The depraved indifference of ‘two-statism’
Martin Sherman, May 31, 2015
We are told, repeatedly and resolutely, that if Israel would only accept Arab demands to withdraw, peace will reign. Yet with every withdrawal, the result was not only war, but increasing diplomatic condemnation.
One of the false presumptions of our time is that people on the political Left are motivated by good intentions even when they do bad things, while people on the political Right are motivated by bad intentions even when they do good things. – British commentator Douglas Murray, May 7, 2015
The ultimate test of this agreement will be a test of blood…If it becomes clear that they [the Palestinians] cannot overcome terror, this will be a temporary accord and… we will have no choice but to abrogate it. And if there is no choice, the IDF will return to the places which it is about to leave in the upcoming months. – Then-deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin on the Oslo Accords, Ma’ariv, November 26, 1993
To constitute depraved indifference… conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created. not the injuries actually resulting. – Definition of “Depraved Indifference,” www.uslegal.com
These excerpts succinctly encapsulate much of the arrogant hypocrisy, disingenuous denial and wanton recklessness that has characterized the relentless pursuit of Palestinian statehood over the past quarter-century, based on the dubious doctrine of land for peace.
Land for peace: The appalling history
Land for peace, the political doctrine of territorial concession and political appeasement as a means to assuage despots, has an appalling record of failure. Time after time, attempts to implement this fatally flawed dogma have resulted in tragedy, visiting death and devastation on millions of luckless civilians who were to be its purported beneficiaries.
Ever since the 1938 Munich Agreement, proudly paraded as ushering in “peace for our time,” which led to dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and precipitated the greatest catastrophe in human history – World War II – in which up to 80 million lost their lives (including war-related disease and famine), the land-for-peace formula has had a virtually “unblemished” history of failure.
Consider the 1956 Sinai Campaign, launched after scores of Israelis had been killed and hundreds wounded by Egyptian army units and infiltrators (fedayeen), in which the IDF conquered the entire Sinai Peninsula (including Gaza) in a matter of days. Several months later, however, Israel, under (mainly US) pressure, was forced to withdraw unconditionally and restore the territory to Egypt, under the authoritarian regime of Abdul Gamal Nasser. A decade later, this led to the 1967 Six Day War when Egypt massed huge forces in the regained peninsula, closed the Tiran Straits, cutting off Israeli shipping in the Red Sea (despite earlier US assurances), and together with other Arab countries, notably Syria and Jordan, threatened to obliterate Israel and butcher its Jewish population.
It was only preemption by Israel, in June 1967, that thwarted these Judeocidal ambitions, leaving Israel with swathes of land, previously under Arab control – in Judea-Samaria, the Golan and Sinai – which had been used to mount countless acts of aggression against Israel and Israelis.
The appalling record (cont.)
Every time Israel has conceded land to Arab control in the hope of attaining peace (or even non-belligerent stability), it has failed miserably – either immediately or eventually.
Indeed, more often than not, the opposite has occurred.
Wherever and whenever land has been transferred to an Arab entity, it has become a platform from which to attack Israel. This occurred virtually immediately in the case of Gaza, after several weeks in Judea/Samaria, after several years in Lebanon and after several decades in Sinai, which is rapidly becoming a potential security nightmare for Israel, with no good options on the horizon.
Since the ill-fated and ill-conceived Oslo Accords, the notion that Israel can coax the Arabs into making peace by means of territorial withdrawal has been the dominant tenet of its policy.
Yet this deadly delusion has brought death and destruction on an unprecedented scale to Jew and Arab alike for over 20 years:
. The initial withdrawal under the 1993 Oslo Accords sparked carnage in the streets of Israel.
. The violence spiraled to unprecedented highs, culminating in a second intifada, and compelling Israel to undertake Operation Defensive Shield (2002) in Judea-Samaria. The operation left hundreds dead and wounded on both sides, and gave rise to (unfounded) accusations of genocide in Jenin.
. The Second Lebanon War (2006), precipitated by the government’s capitulation in 2000 to the clamor of the Four Mothers protest movement and the IDF’s unseemly unilateral flight from south Lebanon, left over 160 Israelis dead and thousands wounded.
. Then came successive rounds of violence in Gaza – Operation Cast Lead (2008/9), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) and Operation Protective Edge (2014).
Lessons unlearned, deeds undone
The pattern is depressingly clear. We are told, repeatedly and resolutely, that if Israel would only accept Arab demands to withdraw, peace will reign.
Yet with every withdrawal, the result was not only war, but increasing diplomatic condemnation. After almost a quarter-century, after the pomp and ceremony and giddying euphoria that followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, with Israel’s acceptance of Palestinian statehood and the land-for-peace principle, it is far more isolated and vilified internationally than it ever was under the “recalcitrant” prime minister Yitzhak Shamir – who rejected both of them.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the fatal folly of their failed formula, two-staters remain astonishingly unmoved, undaunted – and unchastened.
But perhaps worse than their callous indifference to the gory consequences of endeavors to implement their political prescription have precipitated, they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge what, thankfully, has been averted by not implementing their preferred policy.
With infuriating disregard, they blithely gloss over the horrific realities that would now be upon us had it been applied in cases where it wasn’t – such as on the Golan, and in the hills of Judea-Samaria, overlooking Greater Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Trans-Israel Highway (Route 6).
Any rational, responsible being can only shudder at the thought of what might well have been, had the land-for peace advocates had their way.
Sadly, however, neither rationality nor responsibility seem to be qualities that two-staters, in their messianic adherence to the creed of land-for-peace, have.
Gruesome on the Golan?
After all, it is not difficult to imagine the dread that would prevail in the country – and the gruesome realities that would prevail on the Golan – had Israel heeded the call to trade tangible territorial assets for the ephemeral hope of peace with the Assad regime before the start of the brutal civil war in Syria. What horrors would the residents of the North be facing, with cohorts of Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates deployed on the highlands overlooking their homes, had Israel been lured by the absurd assessment that the British-trained doctor Bashar Assad was a credible partner for lasting peace.
But for land-for-peace two-staters, this is of little import.
Consider the assessment of Amir Oren, senior military affairs correspondent for Haaretz, of the consequences (or rather the lack thereof) of the Syrian turmoil for the land for- peace concept. With the outbreak of violence in Syria, Oren wrote a column (March 28, 2011) predicting:“The political turmoil in Syria will not spare Israel the need to embark on a land-for-peace deal… it will also increase the probability of US pressure to carry it out… If the Assad family…disappears from the scene, then so will those factors inhibiting progress in the peace process… the overthrow of Assad by a popular movement… may, in fact, speed up the bargaining over a peace-for-land deal.”
No matter how wildly delusional that appears today, it has left Oren unrepentant, and his enthusiasm for exchanging land for the promise-of-peace, undiminished.
Thus, recently Oren, still an avid two-stater, in a disturbingly likeminded interview on RT television with the obnoxious Israel-basher Norman Finkelstein, prescribed: “Israel must deal with the Palestinians… Israel should go back to the 1967 borders with minor modifications.”
Even more chilling?
This is a stunningly reckless statement to make. For the lesson that arises from the empirical precedent is unequivocal: Once Israel relinquishes territory, it cannot determine who will seize control of it.
Moreover, almost inevitably it will be the extremists who prevail, deposing any more moderate elements by means of unrestrained violence – as did Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in south Lebanon, as the jihadist insurgents are doing in Sinai and as al-Nusra and Islamic State would have done on the Golan.
So as chilling as the thought of what might have been on the Syrian border is, it pales into insignificance compared to the nightmare situation that would have evolved had Israel withdrawn from Judea-Samaria.
Yet although two-staters can produce no compelling evidence or persuasive argument as to why what happened repeatedly in the past will not happen again, they continue to insist on such withdrawal.
There should be no illusions as to the kind of realities that are likely to prevail within pre-1967-Israel should the territory designated for a Palestinian state fall to the control of Islamist extremists.
In this regard it is crucial to understand that the professed and/or perceived sincerity of any Palestinian signatory on any peace agreement is largely irrelevant, unless his continued incumbency – or that of some similarly sincere successor – can be assured.
Clearly, two-staters, however ardent, cannot not guarantee this. Indeed, given the dismal precedent, quite the opposite is likely to occur.
The outcome of two-statism
In light of recent experience it is not difficult to envisage the probable nature of a Palestinian state. No matter to whom the territory is initially transferred, it is a dollars- to-doughnut bet that – probably sooner than later – it will emerge as a Muslim-majority tyranny, with all the attendant hallmarks of discrimination against women, religious intolerance toward non-Muslims, political harassment of dissidents, and savage persecution of gays.
It is puzzling why allegedly enlightened and liberal two-staters should want to promote such a highly probable outcome, with nothing but unsubstantiated wishful thinking to suggest it will not occur.
But the conundrum becomes even more perplexing when one considers the security risks that accompany the establishment of such a state, which would in effect be a mega-Gaza on the fringe s of Israel’s most populous areas in the Coastal Plain, with its congested traffic arteries and vital infrastructure installations. But unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority and a relative short border (approx. 55 km.) abutting Israel’s sparsely populated South, the border of Judea-Samaria is some 400- 500-km.- long. From the limestone hills inside that border, the territory of the Palestinian state would dominate virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations/ systems (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.
Under these conditions, demilitarization is virtually irrelevant. Even lightly armed renegades with improvised weapons could disrupt the socioeconomic routine of the nation at will, with or without the complicity of the incumbent regime, which due to its despotic nature would have little commitment to the welfare of the average citizen.
Definitely depraved indifference
Faced with this grim prospect, any Israeli government would either have to resign itself to recurring paralysis of the economy, mounting civilian casualties and the disruption of life in the country, or respond repeatedly with massive retaliation, with the attendant collateral damage among the non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab population and international condemnation of its use of “disproportionate force.”
It is uncertain – perhaps unlikely – that the fabric of Israeli society could withstand the strain for long…
The fact that other, more palatable, outcomes may be possible is of no real relevance. Unless two-staters can provide some plausible argument as to how such grave consequences can be averted with a significant degree of certainty, it will be increasingly difficult not to have grave doubts as to the nature of their motives. After all, as the introductory citation from Yossi Beilin, arch-architect of the Oslo Accords, demonstrates, two-staters were aware that their policy might be unsuccessful. Yet despite it clearly failing their own “test of blood,” despite the clear and present danger it entails, they persist in it.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile calls for a Palestinian state with concern for the security and well-being of the Jewish nation-state – and increasingly difficult to deny that “depraved indifference” is becoming an ever-more apt characterization of “two-stater” behavior.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. Article was published in Jerusalem Post.