Into the fray: Suicide Nation?

Once again the nation is being lured into disaster by the "pied-pipers of Oslo," this time playing a new tune.

By
August 11, 2011 20:54
Jerusalem Summit academic director Martin Sherman

58_ Martin Sherman. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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“Poor Menachem [Begin]... I got back... the Sinai and the Alma oil fields, and what has Menachem got? A piece of paper” – Anwar Sadat on the Peace Agreement with Israel, The New York Times, October 19, 1980.

There is something profoundly perverse in the conduct of the Jewish people as a national collective.

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Tactical brilliance, strategic imbecility

The rebirth of Jewish nationhood and the annuls of Zionist endeavor are undoubtedly one of most stirring chapters of modern history.

It is an enterprise that has achieved remarkable feats against impossible odds. Indeed, Zionism has arguably been the most successful of national freedom movements in the last century. It has attained a combination of political independence, economic prosperity and individual liberties for its people unmatched in any other country born of the dissolution of the European empires.

Beyond its borders, Israel has made amazing contributions to humanity – in medicine, agriculture, computing, communications... Some of these more recent accomplishments have been ably chronicled by books such as the bestselling Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

Yet something is clearly rotten in the State of Israel. There is an almost unfathomable disconnect between its capacities for techno/tactical brilliance and for staggering strategic imbecility.

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Indeed a deeply troubling pattern is emerging: Whenever dramatic successes, entailing long-range reconstructive strategic potential, are secured, their fruits are frittered away for short-term–at-best intermediate-range–benefits.

Whether military or economic, successes seem to give rise to illogical forces – self-induced and self-destructive – to willfully forgo them.

The strategic value of... paper

Thus, the sweeping strategic advantages, won in victories of the Six Day War, have been foolishly squandered.

The Sinai Peninsula with its strategic depth, mineral wealth and economic potential is now deteriorating into a lawless “no-go” region, rapidly falling under the control of the most ruthless extremists on the face of the globe. In the wake of the “Tahrir tsunami,” Israel is facing an emerging lose-lose strategic predicament which will soon force it to decide between:

• Allowing Sinai to degenerate into an Afghanistan-like haven for al-Qaida and other jihadi organizations,
• Allowing a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt to remilitarize the area in order to reestablish law and order, and
• Reasserting Israeli control of Sinai, effectively repudiating the peace agreement.

Admittedly, the three decades of Egyptian prickly nonbelligerence provided Israel with significant benefits – in return for considerable strategic sacrifices. But from here on in, the challenges will be daunting to say the least. All options are gravely menacing... After all, all poor Menachem got was “a piece of paper.”

This was neither unpredictable nor unpredicted.

However, the sober voices who warned against the wisdom of or the need to make such sweeping concessions to the depleted and disintegrating regime in Cairo were dismissed as deranged warmongers. It seems that future generations will yet be called on to pay the price of this strategic myopia, a price, which could far outweigh the temporary benefits of the acrimonious and relatively brief interbellum.

The triumph of irrationality over reason

If it took about a generation for the folly of relinquishing Sinai to become tangibly evident, with 2005’s disengagement it took a matter of weeks.

In a stunning triumph of irrationality over reason, Israel six years ago surrendered all for nothing, erasing 30 years of Zionist endeavor in Gaza in a fortnight. With dizzying speed all ominous warnings of dangers came true; all promises of benefits proved false. But worse of all, it conveyed an unmistakable strategic message to the Arabs: With the Jews, no concessions are necessary! If confronted with adequate resolve and violence, they will capitulate unconditionally.

In a stroke, Ariel Sharon’s mendacious promise that “the fate of Netzarim will be the fate of Tel Aviv” was inverted. Now the Arabs had every reason to believe that “the fate Tel Aviv will be the fate of Netzarim.”

With demands for surrendering the Golan temporarily on hold due to the butchery of Bashar Assad, efforts are now focused on how to divest Israel of the remaining vestige of its 1967 military gains – the strategic highlands between the Jordan Valley and the coastal megalopolis.

Despite the benefit of hindsight, the nation is being led into another episode of strategic insanity: The establishment of an adversarial Arab entity on the territories that overlook the country’s major population centers, control its only real international airport, border the length of the trans-Israel highway and command much of the county’s infrastructure.

With all of these in range of weaponry already used against Israel from territories relinquished to the Palestinians, only the brain-dead or the blatantly biased could fail to recognize the strategic dementia of such a move. Reassuring promises of demilitarization are either infantile or insincere. Even with the armament currently available to the Palestinians, allegedly “renegade” elements could “bring Sderot to Tel Aviv,” making social and economic routine in the country impossible to sustain.

The clamor for economic hara-kiri

Which brings us to the present “middle Israel” protests. Once again the perverse pathology seems to be kicking in.

Just when the economy is demonstrating remarkable resilience, winning warm international praise and outperforming much of the industrial world, we are witnessing an almost incomprehensible self-engendered “declaration of economic war against Israeli prosperity,” as Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline B. Glick deftly put it.

Suddenly, in a nation where all the macroeconomic data reflect a flourishing economy in the midst of a global economic crisis, and both statistical and anecdotal evidence indicate that much of the general populace is benefiting, a incongruous wave of discontent seems to be engulfing the public.

After all, poll after poll, both foreign and local, shows extremely high levels of satisfaction with life in the Israel, well above that in most industrial countries.

Out of a population of 7.7 million, millions of Israelis travel abroad regularly, spending billions of dollars on overseas trips. A cursory stroll through urban Israel reveals that restaurants are full, cafes are crowded, pubs are jampacked; the recreation industry appears to be booming, with beaches teeming in summer, ski slopes crammed in winter, rural byways swarming with off-road cyclists on the weekends.

Against this backdrop of popular plenty – the eruption of middle-class wrath seems oddly misplaced. After all, surely not all these diners, latte drinkers, late-night revelers, surfers, skiers, bikers, vacationers can be parasitic ultra-Orthodox, privileged settlers, or plutocratic tycoons? To be sure, injustices and distortions abound – and have done so for years. So why now, on the cusp of economic success, this clamor for economic hara-kiri.

Admittedly, plausible claims can be made for restructuring the tax system, making markets more competitive, streamlining bureaucracy, raising salaries for specific professions – topics the government appears to be responsibly addressing. But little of these are reflected in the emerging demands of protesters. These are no more than a motley mélange of politically correct mantras, betraying the underlying political bias of the organizers: meaningless generalities expressing goodwill to mankind, haredim, settlers and tycoons excluded; and a few actionable proposals that would put evermore citizens at the mercy of an evermore bloated bureaucracy, reinstitute of a command- economy of the kind that sealed the fate of the Soviet bloc; and resurrect an all-invasive/ pervasive welfare state that has brought the specter of calamity ever closer for much of the industrial world.

From appeasement to entitlement; from ‘New Middle East’ to “Social Justice?”

So how are we to account for the widespread manifestation of this lemming-like psychosis? The reason is not hard to find. The same mendacious, manipulative media, with its ideological compliant and complicit cliques that comprise the “bon-ton” social elites are once again leading the people astray. Whipping up emotions by exploiting primal traits of avarice and envy, the flimsily disguised objective is to destabilize the government coalition and delegitimize its electoral base.

It is difficult of overstate the potential danger of initiative. Having in the past convinced a gullible public that appeasement is a workable security doctrine, they now seem bent on persuading it that entitlement is a practical economic one. Unchastened at having made Israel virtually indefensible militarily, they appear to have no compunction in trying to make it unsustainable economically.

The very same fraudulent “guild” that deceived the country with the false promise of a “New Middle East” Eldorado, are now egging it on to pursue an equally deceptive dream of a “New Social Order” Nirvana. The very same “pied-pipers of Oslo” who seduced a misinformed nation into disaster with the lure of “Peace Now,” are now trying to coax it into another debacle – this time with a new tune, “Social Justice.”

They must be exposed, confronted and discredited.

The stakes are high, the cost of failure incalculable.

For with all its defects, Israel is still in many ways an inspiring fulfillment of Theodor Herzl’s famous dictum “If you will it, it is no dream.”

But we dare not lose sight of the fact the converse can also be true: If you will it not, it is indeed a dream.

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