Into the Fray: What must be done - Part 2: Beyond basics

Rather than reach out to the increasingly irrelevant Mahmoud Abbas, Israel should cut all ties with him.

Passers-by walk near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City [File[ (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Passers-by walk near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City [File[
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Dr. Sherman... I hope to see a higher degree of specificity in your policy prescriptions than what you have written in the past. – Mtown Quaker in a talkback to my last column, “What must be done: Part 1 – Back to basics,” October 15, 2015
There is nothing so practical as a good theory – Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), widely considered the ‘father of social psychology.’
The implied rebuke by the impatient talkbacker reflects a common misperception, particularly among those of a right-wing/hawkish predilection, as how to approach the over-all confrontation with the Arabs in general, and the violence of Palestinian Arabs in particular.
Not merely a ‘to-do’ list
For what is required is not merely a “to-do” list, a collection of harsh measures, intended to quell the current round of Judeocidal killings in the streets of Israel.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not suggesting that such a list is not essential, but rather, that on its own – even if it is initially implemented – it will be far from adequate. In isolation, detached from additional “context-oriented” initiatives, such implementation is likely to be counter- productive.
Of course, it goes without saying that the present wave of violence by Palestinian Arabs must be met with an array of harsh measures – both punitive and preemptive.
And indeed, numerous public figures have specified a range of appropriate steps that should be undertaken, including: deportation of perpetrators and their dependents; revoking citizenship/residency rights; confiscation of property; refraining from returning bodies of slain terrorists, and the rapid demolition of their family homes; passing new legislation – and/or robust enforcement of existing legislation – imposing stiff punishment for incitement, and cutting off funding to entities/organizations fomenting violence.
Yes, all of these should be adopted in one form or another. However, unless these measures are incorporated into an overarching ideo-intellectual framework, they will be neither effective in the short-run, nor sustainable in the long-run.
For if the current perception of the conflict is not radically restructured, the “resistance” of Palestinian Arabs, however gruesome, will sooner or later, be perceived as legitimate, and Israel will be threatened with censure and sanctions to give way.
The Temple Mount – pretext du jour
Indeed, the present round of Arab Judeocidal incitement and Judeocidal violence is merely a symptom of an ongoing malaise, yet another manifestation of the enduring Arab refusal to countenance the expression of Jewish national independence within any territorial frontiers whatsoever.
The religious arrangements on the Temple Mount are merely the pretext du jour.
Indeed, incandescent Arab hatred for the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel pre-dates “occupation,” “settlements,” claims for Palestinian statehood, even the invention of the “Palestinians” themselves (circa 1964).
Thus, the pre-1967 rhetoric of leaders across the Arab world – from Iraq, through Syria, and from Jordan to Egypt – is replete with blood-curdling declarations, explicitly articulating the Arab objective as the “destruction”/“ eradication”/“annihilation” of Israel (see my “Reassessing ‘root causes’ and ‘red herrings’,” October 7, 2011).
A few representative examples illustrate the point: As early as 1965, Egyptian president Abdul Gamal Nasser proclaimed: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood,” reiterating a little later, “...we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel ...[Our] national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
Two years later, barely a week before the outbreak of the Six Day War, he blustered: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”
The Palestinian ‘perspective’
On the very same day (May 27, 1967) Ahmad Shukairy, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor as chairman of the PLO, gloated: “D Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation”; and on June 1, in a premature flush of triumph, he crowed: “This is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis... We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors – if there are any – the boats are ready to deport them.”
Shukairy’s use of the words “liberation” and “homeland” are revealing.
Clearly they cannot refer to Judea-Samaria, now claimed as the “Palestinian homeland,” since at the time, Israel did not hold a single centimeter of that territory, then exclusively under Jordanian control, and whose inhabitants held Jordanian citizenship. Thus, before the “occupation” and the “settlements” existed; before Israel had any status on the Temple Mount, the Jews were marked for death and the Jewish state for annihilation.
For those, who naively believe (or hope) that this is no longer the underlying Palestinian perspective, sober reality awaits.
Grievance frozen in time: 16+47 = 63
A clear line seamlessly connects the views of Arafat’s predecessor, Shukairy, and Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas. After all, in the preceding excerpt from 1967, Shukairy referred to the Arabs waiting 19 years for “liberation,” while three years earlier, at the first session of Palestinian National Council, he bemoaned that “Palestinians had experienced 16 years’ misery.”
Forty-seven years later, in his 2011 address at the UN General Assembly, Abbas declared: “... after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom...”
Of course, 16 + 47 =63. In other words, Abbas continued Shukairy’s count, merging “misery”/“suffering” allegedly endured prior to the 1967 “occupation,” with that allegedly afflicted by the post-1967 “occupation.”
Clearly, for both Abbas and Shukairy the principal grievance is not the current post-1967 realities, but the birth of the Jewish state in 1948. Surely, then, if the birth of the Jewish state is the core Palestinian-Arab grievance, it can only be adequately addressed by the demise of the Jewish state.
At this stage, I suppose I should ask talkbacker Mtown Quaker to indulge me a little longer, for this analysis is not detached from the “nuts and bolts” question of “what must be done.”
Quite the opposite, it is an indispensable precursor to it.
Unless the root causes of the conflict are clearly comprehended and elucidated, it will not be possible to explain its consequences adequately, or to contend with them effectively. Accordingly, such comprehension/elucidation is a necessary determinant of any operational response and its efficacy (or lack thereof).
‘The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy...’
Until Israeli policy-makers come to terms with the unpalatable fact that Arabs’ animosity is rooted in what the Jews/Jewish state is, rather than in anything the Jews/ Jewish state does (or does not do), Israel will continue with ineffectual endeavors, doomed to failure.
For clearly, it is impossible to assuage one’s adversaries by offering something they do not want. And any offer, however concessionary, that entails continued existence of a sovereign Jewish state in any territorial configuration whatsoever, is something the Palestinians do not want.
Ergo, it is futile to make such offers in the hope of eliciting some accommodative response. It is even likely to be counterproductive, with such offers construed as weakness, providing the impetus to persist with, rather than desist from, violence.
In a recent article (Haaretz, October 10), Israel Harel writes: “As long as Israel refrains from unequivocally defining the enemy, even the four brigades sent as reinforcements to Judea and Samara and the thousands of exhausted soldiers” will be of little avail. He makes an apt diagnosis: “The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy. Terrorism is the means of combat that the Palestinians are using. Their ultimate goal is to expel us from our land.” He is entirely correct. Unless this is understood, and this understanding incorporated into Israeli policy, violence will continue, round after incessant round.
‘Before It Is Too Late…
Bizarrely, in recent weeks I find myself citing dedicated left-wing two-staters to illustrate messages I wish to convey.
For example, in “What Now?”(October 8) I quoted Gershon Baskin’s diagnosis of Mahmoud Abbas’s dwindling relevance in Palestinian society. This week, I should like to refer to Alon Ben-Meir’s “Before It Is Too Late” (Jerusalem Post, October 19). In it, he writes: “The current replay of past violent flare-ups points to the dismal failure of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy,” adding: “...contrary to prevailing views among a multitude of Israelis, no Israeli government can manage the occupation indefinitely...” Sadly, he is right.
Ben-Meir goes on to warn: “Wisdom dictates that Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition rethink their position and devise a long-term strategy not limited to only stem the current bloodshed, but to prevent the vicious cycle of violence....” This too is a cogent observation. But if Ben-Meir is right in diagnosing the problem, his recommended remedy is wildly misguided. Indeed, in many ways it is precisely the opposite of “what must be done.”
He is demonstrably wrong in determining that what is “fundamentally wrong here is the continuing occupation.”
For as we have seen, the Judeocidal instincts of the Palestinian Arabs far predate the “occupation,” tracing back beyond Shukairy to the days of Nazi collaborator, the suddenly newsworthy mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini.
So, if the “occupation” did not foment the Palestinian Arabs’ Judeophopic hatred, why would removing it do anything to extinguish it?
Kumbaya and Kool-Aid
Ben-Meir’s forlorn plea that “If Netanyahu and Abbas really want to end the bloodshed, they must appeal to their respective publics, preferably together, and unambiguously state that they are both determined to end the violence,” has an almost pathetic ring of desperation and despair to it. It is so distorted and detached from reality that it hardly warrants the effort to rebuff the deceptive equivalence it draws between Netanyahu’s and Abbas’s “respective publics,” and the onus each bears for the bloodshed and violence.
It is also hopelessly unrealistic. For nothing could undermine Abbas’s rapidly diminishing stature among the Palestinian public (of which two-thirds are calling for his resignation/replacement) than a joint appearance with the despised Netanyahu.
Rather than Kool-Aid-induced calls for Kumbaya sessions, what must be done is precisely the opposite. Rather than reach out to the increasingly irrelevant Abbas, Israel should cut all ties with him. After all, his recent behavior – including his inexcusably derogatory invective regarding the intolerable repugnance of the very presence of Jews – disqualifies him as a legitimate interlocutor in any discourse on the future of the Jewish state.
But this does not mean that we can ignore the valid caveat that Ben-Meir presents: “... those Israelis who call on their government to use harsher measures to prevent further escalation should answer a simple question: What happens the day after... and where will all this lead to?” He is right. Indeed they should.
What must – and must not – be done
The first prerequisite in formulating a prescription of what to do and what to avoid, is to grasp that Palestinian violence is not induced by despair, but driven by hope – the hope of annulling Jewish national sovereignty and dismantling the Jewish nation-state.
Accordingly, the only way to ensure the current round of violence is not followed by successive rounds of recurring violence is to extinguish the Arab hopes – on both sides of the pre-1967 Green Line. If the Arabs do not despair, the Jews might.
Thus, with regard to the Palestinian Arabs across the pre-1967 lines, they must, as Harel urges, be declared an enemy collective – as they define themselves. As such, Israel has neither moral obligation nor practical interest to sustain Palestinian social fabric or economic well-being.
It should therefore let it collapse, and dispel any notion the Palestinian Arabs are capable of establishing a sustainable, autonomous self-governing entity west of the Jordan. Non-belligerent individuals should be afforded the resources to seek a more prosperous and secure life elsewhere. Belligerents must be dealt with coercively – and, if need be, “kinetically.”
Regarding the Arabs within the Green Line, it must be made indelibly and irrevocably clear that this is the nation-state of the Jews, which will express itself in Judeocentic symbols and ceremony in the conduct of public life in the country, its flag, anthem, calendar and so on. The equality of non-Jew’s civil rights will be ensured, as long they do not challenge the Jewish people as the exclusive source of sovereignty. If such challenge is mounted, it will be treated as sedition, and appropriate punitive measures bought to bear.
I realize I have probably not fulfilled the good Mtown Quaker‘s expectations for “specificity.” However, next week, subject to breaking news, I will attempt to flesh out these generic prescriptions in greater detail, and to address how to produce the diplomatic climate to facilitate their implementation.
Until then, remember: If you will it, it is no dream.
Martin Sherman ( is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (