to erupt.  
Adding the emerging potential for turmoil in neighboring Jordan, where the majority of the population is reportedly of Palestinian origins, only exacerbates this imminent threat of incitement and agitation against any post-victory arrangement with Israel.
Ensuring the fruits of victory
Indeed, Pipes himself in Jordan at the Precipice, underscores the precarious position of the current regime, warning that for Jordan today “dangers are manifold. ISIS lurks in Syria and Iraq.”
He cites dour evaluations from senior Israeli diplomatic sources that “the Hashemite kingdom faces growing instability amid economic woes and an influx of Syrian refugees”issuing “a pessimistic assessment on the firmness of the regime.”
Little imagination is required to grasp what a tectonic effect regime-change in Jordan would herald for the viability of any arrangement involving a neighboring, perhaps even abutting, self-governing Palestinian entity, particularly if established on the assumption of that regime’s durability.  
Accordingly, unless Israel is willing to maintain permanent control of any post-victory Palestinian-Arab entity, it is virtually certain that any compliant Palestinian-Arab administration would be a target of irredentist subversion from a myriad of Judeophobic actors (both state and non-state) across the Arab world and beyond.
The most plausible conclusion that emerges from this analysis is that any post-victory policy, aimed at sustaining the fruits of Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat, must convey the unequivocal message that no such entity is forthcoming — ever.

For unless such hopes are extinguished permanently, there will always be room for belief that defeat is merely temporary and that, at some later stage, the Jewish state will somehow be purged from the region.  
The question now, of course is:  How is this to be accomplished?
Achieving victory: The “kinetic” route
Of course, the most common manner in which victory is achieved, and defeat inflicted, is by the use of naked military might. Indeed, it appears this is more or less what Pipes envisages. Thus, in his A New Strategy for Israeli Victory  he writes “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair…”
In last week’s column I raise a question as to the feasible scope of devastation that can be wrought upon the Palestinian-Arabs in order to bring about their unconditional capitulation. How many Palestinian casualties would Israel need to inflict in order to achieve this? 10,000 fatalities?  20,000? As a somber reminder — and a very rough yardstick — it should be recalled that in the 1948 War of Independence, Israel suffered losses of over 6,000 — around 1% of the total Jewish population then — without bringing about any thoughts of unconditional surrender.
Could Israel kill a commensurate number of Palestinian-Arabs — between 30,000-40,000 depending on which demographic estimate one accepts — without incurring international censure and sanctions? Could Israel inflict such death and devastation without precipitating massive popular clamor for international — even military — intervention, across the Arab world and in other Islamic countries such as Turkey and Iran?
And once the fighting subsides, would Israel be responsible for providing the defeated populace with food and shelter, and for shouldering the burden (at least partially) for the massive reconstruction called for?
Achieving victory: The “non-kinetic” route
There is, however, an alternative route to victory, one that is essentially “non-kinetic”,(or at least considerably less “kinetic,” than a full scale military invasion of Judea-Samaria and Gaza). It is an alternative that I have been advocating for over a decade and which I have designated the “Humanitarian Paradigm.”
In broad brush strokes, this involves differentiating between the Palestinian-Arab collective and individual Palestinian-Arabs. It calls for declaring the Palestinian-Arab collective precisely what it — and its leadership — declares itself to be, an implacable enemy of the Jewish nation-state…and for treating it as such.
The unavoidable imperative for this was aptly articulated by Israel Harel in Haaretz: “As long as Israel refrains from unequivocally defining the enemy, even the four brigades sent as reinforcements to Judea and Samara and the thousands of exhausted soldiers” will be of little avail, adding incisively: “The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy. Terrorism is the means of combat that the Palestinians are using. Their ultimate goal is to expel us from our land.” 
Accordingly, the Jewish nation-state has neither moral obligation nor practical interest to sustain the social fabric or economic well-being of a collective dedicated to its destruction. To the contrary, an overwhelming case can be made — on both ethical and practical grounds — that it should let them collapse.
How humanitarian paradigm & CIVC dovetail
Israel should, therefore, give notice that it will begin a phased withdrawal of all merchandize and services it currently provides that enemy collective — water, electricity, fuel, postal services, communications, port facilities, tax collection or remittances.  
In parallel, it should cease recognition of the authority of the Palestinian-Arab regimes in Judea-Samaria and Gaza, while offering generous relocation grants to non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals to provide them and their families with the opportunity of a better, safer life elsewhere in third-party countries out of harm’s way and free from the clutches of the cruel corrupt cliques –who have callously misled them from disaster to disaster for decades.
The political feasibility and the economic affordability of this policy paradigm have been discussed elsewhere so I will forego a repeated review of them here. However it should be clear that, given the abundance of external sources of inimical sentiment that can ignite aggression, it is only by permanently denuding the hostile Arab presence in the disputed territory, that Israel can ensure that this territory will not become a platform from which to launch attacks against it in the future (see Shimon Peres in introductory excerpts). This is the only way to smother Arab hopes of someday prying loose the Jewish hold on land they consider Arab.
But given the manifest obstacles in achieving this by means of wholesale expulsion by kinetic measures, this non-kinetic formula appears to be the most plausible method for achieving the goals of the CIVC — and one that  should be vigorously explored by its authors.
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

INTO THE FRAY: Precursor for victory - A diplomatic “Iron-Dome”

Israel requires a massive strategic public diplomacy offensive to generate the freedom of action required for victory-oriented policy.

Dr. Martin Sherman, 
Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair when that side has…accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight - Daniel Pipes, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, Commentary, December 14, 2016.
This will be my third and final column in a trilogy addressing the recently established Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC). For my previous two columns, see here and here.

To recap briefly
Readers will recall that the CIVC, launched  by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), and initiated by the Middle East Forum, headed by its president Daniel Pipes, is an enterprise that departs sharply—and laudably—from the disproven conventional wisdom on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Thus, rather than advocating that the resolution of this conflict is contingent on ongoing and ever-more generous Israeli concessions, CIVC promotes the view that this can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory—and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat.
While I warmly commended the initiative’s proposed paradigmatic shift, I laid out several considerations that must be addressed if this welcome enterprise is to be converted from the conceptual to the operational, and transform its benign intention into effective action.  
Pipes correctly diagnoses that the most effective (indeed, arguably, the only) way to end protracted conflict is by inflicting defeat on one side which “exhaust[s] its will to fight”. Elsewhere, specifically referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he aptly observes: “The Oslo Accords and other signed pieces of paper have made matters much worse”, warning: “The farce of negotiations, therefore, needs urgently to end.” 
He then asks: “If no more negotiations, then what?”, with his blunt response being to recommend “breaking the Palestinians’ will to fight”.
However, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, breaking the will of the Palestinians alone is unlikely to be sufficient for heralding in a more amicable attitude in the future. Indeed, arguably the most crucial point I endeavored to convey was that, given the external centers of agitation in the surrounding Arab countries and in the wider Muslim world, unless further steps are taken to permanently extinguish the resurgence of any future hope of prying loose the Jewish hold on land they consider Arab, the will to resume fighting will probably reassert itself.
“Kinetic” vs. “non-kinetic” routes to victory
I concluded last week’s column by drawing a distinction between two different paths for achieving victory.  The one I deemed “kinetic” and the other “non-kinetic”. 
The former entailed the use of naked military force on a massive scale inflicting commensurately massive death and devastation on the Palestinian-Arabs; while the later entailed setting up a comprehensive system to induce large-scale emigration of the Palestinian-Arabs by means of generous material incentives to leave, and commensurately daunting material disincentives for staying. 
Pipes appears to acknowledge this sort differentiation in the modes by which victory can be accomplished and defeat imposed. He writes: “Defeat can result either from a military thrashing or from an accretion of economic and political pressures” and points out that “…it does not require total military loss or economic destruction, much less the annihilation of a population”.I have, of course, no argument with him on this. After all, what Pipes designates “a military thrashing” on the one hand, and “an accretion of economic and political pressures” on the other, correspond closely to my “kinetic” and non-kinetic” routes to victory.  However, I feel compelled to reiterate that, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, exhausting the Palestinian will to fight will not ensure lasting peace.  Indeed, in any post-victory reality (whether “kinetic” or “non-kinetic”), which does not definitively preclude the emergence of some self-governing state-like (or quasi-state) entity for the Palestinian-Arab collective, tangible and enduring potential for re-kindling “resistance” will always remain.
Hamas’s man in Ankara?
The reason for this pernicious potential is not only the ample centers of external agitation that exist today in the Arab and Muslim world but also the tenuous state of incumbent regimes, particularly Egypt and Jordan, which would immediately border any such entity.
Little imagination is needed to foretell the destabilizing effect a resurgent Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and/or a declining monarchy in Jordan would have on a Palestinian administration, installed pursuant to a perfidious surrender to the “Zionist entity”.
An ominous illustration of the menacing prospect was provided this week by Turkey’s ever-more authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, at the provocatively titled Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Forum in Istanbul. With utter disregard for the recently concluded rapprochement agreement with Israel, Erdogan launched into an inciteful diatribe against the Jewish state, denouncing its control of its capital as an intolerable affront:  “As a Muslim community…each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us”. He urged his co-religionists to flood the city’s holy sites and echoed a call he made several months ago, in which he called on Muslims to support the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem from “Judaization” by Israel.
This is hardly unexpected as Turkey strongly supports Hamas, and even after the reconciliation agreement with Israel—and in gross violation of it—continues to allow the   organization’s military arm to operate within its territory. Stark imperative
Clearly then, even if Israel imposes unconditional surrender on the Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria and Gaza, this would not impact the enmity, or the will, of their supporters and sponsors in Ankara, Tehran and Doha—or conceivably, in Egypt and Jordan should ascendant Islamist elements become increasingly dominant.
With regard to the latter, Efraim Inbar warns “…changes within neighboring states can be rapid. Unexpected scenarios, such as a return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm in Egypt or the fall of the Hashemite dynasty… might take place.”
The crucial nature of this caveat is heightened by the critical strategic significance of the territory designated for any prospective self-governing Palestinian-Arab entity and the dire consequences that would ensue should it fall to hostile elements - see here and here.
Accordingly, there is only one way to ensure that the Palestinian-Arab population will not be subjected to externally sourced influences to reignite their will to fight, and to ensure that they will not be exposed to incitement, agitation and cross-border insurgency.  Put bluntly, this is to ensure that there is no population which can be impacted by all (or any) of these pernicious pressures.
Last week, I raised the question of how this stark imperative is to be best addressed.  Picking up on Pipes’s terminology, is this to be done via “a military thrashing entailing economic destruction, [even] the annihilation of a population” (i.e via the “kinetic” route); or via “an accretion of economic and political pressures” (i.e. via the “non-kinetic” route)?
Victory by “accretion of economic & political pressures”
For well over a decade, I have been advocating adopting the latter course for a variety of reasons – both moral and practical.  I have designated this comprehensive policy prescription The Humanitarian Paradigm. This, as do virtually all other major alternatives to the two-state formula currently being proposed, entails the coercive dismantling of the current Palestinian regimes, while providing individual non-belligerent Palestinian-Arabs the opportunity of a better and more secure life elsewhere. 
This latter objective—of inducing large-scale emigration—is, as mentioned above, to be accomplished by means of generous material incentives to leave and commensurately daunting material disincentives for staying.  Such disincentives would include the phased denial of services currently provided by Israel such as water, electricity, fuel, tax collection and so on, while the option of substantial relocation/rehabilitation grants would obviate any humanitarian crisis such denial is liable to precipitate.
In this regard I was greatly heartened to see that Pipes himself explicitly invokes some of the measures I propose—significantly, some of the harsher ones. Thus, in his prescription for victory, he urges that in face of continuing Palestinian violence, Israel should, inter alia, “dismantle the PA's security infrastructure” and “reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies”. 
A myopic viewpoint
Pipes rightly laments the flaccid attitude that Israel has routinely displayed on the Palestinian issue.  Referring to his proposed measures, he writes: “Of course, these steps run exactly counter to the consensus view in Israel today, which seeks above all to keep Palestinians quiescent”, warning that this is a “myopic viewpoint”. (His view coincides with warnings I have  given repeatedly that: “successive governments have shied away from taking decisive action against the Palestinian-Arabs in an effort to avoid confrontations in which Israel can prevail, thereby precipitating a confrontation in which it may well not.”)
 Pipes diagnoses—again rightly—that this myopia is the product of “unremitting pressure from the outside world, and the U.S. government especially, to accommodate the PA.” prescribing that: “The removal of such pressure will undoubtedly encourage Israelis to adopt the more assertive tactics outlined here.”
I concur entirely, with the only question being: How, and by whom, is the said removal of pressure to be achieved? After all, given the scope and momentum of this “unremitting pressure”, its “removal” is unlikely to occur without significant proactive endeavor from Israel itself.This brings us to the crux of the problem: Israel’s abdication from any effective action in the field of public diplomacy and the international battle for hearts and minds.
Irrefutable “political algorithm”
After all, what is the major obstacle precluding the “adopt[ion] of more assertive tactics? What is the source of “unremitting [international] pressure …to accommodate the PA.”
Little analytical acumen is required to trace the roots of both of these elements to the perceived legitimacy of the “Palestinian narrative”, according to which the Palestinian-Arabs are an authentic national entity—and hence entitled to everything that such an entity merits, including statehood.
Now, as long as this narrative is perceived as legitimate, Palestinian “resistance”  will be seen as a legitimate endeavor to achieve the legitimate objective of statehood—while “assertive” Israel efforts to thwart that endeavor will be seen as “disproportionate” measures to deny that objective i.e. enforce  illegitimate “occupation”.  As long as this (mis)perception prevails, Israel will always be hamstrung in its measures to combat the Palestinian-Arab “resistance”—and international pressure will remain “unremitting”.Accordingly, it is virtually an irrefutable “political algorithm” that in order to remove the unremitting international pressure and facilitate the kind of assertive measures Pipe’s prescribes, it is essential to discredit the legitimacy of (i.e. delegitimize) the Palestinian narrative.
This is undoubtedly a formidable task, and a necessary condition for its accomplishment is to acknowledge its magnitude—lest efforts to do so prove inadequate.
A diplomatic iron-dome
In this regard, I have long advocated a massive Israeli investment in a strategic public diplomacy offensive (1% of state budget, or a billion dollars annually) to confront, contend and counter international pressures and generate the freedom of action required for measures of the kind Pipes proposes.
The objective of this sizeable (but in no way, unaffordable) investment would be to configure a diplomatic “iron dome”, whose function would be to intercept the inevitable incoming barrages of demonization and delegitimization against Israel, once it adopts an assertive pro-victory strategy. 
But beyond its defensive role, such a strategic diplomatic initiative would be tasked with an offensive one: To aggressively undermine, discredit and ultimately de-legitimize the Palestinian narrative, by exposing the mendacious myths that comprise it, and which provide the fuel that drives the assault on the Jewish state and its right to exist. 
Moreover, it should provide and promote a cogent policy alternative for implementation, given the negation of the notion of Palestinian nationhood and the rejection of Palestinian statehood. In this regard, not only is the previously mentioned “Humanitarian Paradigm” the only “non-kinetic” policy blueprint that allows Israel to address both its geographic and demographic imperatives for it to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people, but it can be shown to be  the most humane of all options if it succeeds, and the least inhumane, if it does not. 
Hence, as I did last week, I would urge the authors of the CIVC to adopt it as their preferred victory strategy. 
Of course the crucial question for many would be: Can Palestinian nationhood, and the accompanying demand for statehood, be removed from the political agenda? In this regard, allow me to conclude with a quote from Pipes himself, who wrote:  “Palestinian [national identity] is superficially rooted and…it could eventually come to an end, perhaps as quickly as it got started.”Ensuring such an outcome is essential to achieving the lofty goals of the bold venture he has initiated.
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jewish History in a Nutshell: Hebron

Jewish History in a Nutshell: Hebron
Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron

Hebron hosts the oldest Jewish community in the world and is the second holiest city in the Jewish religion after Jerusalem.
Hebron is the second holiest city in the Jewish religion. In Hebrew, the name Hebron comes from the Hebrew word Haver meaning friend, while in Arabic the city is referred to as Beit al Chalil, which translates into House of the Beloved. This name is fitting for the city, for Hebron is the resting place of all of Israel’s beloved patriarchs, as well as most of Israel’s matriarchs, and Avraham, the first Jewish patriarch, is considered a friend of G-d, the creator of the universe.
Hebron in Antiquity
Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. Genesis 23 speaks about how Avraham purchased a burial tomb within Hebron for his wife Sarah. Known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzhak, Rivka, Ya’akov and Leah are all buried there. Rachel the wife of Ya’akov is buried in Bethlehem. Jewish tradition also maintains that Adam and Eve are buried in the same location. Hebron was also one of the first places that Israel’s patriarchs resided upon arrival in Canaan. This implies that Hebron hosts the oldest Jewish community on the planet.
Upon the conquest of Canaan, Joshua assigned Hebron to the tribe of Judah. After the death of King Saul, King David ascended to Hebron, from where he was anointed king and ruled Israel for seven years, until he succeeded to conquer Jerusalem and proclaim the holy city to be the eternal capital of the Jewish people. During Second Temple times (around 20 BCE), King Herod built a structure over the Tomb of the Patriarchs which is partially still standing to date. During the Jewish revolt against Rome (around 130 BCE), Hebron was the scene of extensive fighting between the Jewish people and the Roman authorities. However, Jews continued to live in Hebron continuously during the Byzantine and Arab periods. There is even archaeological evidence for the existence of Byzantine-era synagogues in Hebron and travelers’ reports testify to the existence of a Hebron Jewish community under Arab rule.
Hebron in the Medieval Period
Old City of HebronHowever, when the Crusaders invaded the Holy Land, the ancient Jewish community of Hebron was expelled from their homes. According to Benjamin of Tuleda, who traveled to Israel in 1170, Hebron was completely destroyed due to the fighting that occurred between the Crusaders and the forces of Saladin. He describes in his book
The Travels of Benjamin, “Here is a large church, called St. Abraham; and it was, when the country was still in possession of the Ishmaelites, a Jewish Synagogue.” However, by the time of Nachmanides, 1267, some Jews were reported to have returned to Hebron. Yet in 1517, Hebron’s Jews would suffer significantly from a violent pogrom which included mass murder, rape, and the plundering of Jewish homes.
Nevertheless, by 1540, when Rabbi Jechiel Ashkenazi visited Hebron, there was a sizable community of Karaite Jews, who had their own synagogue. That same year, Sephardic Jewish exiles from Spain would immigrate to Hebron and establish the famous Avraham Avinu Synagogue, which still exists in Hebron to date. The synagogue was given this name because a legend reports that once when a minyan was lacking within the synagogue, the patriarch Avraham appeared inside the synagogue in person in order to make up for it.
Hebron in the Modern Era
Avraham Avinu SynagogueIn 1775, the Hebron Jewish community would suffer from a blood libel accusation, where local Jews were falsely accused of murdering a local sheikh and were forced to pay significant blood money as a result, which adversely affected the economic situation of the Hebron Jewish community. Nevertheless, throughout the Ottoman Turkish period, Jews from throughout the Diaspora and other parts of the Land of Israel would relocate to Hebron, which was one of the main centers of Jewish scholarship in Israel prior to the rise of Zionism. This ancient Jewish community would continue to exist in Hebron up until the 1929 massacre, during which sixty-seven people were murdered and the rest were forcefully expelled from the city. Jews would not be able to return to Hebron until after the 1967 war.
Presently Hebron is home to a strong Jewish community centered around the Tomb of the Patriarchs and during the time of the weekly Torah portion of Hayai Sarah, thousands of Jews make the yearly pilgrimage to Hebron in order to the be close to the resting place of Sarah the great Jewish matriarch .