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Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What's going on in Israel?

I have to admit, I've been a bit miffed at the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Daniel Pipes thinks it is a bad idea, and he points to some sound reasons why:

Top Hamas figure Ahmed al-Bahar:
Israel has never been in such a state of retreat and weakness as it is today following more than four years of the intifada. Hamas's heroic attacks exposed the weakness and volatility of the impotent Zionist security establishment. The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state. We believe that the resistance is the only way to pressure the Jews.

Another Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri says likewise that the withdrawal is "due to the Palestinian resistance operations. ...and we will continue our resistance."

Of course this all leads to the general consensus among Palestinian's of Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem! With assorted candies and martyr shirts passed out at the rally of course.

Rewarding a certain behavior, encourages that behavior. Terrorism is no exception.

Benjamin Netenyahu agrees:
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the highest-ranking figures in Israel's government, quit yesterday to protest next week's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and, sometime afterward, from parts of the West Bank, saying it would create an ''Islamic base" on Israel's doorstep. ... ''I'm not willing to be a party to a step that endangers our security, divides the nation, and reinforces the principle of withdrawing to the 1967 lines," Netanyahu, who is Sharon's main rival in the ruling Likud party, said during a news conference in Jerusalem hours after quitting. He said he had been ''torn inside" for months but decided he did not want to go down in history as an accomplice to the unilateral withdrawal. ''A leader must ask himself . . . 'What do you represent?' " he said.

Given the history of this confilict and the above quotes from prominent Palestinians, it is hard to disagree with Netenyahu's assertion. But Sharon is not a stupid man, so there must be something to this right? My first thought, was that this is an attempt to remove some of the sting from the Palestinian's (as well as the European Left's) ability to blame all of their own (Palestinian) misery and failure on the 'Zionist Occupation.' Additionally with the removal of some 7,000 Israeli settlers living amongst over 1 million Arabs who would prefer to see them all dead, Israeli Defense Forces are spared the unfavorable burden of spending a lot of resources to defend a few thousand settlers. Finally, perhaps Sharon is doing this to prove to all of the critics that placating the Palestinian's desires will only increase the violence, not move them closer to peace.

These were some of the random thoughts I was having over the last couple of weeks, leave it to Victor Davis Hanson to provide some order to the situation, while reminding us that Ariel Sharon has always been a brilliant strategist:

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.

...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.

In response, Israel can strike back at an aggressor without worry about the blowback on isolated vulnerable Israeli settlements.

Sharon's withdrawal policy from Gaza is thus a critical first step of turning the struggle from an asymmetrical war of terror back into a conventional standoff between delineated sovereign states. And that can only help a militarily superior Israel.

So, the policy goes that Israel is going to trade Gaza for victory, and while it is hard to imagine a responsible Palestinian government emerging anytime soon, they will have lost one of their most powerful political tools, that of the romanticizing of the oppressedd. Palestine will now be responsible for building and maintaining their own infrastructure and growing their (currently almost non-existent) economy. Can they do it? Eventually, yes, but not until they break the culture of death that so perverts their society. The disengagement from Gaza will likely help trudge the process forward, but tragically, a turnaround still appears a long way off.


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