Zev Jabotinsky’s 1923 essay “Iron Wall” is the inspiration for the Israel Victory Project. So said Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum (meforum.org) at a recent event in Jerusalem. Pipes told the audience that the most recent polls report that 70% of Israeli Jewish adults want the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and to accept their defeat in more than 70 years of battle against the Jews. 58% agree that, “It will only be possible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians when they recognize they have lost their war against Israel.”
Pipes stressed that until the Palestinian Arabs recognize that they are the loser and Israelis the winners, the battles will continue. The Arabs must recognize that Israel and Israelis are thriving while Palestinian Arabs stagnate and even regress. As Pipes said, our Arab neighbors have lost the battle against Israel and it’s past time for them to realize that fact.
We were told that in order to appeal to a wide swath of interested parties, the MEF is “agnostic” when it comes to providing an eventual solution to the conflict. This is because the MEF’s job is to educate policy makers, not to advocate for any particular policy. Thus, the event featured speakers with divergent ideas about how peace might evolve.
The first speaker at the conference, Likud party member and former Minister of the Interior and of Education Gideon Sa’ar, made a strong case against the two-state solution. He praised the American Jewish community for its years-long support of Israel while emphasizing the need to eschew the “two-state solution trap.”
Sa’ar claims that the key to Israel’s future is retaining a Jewish majority in sovereign Israel. He believes that a Palestinian state would only create ways for the Arabs to alter Israel’s demography to the Arabs’ advantage. I share Sa’ar’s contention that “peace” in our land is a zero sum game, not a win/win situation between equals.
Pipes later introduced a three member panel to whom he addressed several questions for each to address. The general subject being discussed was the 1993 Oslo Accords (now observing its 25th anniversary!), which is recognized as an abject failure by all except ardent left wingers.
Former director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, made the strongest impression of the three. “Oslo failed due to a combination of willful ignorance, sheer stupidity and some sort of wishful thinking mixed with naiveté. The Palestinians never hid their intention or narrative. They say it out loud every day,” he said.
Likud MK Avraham Neguise, who heads the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs and is co-chair for the Knesset Israel Victory Project Caucus, asked, “[Since Oslo] Do we see that Israel is more secure? Is Israel closer to peace? Do we see that the average Palestinian life has improved? The answer to these questions is no.”
However, Einat Wilf, a former MK for left-leaning parties, claimed that dismissing the Oslo Accords as “stupid” is too simplistic, reminding the audience of the optimistic euphoria of the 90s, when a peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs seemed part of the “anything is possible” spirit that imbued the decade.
Wilf noted that the Oslo Accord resulted from the feeling in the 90s that drastic changes were possible. She cited that, “The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. Apartheid ended. There was peace in Northern Ireland. What seemed impossible the day before was seen as inventable [sic] the day after.” Still, Wilf admitted, though taking context into account is important, the fact is that Oslo did not achieve its ultimate goal.
Kuperwasser had the last word, when he said that despite the euphoria of the 90s, the Oslo Accords were indeed “stupid.”
I and many others are disappointed that the concept of “victory” seems to have disappeared from the Western lexicon, even in Israel. The last great Western victory was when WWII ended in unconditional surrender by the Axis powers, Germany and Japan. Each was then occupied by the victors and magnanimously allocated huge development funds, courtesy of the Marshall Plan in Europe, and billions of dollars in separate U.S. grants to Japan. The result was that both rose to become powerhouses of the West, especially economically. The creed of each country changed completely, resulting in democratic, non-militaristic governments.
The Korean War signaled the new trend of “endless” war, with no definitive victory by either side and a low level continuation of hostilities, with all the attendant tensions and war mongering.
A similar state of affairs exists between the Muslims and the Jews, aka Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. Israel has been prevented from winning a political victory since the Six Day War of 1967. Led by the Europeans and the Arab League, the world has actually conspired to prevent Israel from defeating its enemy, hence the need for the MEF “Victory Project.”
A weak and ineffectual spirit has infected many of Israel’s political and military leaders, along with other Western leaders. Because Israel regularly accepts ceasefires in its conflicts with the Palestinian Arabs instead of persevering towards victory, the conflicts die down but are never resolved. A new “operation” is necessary every few years to “mow the lawn,” as the situation is described.
Pipes pointed out the current example of this attitude: explosive-laden balloons, condoms, and kites are sent aloft with impunity by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, causing havoc in southern Israel, burning thousands of acres of forest and agricultural land, but luckily failing to kill Israelis. No price is paid by the Gazans for these hostile and dangerous tactics. Instead, Israel concentrates on defensive measures to identify or intercept the projectiles. The lesson learned by Hamas is that Israel repeatedly takes a defensive tack, instead of taking proactive action to eviscerate the Hamas leadership.
The MEF Victory Project, with caucuses in both the Knesset and the US Congress, seeks to light a fire under American and Israeli policy makers. Otherwise, our struggle for the Land of Israel will continue for many decades to come. It’s time for strong, offensive actions to force Israel’s enemies to recognize the Jewish State of Israel, one of the major players in the Middle East. Then, maybe, there will be a chance to find some sort of solution.
All quotes from Jerusalem Post, July 5: Politicians demand new approach to peace process