Perception as deterrence – Israel’s new Defense Minister
By Ron Jager, May 29, 2016
For the majority of the past eight years, President Obama and State Department “experts” have been treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the central generator of political upheaval ravaging the Middle East without realizing just how marginal the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs has become or understanding that as far as the Sunni Arab nations of the Middle East are concerned, a Palestinian State would be just another failed Arab nation in perpetual conflict with its own people and with her neighbors.
As far as the Palestinian Authority (PA) that resides in Ramallah is concerned, the lack of legitimacy in the eyes of its own people is only superseded by widespread and institutionalized corruption of its leaders, sustained by international funding from the United States and the European Union. Having rejected over the years any possibility of a negotiated settlement, the PA leadership have proven without a doubt that they have no intentions of reaching any agreement.. The only goal of the Palestinian Arab leadership has been to gain the territories and use them for the next attack aimed at minimizing and weakening Israel. Apart from that, there is nothing: No democracy, no economy, no law and no future for the Palestinian Arabs other than being in a perpetual cycle of meaningless and unsuccessful conflict with Israel. Israel will continue to move ahead and forge alliances with Sunni Arab neighbors and the Palestinian Arabs will wallow in their misery as they continue to deny reality and believe in their own made-up propaganda narrative.
The unprecedented political changes having taken place in the Middle East in recent years – mainly due to Obama’s irresponsible and failed strategic policy decisions – have resulted in new emerging alliances between Israel and her neighbors. Despite the challenges that Iran continues to pose to Israel and the potential of Iran’s leaders who might use the conflict with Israel as a means of rallying political support in the ongoing war with the Sunni Arab nations, the threat of renewed conventional conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbors has been downgraded while more realistic scenarios envision a greater focus on economic cooperation and regional stability.
Although it is far too early to predict the success of the new political alliances and strategic order that will eventually emerge from the changes in the Arab world, the inherent asymmetry of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs will maintain this conflict on low burner for the foreseeable future with sporadic eruptions of terror and limited missile attacks similar to what that the Israeli population has had to endure in recent years.
The recent news that Avigdor Lieberman, a former Israeli Foreign Minister and head of the small right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, will replace Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon as the new Israeli defense minister has been greeted by the Israeli media and their elitist opinion makers with dismay and stupefaction. In Tel-Aviv, a city known for its progressive and leftist inclination, many muttered that the municipality should start opening up the air raid shelters as Lieberman’s appointment hit the airwaves. The appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister has thrown the Palestinian Arab leadership and Israeli Arab politicians into a frenzy, making the reaction of Israel’s leftist elite seem mild.
Lieberman, a politician feared and despised by the Israeli left, is being demonized and delegitimized before his appointment goes into effect. Claiming that Israel is adopting characteristics of a fascist regime and calling for boycott of Israel; stating that “the Israeli government is sending a message to the world that Israel prefers extremism, dedication to the “occupation” and “settlements over peace” and encouraging blatant racism, are only a fraction of the derogatory and slanderous accusations against a veteran politician who has been democratically elected.
The potential appointment of Avigdor Lieberman to the position of Defense Minister may very well herald a new and more effective deterrence against the Palestinian Arab desire to get up in the morning and murder a Jew. The Palestinian Arab perception of Lieberman is as a person who believes in the sanctification of power, ruthlessness, violence, and who has murderous potential might very well be exactly the change that causes the Palestinians to adopt a more realistic assessment of what a negotiated settlement will look like.
This is the dilemma, and this is their choice. They can continue to deny reality, taking their chances with a Defense Minister who is perceived as having no problems with employing a strict crackdown wherever Palestinian terror erupts, who has no qualms at enforcing strict rules of engagement and making it crystal clear that Israel’s strategy is based on the adage of our Sages, “If someone rises to kill you, kill him first.” Or, they can begin to negotiate seriously and honestly to achieve a sustainable peace agreement with Israel. The perception of Avigdor Lieberman by the Palestinian Arabs can very well facilitate this change.
As Israel’s strategic deterrence and capabilities have been proven to be highly effective in recent years with land, sea, and air strategic capabilities becoming literally impenetrable, the main task facing Israel’s Defense Minister will be primarily in the Palestinian Arab theater. The Middle East, a region highly susceptible culturally to base reactions on the perception of the enemy, may very well bring the Palestinian Arab leadership to fold their cards and start the arduous and unavoidable process of negotiating with Israel.
The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today, Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.