An Untenable Situation
An interesting article appeared in the Atlantic Sentinel this past March 13, entitled "Hamas Refused to Participate in Latest Gaza Violence." The author, Daniel R. DePetris, points out that although this was the most intense fighting since Israel was forced to invade Gaza three years ago, he takes solace in the fact that during the latest round of violence, smaller terrorist groups did the heavy lifting, and Hamas largely stayed out of the fray.
I'm sure this was very encouraging to Israeli citizens throughout the south who have fifteen seconds from the time the sirens go off to herd their families into shelters before the rockets land, and even less time if the terrorists decide that short-range mortars are the weapons of choice on a particular day. This is the life Jews living in towns and cities adjacent to Gaza have been forced to live since the Sharon government unilaterally uprooted thousands of people and pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
The author then goes on to applaud the 90% success rate of the "Iron Dome" defensive system jointly developed by Israel and the United States, stating that "only a few projectiles hit populated areas[.] ... One landed in a schoolyard that wasn't occupied at the time." Well, weren't those kids and their families lucky.
This is patently absurd. What a way to live. Even with a 90% success rate, should a country be willing to settle for 10% of an enemy's unprovoked firepower being unleashed upon its citizenry? Or for that matter, should anything less than 100% quiet be acceptable to a sovereign nation? Clearly the Iron Dome, enhanced bunkers, and any other defensive measures are not the answer. They represent a modern-day technological Maginot Line; it's palliation where a cure is what's really needed.
Militarily, this tit-for-tat response to aggression makes no sense. Psychologically, maintenance of the status quo is draining upon the Israeli populace and encouraging to the terrorists. After all, since the initiative remains with the terrorists, they're allowed to pick and choose when it's in their interest to reignite hostilities. Economically, at $100,000 a pop, each anti-missile missile from the Iron Dome could bankrupt Israel in the event of full-scale dependence on this system.
Israel, subsequent to the days of Menachem Begin, has painted herself into a corner. No longer willing to eviscerate her insidious enemies, she has withdrawn into a defensive cocoon, thereby only emboldening them. Vacating positions of power won during four major wars and innumerable smaller ones, she now bows apologetically to the will of an international community, a community in lockstep with her enemies -- enemies supplied by Iran with increasingly sophisticated weapons now capable of reaching major cities deep within her heartland.
Israel today is facing Islamic terrorists made to believe that time and destiny are on their side. No longer fearing the painful retribution once administered to them for incessant aggression, they now depend upon soft jihad -- the canard of peace talks and denial of legitimacy to the land -- and hard jihad -- sustained violence from Gaza and homicide bombings emanating from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
What's the answer to this untenable situation? Certainly a continuation of current reactionary defensive policies to both soft and hard jihad isn't it. Some, including this writer, believe that the answer lies in going back to the future.
Can anyone from a security standpoint argue that Israel wasn't in a better position subsequent to exiling Arafat and company to Tunisia following the First Lebanese War? Can anyone who truly loves the Jewish State and the people therein recognize what a mistake it was to bring that tyrant back and sign the Oslo Accords with him? It's time, it's been time, it's time long overdue that Israel formally recognize what the Palestinians and their Islamic supporters have recognized from the get-go: Oslo was a mere ploy to get back in the game. Only Israel, yearning for peace, took it seriously.
Only the naive and/or the disingenuous -- fit Obama into either category -- believe that this conflict has a diplomatic solution. The various Palestinian entities want the peace of the schoolyard bully. They seek submission not compromise. To the ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the PLO, the Assads, and all the other miscreants within this cabal of hate, compromise and peace are interpreted as weakness and acquiescence. Israel must regain the initiative.
Nations comprise people. The same situations individuals encounter daily mirror those of nations, which are made of their aggregate. Many of us seeking a peaceful life may have encountered the aforementioned schoolyard bully at one time or another: the taunter; the rebel without a cause, except when he or she has made you the cause; the guy or gal who, despite your admonitions, would purposely smack you in the head or knock your books off the desk. Since reasoning failed and only begot further aggression, for many of us, the desire for lasting peace soon outweighed the fear of physical confrontation or administrative sanction by the school authorities. Was there a price to pay for fighting back? Definitely. Was it worth it? Absolutely. In many cases, a former tormentor became a friend after such an incident.
I can think of no better analogy for this dance of violence which Israel is engaged in with the Gazans. In her excellent article published in the Jerusalem Post on March 29, "Another Tack: Batman and the Iron Dome," Sarah Honig correctly recognizes this. She also sees the futility of accepting the Iron Dome and defensive measures as a way to assuage peace with the terrorists.
She aptly notes that during this last spate of violence, the Israeli aim should have been to entirely disable the terrorists from striking again. Since Israel timidly failed to accomplish this, in the view of the terrorists, they won. Whether Israel accepts this view or not is irrelevant. As long as the Islamists are left to think they won, they won.
If Israel is to survive and prosper in peace as a sovereign nation, she must be prepared to foreswear reliance on any other country, including the United States. She must be willing to accept the scorn of the sanctimonious international community and to once again get her hands dirty. She has the power to do so, but the question remains: does she have the will? Most importantly, the Jewish State must readopt the policy made famous by the great Prussian general Karl Von Clausewitz: "The best defense is a good offense."