A profound flaw and fallacy of the United States government’s policy is its starry-eyed clinging to the notion of a “two state solution,” the gauzy dream of the Oslo Accords. [Note 1] In 1993, Israel agreed to trade “land for peace,” as it was packaged. But the jihadists rejected the deal, insisting on a “one state solution.” Which would not be Israel. Then, as now, “from the River to the Sea.”
The template for what comes the “day after” Israel eliminates Hamas is not Oslo. It’s Potsdam.
Having defeated Nazi Germany in WW2, the victorious Allies (in their Potsdam Agreement) partitioned and occupied Germany to effect “demilitarization, denazification [and] democratization . . . .”
The Nazi party was abolished, its discrimination laws abolished, its paramilitaries abolished and its military staffs that were “keeping alive the military tradition in Germany” were dismissed.
The Nazis’ territorial annexations were reversed and war criminals were tried to “prevent all Nazi activity and prepare for the reconstruction of German political life in a democratic state.”
The German judicial system was reorganized based on democratic ideals of equality and justice under law; its educational system eliminated fascist doctrines and inculcated democratic ideas instead.
Germany’s war-making industries were dismantled or destroyed. The economy was reorganized around agriculture and peaceful domestic industries.
The objective was extirpating Nazi ideology from German culture, to prepare Germany to rejoin the civilized world. In today’s lexicon, to “de-radicalize” German society.
Replace “Nazi” with “Jihadists” and “Germany” with “Gaza” – and Potsdam is the blueprint for the “day after” scenario: A Protectorate.
All that was done to reconstruct post-Nazi culture in Germany needs to be done to construct a post-jihadist culture in Palestine.
Like Nazi Germany’s delusions of Aryan superiority and a Thousand-Year Reich, Palestinian culture must be rid of its obsession with an armed “struggle” (that’s “jihad,” literally) over historical grievances, victimhood, anger, violence, fanaticism, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Within a decade of the end of the WW2, the German people had embraced the path of rebuilding their shattered country, adopting democratic governance, and seizing economic opportunity.
They had come to blame the Nazis, not the Allies who defeated them, for the destruction of their country, their economy – for their misery. They came to reject the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated in their name.
Gazans will need to get there, too.
But it will likely take them longer. The “day after” is a profound misnomer.
And it will also be it harder for them, because –
- There was no die-hard “insurgency” continuing to terrorize the German population and harass the Allies, but there likely will be in Gaza.
- Whereas German soldiers returned home demoralized, battalions of jihadist fighters remain in Gaza, still violent, adamant, fanatical and unrepentant, evincing no willingness to abandon their hatreds or renounce violence. They will need to fight to their deaths before reforming Palestinian culture can even begin.
- The defeated Nazis had no outside defenders, allies, sponsors or sympathizers. But the jihadists still will: Iran, principally; Russia and China; Qatar. Even the anti-Israel dominated United Nations. Their ability (and eagerness) to keep the jihad pot boiling will need to be neutralized.
Then, when the terrorists themselves are all gone, rank-and-file Palestinians will then have the opportunity to reject jihadism, as Germans rejected Nazism.
Today’s Gazans are Not Innocents.
They elected Hamas to a majority of seats in their legislature in 2006. Then they sided, at least acquiesced, in Hamas’s purge of Fatah (itself, no party of pacifists). In the years since, masses of Gazans filled the streets in Hamas’s support. Thousands must have provided Hamas their labor and expertise to build their tunnels, undoubtedly knowing their obvious purpose and Hamas’s intentions and methods.
And, on October 7th, crowds of them, with bloodthirsty glee, cheered the returning terrorists dragging their captives (dead or alive) as trophies.
On the other hand, we’ve seen no protests in Gaza, no mass demonstrations against the policies and actions of their government. Unlike in Israel, notably.
Notably, too, such protesters in Gaza would probably be murdered. Also unlike in Israel. (Which is worth stressing, for “context,” against the false moral equivalences so widely trafficked lately.)
To be sure, tens of thousands of Gazans – men, women, children, old and young – are suffering now, tens of thousands have died. That calamity is the tragic cost of having followed the jihadists into their netherworld of depraved barbarity, as Germans followed the Nazis.
All the free and civilized world hopes that Gazans – and all Palestinians – come to realize that continuing to follow the jihadists in their fanatic pursuits delivers them only this calamity.
As it has already for three generations. With no end. Yet, in the end, only Palestinians themselves can change course.
A Protectorate Is Not Collective Punishment, but Collective Opportunity.
Happily, this Potsdam model envisions not a subjugation of the Palestinian people, but a cultural and economic renaissance, offering prosperity and safety to future Palestinian generations. A protectorate is not an occupation.
Just as the German people were relieved of the oppression of Nazism, the Palestinian people deserve to be freed from the oppression of jihadist terrorists. They deserve to be liberated to choose civilization over barbarism.
A Western-Arab protectorate, in the model of the Allies’ supervision of Germany, will show them to it. The Protectorate will rebuild the flattened infrastructure and guide Gazans in building a society based on secular democracy, and an economy based on trading instead of tunneling.
Gaza need not be physically partitioned, like Germany, but placed under the supervision of a Protectorate comprised of (for example):
• Israel (for its paramount interest in assuring its security along its borders);
• the United States (for its pivotal international role and economic power);
• Egypt (for the protection of its border, and its commitment to prevent jihadists from regrouping in its territory);
• Jordan (for its border on Palestinian lands);
• Saudi Arabia (for its counterweight to Iranian expansionism, leverage with the Palestinians, and for its wealth);
• NATO and in particular France and Great Britain, who can channel their publicized sympathies for Palestinians into rebuilding Gaza;
• Morocco (as an exemplar of a secular Muslim state) and the other Abraham Accord signatories, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan; and
• Singapore (for its role model of religious diversity and tolerance, and commercial success in a very small nation). [Note 2.]
The Protectorate’s umbrella will empower future-thinking Gazans to remake their culture. They must reform their schools. Eliminate the repressive and bellicose Islamist indoctrinations, the anti-Western and anti-modernity grievances and prejudices (and, of course, the anti-Semitic ones). They must stop inculcating religious intolerance. They must accept and teach the rightful existence of Israel – acknowledge the fact that it cannot be expunged. (Even Oslo required that.)
They must teach, instead, the concepts – and virtues – of political and religious secularism, freedom of expression and speech, tolerance of diverse opinions, equality before the law and due process, and peaceful coexistence.
They must also reform their politics. Outlaw Hamas and its fellow jihadists, as Germany made Nazism illegal. Revive civil and secular law.
Gazans who renounce jihadism, will willingly support a Protectorate (for it will no longer be life-threatening to do so), and embrace its promise of peace and prosperity.
Without historical roots in the West’s classical liberal Enlightenment, Palestine is unlikely to become a Western-style democracy. Even so, the vision of a secular majority-Muslim society, willing and able to join the community of nations, can take form.
Economic revival carries the promise of prosperity.
Security, stability and prosperity, the environment for a lasting peace, are the incentives for Gazans (and the West Bank Palestinians as well, should they elect to join) to choose the path away from terrorism and toward a viable, globally-integrated economy capable of lifting them out of perpetual poverty and dependency. To provide, at last, an optimistic future for their children.
The Protectorate will rebuild Gaza’s destroyed infrastructure, its health care system, its food supply. Restoring housing, itself, will take a decade. Rebuilding all the rest, will take several decades more, and cost over $3.5 billion dollars by some estimates — all the while, providing young Gazans much-needed employment.
Fortunately, the Protectorate members have that much money readily at hand and also the logistical resources needed for this enormous task. They will eagerly invest them in a lasting peace. The obvious model is the Marshall Plan.
The Protectorate’s economic power can also incubate a viable Palestinian economy, based on agriculture and technology, with which the world’s trading partners will happily do business, once the terrorists are no longer diverting the revenues.
A long and arduous process it will be. It may not be complete until a next generation of Palestinians have abandoned jihad, its objectives and methods, have accepted the reality of Israel, and have imbued the principles of peace and cooperation.
With considerable irony, Palestinian society may need (metaphorically) to “wander 40 years in the desert” – until the generations indelibly tainted with jihadist hatred and barbarism have passed.
Then, Palestinians too can get to their promised land – a Palestinian State.
There is no other, easier, quicker, way to get there.
© Ron Litchman 2024
Ron Litchman is a recovered lawyer and freelance writer often found in his Catskills writer’s retreat and always at Heterodoxies@persuacious.com .
1. See, e.g., https://sv.usembassy.gov/president-bidens-statement-during-his-visit-to-tel-aviv/ https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-11-05/mcmanus-column-biden-blinken-plan-after-the-gaza-war-ends
2. Notably excluded are Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Houthis, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization, Russia and China and the United Nations – who have funded, instructed and collaborated with the jihadists, are sympathetic to their cause and methods, have antipathy to the West, and would subvert the Protectorate’s objectives.