INTO THE FRAY: Gaza – Liberman gets an “F”

For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column:

Gaza – Liberman gets an “F”

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Liberman’s appointment as Defense Minister ignited expectations of a qualitatively different approach to that of his predecessor—one discernibly more robust and resolute… Sadly, this was not to be

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

ISRAEL RISING: (To be posted)
JERUSALEM HERALD: (To be posted)

Several short excerpts:

Shortly after Avigdor Liberman was appointed Defense Minister, two Palestinian-Arab terrorists cut down almost a dozen customers at a well-known coffee shop located a few hundred yards from the Ministry of Defense and IDF HQ in Tel Aviv, killing four and wounding the rest.

Sadly symbolic

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

In many ways, this incident was a predictive symbol of things to come. For it foretold that much of the hopes pinned on Liberman were to be unfounded, showing that his hawkish, machoistic rhetoric had done little to deter the determination of Palestinian-Arabs to kill Jews.

The immorality of “restraint”

On Thursday morning, Israel awoke to the news that “restraint” had almost killed a group of children, when an incoming rocket from Gaza narrowly missed the park in which they were playing. This follows another incident, several weeks ago, when a rocket landed in a kindergarten, fortunately still empty as it hit just before it opened for the day.

The ruinous results of restraint

Hamas naval commandos at rally in Gaza
Hamas naval commandos at rally in Gaza

Just how unwise a policy of “restraint” has proved to be is clearly underscored by events on the ground.

While Israel has practiced “restraint”, the Islamists of Gaza have frenetically upgraded their offensive capacities beyond anyone’s worst fears, when in 2005, Israel abandoned Gaza.

Gaza: Problem is conceptual not operational

The problem of Israel’s strategy towards Gaza (or lack thereof) is conceptual, not operational…the time has come to abandon “restraint” as the dominant element in Israeli policy toward Gaza and Israel must base its policy on what the Palestinian-Arabs really are—and declare themselves to be—not on what it would like them to be. Accordingly, Israel must relate to the Palestinian-Arabs, not as a prospective peace partner, but as an implacable enemy, bent on its destruction, for whom “restraint” is merely a respite, in which to hone its hostility.

The question of “collateral casualties”

Damage in Gaza: Aftermath of recurring violence
Damage in Gaza: Aftermath of recurring violence

…This is not to say that efforts should not be made to reduce unintended harm to non-belligerents. They certainly should! However, unless the Government of Israel places a higher value on Palestinian casualties than on Israeli ones, collateral damage among the enemy population cannot be an overriding operational constraint on military action intended to bring lasting security to the residents of the South.

Reversal of causality

Sadly, most of the discourse on Gaza is hopelessly ensnared on what Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to as a “reversal of causality”. For, contrary to widely held perceptions, the dire socio-economic conditions in the terror-ruled enclave are not the cause of the anti-Israel antipathy that festers there; it is festering anti-Israel antipathy that is the cause of these dire socio-economic conditions.

What must be done

The recent resurgence of violence from Gaza, coupled with the accumulated experience of the last quarter-century—and the growing presence of Jihadi elements in adjoining Sinai—leads to the inevitable conclusion, however unpalatable: Israel can only determine who controls Gaza—and what emanates from Gaza—if it controls Gaza itself…The only way it can do this while avoiding the need for indefinitely ruling over “another people” is to relocate the “other people”—with generous funding—to promote the emigration of non-belligerent Gazans to third party countries—which certainly seems a more humane outcome than allowing them to languish in their current condition.

The bleak choice: Arabs in Gaza or Jews in Negev

The bitter truth is that unless there is a dramatic change in the approach to Gaza, the current pattern of recurring violence will continue to escalate—and the Jewish residents of the south are unlikely to endure these realities indefinitely…Accordingly, the bleak choice facing the Israeli leadership is this. There will either be Arabs in Gaza or Jews in the Negev.

There will not be both!

If Defense Minister Liberman does not grasp this and act accordingly, he is unlikely to improve his current grade of “F”.

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,
Best wishes,

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