I have published two consecutive columns on the topic of Israel defeating the Palestinians ("Israel Shuns Victory" and "How Israel Can Win). Here are some additional thoughts that did not fit there:
- My thinking parallels that of Vladimir Jabotinsky, as expressed in his 1923 essay, "The Iron Wall." Published as "O Zheleznoi Stene" in Rassvyet, November 4, 1923, here is a snippet from the English translation published in the The Jewish Herald (South Africa), November 26, 1937, where Jabotinsky is discussing the Arabs:
As long as there is a spark of hope that they can get rid of us, they will not sell these hopes, not for any kind of sweet words or tasty morsels, because they are not a rabble but a nation, perhaps somewhat tattered, but still living. A living people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions only when there is no hope left. Only when not a single breach is visible in the iron wall, only then do extreme groups lose their sway, and influence transfers to moderate groups. Only then would these moderate groups come to us with proposals for mutual concessions. And only then will moderates offer suggestions for compromise on practical questions like a guarantee against expulsion, or equality and national autonomy.
- One common critique of my position is that the Palestinians show too much resolve to be defeated, that they are too resolved. To which I reply that I experienced in 1975 the only defeat in U.S. history, when American troops retreated from South Vietnam. They did so not because the U.S. economy had tanked, the last bullet had been spent, or because of battlefield defeats – quite the contrary, military analysts agree that the U.S. side was winning the war on the ground – but because the body politic's will had been sapped. If the North Vietnamese and their allies could defeat the United States, why not Israel the Palestinians?
- Another way of making ths same point: If the Germans and Japanese could be defeated in World War II, why not the Palestinians?
- Under Ariel Sharon's leadership, Israel was making real progress in its war. I documented the increasing Palestinian despair in a series of articles, in December 2001, February 2002, August 2002, January 2003, and April 2004, then capped this with a weblog entry in May-September 2004. Only when the seriousness of Sharon's about-turn fully sunk in late 2004 did the Palestinian mood revive and did Israel stop winning.
(April 4, 2006)
- Winston Churchill had this to say on the topic of victory in his "Blood, Sweat and Tears" speech of May 1940, addressing the British people on first taking office as prime minister: "You ask: what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory - victory - at all costs, victory, in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival." For a comparison between Churchill and Ariel Sharon in January 2002, unfavorable to the latter, see an analysis by Paul Eidelberg. (Apr. 7, 2006)
Apr. 12, 2010 update: Max Singer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) does an elegant job of explaining to what the U.S. and other Western governments can do to help in an analysis titled "Prospects for Peace with the Palestinians." From the executive summary:
It is useful to think of the Palestinians as engaged in an internal debate between those who favor keeping the goal of eliminating Israel and those who favor giving up that goal to gain peace and prosperity. Peace can be achieved only when the second group is dominant. The debate depends on two issues. Is there any realistic hope that Israel can really be defeated? Would it be honorable to make peace with Israel? The international movement to delegitimize Israel provides Palestinians the hope of eventually destroying Israel, and Palestinian leadership denial of the existence of a Jewish People with an ancient connection to the Land of Israel contradicts the basis of an honorable peace with Israel. If peace is to have a chance, Western leaders need to disabuse the Palestinians of both fallacies.
Read the full analysis for an outline of what American policy should be.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy
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