Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pros and Cons of Disengagement

As I recount my postings on the Gaza disengagement, I realize that my views seem a bit schizophrenic. I support the disengagement, yet I don’t believe it will decrease the violence. In fact, I think it will make it worse, certainly in the short term. So, why do I support the disengagement?

Reasons for disengagement:

1. The population of the shtakhim (The West Bank and Gaza) has a population of about 3 million. Israel cannot indefinitely rule over this population with its military. Thus, Israel has two basic options: come up with a self-rule scheme with the Palestinians and their leadership, or grant the Palestinians Israeli citizenship. The danger of the latter proposal is demographic. The population of Israel is about 6 million, roughly one million of which are Arabs. The Arabs, both within Israel and in the shtakhim, have one of the highest birthrates in the world. Within a few decades the Jews in Israel would be a minority. It’s also an unrealistic solution. You think the debates in the Knesset are raucous now, imagine when Hamas and Islamic Jihad control a quarter of the Knesset! It’s literally a non-starter.

2. I’m not a military tactician, but from my understanding the Gaza strip and the settlements therein do not enhance Israel’s security. Some argue that the manpower needed to protect a mere 9,000 Israelis amidst 1.3 million Arabs could be put to better use elsewhere. Makes sense to me.

3. Although Israel has already ceded land to the Palestinians—only to learn that the Palestinians were about as ready to rule themselves as a newborn baby is to walk (bad analogy—newborns aren’t fanatically violent)—the disengagement offers yet another opportunity for the Palestinians to prove they are responsible (don’t laugh). The world is watching them.

4. Disengagement puts the onus on the Palestinians to make peace and reciprocate with peace-building steps of their own. This means at a minimum to disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the so-called al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. In short, the Palestinians can no longer allow various armed factions to operate with impunity. The world is watching them.

5. Disengagement has enhanced Israel’s image. Chirac, hardly a friend of Israel in the past, recently invited Sharon to Paris and gave him the red carpet treatment.

Reasons against disengagement:

1. Unilateral disengagement gives the Palestinians something without them having to give anything in return. The band Rush was wrong: you CAN get something for nothing. Those who support violence will view the Israeli withdrawal as vindication of their strategy. If they believe the strategy of terrorism works, it will only embolden them to continue the strategy. Thus, more violence.

2. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has never taken any serious actions against Hamas, et. al. Hamas et. al. will grow stronger and Gaza will become one big hornet’s nest of terrorism. Groups such as Hezbullah and al-Qaeda will find a comfy home there, and the level of violence will increase.

3. Israel already ceded most of Gaza, Jericho and the surrounding area in 1993 to the PA. Later, Israel ceded all the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank and even some smaller villages to the PA. These moves, however, did not endear Israel to the world. Then, under Ehud Barak Israel offered to cede the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem (and parts of the Old City) as well as almost the entire West Bank and Gaza in exchange for a final status peace deal. The Palestinians rejected this offer and went to war. Although the international community initially condemned the Palestinians for resorting to violence, it did not take long before Israel found herself the object of international opprobrium on a scale hitherto never seen in the past. International goodwill can disappear like a desert mirage.

Despite all that, the hope:

It is hoped the Palestinians will finally smell the coffee and not, to use an old but apt cliché, miss yet another opportunity to miss an opportunity. Maybe, just maybe, this move will jump-start the moribund peace process.

If the Palestinians fail the test:

Without 9,000 settlers (and the soldiers guarding them) for the Palestinians to attack, using terrorist and guerilla methods, the Palestinians in Gaza will have to rely more and more on traditional military tactics if they wish to continue their jihad. Israel has the strongest military in the region. Armed forces to armed forces, the Palestinians haven’t got a chance.

The Palestinians will be making a huge miscalculation if they continue the violence after disengagement. PM Sharon has already said that Israel will respond harshly to any post-disengagement violence. The Arabs would do well to remember that despite the small number of radical settlers, Israelis as a whole are united. Israel now has greater international support than ever before, and the consensus in Israel is that if the Palestinians continue the violence, the gloves come off. Maybe people have been lulled into complacency by the image of the “new Sharon.” But Sharon is a pragmatist. If the violence continues or worsens, pragmatism will suggest a good ‘ol traditional Sharon-style military response. Whoa be to those on the receiving end.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that Arabs can live among Jews, but Jews cannot live among Arabs?

And what about these supposedly "violent", "fanatical", "extremist" "settlers" we've been told about by the world(and Israel)'s leftoid media? They've so far seemed peaceful and dignified to me.

My prayers and thoughts are with all Israelis at this time.


10:13 AM  
Blogger semite1973 said...

Why is it that Arabs can live among Jews, but Jews cannot live among Arabs?

Because A LOT, but not all, of Arabs are filled with a level of hatred of Jews and others that is hard for you and I to imagine. The hatred is so intense that Middle Eastern Jewry--which often predated the arrival of Islam and the Arabs--exists now only in Israel and a few pockets in the West.

We are talking about a people who bragged that they were going to destroy the newborn Israel and commit a "momentous massacre" of the Israeli Holocaust survivors "that would be spoken about like the Mongo massacres."

We are talking about people who hate us more than they love life and their own children.

8:39 PM  

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