Beilin's latest folly
by Jonathan Rosenblum
September 19, 1997
The first rule of tennis strategy, we were taught as youngsters, is, 'Never change a winning game; always change a losing one." In tennis, where there are only two possibilities - win or lose - that advice makes sense.
In the real world, however, there are usually at least two possible alternatives to the status quo: better and worse. The rule of prudent statecraft, therefore, has always been: Better the enemy you know than the one you do not.
Since Oslo, Israeli diplomacy has been conducted as if we were playing tennis. We leapt into Oslo on the assumption that nothing could be worse than the intifada, and in the four years since, far more Jews have been killed by terrorists than at any time in Israel's history. Now the chief architect of the Oslo agreements, Yossi Beilin, would have us unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon Ð once again because the present situation is deemed intolerable.
All the glaring flaws of the Oslo process were predicted by opponents of the agreements from the start. The first was imagining that by rescuing a bankrupt PLO from oblivion, we had secured a negotiating partner. For Yasser Arafat, diplomacy has never been more than war by other means.
The Arab intelligentsia, even in those countries with which we have relations, remains uniformly hostile. It has yet to produce one Shimon Peres fantasizing expansively about the glorious peace just around the corner. And on the Arab street, the murder of Jews remains a cause for celebration.
If, as his apologists maintain, Arafat must continue preaching jihad, proclaiming suicide bombers martyrs in a sacred cause, embracing Hamas leaders within days of suicide bombings, and kissing little schoolgirls singing lullabies about killing Jews in order to survive, then peace is not on the Palestinian agenda.
We dismantled our intelligence-gathering apparatus and subcontracted the fight against terrorism to the father of Palestinian terrorism. Predictably, the Palestinian-held areas have become virtual safe havens for terrorists.
The PA and Hamas play good cop/bad cop. While letting Hamas operate freely, Arafat is careful to maintain deniability for its actions.
The Oslo process has proven irreversible. The drumbeat of demands for 'progress" --new agreements, further territorial concessions--both at home and abroad, is unceasing. Any attempt by Israel to reenter PA-controlled areas would place us in the role of international pariah. Even explicit acts of war, like the shooting at Israeli troops and civilians by Palestinian police last year, only resulted in condemnation of Israel.
Four years after the signing of Oslo 1, Israel finds itself being told by the US secretary of state that it should not let security concerns halt the peace process. What, one wonders, was the process about for us if not security concerns?
While the PA has failed to fulfill its most basic commitments, Israel is instructed not to harm the atmospherics. The army is now preparing for the threat of guerrilla warfare by tens of thousands of Palestinian 'policemen,' whom we ourselves armed.
The problem is not that Israel has, for the first time in history, mass-produced stupid Jews. For Dr. Beilin is an intelligent man. The problem is wishful thinking --the refusal to believe that there are problems in the world that cannot be solved by an infusion of goodwill.
The same type of delusional thinking is evident in the calls for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. Proponents of withdrawal are right that longevity is not sufficient justification for continuing past policy without reexamination. The Maginot Line was no more effective for having been long in place.
At the same time, it is insufficient to point at the tragically high rate of casualties and argue that anything must be better. That is basically what we are hearing today from proponents of withdrawal: 'I'm not an expert, but..."
For 15 years there has been virtual unanimity among both the political and military echelons of the necessity of a military presence in southern Lebanon. Those who argue that such a policy is no longer sustainable have the burden of showing that the dangers it was meant to combat have either lessened or can be combatted by other, less costly, means. They have not even attempted to do so.
Yet without such detailed analysis, we can have no assurance that even more lives will not be lost. Withdrawal, for instance, would likely necessitate more operations such as that in which 12 naval commandos lost their lives.
Israel does not have the luxury of doing what Sen. George Aiken once recommended that the US do in Vietnam: Declare victory and go home. We are already home, and the enemy is at our doorstep. How much more lethal would Hizbullah become once emboldened by having forced our retreat.
Calls for a negotiated settlement in Lebanon are fatally flawed by the assumption of a non-existent partner. Syrian dictator Hafez Assad currently enjoys hegemony over Lebanon --a far bigger jewel than the Golan Heights-- and is able to bleed Israel through his Hizbullah proxies at no cost.
According to Daniel Pipes and other Syrian experts, Assad fears peace with Israel more than he wants the Golan. As a permanent casus belli, the Golan conveniently distracts attention at home from the domination of Assad's minority Alawi clan. Even if the Golan were returned, Assad could deny accountability for Hizbullah in the same way Arafat denies responsibility for Hamas.
Jews have suffered greatly, and continue to suffer, for the delusions of those who believe peace in our time can be achieved with the wave of a pen.
Related Topics: Israeli Society
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