INTO THE FRAY- Gaza: Gratuitous gobbledygook




For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

Gaza: Gratuitous gobbledygook  

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The obdurate resistance of Gaza to any type of resolution has led to such overriding exasperation that it has begun to undermine the quality of the public debate on the issue.

It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):


Several short excerpts: 

Israel need not necessarily take control of the Gaza Strip, but it must take control of the situation Jerusalem Post Editorial, November 3, 2019.

I would like Gaza to sink into the sea, but that won’t happen, and a solution must be found – then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, September 3, 1992. 

… beyond the furrow that marks the border, lies a surging sea of hatred and vengeance, yearning for the day that the tranquility blunts our alertness, for the day that we heed the ambassadors of conspiring hypocrisy, who call for us to lay down our arms – Moshe Dayan, at the funeral of Roi Rotberg, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, killed by terrorist gunmen from Gaza, April 28, 1956.

The IDF swept triumphantly into the Egyptian-ruled Gaza Strip in early June1967 and pulled out ignominiously in mid-August 2005—erasing every vestige of Jewish presence there that had been lovingly and laboriously developed over the preceding four decades.

A constant source of consternation

Yassar Arafat enters Gaza — July 1994

Gaza has been an almost constant source of consternation for Israel—well before it took over the Strip in 1967 –see opening excerpt. However, matters took a sharp turn for the worse, when, following the Oslo I Accords (1993) and the pursuant Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1994), facilitating Yassar Arafat’s entry into Gaza on July 1, 1994—to the cheers of jubilant crowds, whose expectant hopes of future prosperity and security were soon to be dashed.


Gaza: A bone in Israel’s throat?

Gaza has obstinately defied the effort of successive Israeli leaders and the naïve largesse of international donors…The enduring nature of the Gaza predicament was succinctly articulated in an earlier Kan 11 exposé, entitled The Gazan Predicament (Dec 2, 2018). It begins with a dour review of events in Gaza over last the quarter-century:

When Israel left Gaza in 1994 and transferred control to Yasser Arafat, the decision-makers certainly did not believe that in 2018 26 [sic] years later—the [Gaza] Strip would be one of the principal security problems of the State of Israel…”.

Generating garrulous gibberish

Sderot: Result of rocket attack from Gaza

The obdurate resistance of Gaza to any type of resolution has apparently led to such overriding exasperation and frustration that it has begun to undermine the quality of the public debate on the issue…Typical of such garrulous gibberish was a recent editorial in the Jerusalem Post, entitled “Gaza policy”.

It then diagnoses: “One thing is certain – the lack of a coherent, comprehensive Israeli strategy regarding Gaza has taken its toll … 

Coherent but misguided

…The problem with Israeli policies was not that they were incoherent—in the sense that they lacked internal logical consistency; but that they were misguided—in that the assumptions, on which they were based, were dangerously detached from prevailing Gazan realities…

Fusing the banal with the illogical

… fusing the banal with the illogical, the editorial recommends: “The next government – regardless of who leads it – must form and implement a strategy regarding Gaza. This initiative needs to be both defensive and diplomatic.

So the next government will have to have “a strategy regarding Gaza”?? Gee, who would have thought? How profound! How insightful!

Illogical (cont.)

But perhaps even more puzzling is the recommendation that Israel’s future strategy should be “defensive”. After all, Israel already has a wide array of “defensive” strategic initiatives—from a billion dollar barrier to encircle Gaza, above and below the ground; though the multi-million the “Iron Dome” and other missile defense systems; to a land and maritime quarantine of Gaza.

One might wonder not only as to what ingenious defense mechanism/strategy the authors behind the Post’s editorial are contemplating that will be more effective than those already in place, but also why the Gazans will be less effective in circumventing it than they have been in the past.

A cavalcade of failure

Virtually every kind of policy has been tried by Israel to resolve the Gaza conflict—with or without the backing of third parties…the attempt to reach a negotiated resolution with the Gazans failed…The attempt to defuse the conflict by unilateral concessions that gave the Gazans everything, which they could have demanded (and more) in a negotiated settlement, failed…  …It is this cavalcade of failed past policies that comprises the context in which future proposed strategies should be assessed.

Gaza: The gratuitous gobbledygook

Hamas’s Yahya Sinwar: “We will turn the enemy cities into ghost towns.”

The Post editorial ends with a vain attempt to balance the dictates of prevailing political-correctness with some new—but unspecified—operational rationale: “Israel need not necessarily take control of the Gaza Strip, but it must take control of the situation.”

Whatever this means, it seems to me to be the archetypical example of the gratuitous gobbledygook that that has come to dominate  the discourse on Gaza.

For there is little alternative to Israel “taking control of Gaza”—and the blame for the blood and treasure that will be expended on that endeavor will rest entirely on those who urged Israel to leave the Strip.

Simple & compelling

After all, the foregoing analysis confronts Israeli policy-makers with almost mathematical algorithmic logic:

* The only way to ensure who rules – and does not rule – Gaza is for Israel to rule it itself.

* The only way for Israel to do this without “ruling over another people” is to relocate the “other people” outside the territory it is obliged to administer.

* The only way to effect such relocation of the “other people”, without forcible kinetic expulsion, is by economic inducements i.e. by means of a comprehensive system of enticing material incentives to leave and daunting disincentives to stay.

Q.E.D. What could be simpler or more compelling?

This then, should be the conceptual foundation of any new coherent strategy for Gaza.


As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,

Best wishes,


Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies


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