Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Israel Victory Project: Time To Let Palestinian Arabs Know They Lost The War

Anyone not knowing the history of the Israeli/Arab conflict might conclude that the Arabs won all of the wars in which they fought, and could therefore dictate the terms of the peace.
Dr. Alex Grobman, Alice in Wonderland

Back in 2006, Amir Taheri, the Iranian-born conservative author, explained why Israel must claim victory over Palestine:
...For a war to be won it is not enough for one side to claim victory, although that is essential. It is also necessary for one side to admit defeat. The problem in the case of the Arab-Israeli wars, however, was that the side that had won every time was not allowed to claim victory while the side that had lost was prevented from admitting defeat.

This was a novel situation in history, throughout which the victor and the vanquished had always acknowledged their respective positions and moved beyond it in accordance with a peace imposed by the victor.

In the Israeli-Arab case this had not been done because each time the UN had intervened to put the victor and the vanquished on an equal basis and lock them into a problematic situation in the name of a mythical quest for an impossible peace.

...In every case the winner wins the land and gives the loser peace. In every case the peace that is imposed is unjust to the loser and just to the winner.
Now, this is no longer a claim that is being made in the abstract.

Last December, Daniel Pipes described A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, based on the continued failure of the peace process in its many manifestations and iterations. On the one hand, deterrence could not be maintained indefinitely because of its unpopularity internationally and the way it wore Israelis down. On the other hand, diplomacy became the new way to go -- and seems to be prepared to keep going, indefinitely, with no success.

The solution, according to Pipes, is victory -- The Israel Victory Project:
the key concept of my approach, which is victory, or imposing one’s will on the enemy, compelling him through loss to give up his war ambitions. Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted the will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume.
Despite the fact that he Arabs lost every war with Israel, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982, they never saw their defeat as the end. Instead, they looked ahead for another opportunity to make war against Israel.

This is how Pipes described his solution to this problem back in July:

While he makes a point in the video of refraining from suggesting how to convince the Palestinian Arabs that they have lost the war, in his 2016 article, Pipes does make some suggestions how to discourage rejectionism and promote a change of heart:
  • When Palestinian “martyrs” cause material damage, pay for repairs out of the roughly $300 million in tax obligations the government of Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) each year.
  • Respond to activities designed to isolate and weaken Israel internationally by limiting access to the West Bank.
  • When a Palestinian attacker is killed, bury the body quietly and anonymously in a potter’s field.
  • When the PA leadership incites violence, prevent officials from returning to the PA from abroad.
  • Respond to the murder of Israelis by expanding Jewish towns on the West Bank.
  • When official PA guns are turned against Israelis, seize these and prohibit new ones, and if this happens repeatedly, dismantle the PA’s security infrastructure.
  • Should violence continue, reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies.
  • In the case of gunfire, mortar shelling, and rockets, occupy and control the areas from which these originate.
These are described as "examples for Washington to propose," a key point since imposing these measures will require the support and assistance of the US to allow this proposed change of Israeli policy. In other words, this Israel Victory Project would not have been feasible and would never have gotten off the ground during the Obama Administration. Now, during the Trump Administration, there may be a chance.

With that in mind, the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus was announced in April:
Reps. Ron DeSantis and Bill Johnson. From the Press Release
Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) will launch the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) on April 27 at 9 a.m. The caucus' goal: to introduce a new U.S. approach to Israel-Palestinian relations.

Cong. Johnson notes that "Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East, and the community of nations must accept that Israel has a right to exist – period. This is not negotiable now, nor ever. The Congressional Israel Victory Caucus aims to focus on this precept, and to better inform our colleagues in Congress about daily life in Israel and the present-day conflict. I look forward to co-chairing this very important caucus with Cong. DeSantis."
At the time, no Democrats had joined the group.

In order to be successful, Pipes sees the project as being heavily dependent on US support being provided in a sustained way along with select Arab states and others in order to convince the Palestinian Arabs that rejectionism will not work:
That means supporting Israel’s taking the tough steps outlined above, from burying murderers’ bodies anonymously to shuttering the Palestinian Authority. It means diplomatic support for Israel, such as undoing the “Palestine refugee” farce and rejecting the claim of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. It also entails ending benefits to the Palestinians unless they work toward the full and permanent acceptance of Israel: no diplomacy, no recognition as a state, no financial aid, and certainly no weapons, much less militia training.
Pipes does not sugar-coat the strategy he is proposing:
this change won’t be easy or quick: Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error. But there is no shortcut.
Similarly, the criticism is no less direct.

J Street has attacked the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, referring to it as the “defeat Palestinians caucus,” claiming that the project is “devoted to pushing the truly terrifying myth that Israel can end the conflict by using brute force and repression to make Palestinians accept their eternal statelessness.” They urged congressmen to “stay as far away from such savage and dangerous ideas as possible. The creation of a caucus devoted to promoting them should be condemned, not celebrated.”

Among supporters there is some disagreement too.

Martin Sherman, the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, has supported Pipes' proposal, but there is a key item Sherman and Pipes disagree on. According to Sherman:
Pipes concisely sums up the principal point of disagreement between us: “Sherman and I directly disagree on only one point — Israel accepting the possibility of a Palestinian state.” He goes on to speculate that “the allure of a state after the conflict ends offers benefits to both sides. Israelis will be free of ruling unwanted subjects. Palestinians have a reason to behave.”
Sherman is vehemently opposed to the idea, noting that historically there is little to support the idea that the demand for Palestinian statehood is a genuine grievance.

Six months after the formal announcement of the Israel Victory Project, the strategy is still taking shape and support is still being drummed up.

Considering the need for US support to make this work and the political uncertainty facing both the Trump Administration and the Republican majority in Congress, the Israel Victory Project may not have much time to establish itself.

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