Sunday, January 11, 2009

... and Bad Strategy

Once the war starts, there are few good tactics. What is needed is a political/strategic approach that avoids the war to begin with. One that leads to longer term quiet. On that provides gains for both sides.

Israeli commentator Haim Baram, writing in the Israeli weekly Ha'ir, puts it well:

We (the Left) are always asked for answers to situations that were deliberately brought about by the Establishment's policies that are diametrically opposed to our own. We cannot deny that the Kassams on the development towns and the areas near Gaza are an intolerable situation, nor that we emotionally identify with our citizens in the South. But we have always recommended a different policy, a policy that entailed a constant struggle with those elements in the country who prefer territorial expansion in the Occupied Territories, anti-Arab racism, mixed up with real and imagined security anxieties, to peace.

What is needed is a strategic, and not just a tactical, structural change in Israel's thinking – but there is no leader who is able or willing to lead such a change.

The steps that we should have taken in the past – and, in my opinion, we can still take are as follows. First, in the declarative sphere: Israel must recognize the results of the PA elections, and to declare its willingess to negotiate with any responsible element in Palestine which is prepared for dialogue. It must emphasize that in the middle and long run it has no intention to hold any territory whatsoever that it captured in the 67 War. In exchange for these declarations, Israel will demand of Hamas to cease immediately the rocket fire from the Gaza strip, and the terrorist activities with Israel. Both side will agree to station European forces on the border.

The Israeli government should involve the Europeans more in both the Palestinian and Syrian tracks, and ask the Obama administration to suggest new ways to break the impasse in negotiations and to support the Obama's policy of engagement with Iran. A negotiated peace with Syria, a durable cease-fire with Hizbollah, and a statement against the Islamaphobic "clash of civilizations" mentality, will help improve relations not only between israel and and Islamic countries, but between Jews and Muslims throughout the world

It is almost unnecessary to say that this change will lead to opening the Gaza border, supplies of food for its inhabitants, the renewal of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and Israeli aid for development of health and educational institutions. All of these steps will improve Israel's image in the world, reduce the bloodshed, and will alleviate the burders of the Israeli inhabitants in the South….

Those who read the above and dismiss it as hopelessly utopian have nothing to offer in its stead -- except further bombing, disastrous ground operations, the intensifying of hatred on both sides, and a complete end to the process of dialogue with the Palestinians and the Syrians.

There is no serious element in the Chavinistic Center [Baram's favorite description of Likud, Kadima, Labor, and elements of Meretz -JH] that can offer any alternative plan, to what I have advocated here…

But, since there is no chance that the Israeli voters will choose to talk with Hamas, and it is reasonable to assume that the political arena will move even further to the right in the coming months, we [on the left] can do nothing but to grit our teeth and say the truth as we see it
-found on The Magnes Zionist

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