Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1948 Or Never Start a War if You Aren't Willing to Lose.

It is Almost sixty years since the state of Israel was founded. Sixty years of tragedy for the Palistinans.

It began with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. No other document proves the adage that "no good deed goes unpunished" better. The confused and sometimes duplicitous nature of British policy in the region helped to prime the unending well of hate and retribution in the area. The British played all sides for their own goals.

The Palistinans were not totally innocent. Their leadership appealed to gross and vile antisemitism in the 30's. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a Nazi sympathizer. So when the Arab armies declared war on the infant state of Israel the Israelis knew they were fighting for their lives, they were under no illusions. Unfortunately the Palistinans where laboring under more than a few illusions.

They mistook propaganda for reality. They mistook hubris for strength. They looked at the strength of the army on paper but never looked at the reality on the ground. They were sure that they would push the Jews into the sea. They have never let go of that fantasy. They have always insisted on the whole of Palestine, they have always insisted that the Jews leave.

Each war they started was more disastrous than the next. In 1948 they objected to the U.N. Partition and lost ground, in 1968 they tried again and lost ground, in 1973 they tried one more time and lost again. Finally the Arab nations gave up on the notion of defeating Israel militarily. Jordan and Egypt have signed peace treaties, Syria talks a good game but mainly works through secondary actors. The Palestinians? They were kicked out of Jordan. They were tossed out of Lebanon, they have lost large chunks of the West Bank to the ever encroaching wall and settlements. They have indulged themselves in insanity. The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results.

Never in the history of mankind have a people been so poorly lead for so long. With the triumph of Hamas the Palestinians appear to be charging once more into the breach, to try once again to drive the Jews into the sea. There seems to be no learning curve here.

This particular fools errand began with Israel's occupation in South Lebanon. The long dirty twilight war there ended when the Israelis withdrew, cutting there losses with Hezbollah. Hezbollah became the darlings of the Arab world, they had defeated the hated Israelis they had kicked out the cruel occupiers. No one bothered to look at how this was a local insurgency driven by nationalist desires. Israel left South Lebanon because the cost benefit ratio was going south in a big hurry.

One could easily argue that the whole South Lebanon exercise was a strategic error. Israel did manage to root out the PLO but it then overstayed its welcome in Lebanon becoming the target of nationalist anger. The South Lebanon occupation became a loose-loose proposition for both the Israelis and the Palistinans.

Ever eager to apply the wrong lessons from the South Lebanon debacle, Hamas has latched onto the idea that they can repeat Hezbollah's Lebanon victory and drive the "occupiers" out of Palestine. It will take them a long time to learn the lessons that Yasser Arafat never really accepted. The hard, true lesson is that Israel is not a repeat of the Crusader States. It's roots have become deep, it will fight for its' survival. The idea of a unified Palestinian state occupying all of the British Mandate is a lost cause. That idea died on the battlefield of 1948.

The right of return is a non-starter. The dream of the Olive garden left behind in Tel Aviv in 1948 is just that, a dream. The groves are gone, replaced by apartment blocks. You can't go home again, home has been paved over or turned into a shopping mall. The right of return is fundamentally unworkable even if were an honest request.

Of course the right of return is not an honest request. Never has been, never will be. It has always been an attempt to drown the Israelis in an Arab sea. By insisting on the right of return, the Arabs are insisting on a Jewish surrender by other means. Since the battle of arms has failed the Palestinians are trying to use a battle of demographics. Naturally the Israelis are having none of that.

The cycle is repeating itself again. The Israelis are grabbing land left, right and center. They are securing the high points, they are breaking up the West Bank, weakening the Palestinian state by Balkanizing it. They are not only violating international agreements but their own laws doing this. They are slowly but surely imprisoning themselves and the Palestinians. They are chasing a will-of-the-wisp policy that will not ever grant them true security.

If the Israelis are being unrealistic, the Palestinians are in cloud-cuckoo-land. The Israelis are here to stay, they have a humongous army, and they have nukes. They have the means to make sure that everyone looses. There is no military victory by any means for the Palestinians. Even if some Jews leave Israel due to continued violence, the ones left will be the hard-core fighters. The political balance will shift away from Labor and to Likud. Hard line Hamas will strengthen hard line Likud. The Palestinians will once again set up the mechanism of their own destruction. Just like back in 1948 they will insist on getting everything and will get nothing. There is a real chance that the end game will be an ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Gaza that will Make Darfur look like a lazy day at the beach. The Israelis have the means and the methods, the Palestinians seem to be more than willing to provide the rational.
Post a Comment