THE ISRAEL REPORTNovember/December 2000
Outwitted and Outmaneuveredby David Basch
Any objective person who views the Arab-Israel struggle will recognize that, in this latter part of the struggle, Israeli governments have been outwitted and outmaneuvered by the Arab side. Ever since the grand victory of 1967 in which Israel could have unilaterally written the ticket for its own future, Israel's direction has been downward and headed toward destruction. Pernicious tendencies among Israeli elites, masked in the period when Israel's existence was in grave jeopardy, came to the fore and gave the Arab enemy the opening it needed to reverse its condition.
In the aftermath of wars, it is the winning side that shapes the definition of the war. Ironically, after Israel resoundingly won the 1967 War, it was the Arab propaganda that shaped what the conflict was about and led to what now appears as the virtual unravelling of millennia of Jewish effort for the reestablishment of the Jewish State. This happened because the clever Arab enemy had spied the vulnerability of the Jewish State residing in the outlook of its leftists and pitched Arab propaganda to exploit this.
This advent was right out of Sun Tzu's textbook on military theory. This ancient Chinese thinker had observed the value of knowing the enemy and using such insight to divide him where possible. The Arabs had indeed taken this sage advice to heart when they, coming to know their Jewish enemy, saw the division of Jews between the traditionalists wedded to the biblical land of Israel and the leftist universalists rejecting of such loyalties and wedded to a world outlook and a corresponding ethical system that rejected ethnic boundaries. The Arabs surely took account of the intense hatred that the leftists bore toward their traditional brothers. This was an unreasoned hate that was so great that the leftists actually preferred the destruction of the Jewish State if it meant that the traditionalist Jews would triumph as its leaders. The Arabs recognized here a hatred that was as great as Arab hatred of all Jews and one that could put the Arab side in alliance with a major segment of the Jewish enemy.
The Arabs soon discovered that they could make gains in their war against the Jewish State by merely shaping their propaganda and policies to align them with the aspirations of the leftists. Since traditional Jews valued Judaism and the historic Jewish heartland with its historic religious sites in the territories, the Arabs insinuated that a solution to the animus between Arab and Jew lay in an Israeli willingness to cede such lands to a new Arab State. Here was a policy that, while it benefited the Arab side by yielding them a stronghold in the Jewish lands that the Arabs knew could be used to further their war against the Jews, it at the same time fulfilled three objectives dear to the minds of the leftists. First, such a transfer of territory came with a glowing promise of leading to "peace" with the enemy. Second, such a loss of the revered Jewish heartland would constitute a severe blow to traditional Jews, destructive of their resolve and faith, and would lead to a weakening the traditionalist political community. Third, the leftists imagined that this weakening of their political rivals and the achievement of peace would securely establish the leftist elite and secular institutions within Israel, enabling unchallenged leftist political domination of the State. The appeal to Israeli leftists was as irresistible as the flame to the moth and just as destructive to the survival of the Jewish State.
Leftist Israel leaders, like Rabin, Peres, and Barak, wholeheartedly embraced this program crafted in Arab strategic centers and have bent even their perceptions of reality to continue it. The reality, of course, was that the Arab remained as ever, dedicated to Israel's destruction and had merely presented what was the first stage of a sequential plan to accomplish Israel's ultimate disappearance. The value of this program to the Arabs was that it could at this opening stage be pursued with the maximum help of the Israeli leftists in their own undoing.
Therefore, while the Arabs followed Sun Tzu in knowing their enemy, the Israeli leftists, obsessed with their universalistic ideology, kept themselves in ignorance of the Arab enemy and saw him in the image of themselves, dedicated to peace with the Jewish foes. That is why to this very day the leftists are surprised by open Arab maneuvers that show the Arabs as jackals in relation to the Jewish lamb. To see this reality would mean the destruction of the leftist dreams, the basis of the leftist secular religion and the foundation of what was to be its 1000 year leftist Israel. Hence, what we observe today by Barak and Pere's insistence that Israel is still involved in a "peace process" and not in an enemy ruse for Israel's destruction is merely an expression of the tenacity of leftist madness.
To buy into this mad dream, the leftists had to formulate a philosophy that gave Arabs, who had formerly dwelled in the Mandate of Palestine, recognition as a distinctive "people" and with a legitimate right to establish a new Arab State on the very lands set aside for the Jewish homeland. This is the basis of the policies of Israel's radical leftists, policies that insure that the Arabs will eventually be able to establish an irredentist Arab State within Israel's lands -- such a state will have no other character since that is its reason for being, having emerged post 1967 as a means to roll back Israel's victories in that war. Yet, we witness today an insane Israeli policy that would attempt to reach such an outcome, practiced in the name of some kind of ersatz "high morality." For even if such an outcome could be accepted as a practical matter to reconcile the nationalistic demands of the Arabs -- a superficially practical proposal, though not based on historic merit and justifiable claims -- it is abundantly evident that it is not a vehicle for peace since the gains the Arabs were making in this did not in fact lead to compromise or in any way settle the conflict. It merely intensified the conflict as the Arabs began to unmask the implacable nature of their demands for control of all the lands that comprise the Jewish State.
The leftists had been flattered by an Arab enemy which appeared to speak in the leftist language of universalism in harmony with the leftist vision. Thus, the leftists were snookered into accepting an enemy that posed as a reflection of the leftist self image. What no Arab nation would think of gracing to others, the Jews were prepared to do for an enemy, seen through rose colored glasses of ideology. Only the lightest of disguises was needed by the Arabs since the leftist fascination with their ideology could be depended upon to obscure the most evident facts on the ground -- vicious hate speech, terrorism, the education of the young to hatred and war against Israel, the violation of all obligations agreed to in the Oslo agreements against using violence, and the transformation of an Arab police force into an army.
The ruse worked beyond the wildest dreams of the Arab enemy. The Arabs harnessed the leftist obsession for creating a utopian society to serve their own purposes in fatally weakening the Jewish State. The Israeli leftists, blinded by their vision, proceeded to take the steps, cunningly called the "peace process," a name as deceptive as the sign on the Nazi concentration camp "Arbeit Macht Frei," that would supposedly make a utopia possible but which was instead the first steps contributing to the enemy goal of destroying Israel.
Of course, the leftist utopia is an unrealizable figment of the leftist imagination, being based on the Arab enemy being what he was not. The Arab enemy has no desire to living in peace with a non Muslim nation in what he believes is the Muslim realm.
When the illogic and insanity of Israeli policy is recognized, the need for a change in Israeli policy is compelling. The former policy leading to the establishment of a Palestinian Arab State is nothing but a vehicle to continue the Arab war against Israel in a more effective manner and would pose a mortal danger to Israel. Unfortunately, facing such a reality is not likely to occur in the leftist mind, a mind warped by an obsessive moralistic character satisfied to ape morality, create an illusion of morality to please a hostile world, rather than achieve it, especially when behind such an obsession is an equally fanatic lust for political power at all costs. Obviously, a change in leadership is needed that is free to recognize and to take military action to fundamentally change the current situation. It is no longer acceptable that the enemy be given sanctuary to build his military machine and rival society. He must be dealt a severe blow that, at a minimum, sets his program well back to erase the gains he made through his Oslo ruse with no hope of the subsequent recovery of an imagined reformed enemy. Long omitted actions on the ground must be taken to create conditions that leave this Arab enemy unable to contemplate the mounting of future challenges since each attempt would irrevocably lead to further erosion of his land base in a fundamental way and Israel's abrogation of all former acceptance of Arab rights to dwell in the land.
Israel's army must not be content with stalemate but must strike boldly and resolutely to take advantage of the conditions of a unified nation. Were such action omitted now, I shudder to think of an Israel caught in the shallows and miseries of an indecisive condition that must sap the morale and economic health of the nation without offering the now fleeting opportunities to make a decisive change for the better against the Arab enemy. This enemy is, for the foreseeable future, an implacable enemy of a vulnerable Jewish State. This enemy will not willingly desist from his intentions to destroy Israel. Though it will be a blessing in disguise to him, this choice to desist must be forced upon him by fully eroding the possibility of securing his objectives. For it is only then that Arab society will turn away from the war against the Jews and turn to the long delayed building of an Arab society capable of living in peace with Israel.
David Basch is an architect and city planner in New York
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