BY STEPHEN PLAUT, FRONTPAGEMAG—
By now, Israel, at the urging and bullying of the world, has tried pretty much every conceivable idea and option for achieving tranquility and reconciliation with the Hamas, except for one. Israel removed its army and civilian population from the Gaza Strip. In what amounted to the first ethnic self-cleansing in history, Israel evicted the entire Jewish presence in Gaza. The entire area was turned over to the Palestinians, lock, stock, barrel, and Jew-free.
The result is of course known. The Hamas immediately converted all of Gaza into a large rocket launch pad and a base for initiating terrorist attacks against Israel. It kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him incommunicado, refusing medical treatment to him, even though his arm was filled with shrapnel. Israel in response provided free electricity and water to the Gazans and sent civilian supplies into Gaza. Israel never made any serious efforts to stop the massive tunnel smuggling into Gaza from Egypt, even when it was clear that the main item being smuggled was weapons. These smuggled weapons include bomb materials and sophisticated rockets that can now reach Tel Aviv. Israel responded to the endless rocket attacks against its own civilians by turning the other cheek. Only after 8000 rocket strikes did it launch the half-hearted symbolic retaliation in the “Cast Lead” campaign, withdrawing quickly after it was launched.
There is only one strategy for dealing with the Hamas that Israel has never attempted. That untried strategy is victory. Israel has never seriously attempted to achieve peace and tranquility with the Gaza Palestinians by means of victory. This is somewhat strange, since it is hard to think of any other war that did not end in peace only after victory. Instead, the world keeps demanding that Israel respond to Hamas provocation with an endless series of one-sided “goodwill measures.” Never mind that the only invariable effect of such Israeli “goodwill measures” has been to trigger more Hamas terrorism. The only “peace settlement” the Hamas is interested in is one in which Israelis volunteer to allow themselves to be placed in Hamas-run extermination camps for Jews.
Victory in the case of the war with the Gaza terrorists would mean annihilating the Hamas. Interestingly, there is an increasing chorus of voices inside Israel now calling for peace through victory. One of these is General Dan Halutz, the controversial erstwhile chief of staff of the Israeli army. A few days ago a Hamas rocket was fired into Israel and struck a school building. In response, Halutz called for a “mortal blow” to be dealt to the Hamas’ civilian and “military” leadership. Then, in a radio interview, Halutz said, “We must bring back our deterrence vis-à-vis Gaza. It has not existed for even one moment since Operation Cast Lead and to this day.” He has been joined by other Israeli leaders. The finance minister, Yuval Steinitz (who is a philosophy professor at my own university when he is not busy in public life), recently called on Israel to topple the Hamas “regime” in Gaza if the terror continues.
The terrorist aggression by the Hamas has been carried on nonstop ever since it seized power in Gaza. Most acts of Hamas barbarism do not even get reported in the world media, for which dogs biting and shooting rockets at postmen are passé. Hamas rockets land in Israeli civilian areas almost every day. Hamas leaders continue to call openly for Israel’s obliteration and for the annihilation of Jews. All this is surprising only for those who have no understanding of what the Hamas really is. Anyone who has read the brochure on the Hamas being distributed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center will know otherwise.
It has become vogue in many circles to represent Middle East savagery as part of some sort of “War of Civilizations.” It is not. In fact, the Middle East is simply a war by barbarism against all civilization. It is also considered chic to represent the Middle East conflict as a “cycle of violence,” and as something fundamentally symmetrical between Arab terrorists and Israeli soldiers. It is not.
The entire world has convinced itself that violence and terrorism in the Middle East are the results of Israeli “occupation” over Arabs. They are wrong. If there is one thing that has become glaringly obvious in the past two decades it is that the main cause of terrorist violence in the Middle East is the removal of Israeli occupation over Arabs. The Gaza violence was not caused by Israeli occupation but by its removal. The Hezbollah violence and threats from Lebanon were not caused by Israeli “occupation” of Southern Lebanon but rather by its removal.
Part of the world’s problem in understanding such things about the Middle East is that most people have no idea how small Israel really is. Without the West Bank, Israel is at its waist about as wide as the length of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. All of the West Bank is smaller than the Everglades. The Arab world insists territory controlled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf is insufficient for its appetites, but promises that if only Israel agrees to place its neck in a strategic hangman’s noose by turning over the West Bank to the PLO/Hamas, then peace will prevail. And if Israel refuses to place its neck in such an Arab noose voluntarily, then this shows that Israeli aggression is what is behind the violence.
The caterwauling against Israel’s decision to shoot back occasionally at the terrorists is coming from those claiming that Israel was erected on “Palestinian lands.” This is like claiming that Alaska sits on Russian lands. The Arabs briefly controlled Palestine militarily, as the Russians briefly owned Alaska. The Jews and not the Arabs are analogous to the native Eskimos. Israeli settlements are about as “illegal” as are Eskimo villages in Alaska. There has never ever in history been a Palestinian state, and there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, any more than there is a separate Rhode Islander people. The fact of the matter is that the West Bank and Gaza are hardly “Palestinian lands.”
Even if anyone thinks the Palestinians might have had some legitimate claim to statehood or sovereignty, the Palestinians forfeited any such right they might have had due to the past century of Palestinian atrocities and terror. Just like the Sudeten Germans lost their claim to any sort of self-determination. True, Israeli governments have nevertheless naively and foolishly offered to allow the Palestinians to exercise control over these territories in exchange for peace. But Israel got war and mass murder of its civilians in exchange, not peace, so the foolhardy Oslo “peace process” deals are now off and should never have been implemented. Proposals to “liberate” the West Bank and end Israeli “occupation” there are nothing more than demands that Israel allow Gazan barbarism and terrorism to be replicated and cloned in the West Bank, with Israeli citizens subsequently bathed in countless thousands of rockets.
The only real way to suppress the carnage is for Israel to re-occupy Gaza and the West Bank in full, implement open-ended military control there and a long-term program of Denazification (based in part on the Allied programs at the end of World War II). Israel needs to expel the terrorists and destroy their infrastructure. It needs to get serious about shooting terrorists. Everything else is wishful thinking and delusion.
Palestinian “suffering”? If the Palestinians are unhappy with Israeli anti-terror policies, retaliations, checkpoints and military incursions, let them stop the terror and desist from murdering Israelis, or let them move to any of the 22 Arab states. As long as they persist in the violence, any “suffering” by Palestinians is, much like the suffering of Germans and Japanese during World War II, their own fault. The solution is certainly not for Israel to stop resisting the terror, to stop fighting back, nor for Israel to desist from trying to protect its citizens.
The endless post-Oslo Middle East violence and terror was triggered because Israel indicated that it was on the run, exhausted, unwilling to fight, afraid to resist, and ready to capitulate. It will end only when Israel returns to its determination to end the terror through military victory and force of arms. The same United States that has understood that there is only a military option for dealing with terror in Iraq and Afghanistan must back up such a return by Israel to pre-Oslo sanity.
There are no non-military solutions to the problems of terrorism.