Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2011

Even before the Middle Ages, we encountered marginal Jews who turned against their own people. Among apostates to Christianity, there were those who wrote inflammatory libels against the Jews, paving the way for pogroms; socialists like Karl Marx whose vile anti-Semitic tirades speak for themselves; and more recently, Jewish communists purportedly supporting a new world order who applauded Stalin while he was murdering and imprisoning their fellow Jews.

Today in Israel and abroad, there are Jews who retain the wretched tradition of their renegade antecedents…[and] their influence extends beyond their Jewish fringe status because many occupy prominent roles in universities, the media and the arts. Of late, much of the Western liberal media has been idolizing them.

A few days ago, I was alerted to an unprecedentedly obscene extension of such behavior emanating, to my profound regret, from Larry Derfner, a senior staff writer for The Jerusalem Post. Only days after Israeli infants and families had been brutally murdered by terrorists, Derfner publicly stated that the murder of Israeli citizens was a justifiable weapon for Palestinians in order to overcome the “occupation.” It was not published as a Jerusalem Post column, but was posted on his public website, to which readers of his regular articles are occasionally referred. It also appeared on Facebook.…

To avoid any misunderstanding, let me be specific about what Derfner actually said. He asserted that in fighting for their “independence,” Palestinian terrorists are “justified” in deliberately murdering innocent Israeli women and children. He even explicitly said that “whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack,” and it is the Israeli government that “is to blame for those eight Israeli deaths.” He opined that it was high time for Israelis to appreciate “that terrorism in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government is justified…even to kill Israelis.…”

Derfner conceded that such remarks would encourage Hamas, but was not unduly concerned because Hamas is already committed to Israel’s destruction. It was more important for him to ensure that Israelis recognize that by their behavior “they are compelling Palestinians to engage in terrorism,” [rather] than to worry about whether his remarks would be quoted approvingly on Hamas websites. In fact, the Arab media have already widely reproduced his remarks, highlighting the fact that he is a prominent Jerusalem Post contributor.

Derfner concluded his shocking remarks with the extraordinary statement that “writing this is not treason. It is patriotism.” That he justifies the murder of innocent women and children while describing himself as a “patriot” makes one question his sanity.…

Although there may well be grounds for the Attorney General to charge [Derfner] with incitement to murder, his remarks are so vile that they go beyond treason. They display an utter lack of sensitivity, humanity and compassion for the tens of thousands of Israeli families who since the creation of Israel have lost loved ones, murdered by the barbarians whose actions Derfner justifies due to “harsh” Israeli government policies.…

This is not the place to refute Derfner’s ridiculous remarks about the “occupation.” Nor to relate to the offers of 95% of the territories extended to the Palestinians by prime ministers Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008, which were summarily rejected by Arafat and Abbas. Nor that the principal objective of all Palestinian factions is ending Jewish sovereignty in the region rather than attaining independence. And that, since Netanyahu assumed office, the Palestinians no less than Hamas have refused to partake in negotiations, even after Netanyahu’s unprecedented 10- month settlement freeze.

For an Israeli Jew professionally employed by the only Israeli English language newspaper to justify the barbaric murder of his own brothers and sisters in a public website is unforgivable.…

His obscene and callously insensitive remarks are likely to haunt him for the rest of his life.

Evelyn Gordon

Jerusalem Magazine, July 4, 2011

…A key reason for the growing disrepute of Israeli intellectuals [is] that so many openly strive to undermine the Zionist project…[and] their support for the Jewish state too often seems conditional on its adoption of their policies.

A shocking column by Ari Shavit in Haaretz last month provides a good example. Shavit unquestionably supports the existence of a Jewish state. Yet he nevertheless asserted that the Zionist Left would be willing to fight in Israel’s defense only if Israel adopted the Left’s policies on the peace process.

“Camp David 2000 made the Zionist Left stand behind Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002,” he wrote. “Annapolis 2008 kept the Zionist Left from castigating Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of 2009. Barak and Olmert’s far-reaching moves failed vis-a-vis the Palestinians, but succeeded vis-a-vis the Israelis.”

The clear implication is that had it not been for then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s offer of a Palestinian state at Camp David, the Zionist Left wouldn’t have supported military efforts to stop the second intifada’s deadly terror, and had it not been for then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of the same at Annapolis, the Zionist Left wouldn’t have supported military efforts to stop the rocket fire on Israel from Gaza—even though both intifada and rocket fire emanated from territory Israel had vacated in obedience to the Left’s policies. Moreover, the article continued, should another war erupt this autumn, the Zionist Left won’t support it, because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hasn’t made the requisite diplomatic moves.…

Shavit represent[s] a prominent slice of the leftist elite, which often seems willing to honor the state’s democratic decisions only if it approves them. In his book Law and Culture in Israel at the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century, for instance, Prof. Menachem Mautner reported on his study of all petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice by Knesset members from 1977-2005. He found that rightist, religious and Arab MKs generally petitioned over personal grievances. But leftist MKs generally petitioned over policy. In other words, while the Left likes to preach the virtues of democracy, its respect for democracy disappears the moment it loses on the democratic playing field: At that point, it asks the unelected court to overrule the elected legislature’s decisions.

Indeed, much of the leftist elite seems to feel that anyone who dares disagree with it simply doesn’t count as a real Israeli. Hence after then-Labor Party chairman Amram Mitzna was trounced in the 2003 election, his wife Aliza shockingly asserted in a media interview that he lost because “There are a lot of people who are still not flesh of the state’s flesh.” In other words, those who don’t support the Left aren’t really part of the state. Then-Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres, today Israel’s president, voiced the same sentiment in a media interview after losing the 1996 election. Asked what had happened, Peres replied: “We lost.…We, that is the Israelis.” And who won? “All those who do not have an Israeli mentality.”

That is also the message of Shavit’s article. “The willingness in the last decade to [relinquish territory to the Palestinians] has united the nation,” he wrote. It “healed a torn, divided people.… It united society and strengthened the state.” And what about those tens of thousands of Israelis who opposed the Oslo Accords, who opposed the Barak and Olmert proposals, who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza, who felt that all these moves were tearing the country apart? In Shavit’s world, they evidently don’t count. Only if government policy alienates the Left is Israel is “torn” and “divided”; policies that alienate the Right “unite the nation”—because to Shavit, non-leftists aren’t actually part of the nation.…

The problem is that the Israeli majority often doesn’t accept the Left’s policy prescriptions. After all, this majority voted for Netanyahu over Peres in 1996 precisely because it was unhappy with the Oslo process—specifically, with the fact that dividing the land caused terrorism to soar. This same majority voted for former prime minister Ariel Sharon over Mitzna in 2003 because it was unhappy with Barak’s Camp David offer and the terrorist war it sparked, and it held Barak’s Labor Party responsible. It then put Netanyahu rather than Tzipi Livni in power in 2009 because it was unhappy with Olmert’s far-reaching peace offer, and held his Kadima party responsible. And this same majority, according to opinion polls, largely supports Netanyahu’s diplomatic policy even today.

Most people will not respect someone who is contemptuously dismissive of them, and consequently, they will have no interest in anything that person might say. Thus if the Israeli intelligentsia is ever to regain credibility among the public, it must stop treating large swathes of that public as non-people who don’t even deserve to be considered part of Israel. And that means it must stop threatening to abandon the Zionist project any time the “non-people” refuse to adopt its policies.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2011

A British writer named David Hearst has suggested in the Guardian that Israel will disappear because Arabs and Muslims continue to “resist” its existence. This is a fascinating example of the many things wrong with political analysis, media, intellectual debate, and the understanding of the Middle East today. Here’s a list:

1.The confusion between wishful thinking and analysis. Every day I am forced by reality to say things I don’t want to say. But people who no longer understand scholarly, scientific and intellectual values assume I only say it because of some political agenda. And that belief derives from the cynical, neo-Marxist, post-modernist concept that everyone merely represents a specific political interest. That concept kills democratic discussion.

An example: I would love Egypt to be a stable democratic state. That isn’t, however, what I see based on evidence. Yet if I say so, the response is likely to be insults or name calling. For instance, I only say it because Israel or America wants to discredit the Egyptian revolution. Yet understanding and policy can only be made on the basis of honest assessment. Otherwise, they will fail or make things worse.

Of course, the British writer is echoing what he hears in Arab discussions. They want Israel to collapse, hence they predict it. But basing their lives and policy, spending their blood and money, on this effort will lead Arabs to disaster—as it has already done for 60 years—and postpone progress for themselves.

2. The lack of real historical perspective. This article in question could have been written in 1948 or in any year since. If people continually predict something and it doesn’t happen, might that not indicate a need to change their view? Indeed, evidence shows that Israel has become more successful while Arab states—as recent months unfortunately prove—have become mired in internal conflict and retrograde Islamism.…

3.One of many ironies about “multiculturalism” is its egocentrism. “Other” peoples are reduced to political symbols, something like an old Communist poster of heroic workers and equally heroic peasants.

Their views are only taken into account if they are led by the “proper” leaders. A Muslim leader who denounces the West and makes demands on it for accommodation is “legitimate,” but an immigrant who wants to integrate fully into Western civilization, or a leader who wishes to be an ally of the United States—they are sell-outs not worthy of respect. Moderate Muslims or democratic oppositions in Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey are put into that category. That’s why there are no campus or other demonstrations on their behalf.

In addition, true inquiry into other countries and groups is discouraged because it might lead to “unacceptable” conclusions. It’s amazing how little we know—especially from academic research or journalistic investigation –about Muslim communities in the West. There is hardly any real work on, say, Palestinian politics, political groups in Egypt, the Syrian opposition or the nature of Turkey’s ruling party.

4. Policies and behavior so intent on injuring one’s enemy that they end up injuring yourself.

Since ideology and “political correctness” trump factual correctness and enemies are demonized, the goal is to hurt opponents even if that means doing disastrous things. There is no better example than the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which an attempt to destroy Israel has come close to destroying the Arabic-speaking world. And just when we thought that it might pull itself out of the swamp in the 1990s they jumped back in.

One of the reasons that Israel is so criticized, attacked and misunderstand is that Westerners who dwell in the lands of pragmatism simply cannot believe that anyone else would act so differently. Consider the gap between a yuppie and a suicide bomber.

5. There is an ideology collapsing today in the Middle East, but it isn’t Zionism. It’s pan-Arab nationalism, which will be replaced either by Islamism, nation-state nationalism (the “normal” kind), or a moderate and pro-democratic philosophy. If someone doesn’t realize that this is the great battle going on now, they can probably understand nothing about the world.

What the kind of article I’m discussing in the Guardian does is to incite decades more of wasteful, deadly and useless struggle. What, resistance will destroy Israel? Then why should Palestinians negotiate a compromise deal for a state or Arabs make peace? Just hold out, fight on, and they’ll win! And that indeed is the philosophy of a long list of people, groups and governments.

The outcome is the mass production of socially approved Middle Eastern equivalents of Anders Breiviks who, once dead or imprisoned, become heroes whose faces look down from posters; are taught as role models in schools; and have youth camps, sporting events and public squares named after them. US taxpayer funds sent to the Palestinian Authority are then used to pay them salaries and to support their families.

That’s a good way to understand the contemporary Arabic-speaking world: a place where the Breviks are the heroes and the moderates are the villains.

(Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center.)

Martin Sherman
Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2011

“We cannot go on as we are…to remain at peace when you should be going to war may be often very dangerous. The tyrant city… is a standing menace to all.… Let us attack and subdue her, that we may ourselves live safely for the future.”—Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Book I, paragraph 124, 431 BCE

If you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with the all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.”—W.S. Churchill, The Second World War (Vol. I—The Gathering Storm), 1949.

The strategic wisdom encapsulated in these excerpts, straddling almost two-and-a-half millennia of human history, seems to have escaped both Israeli policy-makers and opinion makers alike.

Reasons for restraint or excuses for inaction?

True, the government’s arguments for avoiding escalation have a ring of plausible prudence. The lack of international legitimacy, the limited number of deployable Iron-Dome batteries, relations with Egypt are all weighty considerations in favor of restraint.… However, as weighty as the caveats are for refraining from wider military action, in today’s realities they sound more like excuses than reasons.

The nation’s leaders should remember that history will judge them not only for what they do, but also for what they don’t. Indeed, the government’s position would more convincing if it showed credible signs of being aware of the unavoidable necessity for wide-scale IDF action.… However, its penchant for restraint appears to be a regrettable reflection of permanent mindset, described by one prominent scholar as “the fundamental reorientation from deterrence to appeasement that took place in 1993.”

As Yossi Beilin once said

Indeed, just how far the Israeli leadership has “reoriented” itself can be judged by remarks made immediately after the signature of the Oslo Agreement by none other than one its principal architects, Yossi Beilin: “The ultimate test of this agreement will be a test of blood. If it becomes clear that [the Palestinians] cannot overcome terror, this will be a temporary accord and…we will have no choice but [to] abrogate it. And if there is no choice, the IDF will return to the places it is about to leave in the upcoming months. (Ma’ariv, November 26, 1993)

Sadly, neither Beilin—nor any other Israeli politician—has been held to fulfill this sensible prescription, which was also reflected in the long-forgotten pronouncement by Yitzhak Rabin that the Oslo process was “reversible” and if Israel’s security was threatened, the pre-Oslo status quo would be reinstated.

It is difficult to overstate the gravity of this “reorientation.”

It has stripped Israeli policy of credibility in the eyes of both friend and foe—undermining its value as a reliable ally on the one hand, and as a formidable adversary on the other. It has taken a devastating toll on Israel’s deterrent capabilities—with far reaching operational repercussions, now rapidly beginning to unfold.

Of course, in the public discourse, there is near wall-to-wall endorsement of the need “to reestablish Israel’s deterrence.” Sadly, such endorsements are invariably reduced to empty lip-service by the equally universal proviso calling for “proportionality” and “restraint”—the very reasons that deterrence was eroded in the first place and which virtually guarantee that it will never be re-established.…

The dissipation of deterrence

Post- Oslowian “restraint” and “proportionality” have so degraded Israel’s deterrence that it is no longer able to dissuade its adversaries from attacking them almost at will. Intermittent lulls in the North or the South should not deceive us. They do not reflect the efficacy of Israeli deterrence. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah has been “deterred” in the sense that its will to fight has been broken. They have merely been forced to regroup—with manifest success. Unlike Germany and Japan after World War II, their appetite to engage remains undiminished. They are brazenly spoiling for a fight—albeit on their own terms, which Israeli pliancy invariably permits them.

Indeed, there is good reason for their buoyancy. Both Hamas and Hezbollah have emerged from protracted conflicts with the IDF able to plausibly claim victory.… Accordingly, in many respects they now enjoy greater political prestige and military capabilities than before the military engagements with Israel.

Expunging the concept of ‘victory’

Cowered by the tyranny of political-correctness, Israel has abandoned the pursuit of military imperatives.… In effect, the post-Oslowian reorientation has expunged the notion of victory from Israeli strategic thinking, both as an admissible cognitive entity and as an attainable, even desirable, military goal.

This was aptly expressed by Daniel Pipes in his 2008 analysis of Israel’s strategic incompetence in Gaza. He laments that “…the worst news of all [is] that no one at the upper echelons of Israel’s political life articulates the imperative for victory.…”

Some might protest that the idea of victory over the Arab world is a dangerous, unattainable delusion. Perhaps—but imposing surrender on the enemy in specific theaters of military engagement is not. Surrender could have been imposed on Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006; it could have been imposed on Hamas in Gaza in 2008. It can and must be imposed on Hamas today.

Israel’s leadership must acknowledge that decades of concession and capitulation have created a situation in which it cannot dissuade the Palestinians to forgo aggression without comprehensive “kinetic” coercion. It cannot diminish the Palestinians’ will to attack by threats of punitive action. It can only protect its citizens by physically eliminating the Palestinian ability to attack. It can only defend its civilian population from Palestinian assaults by taking and keeping control of the territory from which they are launched.

Yes, such measures with create severe difficulties—international outrage, collateral civilian casualties, IDF losses.… But however severe the challenges, they must be met by the Israeli leadership—not embraced as justification for further ineffectual retaliatory restraint. A clear message must be burned in the collective Arab consciousness. Jewish blood will no longer be shed with impunity.…