“…And the Rocket’s Red Glare”

Only this isn’t the war of 1812. Only this isn’t the story of American Soldiers surviving an all-night British bombardment. Only this isn’t a story about an American flag still flying over a fort throughout the night despite the constant barrage of British bombardment. This isn’t even a story. This is the everyday life for the citizens of Southern Israel living under the constant threat of Hamas rockets being launched from inside the Gaza Strip. This is the reason why the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge earlier this summer, with the goal of dealing Hamas a fatal blow.

Why should Israel have to keep negotiating channels open with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), a supposed governing and representative body for Palestinians that does nothing to prevent terrorism? By virtue of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) decided to form a unity government with Hamas betrays Abbas and Fatah’s (the political arm of the former PLO which is now the party that controls the PA) true intentions. Like Arafat before him, Abbas has no real desire to make because. This is because in their mind, any peace at all would be tantamount to surrendering, which is something that Abbas will never do. As we will soon see, many peace deals have been proposed to both Arafat and Abbas, but both leaders of the PA rejected these offers.

Let us make an analogy here: After seizing control of a portion of land on the border of the United States that was recently evacuated by the Canadian government, a terrorist organization begins stockpiling rockets, explosives, guns, and ammunition in order to attack the United States. One of the purposes listed in this group’s charter is to destroy the United States. This group has built hundreds of underground tunnels in order to send their terrorists across the border into the United States in order to carryout terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. In addition to these tunnels, this terrorist group has also been launching many rockets from civilian locations in their territory (like houses, schools, and hospitals) into the United States, aimed at United States citizens. Now how long do you think the United States government would wait before retaliating with the full force of its military might? I can assure you that it wouldn’t wait very long.

In contrast, Israel has endured this constant stream of rockets and terrorist attacks stemming from the Gaza Strip ever since Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005. Israel has carried out targeted killings and retaliatory missions in Gaza aimed at these terrorists since disengaging. I say specifically retaliatory missions because Israel has a strict policy of self-defense and will not attack unless provoked. Since these retaliatory measures will take place in civilian areas because of the way the terrorists have positioned themselves, Israel takes measures unlike what any other country would do. They spend countless amounts of man hours and money taking care to warn citizens to leave the area of the counterstrike in order to minimize any collateral damage.

The war that Israel now fights in the Gaza Strip has been in the making since Israel’s disengagement and Hamas’s subsequent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2005. This shows us that appeasing the PA and Hamas, like the Allies tried doing with the Nazis before World War II, will never end this cycle of violence that has last for over half a century. It is a losing battle strategy.

In order to prove the appeasement strategy to be a losing strategy to finding a solution for Israel-Palestine conflict, one must look at the history of the peace process. The first proposal for peace was made before the state of Israel even existed. In 1947, the UN set up a committee in order to propose what could be done in order to solve the tensions between the Arabs and Jews before the termination of the British Palestine Mandate. The committee proposed a two state solution based on a partition plan. This meant that areas with an Arab majority population would go to the new Arab state and areas with a Jewish majority population would go to the Jews. Jerusalem would have remained an international zone. The Jews accepted this offer, while the Arab countries decided to choose war in order to gain control over the entire former mandate and went to war. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon decided to go to war and encourage the Arabs living in the mandate to flee their lands and homes and join them in battle, promising them land after their victory. Only the armies of these Arab countries were defeated by the newly formed joint army (composed of the Haganah, Irgun, and the Stern Gang) of Israel.

Then, in 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq decided to prepare their armies for another attempt at erasing Israel off the map of the Middle East. However, this time Israel was able to preemptively strike these armies before they were able to launch their attack, winning the war in only 6 days. This war won Israel control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This war’s conclusion brought a first in the history of warfare: Never has a victorious country have to sue for peace after besting an enemy in the battlefield. The UN developed Resolutions 248 and 338 (called for a ceasefire to end the Yom Kippur War) as the land for peace solution. This meant that Israel would be willing to trade land that it had captured in war, with adjustments made for security, for peace as long as these countries ceased their aggressive actions, perpetual states of war, and recognition of Israel. After these resolutions were proposed, the Arab League came out with their infamous 3 No’s: No negotiations with Israel, No peace with Israel, and No recognition of Israel.

After the conclusion of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, we began to see a new era of peace negotiations. Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) both signed treaties with Israel. We also see that control of the negotiations on behalf of the Palestinian people is transferred from the heads of major Arab countries, who had a huge par in creating the Palestinian refugee problem by forcing Palestinians into refugee camps and not allowing them to be integrated into their respective countries, to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a terrorist organization headed by Yasser Arafat. The PLO went from being based in Jordan to Lebanon, and finally situating itself in the West Bank after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The PLO has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Israel either on their own or in coordination with other terrorist groups. In the late 1980’s, Arafat began trying to get recognition from the nations of the world in the United Nations as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the PLO was renamed the Palestinian Authority (PA), an attempt to show a new direction for Arafat’s “former” terrorist organization. However, the new name the PLO was just a façade: Arafat and the PA have been offered at least 3 different peace proposals (Oslo Accords Failure, Camp David Summit failure in 2000, Failure of the Road Map to Peace in 2001, to say a few) and rejected them all. We have also seen a disturbing trend surrounding peace negotiations aimed at trying to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Before these negotiations begin and after these negotiations cease or collapse, there is a disturbing increase in terrorist activity. This seems to be a strategy in order to attempt to gain more concessions in the negotiations. The prime example of this disturbing trend is what happened after the collapse of the Camp David Summit in 2000, when Arafat reject Ehud Barak’s deal where he would have received almost everything he could have possibly wanted. According to a PA Communications minister, the Second Intifada was not started in response to Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. As the PA Communications Minister said, “ ‘ …it [the uprising] has been plan since Chairman Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned on the former president and rejected the American Conditions’” * This was later confirmed by a US fact finding committee led by former US Senator George Mitchel.

The story of the peace negotiations aimed at trying to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict teaches us two lessons. The first lesson is that peace is not possible with an organization such as the PA, which supports terror activity and does not try to promote peace. They fill the minds of young children with hate and a drive to kill people they have never met. The second lesson that we learn from this story is that violence and terrorism should not lead to more concessions in the peace process. It encourages more violence. The more violence perpetrated the less wiggle room in negotiations. Arab countries, the PA, and Hamas have had several opportunities to make peace, yet they have either chosen to resort to violence or chosen to reject any offers made. This second lesson shows us why we must fight this current Gaza Offensive: we must eliminate Hamas and all terrorist organizations that stand in the way of peace. Only then can it be possible for a non-terrorist entity be elected as a true representative of the Palestinian people, and only then can the violence finally end.

*Bard, M. & Scwartz M. 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know about Israel

About the Author
Justin Goldstein is currently a second year MSW student at Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
Related Topics
Related Posts