The cease-fire agreement that Israel accepted Wednesday night to end
the current round of Palestinian rocket and missile attacks is not a
good deal for Israel by any stretch of the imagination.

At best, Israel and Hamas are placed on the same moral plane. The
cease-fire erases the distinction between Israel, a peace-seeking
liberal democracy that wants simply to defend its citizens, and Hamas,
a genocidal jihadist terrorist outfit that seeks the eradication of the
Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.

Under international law, Israel is not just within its rights to defend
itself from Hamas. It is required to. International law requires all
states to treat Hamas terrorists as criminals and deny them safe haven
and financing. But the cease-fire agreement requires both the Israeli
policeman and the Hamas criminal to hold their fire.

At worst, the cease-fire places Israel beneath Hamas. The first two
clauses require both sides to end hostilities. The third suggests
Israel is expected to make further concessions to Hamas after the
firing stops.

Then there is the cease-fire’s elevation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
government to the role of responsible adult. Hamas is the Palestinian
branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Muhamad Morsi
openly supports Hamas. Morsi sent his Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to
Gaza to personally express the Egyptian government’s support for
Hamas’s criminal assault against Israeli civilians.

Over the weekend, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held what the media
claimed was a stormy meeting. Its members were split over what to do
about Israel. Half wanted to go to war with Israel immediately. The
other half called for waiting until the Egyptian military is prepared
for war. In the end, the voices calling for patient preparation for war
won the day.

And for their patience, the Muslim Brothers received the plaudits of
the US government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss
President Barack Obama were effusive in their praise of the Egyptian
government, and joined Egypt in placing Israel on the same moral plane
as a terrorist group.

Moreover, Obama and Clinton compelled Israel to accept wording in the
cease-fire that arguably makes Egypt the arbiter of Israeli and
Palestinian compliance with the agreement.

Aside from the administration’s de facto support for the Hamas regime
in Gaza, it is hard to think of a greater humiliation than Israel being
forced to submit complaints to its sworn enemy about the actions of the
sworn enemy’s terrorist client.

And yet, for all of that, it isn’t clear that Israel had a better
option than to sign on the dotted line. Israel might have gotten better
results if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak had ordered the ground forces poised at the border to take out a
few Hamas ground installations. It certainly would make sense for
Israel to end Gaza’s electricity supply.

But as it stands today, a full-blown ground invasion in the mold of the
2002 Defensive Shield Operation, where Israel seized control of Judea
and Samaria from Palestinian terror groups and reasserted its security
control over the Palestinian areas, so ending the Palestinian terror
onslaught against Jerusalem and central Israel, was not in the cards.

Israel is in a strategic trap. And it is one of its own making.
Starting with the Rabin-Peres government’s decision to embrace the PLO
terrorist organization as a peace partner in 1993, Israel has been in
strategic retreat. Each incremental retreat by Israel has empowered its
worst enemies both militarily and diplomatically and weakened the
Jewish state militarily and diplomatically.

In May 2000, following years of political agitation by the radical
Left, then-premier Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to retreat from Israel’s
security zone in south Lebanon. Hezbollah immediately seized control
over the border area. Within months it kidnapped and killed three IDF
soldiers and held them for ransom – hiding the fact that they had been
murdered. The same Barak-led government that withdrew the IDF from
south Lebanon was loath to acknowledge the failure of its policy and so
did nothing when the three soldiers were kidnapped.

Within six years, Hezbollah was strong enough to launch an all-out
missile war against Israel.

Facing them was the government that had just carried out the withdrawal
from Gaza. The governing strategy of Ariel Sharon’s heirs, Ehud Olmert
and Tzipi Livni, was based on surrendering land and demonizing as
warmongers those who opposed surrendering land. When Hezbollah attacked
Israel in July 2006, Olmert and Livni were in no position to order a
serious ground invasion of Lebanon. And since that was the only way to
win the war, Israel lost the war, paving the way for Hezbollah’s
subsequent takeover of the Lebanese government.

As for that withdrawal from Gaza, just like the phony peace process
with the PLO and the strategically demented withdrawal from south
Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza was a self-evidently insane policy.
It was obvious that it would lead to the strengthening of Palestinian
terrorist groups and so put Israel’s population centers in striking
range of their missiles.

After both the Oslo process and the withdrawal from Lebanon left Israel
strategically and diplomatically weakened, with its politicians,
generals and its very existence brought before international tribunals
and targeted by diplomatic pogroms, there was no basis for the empty
claim that by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel would gain international
legitimacy to defend itself.

By leaving Gaza, Israel was saying – as it had in Lebanon – that it had
no right to be there. And if it had no right to be there, it had no
right to return.

To force this mad initiative through, Sharon had to explicitly disavow
the platform he was elected to implement. Sharon won the 2003 elections
by pledging never to surrender Gaza.

After he betrayed his voters, Sharon demonized and, when possible,
fired everyone in positions of power and influence who opposed him.

He called a referendum of Likud members to vote on his plan, and when
his opponents won the vote overwhelmingly, he ignored it. He fired
Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, then IDF chief of General Staff. He fired his
cabinet ministers. He castigated as “rebels” his party members who
opposed his plan.

Moreover, with the active collusion of the legal system, Sharon
violently repressed his political opponents. Young girls were thrown
into jail without trial for months for participating in anti-withdrawal
demonstrations. Privately chartered buses en route to lawful
demonstrations were interdicted by police and prevented from traveling.

Protest organizers were arrested in their homes at 3 a.m. And with the
active collusion of the media, all debate on the merits of the
withdrawal plan was stifled.

As bad as it was in Israel, the situation in the US was arguably even
more devastating. Since Oslo, Israeli opponents of the Left’s strategic
insanity were intellectually and politically buoyed by their
conservative counterparts in America.

The latter helped legitimize political opposition and enabled the
conceptualization and maintenance of alternative policies as viable

Despite government repression, some 45 percent of Israel’s Jewish
population actively participated in anti-withdrawal protests. In the
US, virtually no one supported them. The absence of opposition owed to
the fact that in America withdrawal opponents were boycotted, demonized
and blacklisted by the American Jewish community and the previously
supportive conservative media.

During the years of the fake peace process, conservative US Jewish
groups and conservative publications led by Commentary, The Weekly
Standard and The Wall Street Journal forcefully opposed it. But when
Sharon joined the radical Left by adopting its plan to withdraw from
Gaza, these formidable outlets and institutions enthusiastically
followed him.

Leading voices like former Jerusalem Post editor and Wall Street
Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, Commentary editors Norman
Podhoretz and Neal Kozodoy, commentator Charles Krauthammer and Weekly
Standard editor Bill Kristol not only lined up to support the dangerous
planned withdrawal. They barred all voices of opposition from the pages
of their publications.

To greater and lesser degrees, their shunning of voices that warned
against the Gaza withdrawal continues to this day.

So, too, with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America,
every major American Jewish organization supported the withdrawal.

Like the editors of Commentary, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street
Journal, they barred voices of opposition from speaking to their groups.

All commentators who warned of the strategic calamity that would befall
Israel in the aftermath of a withdrawal from Gaza were marginalized and
demonized as extremists.

In a notable gesture, this week, Stephens along with Commentary’s Max
Boot, acknowledged their error in supporting the withdrawal from Gaza.
Their recantations are noteworthy because most of their colleagues who
joined them in pushing Israel down the garden path and cheered Sharon’s
“democracy” as 8,500 Israelis were thrown out of their homes and off
their land in order to free it up for a terrorist takeover, continue to
deny that they were wrong to do so.

But Stephens’s and Boot’s belated intellectual integrity on Gaza is not
enough to make a difference for Israel today.

Israel has only two options for dealing with the ever-escalating threat
from Gaza. It can try to coexist with Hamas. This option is doomed to
failure since Hamas seeks the annihilation of the Jewish people and the
eradication of Israel. Recognizing this state of affairs, in a public
opinion survey taken on Wednesday for Channel 2, 88% of Israelis said
that a cease-fire with Hamas will either not hold at all or hold for
only a short time.

74% of Israelis opposed accepting a cease-fire.

The other choice is to destroy Hamas. To accomplish this Israel will
need to invade Gaza and remain in place. It will have to kill or
imprison thousands of terrorists, send thousands more packing for
Sinai, and then spend years patrolling the streets of Gaza and
arresting terrorists just as it does today in Judea and Samaria.

Whereas the first option is impossible, the latter option is not
currently viable. It isn’t viable because not enough people making the
argument have the opportunity to publish their thoughts in leading
publications. Most of those who might have the courage to voice this
view fear that if they do, they will be denied an audience, or
discredited as warmongers or extremists.

So they remain silent or impotently say that Israel shouldn’t agree to
a cease-fire without mentioning what Israel’s other option is.

The millions of Israelis who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza do not
seek personal vindication for being right. They didn’t warn against the
withdrawal to advance their careers or make their lives easier. Indeed,
their careers were uniformly harmed.

They did it because they were patriots. They felt it was their duty to
warn their countrymen of the danger, hoping to avert the disaster we
now face. They should be listened to now. And their voices should be
empowered by those who shunned them, because only by listening to them
will we develop the arguments and the legitimacy to do what needs to be
done and stop fighting to lose, again and again and again.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Posted on November 23, 2012 at 5:34 AM
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