“What’s Peace Got to Do with It?”

Affirm the obvious.

Consider the radical.

Break the debate.

Move it away from the high-decibel, frenetic sterility that characterizes so much modern discourse, from the pre-formatted, pre-recorded histrionics we hurl past each other to . . .


The most natural thing in the world. The rearranging of what-is to produce the new. It happens every time a baby is conceived. It happens every time that old adage, “The whole is different from the sum of its parts,” is proven in daily life. It even happens in history, which is very much the story of things that nobody expected to happen.

This post and next Monday’s will play a bit with these ideas, leading (perhaps) to a recombinant conclusion – something different from, and greater than, its parts.

Let’s start with the obvious.

Violent aggressive Islamism is now a clear and present danger to global civilization, including the Islamic. Prime Minister Netanyahu made this very plain during his UN address. We’re at the point where the only people who don’t acknowledge the fact are the supporters and enablers of the movement, plus those who care not or dare not confront it. They’re hoping, no doubt, that Islamism will either go away on its own or be somehow “contained” by somebody else. Neither seems very likely. And how suicidally these people ignore Comrade Trotsky’s dictum:

You may not be interested in the war, but the war is interested in you.

Violent aggressive Islamism spreads in various ways, from open warfare to small-scale terrorism to Islamist infiltration of Islamic communities in Europe and the United States, and other secular institutions. To borrow from another dead Commie – those guys knew their business – the guerrilla or revolutionary “swims among the people” like a fish in the sea.

Now add to this the constant metastatic alterations. Groups come and go, change their names, ally with each other, oppose each other, kiss and make up until the next time. Only the experts can even try to keep track of them, and they don’t akways get it right. Further, aggressive Islamists pursue and utilize endless arrangements of mutual convenience with trans-national organized crime, drug cartels, other violent political movements.

All very obvious. So is this:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is no longer the only front. Nor is it even the most important. In some ways, globalization has reduced it to a sideshow.

Israelis must understand how much has changed. I retain a vivid memory of Mr. Netanyahu in 1991 addressing the American people on television, waving a gas mask and glaring into the cameras:

“Now you see what we’re up against.”

Israelis and their supporters have been chanting that refrain since 9/11, along with “We told you so.” To no good effect. It may be true, but if it isn’t working, why keep at it? And maybe ratchet down the scolding, while we’re at it.

The issue now is not Israeli exceptionalism. It’s Israel’s common cause with the civilized world.

We’ll talk about America in a couple postings. The subject now is Israel. And it’s obvious that Israel has much to contribute to this global struggle, and already is.

Intelligence-sharing comes immediately to mind. But alas, it’s never as simple as it sounds. Sources need to be protected: sources both human and technical. Ongoing operations ought not to be compromised or aborted. Honest, competent analysts often reach conflicting conclusions. And while people on the ground together can usually work well together – mortal danger provides its own perspective – their various superiors and chains of command might not always cohere. And it’s not just the summiteers. The midlevel types, intent upon turf protection and personal advancement (the “iron majors” as they’re known in the American military) can really muck up the works.

Formal and not-so-formal military co-operation: also useful, occasionally vital.

Public diplomacy and the rest of that miasma – occasionally useful if done creatively and honestly, and never reactively. Most often, you end up giving your enemies additional publicity by refuting them.

So what’s Israel to do?

In essence, start thinking about combining the obvious with the radical.

Accept that it’s no longer all about us. Everybody’s a target.

Accept that this globalization does not necessarily mean that humanity will suddenly proclaim, “You’re right, Israel” and bow down before our aspirations and our whims. In fact, the opposite’s far more likely, especially among the “Future Holocaust Deniers” of the world.

Start asking ourselves how Israel can contribute to the crafting of serious global efforts and alliances.

And finally, begin to wonder whether, in the present situation, Israeli withdrawal from about ninety-five percent of the West Bank and an independent non-Islamist Palestine – leading perhaps to a de facto Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian-Egyptian alliance of sorts – might actually advance the global struggle.

It won’t bring peace. But then, what’s peace got to do with it?

Next: “What’s War Got to Do with It?”

About the Author
Philip Gold made Aliyah from USA in 2010 after several decades as a Beltway "public intellectual" of sorts.
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