The illusion of cash in exchange for calm: The stick works, the carrot doesn't

Anyone who thinks that concessions and economic development will take the edge off the hostility of Hamas and its desire to annihilate us doesn’t know their neighbors.

 HAMAS SUPPORTERS attend an anti-Israel rally as rockets are displayed on a truck in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip in May. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
HAMAS SUPPORTERS attend an anti-Israel rally as rockets are displayed on a truck in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip in May.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)

"Beyond the furrow of the border, a sea of hatred and desire for revenge is swelling, awaiting the day when serenity will dull our path, for the day when we will heed the ambassadors of malevolent hypocrisy who call upon us to lay down our arms... Let us not be deterred from seeing the loathing that is inflaming and filling the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who live around us. Let us not avert our eyes lest our arms weaken. This is the fate of our generation. This is our life’s choice – to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down." (From Moshe Dayan’s eulogy for Roi Rotberg, Nahal Oz, April, 1956)

More than 65 years have passed, yet despite the changes and developments that have occurred since then, Dayan’s words are as apt today as they ever were. The possibility of wiping Israel off the face of the Earth may be less realistic than it once was, but the desire to do so hasn’t waned. Anyone who thinks that concessions and economic development will take the edge off the hostility of Hamas and its desire to annihilate us doesn’t know their neighbors. In this neighborhood, sticks work much better than carrots. Give them a carrot and they want 10 more. If they don’t get them, they resort to aggression again.

Periodically, the warped idea of connecting Gaza to the West Bank is raised once more. What would we gain from it? Nothing at all. It’s best to keep our enemy divided. That’s the natural order of things in their world, and it’s better for us as well. The division among the Palestinians was one of the reasons for our victory in the War of Independence. As I said, their fundamental desire to annihilate us hasn’t changed. There’s no point in trying to create an artificial unity where rifts naturally prevail, especially when it goes against our own interest.

The throngs of Israeli tourists streaming to Dubai might get the wrong idea. The enormous wealth, grandeur, and pursuit of money and pleasure they see there is in no way comparable to what is happening here, where what the Palestinians pursue, obsessively, is our demise. The nightclubs in Ramallah and Al-Bireh are not representative of anything. They are merely the illusion of sanity under the aegis of the IDF. If we do not maintain a presence in Judea and Samaria, it will look like Gaza.

The Palestinians see the standard of living, progress, and success of Israel and it fills them with envy and loathing. They look at us and want two things: to live like us and to destroy us. Given the opportunity, they would jump on it. But then they would learn that without us, not only would they not live like us, they wouldn’t even have the meager standard of living they do today. It is Israel and Zionism that offer prosperity and benefits, that allow them a better life than their brothers in neighboring Arab countries. If it weren’t for us, they too would be impoverished, backward and under the thumb of dictators. 

A WOMAN shows a $100 bill she received as aid from Qatar, during a lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak in Gaza City in September.  (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)A WOMAN shows a $100 bill she received as aid from Qatar, during a lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak in Gaza City in September. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

Our government is entrapped in a flawed conception. They believe that Egypt will do us a favor and make an effort to moderate Hamas, that we will pay Hamas with economic benefits (a euphemism for protection money), and it will buy us a little calm. Meanwhile, the cement trucks continue to enter Gaza and restrictions continue to be lifted, regardless of the fact that they still fire a rocket at us now and again. No one conditions this generosity on the return of the Israeli soldiers and citizens Hamas is holding, and life goes on as usual for the terrorists in the summer camp of Israeli prisons; the government grants the Palestinians a huge loan while they file a suit against us with the ICC in The Hague.

The whole situation is upside-down. Stop feeding the monster carrots. It will never get enough. It’s not carrots it wants to devour, but us. Start using the stick. It’s much more effective in our neighborhood.

Translated from Hebrew by Sara Kitai, [email protected]