In 1974, 29 years after the conclusion of World War II, officer Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army finally surrendered. Second Lt. Onoda was one of the last of the Japanese holdouts who, refusing to believe that Japan had surrendered, continued to engage in a campaign of deadly guerrilla warfare for nearly three decades in his Philippines hideout.
After numerous failed attempts to convince Onodo of the Japanese surrender, he finally laid down his arms after his commanding officer flew to the Philippines and personally ordered him to surrender.
Today, Israel is facing the same situation with the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lost the war, but they have yet to realize it. Instead of acknowledging the existence and permanence of the Jewish state, they continue to engage in a war of terror against Israel and to incite the next generation of Palestinian youth to harbor these same murderous feelings.
But unlike Onodo and the other Japanese holdouts, who for years rejected numerous attempts to convince them of the war’s end, the Palestinians are receiving the opposite message from their leadership, as well as the outside world. They are being told that their intransigence and continued hostility will yield results, whether it be a divided Jerusalem, the “right of return,” or some other delusional aspiration.
It is precisely for this reason why the first and necessary step to achieving any semblance of peace is to convince the Palestinians that the war is over; that they have lost and must accept the terms of defeat. Only once they have accepted the existential reality of Israeli victory can genuine peace talks commence and bear fruit. We have seen such a precedent throughout the course of history, post-WWII Germany and Japan being prime examples.
While such a concept might be poorly received in the politically correct halls of the European Parliament, we are beginning to see its acceptance and implementation in Washington and Jerusalem.
In April 2016, the Middle East Forum, a prominent US think tank founded by historian Dr. Daniel Pipes, took this idea to Capitol Hill and inspired the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus along with several notable US lawmakers. Shortly thereafter, the Israel Victory Knesset Caucus, co-chaired by former head of the Israel Security Agency MK Ya’akov Peri and MK Oded Forer, was launched in Jerusalem.
Most notably, perhaps, has been the idea’s reception among the Israeli public. For a year now, the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu has been organizing numerous panels at universities across Israel on the topic of victory. The panels feature senior military figures, academics, and politicians, and are regularly attended by hundreds of students. Videos from the events have been watched and shared by hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
In one of the panels that recently took place in Kibbutzim College, even Ami Ayalon, a notable left-winger and former head of the Israel Security Agency, emphasized that peace can only occur once the Palestinians recognize that Israel is here to stay and cannot be wiped out.
The Israeli public understands better than anyone the need for victory, because it has experienced the grim post-Oslo reality, in which victory was shelved in favor of concessions. So long as the Oslo paradigm of concessions continues, the Palestinians will never accept that the war is over.
As Ronald Reagan famously said regarding his strategy on the Cold War: “We win; they lose.” This simple yet prescient approach should be adopted in Israel as well.
Ironically, it will only be once Israeli victory is perceived and internalized that an enduring and genuine peace could possibly take hold. As the amazing post-war success stories of both Germany and Japan show, the acceptance of reality – and defeat – can be the precursor to a great renaissance for the Palestinians.