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Criticizing Israel's Leadership

Reader comment on item: Explaining Israel's Strategic Mistakes

Submitted by Uzi (Israel), Jan 28, 2009 at 10:20

I'm as critical as the next Israeli of Israel's leadership, but I think that Dr. Pipes as well as the rest of us are being too harsh, because we fail to emphasize that there are no good options. We don't have oceans or mountain ranges to give us a security margin.

The West Bank is only about two miles from my (West) Jerusalem home, and when the Palestinians were shooting at Gilo, we could hear the gunfire from our bedroom.[ It scared the wits out of our dog.] So Israel's leaders have almost no margin of error. Yet we defend ourselves at the risk of - and while under the threat of - international economic sanctions and the criminal prosecution of our political and military leaders for alleged "war crimes" which boil down to possessing the affrontory to defend Jewish lives.

And the reality over here is that enhanced geographic security (eg- more territory) lies in inverse proportion to demographic security (more land translates into more hostile Arabs within our borders, with the potential to demand "one man one vote" and become - through their higher birth-rates - an electoral majority which would end Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel). Looking at what's happening in Europe these days, I think it is beyond doubt that demographic security trumps geographic security. Dr. Pipes admitted as much a couple of weeks ago when he surveyed the possible outcomes of the "Islamization" of Europe's population.

Israel's leaders walk a very fine line, seemingly juggling numerous flaming torches while bouncing on a pogo stick on a tight-rope above a bottomless chasm. It has to weigh the effects of every step it takes on world opinion, on Israel's own Arab minority, on the US Administration, on the permanent members of the UN Security Council and on the Jewish diaspora.

Israel was clearly provoked into our recent Gaza operation. Any self-respecting country would have fought back after thousands of rockets had been fired into it from a neighboring territory, yet Israel's measured response to flagrant violent aggression by Hamas led to anti-Jewish riots, marches and demonstrations throughout Europe and Canada and to physical and verbal assaults against diaspora Jews. Jewish friends of ours in London said that for the first time in their lives they have felt physically threatened in their own neighborhood by their Muslim neighbors. So threatened that they have begun considering Aliyah to Israel.

Israel has no good option vis a vis the Palestinians, only a choice among various bad options. Our situation reminds me of Mr. Jefferson's description of the slaveholder's dillemma: Owning slaves is like holding onto a wolf by the ears; you don't really want to be in that position, but you really don't want to let go. So it is with the Palestinians. We don't want to be their occupiers` ;we don't want to rule over them, but look what happens whenever we let go!

So we should all cut the Israeli leadership some slack. No government in the world has to manage such a conflict, from such a position of vulnerability.


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