Monday, August 29, 2005

Conservatives for Gaza Withdrawal?

There are a few arguments hovering around from pro-Israeli conservatives suggesting that Gaza Withdrawal was the correct decision to make. I’d like to address a few here.

Pro-War and Pro-Israel Conservative (who writes one of my favourite blogs) David Frum wrote an article entitled The Secrets of Gaza, in which he tried to answer the question “Why is Ariel Sharon evacuating Gaza?”. He first acknowledges:

It is not because he believes that a decent Palestinian state will emerge after the Israelis withdraw. Nobody believes that. The almost universal consensus among experts on the region is that post-occupation Gaza will become a Mediterranean Somalia: an unstable failed state in which gangs compete for power and extremist Islam finds a sanctuary.

So why? Well, he tries a theory:

Could it be that Sharon is calling the bluff of Western governments and the Arab states? By creating the very Palestinian state that those governments and those states pretend to want but actually dread--Sharon is forcing them to end their pretense and acknowledge the truth:

The Palestinian leadership is incapable of creating a state that can live at peace with anyone, not Israel, not the other Arab states, not Europe, not the world. Somebody else must govern the restless and violent Arab-majority territories west of the Jordan River. Israel has suffered four decades of condemnation for doing the job. Sharon is now resigning the task to anybody else who would like to step in and take over the job. Nobody wants to. But Egypt and Jordan may soon realize that they have no choice. If there is a secret behind Sharon’s plan--that is it.

But is it? I remain unconvinced. Why? Well, I have two reasons. Firstly, Mr. Frum seems to be under the impression, totally unfounded in recent history, that Western governmenst and Arab states are even capable of “end[ing] their pretense and acknowledg[ing] the truth”. The desire for a Palestinian state is largely not based in logic but in emotion - and when emotion drives what your newsrooms produce and what your leaders say, there is little if anything that can be done to convince one otherwise. To me, the very notion that Western or Arab government policy is determined by the rational and commonsense reality on the ground is wholly naïve, thus I cannot accept the premise that whatever hellhole is produced in Gaza will change their minds.

Secondly, even if everything I just said was false, Sharon would still be engaging in Machivelian-style power politics, with his decisions and policies being concerned more with getting “one up on” outsiders rather than actually doing what is best for Israel and her people. Are Israeli citizens more likely to be in danger with this withdrawal -and if so, is that not the only consideration that should cross a prime ministers mind? Maybe its my turn to be naïve on this, but I suspect the answer to this question would be yes.

But David Frum was not alone. Even today, the greatest historian known to man (quite some praise) Victor Davis Hanson has a piece on his “Private Papers” website entitled
Right Strategy Again. In this, he cites reasons on a security standpoint which I find much more believable, but still am unsure over:

The Israeli military is crafting defensible borders, not unlike the old Roman decision to stay on its own side of the Rhine and Danube rivers. In Sharon's thinking, it no longer made any sense to periodically send in thousands of soldiers in Gaza to protect less than 10,000 Israeli civilians abroad, when a demographic time bomb of too few Jews was ticking inside Israel proper.

But Gaza itself is only a tessera in a far larger strategic mosaic. The Israelis also press on with the border fence that will in large part end suicide bombings. The barrier will grant the Palestinians what they clamor for, but perhaps also fear — their own isolated state that they must now govern or let the world watch devolve into something like the Afghanistan of the Taliban.Once Israel is out of Gaza and has fenced off slivers of the West Bank near Jerusalem deemed vital for its security, Sharon can bide his time until a responsible Palestinian government emerges as a serious interlocutor.

From my position of knowing very little on military strategy, and his position of being a famous military historian, I do not feel qualified to debunk this. However, I would like to question why this commonsense has only just come to people now, and not 10 to 15 years ago. Why the apparent change of heart, especially when Sharon said he would not withdraw in the last election? Plus, how can an area left alone and merely watched by the IDF on the sidelines be of less dangerous than an area in which the IDF enters into on a (relatively) regular basis?

Hanson also adds:

Palestine as a sovereign state rather than a perpetually "occupied" territory also inherits the responsibility of all mature nations to police its own. So when Hamas and co. press on with their killing - most likely through rocket attacks over the fence - they do so as representatives of a new Palestinian nation

Again, this makes perfect sense… to a conservative, who bothers to watch the region. Even when Hamas kill Jews as representatives of a Palestinian state, the Left would surely do their utmost to pretend these people are both part of a lunatic fringe and are reacting to Israeli wrongs against them, even if these wrong were in the past. Hanson is right of course, and it would be foolish of me to say that all western governments are inseparable from the Left in one sweeping stereotype - but still, from what they say and how they act you’d be easily forgiven for thinking that it is the case in most.

Hanson concludes:

The pullout from Gaza is bringing long-needed moral clarity to a fuzzy crisis. Heretofore the Palestinians have counted on foreign support through fear of terrorism, influence with oil producers, unspoken anti-Semitism and carefully crafted victim status accorded savvy anti-Western zealots. But now they are increasingly on their own, and what transpires may soon end their romance of the perpetually oppressed.

Indeed, it will be interesting to see what happens when the Palestinians loose “their romance of the perpetually oppressed”, and how people react - and whether they will change their minds. (Its already happening, leftist Christopher Hitchens just wrote a piece calling Iraq "A War to be proud of"). So I can stay hopeful.

But however much the two great minds of Frum and Hanson believe Disengagment to have been the right decision, from what I am seeing I simply cannot agree. Perhaps they will be proved right, and me wrong - and I wish for Israeli sake that that be the case. But with Hamas militants acting increasingly confident around the area, and with Palestinian children in brainwashing centres they call “schools” being taught how the Zionist enemy surrendered to terror, and with the move made in such blatant disregard to religious Jews in a blind belief that their sacrifice will aid peace, I cannot be optimistic.


At 3:19 AM, Blogger Lt. Bomb said...

Agreed. Appeasement has failed every time it has ever been tried by the Jews. Why should now be any different?

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Eran said...

Personnaly, I think that we'll be forced to comeback. Ariel Shron knows it, he planned it so. I think that the price is too high here. We go, and they're starting to launch terror again, they've alreafy sent two rockets on Shderot. We'll be forcved to reply but then we'll have a moral clarity?
Why souhld we care about being so moral here?
A war is a war and we don't fight to be moral but to win ( unless it's real extreme )!
It's just a trick to take the left off his back that they won't keep yelling about his son Omri the corrupted.


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