No matter how much denial is smugly stuffed down our throats by homegrown swaggering braggarts, any and every territory which Israel has ever ceded to its still-vital and still-implacable enemies became a breeding ground for festering terror and aggression against the still-vulnerable Jewish state.
It takes stupefying cerebral contortions to deny that this was unequivocally demonstrated in Lebanon (where Hezbollah mushroomed to monstrous proportions after Ehud Barak’s unilateral midnight flight of 2000), in Judea and Samaria (whose cities Israel relinquished post-Oslo), in the Gaza Strip (which in 2005 we ditched for the third time via Ariel Sharon’s disastrous disengagement) and in Sinai, whose border with Israel now looms as the most potentially explosive.
No degree of denial-neurosis can belittle this. Each Israeli retreat, without a single solitary exception, comes back to haunt us with vicious vengeance.
Reckless retreat allowed Hezbollah rockets to reach Hadera (they can probably do harm further south too). Reckless retreat allowed Jenin and its sisters to fill our streets, markets and buses with suicide bombers.
Reckless retreat allowed Gaza to rocket Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Yavne, Gedera and more. Rishon Lezion was put on notice.
Nevertheless, incomprehensively, a self-destructive denial syndrome was sanctified over and over as Israel’s nationally sanctioned policy. Withdrawing from territory has become a cyclical compulsion for Israel – nearly as old as the state itself.
We got into the routine already in 1949 at the end of our War of Independence – after seven Arab armies invaded newborn Israel with hoarsely broadcast genocidal intent. By the time their blusterous belligerence was thwarted at great cost – 6,000 Israeli dead out of a population of 600,000 – the improvised army of the tiny, terrifyingly out manned and terrifyingly outgunned Israel ended up controlling a chunk of the Sinai Peninsula. Incredibly against the odds, infant Israel had defeated the mighty Egyptian army that moved menacingly toward Tel Aviv with the avowed goal of obliterating the upstart “Zionist entity.”
But Israel withdrew in the framework of the Armistice Agreement (whose green-tinted non-border demarcations begot the now-hallow “Green Line”). In no time, Sinai was filled to the brim with military-hardware and marauders called Fedayeen.
After seven years of bleeding, Israel reentered Sinai again in 1956. At that time, Israel also took the adjacent ever-threatening Gaza Strip that jutted along the coast in the direction of Israel’s dense population centers.
However, the fruits of 1956’s stunning victory were surrendered in 1957 at Washington’s insistence.
It was the second time Israel departed from Sinai and the first time it abandoned Gaza. After regaining dominion, Egypt’s head-honcho Gamal Abdel Nasser perpetrated gruesome purges and frightened Gazans off ever cooperating with Israelis.
Thereafter, Sinai was supposed to be overseen by UN forces, but in 1967 Nasser effortlessly booted them out to facilitate his imminent attack on Israel.
That spawned the Six Day War in which he again lost Sinai and the Gaza strip.
In 1979, though, Israel and Egypt signed their peace treaty which obligated Israel to give up every inch of Sinai. Israel’s pullback was completed in 1982. Things were never quite nifty after that, despite prodigious bamboozlement by serial denial merchants.
Sinai’s Beduin were scarcely likely to toe Cairo’s line. Lawlessness and smuggling are their livelihood and their insubordination went chronically unchecked, under all Egyptian regimes. Any attempts to control them were met by violent opposition.
International agreements made no impression on the tribal gangs that de facto rule Sinai.
Similarly unimpressed is Egyptian bureaucracy, the regime notwithstanding. Its super-snarled red tape effectively stymies all governmental executive decisions. Even topmost policy edicts are unrecognizably ground down as they’re subjected to arbitrary whims enforced along the way by inflated cadres of sluggish officials. Egypt being Egypt, Cairo’s commands are never dependably implemented.
Disorderly domains of this sort irresistibly beckon al-Qaida – be it in Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea etc. Sinai fits well into this pattern. Assorted jihadist extravaganzas – from targeting tourists to blowing up gas pipelines – proliferated in the peninsula’s opportune setting. But the Arab Spring has opened new vistas for the forces of obdurate Islam and enhanced preexisting ones. Foreign firebrands, whose strings are pulled from Gazan control centers, are flocking in.
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood now holds sway in Egypt makes little difference. In the world of Osama bin Laden’s successor, Egyptian Ayman al- Zawahiri, even Cairo’s current headliners are categorized as infidels because he alleges they make nice to the West. It’s all a question of gradation. What to us appears inherently anti-Western, from Zawahiri’s perspective is not nearly enough.
There’s more than a little irony here. New president Mohamed Morsy’s Brotherhood credentials didn’t spare him from the onus of having to replicate the repressive crackdowns practiced by his despised predecessors. He cannot afford failure to assert authority as it’ll allow al-Qaida and linked outfits to make mockery of him. This is doubly ironic because Morsy’s Cairo had ridiculed pinpointed Israeli warnings about havoc in Sinai.