Ian Joseph

No political solution?

Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed – Mao Zedong

“We are making the lives of millions [of Palestinians] unbearable, into prolonged human suffering, [and] it kills me.”—(Cami Gilon Shin Bet Director 1994-96).

“We’ve become cruel. To ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population.” Our army has become “a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in World War II. Similar, not identical.” – Avraham Shalom (Shin Bet Director 1980-86), who clarifies that he is referring to the Nazis’ persecution of non-Jewish minorities.

“We don’t realize that we face a frustrating situation in which we win every battle, but we lose the war.”— Ami Ayalon Shin Bet Director 1996–2000), regarding the wisdom of Israel’s counterterrorism measures.

“We are taking very sure and measured steps to a point where the State of Israel will not be a democracy or a home for the Jewish people.”—Ayalon

For the last +75 years Israel and the Palestinians have not managed to reach a peaceful settlement. The lack of a peace agreement has resulted in an endless cycle of bloodshed where thousands, nay tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, culminating in the barbaric massacre of October 7 where the state of Israel failed in its most basic mission – providing a safe haven for Jews.

Depending on which side of the clash you stand on, you will find a way to blame the other for lack of a peaceful, political solution and a resulting end to the bloodshed.

As I keep repeating, to the point of boring my friends, there is no military solution to the conflict. The resulting ongoing bloodshed and the need for Israel to live by force of arms has not, will not and cannot provide peace, prosperity and security to the people living in the area. The only benefit of a strong Israeli military is that it can provide the politicians with the needed breathing space and time to come to a political solution.

126 years ago the first Zionist Congress was held.

75 years ago the state of Israel was created.

56 years ago the Six Day War was fought with Israel capturing the West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula.

50 years ago the Yom Kippur was fought, with both sides claiming victory.

Gaza was evacuated in 2005 with multiple campaigns and mini wars fought since then.

Since 1967 more than 450,000 Israeli Jews have settled in the West Bank, 25,000 in the Golan Heights and 220,000 in East Jerusalem.

From 1967 to date more than 35,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict.  

From 1967 to date thousands of Israelis have died as a result of terrorism from the conflict, culminating in October 7 when more than 1,200 Israelis and some foreign workers were killed.

More than eleven weeks into the Israel-Hamas Gaza War and more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed with about 14,000 of them civilians. More than 145 Israeli soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice and many more have been injured. We still have no idea of any plans for the day after this round of fighting ends, not to speak of the year or decades after. While Israel will obviously win the short term, military tactical war, it stands the very real danger of losing the long term strategic conflict in the absence of clearly articulated objectives and political goals.

The cycle of violence will continue ad nauseum in the absence of a political solution. If any good comes out of the horrors of October 7 it will be a change in conception and approach which leads to a political settlement. I personally am not optimistic about any prospects for a peaceful settlement in my lifetime. 

About the Author
Born and educated in South Africa, a graduate of Jewish day school and Habonm Dror, Ian Joseph served in the IDF as an officer in combat units, and currently resides in North Carolina and Cyprus. Ian holds an MBA from Shulich School of Business in Toronto, is certified as a Master Instructor by the American Sailing Association and is currently retired from IBM. Among other pursuits Ian edits a weekly newsletter of Israeli news items, teaches sailing around the world and certifies sailing instructors.
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