A Long Overdue Solution to the Perennial Israeli-Arab Conflict

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INTO THE FRAY: The Israel Victory Caucus : Kudos and Caveats

Redacted from an article by MARTIN SHERMAN

The launch of Israel Victory Caucus is an initiative that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer in the discourse on  the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 
Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error…there is no shortcut.—

At just about the time that this column was submitted for publication (Thursday, April 27, 2017), an event of potentially great long-term significance was taking place in Washington. This was the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) by Congressmen Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).

The launch was the culmination of an initiative of the Middle East Forum (MEF), headed by its president, prominent scholar, Daniel Pipes, aided by Middle East Forum, (MEF) Director, Gregg Roman.

According to a MEF press release : “The caucus calls for a new U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the emphasis on Israel making ‘painful concessions’ and instead putting the onus on Palestinians – they must give up the goal of destroying Israel and recognize Israel as the Jewish State.”

A similar sentiment was conveyed in a remark by Rep. DeSantis : “Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, as we share common national interests and posse. American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence.”

This launch of a congressional caucus promoting the notion of Israeli victory, rather than Israeli appeasement, is a decidedly welcome and timely—indeed, a long overdue—development.

This is particularly true since in the political and strategic discourse in Israel itself, the idea of “Victory” seems to have been entirely expunged from the lexicon of the nation’s decision-makers—both as an attainable (alas, even a desirable) operational goal and as a valid cognitive notion.

Disturbingly, this appears to be the case even among the senior echelons of the IDF officer class and other branches of the security establishment.

The conceptual foundations of CIVC are eminently sound and derive from the indisputable failure of conventional wisdom regarding conflict resolution, in general and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in particular.

“Today’s conventional wisdom holds that conflicts are best resolved through negotiation and compromise.

But let’s look at the facts. After 40 years of negotiations to reunite Cyprus, the island remains divided, and 60 years of standoff over the Korean peninsula have achieved little.

In Syria, the killing continues unabated despite five years of talks to reconcile Sunnis and Alawites.

And at the same time, years of diplomatic efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear program ended with the West’s capitulation to Tehran’s demands.”

He adds pointedly: “The negotiations fallacy is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

Roman goes on to stipulate the elements of a bold new strategy for attaining peace. Citing several historical examples to corroborate from the time of the Roman Empire, through the American Civil War to World War II—he asserts “For most of human history, military victory ended wars”.
Applying this to the Arab Israeli context, he concludes: “In order for there to be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel must win and the Palestinians must lose.”

The elements of Roman’s blueprint closely mirror the principles laid out by Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes, in several earlier pieces, including a recent piece in Commentary, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory .

He provides a compelling case against Israel’s two decades long policy of concessions intended to generate Palestinian goodwill and argues, as I have done repeatedly in the past,  that these have not only proven to be futile but detrimental, Indeed, they have tended to whet the Palestinians appetite, rather than satiate it.

Accordingly, he proposes striking out in a new (or more precisely, a renewed) direction: “This brings us to the key concept of my approach, which is victory, or imposing one’s will on the enemy, compelling him through loss to give up his war ambitions…”

In applying these general principles to the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian context, Pipes presents (see opening excerpt) a stark and stern prescription for ending the conflict: “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair…”

… Given the hold that concessionary political correctness has on the mindset of many Israeli decision-makers this will be no easy task even if the potential advantages of obtaining such a victory are not disputed. This would require initiating and fostering/promoting vigorous and ongoing public debate to apply pressure on decision makers to adopt a concept now largely discredited as unobtainable.

The CIVC initiative is an enterprise that has the potential to be a positive paradigmatic game-changer with regard to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As such, it merits more than one column in this INTO THE FRAY series.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

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