Danonism or realism?

Repeating the mistakes of Lebanon and Gaza will not bring peace but rather bloodshed. This is not ‘Danonism,’ it is simply realism.

July 2, 2013 22:05
4 minute read.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon of Likud

MK Danny Danon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset)


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Talk of renewed negotiations with the Palestinian leadership has taken center stage over the past few weeks, with US Secretary of State John Kerry adopting Kissinger-like shuttle tactics in the hope of brokering an agreement on starting talks between the two sides.

In defending her desperate attempt to bring the Palestinians back to the table, our lead negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, took offense at comments made by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who dismissed any talk of a two-state solution at this juncture. Livni called on Prime Minister Netanyahu not to allow “Danonism,” as she coined it, to run amok in his government.

Similar comments made by Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who dismissed concessions to the Palestinians, were likewise criticized by President Shimon Peres, who referred to Bennett as “a senior minister, but not a senior policy maker.”

Do the views of Danon and Bennett represent the extreme elements of the current government, as Livni and Peres suggest, or are they simply voicing mainstream opinion? In 2009 I worked with Likud head and then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu on that year’s national election campaign. One of the main themes, which we repeated incessantly, was that any territory abandoned by the IDF would be taken over by Hamas and by extension, Iran. As Netanyahu pointed out, this is exactly what came to pass in both Lebanon and in Gaza. Where Israel walked away, Iranian proxies bent on Israel’s destruction filled the void, and war inevitably followed in the form of the Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, and Operation Pillar of Defense.

Politically speaking, Netanyahu’s focus on security over pipe dreams has seen him twice elected prime minister during the past four-and-a-half years. Meanwhile Livni’s dogmatic obsession with a peace agreement has seen her fall from grace – from opposition leader at the head of a party with 28 Knesset seats to overseeing a faction of just six in the current government.

More importantly, though, during that period, the geopolitical developments in our region have clearly illustrated the folly of the fixation on withdrawal. Our most powerful neighbor Egypt has fallen into the hands of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the forefathers of Hamas in Gaza.

The Brotherhood’s political chief Mohamed Morsi has refused to meet with Israeli leaders since being elected as president one year ago, further strengthening the justifiable misgivings felt in Jerusalem over the changing of guard to our south.

With Morsi's rule looking ever more tenuous, a future of increasing Egyptian uncertainty appears almost certain.

In Gaza, the IDF was forced into launching an operation last year after Hamas intensified its attacks on innocent civilians in the south of the country. As Israel responded to these hostilities, Hamas showcased its long-range arsenal to the world by shooting dozens of missiles towards Tel Aviv and the center of Israel.

Only the impressive and much celebrated debut of the Iron Dome prevented the situation from deteriorating much further.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, Iran’s other high-profile proxy, Hezbollah, effectively initiated the downfall of the Lebanese government and engineered a hostile takeover.

In Syria, more than 100,000 people have been killed so far in a civil war which has torn that country apart. Iran and Hezbollah have brazenly taken up arms in defense of the oppressive and tenuous rule of the Assad regime, pitting themselves against extremist Sunni elements with ties to al-Qaida. Israel has been anxiously monitoring developments as the fighting inches ever closer, and mortar and missile fire spills over our border with increasing regularity.

A byproduct of the turmoil in Syria is the speculation that US troops are stationed on Jordanian soil to prop up the fragile Hashemite regime, which is being threatened daily by radical elements both on its borders and within.

In our wider geographic sphere, Iran continues to not only actively promote terror and violence against Israel through its proxies, but marches largely unabated towards nuclear armament. Iraq remains extremely unstable with global extremists vying for influence and creating havoc in the process. Meanwhile, the government in Yemen was overthrown in 2011, and the country has become probably the most active hub of global Jihadists.

Given all that has transpired over the past several years on our borders and beyond, are we better positioned to roll the dice with territorial concessions to the Palestinians ala Tzipi Livni, or not? Do we live in a more stable region than we did in 2009, which could successfully integrate a new and likely fractious state? Or will we instead be creating another island of instability, an additional base for radicals? Netanyahu’s words from 2009, his warning that where the IDF leaves, Hamas and Iran will enter, ring truer than ever today.

Albert Einstein famously posited that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. Repeating the mistakes of Lebanon and Gaza will not bring peace but rather bloodshed. This is not ‘Danonism,’ it is simply realism.

Ari Harow served as bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is currently president of 3H Global.

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