August 2, 2009
Mideast Peace Now!
Is it time for those who clamor for a Middle East peace to "declare victory and go home"? Two recent events in the region signal the answer.
And that answer, resoundingly, unequivocally, is "yes."
In 2006, Hezb'allah crossed Israel's northern border and kidnapped two soldiers, triggering a massive Israeli retaliation that caused hundreds of deaths, billions of dollars of damage and came close to destroying Hezb'allah, who were literally saved by the bell when the "international community" combined with a hapless left-wing administration on the Israeli home front pressured the Israelis into halting their advance short of complete victory.
And yet, in the aftermath of that war -- a war that reduced parts of Lebanon to rubble; a war in which Hezb'allah failed to invade, let alone conquer, an inch of Israeli territory; a war in which, a Hezb'allah officer confessed to The Jerusalem Post that, had it continued only ten more days, "we all would have surrendered -- Hezb'allah, astonishingly, declared victory. Apparently, in the topsy-turvy milieu of whatever passes for logic in the Arab Middle East, one can do that (and among the Israel-hating Left, get away with it).
So the Israelis pulled out, a UN "peacekeeping force" came in and, as we who opposed ending the war without a clear victory predicted, Hezb'allah returned and not only replenished their rocket arsenal, but increased it fourfold.
But then, something important happened. Hezb'allah won 57 seats (out of 128) in Lebanon's recent parliamentary elections. And on July 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a warning to Lebanon (emphasis mine) "that Israel will hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attack launched from within the country's territory, including Hizbullah operations."
Israel-bashers who waited for the usual Hezb'allah bluster and threats were disappointed for none has been forthcoming. One might even go so far as to say that, after Netanyahu's warning, Nasrallah has become all hat and no camel, to the point that (emphasis mine):
[a] week after a group of 15 people carrying Lebanese and Hizbullah flags crossed into the Shaba Farms, the terror organization called on its followers... not to demonstrate in the area under Israeli control."
top Hizbullah and Amal officials made a commitment to the UN envoy in Lebanon not to organize rallies along the border with Israel and to block any attempt to demonstrate there.
And at the same time, in the West Bank, according to Ethan Bronner of the New York Times (emphasis mine):
Seven months after Israel started a fierce three-week military campaign here to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities, Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations.
Of course, if Israel attacks Iran, all bets are off regarding Hezb'allah. But for now, all is quiet on the northern front. And the eastern front. And the southern front.
What does this sudden quietude along every inch of Israel's border with every one of her neighbors mean?
It means that now, today, amid all the "international community's" caterwauling about a supposed need for Israel to make substantial unilateral, self-endangering concessions "in the interest of Middle East peace, the chances of Israel being attacked by any of her neighbors right now is virtually nil. Which, in most people's definition, but especially in that of those who dwell in the Middle East and are familiar with the region's long and bloody history, means, there is peace.
Unnoticed, unheralded, not even reported, under their very upturned noses, the international community's professed goal of a peaceful Middle East, at least relative to Israel, has been achieved.
Peace, finally, has come to the Middle East, and it came not through Barack Obama's and the international community's (and Neville Chamberlain's) prescription of "negotiation" and appeasement, but through Ronald Reagan's -- and Franklin Roosevelt's; and Harry Truman's and, yes, Tony Blair's -- prescription of peace through strength and the resolve to stand forthright against one's enemies. (Even the only arguable exceptions, Israel's negotiated peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, came only after Israel's victory in the 1973 war.)
And as postwar German and Japan proved, with peace comes prosperity -- provided, of course, that the victor is an enlightened democracy such as the United States. Or Israel. In a July 16 New York Times story appropriately entitled, "Signs of Hope Emerging in the West Bank," Ethan Bronner reported (emphases mine):
The first movie theater to operate in this Palestinian city in two decades opened its doors in late June. Palestinian policemen standing beneath new traffic lights are checking cars for seat belt violations. One-month-old parking meters are filling with the coins of shoppers. Music stores are blasting love songs into the street, and no nationalist or Islamist scold is forcing them to stop.For the first time since the second Palestinian uprising broke out in late 2000, leading to terrorist bombings and fierce Israeli countermeasures, a sense of personal security and economic potential is spreading across the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority's security forces enter their second year of consolidating order.
That's the peace part. As for the prosperity (emphases mine):
The International Monetary Fund is about to issue its first upbeat report in years for the West Bank, forecasting a 7 percent growth rate for 2009. Car sales in 2008 were double those of 2007. Construction on the first new Palestinian town in decades, for 40,000, will begin early next year north of Ramallah. In Jenin, a seven-story store called Herbawi Home Furnishings has opened, containing the latest espresso machines.
Jenin, of course, was the site of the famous, and famously misreported, battle of Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield that led to false accusations of massacres, but (along with Israel's security wall) virtually ended terrorist attacks from Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank's" proper historical names) and made the 7 percent growth rate we see there today possible.
Gaza's economy, on the other hand, remains a shambles. Anyone care to guess in which area the Israel Defense Forces maintain a presence and which area they abandoned completely? In which area the Arabs are cooperating with the Israelis and in which they are not?
One hopes that Hamas' recent decision to stand down will lead to the same cooperation, and thus result in the same economic improvement in Gaza, that Gazans can observe in Judea and Samaria. But in the meantime, let us turn our attention from the no longer relevant goal of achieving a peace that has, in fact, already been achieved, to the more urgent and necessary goal of making the peace that the Israelis have, through their courage and steadfastness achieved, permanent. This is not just for the Israelis, but for the Arabs, too - would the world prefer to see Judea and Samaria slip regress to the misery and economic stagnation of only that existed there only months ago and, sadly, still exists in Gaza today?
And it is here, in the need to keep the peace that has already been achieved, and how to keep it, that the Israelis have it exactly right. For the major, indeed only, current threat to Middle East peace is Iran. The urgency, as Israel has correctly and repeatedly pointed out, is to end Iran's quest for nuclear weapons; to eliminate her ability to threaten, infiltrate and destabilize her neighbors - and above all, to neutralize her ability to threaten Israel. Do those things and peace, and the security and prosperity that comes with it, is virtually assured.
Which explains the reason for the exclamation point at the end of this article's title. Who wouldn't be excited or even imagined a peaceful Judea and Samaria growing at an annual rate 7 percent? Only those who desire not peace for its own sake, but only peace at Israel's expense. Only those whose most fervent desire is not to help the Judeans, Samarians and Gazans, but to punish the Israelis.
Peace is the goal and the focus. But exposing these Israel-hating hypocrites who hate the Jewish state far more than they ever cared, or ever could care, for the Arabs suffering from the self-inflicted results of their "resistance" is, too, a good thing.