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Gaza on my mind and O Jerusalem provoked a number of (predictable) reactions. At least one person did the right thing in my opinion, about the only thing we can do right now. She wrote to President Bush and pointed out that there can be no peace unless the Gaza problem is solved.

Not a single person who advocates "No concessions in Jerusalem" was able to explain whether this includes the enlarged municipal boundaries of Jerusalem or only the Old City, Mt. Olives and Mt Scopus, what the strategic, religious and national significance of Khirbet Beit Sahur might be, what we are to do about the 250,000 Arabs that would be annexed to Israel and become citizens, or how we would overcome the fact that not a single country recognizes our claim to Jerusalem. The slogans about not dividing Jerusalem are the same slogans that a certain party used in 1948. Should the Zionist movement have rejected UN General Assembly Resolution 181 because it did not give Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem? Some people thought so. It seems to me that they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

Not a single person who advocates immediate "action" in Gaza explained how Israel would cope with US reaction or what we could do with Gaza once we reconquered it.

Many of the reactions showed that people read what they thought I would probably write, rather than what I did write ("Isseroff is a leftist, so he thinks X"). Try to imagine that the article was written by Caroline Glick or Daniel Pipes, and understand what it says.

Several people attacked my pragmatism as "immoral." Staying alive and surviving is very moral in my opinion. Getting wiped out by taking unrealistic "idealistic" stands may be commendable in some metaphysical sense, but it is not necessarily more moral. Was Bar Kokhba commendable for his courage? Certainly. Was the revolt of Bar Kokhba "the right thing to do at the time," considering the consequences? Not necessarily.

Amazingly, one person insisted that the Arabs had won great gains because of their inflexibility. The residents of Ain El Hilweh, Sabra and Shatila refugee camps can tell you all about these gains.

Right now Israel does not have a system for protecting its armor from anti-tank missiles. Right now Israel does not have a system for defending against rocket attacks. Both systems were shelved for many years by budget cuts of a right wing government. Grousing about "leftist defeatism" and the evils of pragmatism will not hasten operationalization of those systems. Let us assume that "morality" is exclusively on the side of those who advocate immediate action in Gaza. Nonetheless, appealing to morality will not change the stand of the UN or the Bush administration any more than it will stop anti-tank missiles. Right now Israel would not have diplomatic support for an invasion of Gaza. Therefore, it would be a short lived fiasco no matter what the military outcome. Hamas would be protected from total destruction by the UN Security Council, and would rise stronger than ever, just as Hezbollah did after the Second Lebanon War.

The only thing we learn from history is that people almost never learn from history. We should learn from successes as well as mistakes. In 1956 Israel attacked Egypt without preparing the diplomatic ground properly. The Suez Campaign was a brilliant military victory and a diplomatic fiasco, even with the support of two world powers. In the 1960s, the communities bordering Syria suffered incessant artillery attacks for years. Syria was diverting the rivers above the Sea of Galilee to starve Israel of water. Most people didn't know and didn't care. Suppose that Israel had attacked the Golan heights at the beginning of 1967, without any provocation other than Syrian shelling? How long would it have been before Israel was forced to withdraw, and what would have been gained? The Six Dar War was a relative diplomatic success because Israel had been able to mobilize diplomatic support and world opinion. At the time, the importance of the diplomatic effort and the cautious reaction to Egyptian provocations was not well appreciated by certain people, who watched the silly charade in the UN and pusillanimous prevarications of the Johnson administration with growing alarm, and made fun of the diplomacy of Abba Eban.

Making Zionism (or almost anything) work always involved the art of solving problems that are seemingly impossible to solve. It is a given that we have very limited resources, that world opinion is not going to favor Israel, and that a large portion of the people of the Middle East want to wipe us off the map. This places constraints on what we can do at any one time. The correct answer to the question, "What do we do now?" cannot be framed in terms of what ought to be done in the best of all possible worlds, if we had infinite resources and world opinion was on the side of Israel. Finding the right answer in that situation would not be hard, but we are not in that situation. What we do right now has to be based on what is possible, and what may prepare the way for making other things possible.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000464.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Ami,I make a point of not accepting rudeness from anyone. In the future,I'll get my information about Israel from friendlier,more civil sources. Perhaps if you had a more efficient website that was easier to respond to,you wouldn't feel the need to snarl at well meaning individuals such as myself,who happen to reply in the "wrong" places. Consider me unsubscribed.

David R.Groesbeck, Sunday, December 16th

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