December 2, 2007
After Annapolis, what?By Edward Bernard Glick
In the zero-sum-game Middle East, if you don't win, you lose.
Despite the conference at the United States Naval Academy, if one looks at the Palestine struggle the way Iran, Hamas, Hizbollah, and Israel's other existential enemies look at it, they are winning and the Zionists are losing.
As they see the situation, Israel, with the weakest and most unpopular prime minister in its history, is in irreversible political, military, and public relations decline. Its fabled Israel Defense Force neither intimidates nor defeats them. Despite repeated assassinations, barrages, and incursions, the IDF does not stop the terrorists from lobbing rockets and missiles into the Jewish State at will.
The reason, in their view and in mine, is Israel's fear of inflicting civilian casualties, or collateral damage in modern jargon.
As Prof. Fouad Ajami of The Johns Hopkins University has observed, the terrorist "always works with the winks and nods of the society that gives him cover." So if the jewish state does not conquer its fears and inflict more, not less, collateral damage in the places from which the terror against it emanates, ti will die.
Those who wish and work for Israel's destruction do not shrink from killing innocent civilians. So they are unimpressed by Israel's failed policy of limiting and apologizing for such casualties, and then begging for forgiveness from a world that masks its politically-incorect anti-Semitism with politically-correct anti-Ziomism.
Israel's foes would be more impressed if it followed the dictum of its late Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General David Elazar. After a commando raid in Beirut in 1973, during which a seventy-year-old Italian woman was killed, General Elazar expressed his regret but added: "Israel won't play by the rules of partial war; wars are not won with a strong defense."
Israel's enemies remember, even if Israel's leaders do not, that Germany, Italy, and Japan surrendered in 1945 only because Allied might overwhelmed them and made them lose their will to fight and to be lead by political and military losers.
Israel's enemies remember, even if Israel's political and military leaders do not, that the Axis Powers were defeated only because the Allied Powers applied slow, sustained, and superior force over a number of very bloody years. And Israel's enemies remember, even if Israel's political and military leaders do not, that avoiding enemy civilian casualties was never a serious issue for America's Franklin Roosevelt, Russia's Joseph Stalin, or Britain's Winston Churchill.
Israel must also stop going berserk whenever one of its soldiers or civilians is captured. This happens in war. It must cease releasing hundreds or thousands of enemy combatants in exchange for one or two of its citizens.
By any calculation, it is proper to sacrifice one soldier in order to save 10, ten to save hundreds, hundreds to save thousands, and thousands to save millions. Because of the symbiosis between victory and casualties, Israel must also apply this principle to its civilian casualties.
In their 1948 War of Independence, in order to establish their state, at least one percent of Israel's population of 650,000 gave their lives. But, now, when Israel's population is ten times larger, its leaders erroneously believe that Israelis will not endure a far lower percentage of fatalities in order to preserve their state.
The Israelis must stop fretting about world opinion. The only opinion that matters, and only to the point where it does not threaten Israel's existence, is that of Diaspora Jewry and U.S. opinion. During the 2006 Lebanon war, Americans from President George W. Bush down to the proverbial man and woman in the street hoped and prayed that the Israelis would be much more audacious and victorious than they were.
To survive, Israel will have to fight by the rules of its neighborhood. The first rule is "Never let the fear of casualties trump your military judgment." And the second rule is "If you don't win in this neighborhood, you lose, and you deserve to."
So much for the military front after Annapolis. On the diplomatic front, the Prime Minister of Israel must immediately announce the following to Israel's friends, supporters, interlocutors, enemies, and especially to all those in the world who are mesmerized by the process of negotiations rather than by the results of negotiations:
"Effective immediately, unless and until Israel's Muslim and Arab enemies remove anti--Semitism and anti-Israelism from their mosques, schools, and media, and explicitly accept our right to exist in the Middle East as a Jewish state, with a capital city chosen by Israel, the Government of Israel will cease meeting with them or their representatives in any forum and at any time because until these demands are met in full, there is nothing else to discuss."
Edward Bernard Glick of Portland, OR is the author of Between Israel and Death and a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is also a former truck driver and machinist's helper.