Daniel Pipes had some very discouraging words for us Israelis just before the elections. In an article
variously titled "Israel Shuns Victory" and "Try Victory," Dr. Pipes explained that we Israelis are falling down on the job. We should be aiming to defeat the Palestinians decisively, as the allies defeated Hitler in World War II, or as he believes Ronald Reagan and the neo-conservatives defeated the USSR. Instead, we are aiming for cowardly compromises and half measures.
As Israelis went to the polls, not one of the leading parties offered the option of winning the war against the Palestinians...
....Wars are won, the historical record shows, when one side feels compelled to give up on its goals.
...The Arabs fight to eliminate Israel, Israel fights to win the acceptance of its neighbors. For nearly 60 years, Arab rejectionists have sought to eliminate Israel via a range of strategies: undermining its legitimacy through propaganda, harming its economy through a trade boycott, demoralizing it through terrorism, and threatening its population via WMD.
While the Arab effort has been patient, intense, and purposeful, it has also failed. Israelis have built a modern, affluent, and strong country, but one still largely rejected by Arabs. This mixed record has spawned two political developments: a sense of confidence among politically moderate Israelis; and a sense of guilt and self-criticism among its leftists. Very few Israelis still worry about the unfinished business of getting the Arabs to accept the permanence of the Jewish state. Call it Israel's invisible war goal.
Rather than seek victory, Israelis have developed a lengthy menu of approaches to manage the conflict...
Pipes goes on to list the various strategies of disengagement and peace plans offered by the various Zionist parties, from Yisrael Beiteinu to Meretz.
In Haaretz, Bradley Burston took strong exception to Pipes' criticism:
I used to be an American Jew. And then I read Daniel Pipes.
"As Israelis go to the polls," Dr. Pipes wrote this week in an article that originally appeared in the New York Sun, "not one of the leading parties offers the option of winning the war against the Palestinian Arabs."
Dr. Pipes goes on to admit "a certain frustration" with the apparent unwillingness of Israelis to go out there and do the right thing: bring the Arabs to heel, by use of overwhelming force.
The article, entitled "Israel Shuns Victory," sets out a kind of self-test for us, listing nine different options by which Israelis from far left to far right, and moderates in between, all "manage the conflict without resolving it," "ignore the need to defeat Palestinian rejectionism." and "seek to finesse war rather than win it."
This is not the first time Dr. Pipes has let Israelis have it for letting him down. In a 2003 speech to college students, cited on his Website www.DanielPipes.org, he suggested that Arabs will not truly accept Israel's existence until Israel "punishes violence so hard that its enemies will eventually feel so deep a sense of futility that they will despair of further conflict."
Does Dr. Pipes really believe that people who crave a violent, Jew-murdering death are really going to accept Israel if only enough military force is applied?
Is Dr. Pipes telling us that people who celebrate the sacrament of suicide are going to think differently of us if we send in more tanks, bigger bombs, more F-16s, more Apaches, more infantry brigades, more commandos, demolish more homes, demolish more olive trees, demolish what little is left of the Palestinian Authority?
I understand that we have disappointed the analyst with the Harvard pedigree. But if he'll allow me one more question:
Since when did we become mercenaries for Daniel Pipes?
After reading Dr. Pipes, I'm not sure I can be an American Jew anymore. I guess, at long last, I've become an Israeli. Unlike Dr. Pipes, I can't bring myself to win the war against the Palestinians. At least not the way Dr. Pipes would have me do so. I guess the guy's right. My friends in my IDF battalion couldn't do it either.
There are many other American Zionists who think like Daniel Pipes, but only a small minority of Israelis, according to election results. Who is right?
One hint is contained in Pipes' passing admission, "While the Arab effort has been patient, intense, and purposeful, it has also failed." Hundreds of millions of Arabs, with hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory, and with huge oil and gas reserves, against a few million Israelis with about ten thousand square miles of territory and no natural resources except barchash flies and sand. Yet the Arabs have lost almost every battle! Maybe we are doing something right after all.
In order to examine who is right, and explain why we Israelis think as we do, we have to examine some basics:
Who is the enemy? Pipes performed a sleight of hand. In the first sentence he talks about winning the war against the Palestinians, but a bit further down he is talking about the Arabs fight to eliminate Israel. That is not quite the same. There might be 8 million Arab Palestinians in the entire world. Those we are fighting directly are concentrated in an area of about 2,200 square miles. "The Arabs," or more properly, "the rejectionist Arabs and Muslims" constitute about a billion people, in lands stretching from the western tip of North Africa to Indonesia. Defeating the Arabs of Palestine decisively is easy. We did it lots of times. We made them exiles and we conquered their lands. That is more than the allies did to Hitler or Japan, and certainly more than Reagan and his neo-conservatives did to the Soviets. However, the Palestinian Arabs did not surrender and make peace, because our war is not with the Palestinian Arabs. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups won't give up as long as their Iranian patrons fund them. Defeating President Ahmedinejad and his Islamic Republic of Iran, defeating Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and defeating all the forces of Islam and Arab nationalism arrayed against us is not a trivial problem. They don't care how many Arab Palestinian cities we occupy and they don't care if Israel pounds the Arab Palestinian cities to rubble, because they are interested in "Palestine" as an abstract cause rather that in Palestinian people, who are incidental to their goals.
What are their goals and how do we prevent them from reaching them? - Pipes tells us exactly what the goals of the enemy are, but he doesn't grasp the significance of what he wrote. The enemy want to wipe out Israel by questioning its legitimacy and using the occupation as a lever to discredit us, and by making sure there are more Arabs than Jews in Israel. The occupation works in their favor. A million Arab Palestinians under Israeli rule will soon become two million, and in a fairly short time they would be a majority. The occupation of Palestinian cities gives the rejectionists an issue with which to discredit Israel, and they make no bones about pointing this out. The only way to frustrate their campaign is to remove the issues on which it is based.
What are our goals and how do we reach them? - Again, Pipes got that right too. Israel fights to win the acceptance of its neighbors. Occupying Nablus or building another outpost in the West Bank is not going to win the acceptance of our neighbors. It will not help us defeat them in a war if it comes. Nablus or Jenin have no strategic value in a possible nuclear war with Iran for example.
Pipes wrote, Very few Israelis still worry about the unfinished business of getting the Arabs to accept the permanence of the Jewish state.. Oops he got that wrong!! That goal is what everyone here is worried about. Everyone from Yvette Lieberman to Yossi Beilin and back again. There are no internal divisions on that goal. Why does Pipes think that the Israeli public was so enthusiastic about the prospect of internationally recognized borders offered by Kadima? Because such borders, if accepted by the US and the EU, would eventually have to be accepted by the Arabs and Muslim countries.
We do not have the advantage of Harvard educations here, or the perspective afforded by living in a great nation. From our limited and benighted perspective, it seems to us that we have achieved some limited successes in our struggle. When I first came to this country, Amman Radio referred to Israel contemptuously as "the Zionist entity" and Radio Cairo was even less sympathetic. Israel now enjoys fairly good relations with many Muslim and Arab countries. We have peace with Egypt and Jordan. Though many in those countries oppose the peace agreements, their governments recognize the right of Israel to exist and send their ambassadors here. It is no longer strictly true that "the Arabs" or "the Muslims" deny Israel the right to exist.
Perhaps however, we are wrong. The fog of battle has confused us, and the onerous struggle has weakened our spirit. Perhaps Dr. Pipes is right. In that case, there is a remedy. He must come here at once. It is not that he doesn't have the full right, as a Jew and supporter of Israel, to criticize Israel and tell us what to do from the USA. Israel is a Jewish enterprise, so everyone is a partner. However, Pipes has set us an ambitious task. He tells us that 6.5 million Israelis (about 5.5 million Jews) must decisively defeat 1.25 billion Muslims in about 31 countries. We certainly will need every available brain and every available pair of hands to accomplish that ambitious goal. If Pipes and others like him come here to help us, perhaps it is not impossible. We can take a leaf out of the Haganah's book in modernized form. The Haganah used public address systems to amplify machine guns. We can multiply our soldiers using digitized holographic projections, so we will have enough troops to occupy all those countries.
Certainly Pipes' fighting spirit and geopolitical acumen will re-invigorate our struggle and give us the backbone to achieve the Victory that Pipes requires. For example, he can teach us lessons from the successful American experience. In no time at all, the Americans conquered and pacified Iraq, and the Iraqis, having suffered a decisive neoconian defeat, have hardly given the Americans any trouble since then. What's that you say? There is trouble in Iraq? Do you mean to tell us Dr. Pipes, that the United States and Britain, with their hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the hundreds of billions of dollars they spent, their cruise missiles and their aircraft carriers, could not defeat and pacify even one little Arab country in three years? When we are on a roll, that is six days work for the IDF. In fact, we defeated three of those countries. The secret of course, is to aim to do the possible, rather than aiming for the impossible. Even if the UN had allowed it, it would have been absurd for Israel to try to occupy all of Egypt or Syria or Jordan. If we tried to follow the Pipes plan, we would need trillions of dollars, millions of soldiers lots of aircraft carriers and other goodies. We don't have all the soldiers needed to occupy all the lands between here and India. We do not have even one aircraft carrier. We could only afford submarines because the Germans paid for them. How could we inflict decisive defeats on all those countries?
Perhaps if Dr. Pipes comes here, he will find out what Ariel Sharon found out, "From here, it doesn't look the same as it did from there."
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Replies: 2 Comments
"However, the Palestinian Arabs did not surrender and make peace, because our war is not with the Palestinian Arabs. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups won't give up as long as their Iranian patrons fund them. Defeating President Ahmedinejad and his Islamic Republic of Iran, defeating Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and defeating all the forces of Islam and Arab nationalism arrayed against us is not a trivial problem."
this means the enemy camp is not confined in Palestine. and hence any settlement with Palestine alone might be of no real consequence.
"Because such borders, if accepted by the US and the EU, would eventually have to be accepted by the Arabs and Muslim countries."
I sincerely wish this turns out to be true. But I have my doubts. Pipes views are kinda irrelevant on the ground. we all have our utopia where the enemy is destroyed and 'we' live happily everafter. But in a clash between ideas, the people involved have a bearing to the extent of their resolve. I am afraid the ideas of the opposite party in this context is 'wipe off the map'. Though some of the countries have given up that resolve, and hopefully others will follow suit too. But results of previous wars of Israel definitely are one the most important reasons why Egypt and Jordan 'might' have renounced that idea.
Some interesting parallels exist in other regions of Asia.
Anubhav Singh, Wednesday, April 5th
Once Israel sets it borders, it can recognize what is left as "Palestine". It can relinquish any responsibility for Palestine in any way. If attacked it can respond against a state. I have no idea as to when the rest of the Arab world will accept israel, if ever, but Israel should separate itself from those that seek its destruction. Israel cannot conquer the entire Muslim world and their friends in Europe and elsewhere. It can only mind its own business and work to become a full member of the world community. In the interim, any cross border attacks should be met with maximum force in the hope that the Palestinian people will appreciate the costs of war. Perhaps their next election might result in a more moderate stance. If not, let the rest of the world support them while Israel gets on with its life.
bob poris, Sunday, April 2nd
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