Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why We supported Sharon Out of Gaza

Jeffrey Goldberg has been musing about how Sharon made a great mistake leaving Gaza as he did in 2005. Matthew Yglesias thinks it wasn't a mistake, it was a calculated ploy to head off real negotiations; Goldberg agrees this may have been the case.

It may be a wee bit early to say if it was or wasn't a mistake, since the story isn't over yet. Back in 1994, for example, I (and many Israelis) felt Rabin's Oslo Process was wonderful; in 2004 most of us thought it had been a disaster; our perspective in 2014 hasn't happened yet. Bloggers and journalists have the disadvantage of reacting to things as they happen, with minimal data and no perspective in the best of cases.

I can't say what Sharon was thinking to himself: there isn't enough available evidence, only lots of speculation. I can say, however, that a large majority of Israelis supported his determination to leave Gaza. I was part of it, and can say about myself that our thought processes were not what Goldberg and Yglesias say Sharon's were.

I was convinced, and am convinced still, that the Palestinians have recognized that their single most powerful weapon against us is our control over them. This allows them to cast themselves as the oppressed and us as the oppressors, with myriad permutations of these two positions. Since they're our enemies, they are using this weapon to its full extent, as enemies are wont to do. They will not relinquish the weapon for anything less than all of the goals they've defined for themselves, and these include the migration of millions of descendants of the refugees of 1948 into Israel, acceptance by Israel of responsibility for the conflict, and rejection of any symbol of Jewish connection to Jerusalem. And that's the moderate Palestinians.

Given this dynamic, the Israeli imperative must be to end the occupation. Not as a way towards peace, which is not possible, but rather as the best way to manage the conflict. That's why I, and a firm majority of Israelis, supported Sharon in 2005 and voted for Olmert in 2006, when he openly campaigned on a program of ending the occupation in the West Bank even without Palestinian agreement. There will be excruciating complications in the application of the policy, but I'm still for it. Or rather, I'd prefer peace with the Palestinians, but since they're not willing to have peace on terms we can remotely live with, ending the occupation without the Palestinian's permission is the best option.


Anonymous said...

Goldberg seems to think that the way the pullout was managed - i.e. unilaterally without negotiating with the Palestinians - was the reason for the ensuing Hamas enmity. But he ignores that given the maximalist aims of the Palestinians, they might have rejected negotiating over Gaza as an attempt by Israel to downsize the context for peace negotiations. More certainly, the end result, whether unilateral or not, would have been a full Israeli pullout and Gaza under Palestinian control. What happened next was always the latter's to determine. The Palis could have developed Gaza politically and economically; instead Hamas used its election victory as a springboard to civil war, authoritarian rule, and relentless attacks on Israel. That is the real failure of the pullout, and it sits squarely with Hamas.


Anonymous said...

when I read Goldberg this morning I wondered as so often before how pundits can be so sure of their "if-s". Basically they claim that the law of unintended consequences doesn't apply to them. Don't they encounter it constantly during their daily lives as the rest of us?
BTW my personal if on the Gaza withdrawal is, if Israel had tried to negotiate it in the fashion proposed by Goldberg it might still be in there.

Menachem Mendel said...

Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza vindicated in my eyes my vote for him.

This Is Hell said...

Good in theory and plausible to assume it was good in practice. But if the other end of the equation was to assume this would in any way entreat Palestinians to do anything, that, I'm afraid was pathetically stupid. But it may not matter. Whatever Israel does or doesn't do doesn't affect what the Palestinians fail at. They fail. They lose, that's what they do. I would go even father and say not only is peace impossible but that all Israel should seek is an acceptable level of atrocities and violence. If that means 'x' number of rockets flying into Israel than so be it. Open all the borders and let the Palestinians wallow in the muck of their own making. Preach a doctrine of something like 'proportionality' along the lines of the useful idiots in the EU. Every katushya that flies into Israel is met with a cheap large unguided rocket flying blindly into Gaza city. This should be the new waterline of dealing with Hamas. Moreover I would set out a policy that all kidnapped soldiers will be categorized as KIA and no negotiations will ensue; ever. Not ever. What's the worse that could happen?

Jinpa77 said...

Yaacov, you DO realize that ending the "occupation" of Judea & Samaria would immediately entail rockets raining down on Tel Aviv and Western Jerusalem, don't you? The only reason that hasn't happened already is Israel's ability to interdict the terrorists in J&S, which is BECAUSE of the "occupation." The sad truth is, if you give the "Palestinians" an inch, they'll take a hundred miles. Their ultimate goal is STILL to drive you into the sea, and you're kidding yourself if you think they will ever stop trying.

NormanF said...

Yaacov, there is no more occupation. The Palestinians are free to govern themselves. Israel should move to apply Israeli law, administration and jurisdiction - in short - full Israeli sovereignty over ALL the areas of Judea and Samaria with no Arab population in them that it controls and leave the Arabs to govern their cities, villages and hamlets. The Arabs can make a go of it or they can destroy themselves. Israel should shut off all financial and economic support to them and leave them to their fate. That is what they deserve for their hatred of the Jews.

Have no pity for them.

chareidilite said...

I was convinced, and am convinced still, that the Palestinians have recognized that their single most powerful weapon against us is our control over them. This allows them to cast themselves as the oppressed and us as the oppressors, with myriad permutations of these two positions....Given this dynamic, the Israeli imperative must be to end the occupation. Not as a way towards peace, which is not possible, but rather as the best way to manage the conflict....That's why I, and a firm majority of Israelis, supported Sharon in 2005


Do you think that the disengagement from Gaza 'counts' as an end to the occupation? It would appear that the world regards Israel as continuing to occupy Gaza, by controlling access to it (not just entry from Gaza to Israel, but coastal access and air access). Do you think Sharon didn't go far enough, and Israel should completely end all control of Gaza, as a means of depriving the Gazans of their weapon? Or do you think that this would subject Israel to a full scale terror war waged from Gaza?

Which is worse, leaving the Gazans their 'oppressed by Israeli occupiers' weapon, or giving them control and ability to wage a more robust terrorism campaign?

sammy said...

I think the best perspective of the "unilateral pull out from Gaza" was given by Dov Weisglass in an interview in Ha'aretz:

"The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."


Yaacov said...

Ah, Sammy, you miss the point. What Sharon and Weisglass did or din't think, we cannot know, certainly not from an interveiw to a newspaper which was part of the effort. I was telling about the positions ofthe millions of Israelis who backed the plan, and then voted for it to continue under Olmert. Since we're a democracy, what the voters want is ultimately more important than what the politicians connive.

Anonymous said...

the interview was recorded, so i think it does give us incite into sharon's mind but i agree the voters want is more important. ultimately tho, the outcome is the best indicator of what it has accomplished. immediately on the heels of the disengagement was the beginning of the tightening of the siege and retributions to follow.

i disagree with the authors concept of the palestinians most powerful weapon. the weapon of control is israels weapon, it is israel's self inflicted wound. the most powerful weapon of the palestinians is truth, the common (global) mans sense of justice, international law and a modern day understanding of democracy, equal rights and human rights. the most powerful forces working against israel at this time are self inflicted. the palestinians, in and of themselves, do not have the power to threaten the jewish state. the strong force israel faces is of it's own making turned around on itself. the more powerful that force, the more threatening to the moral fiber of israel.

that is why israel must disengage, end the occupation and remove your citizens from stolen palestinian land in the occupied territory and EJ.

Sylvia said...

I supported the unilateral withdrawal, and I even campaigned for it. But while I still think withdrawing was the right thing to do, I am now firmly against a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. What we have done in Gaza is let the UN (OIC, Arab League and non-aligned countries) dictate the terms to us. The result is that in terms of international law - if not de facto - we are still an occupying power in Gaza without actually being there and have to see to the needs of the Gazans. In my view, Abbas is hoping for a similar kind of deal, with the UN dictating the terms to Israel without having to recognize anything or anyone and without committing to anything, let alone peace, with the added bonus of being able to whine about "the occupation". An Israeli unilateral withdrawal is nothing but a a way for the Palestinians to have their cake and eat it too.

Yaacov said...

annonymous - You really ought to read the Goldstone Report. Even according to it, when Israel left Gaza in Spetember 2005 thee was no blockade. Gaza was open, and essentially free. The blockade began only after the Gazans elected Hamas to rule over them, in January 2006, and was tightened after the abduction of Gilad Shalit in june 2006. Facts are important, even if they aren't convenient.

Lee Ratner said...

I agree with Yaacov on this. The West Bank contains areas of great historical and spiritual importance for the Jews but it is more important to have a Jewish state. This means that Jews must be in the majority. This will eventually be an impossibility if the WB remains under Israeli control. Eventually Israel would be pressured to give citizenship to the Palestinians and the Jewish State will be no more. Let the WB go and the Jewish State remains.

Let the Palestinians do what they want, form diplomatic countries with any country they please, and have an army and air force if they desire. This way they will be responsible fort their own stupid mistakes because they will possess sovereignty over their own country.

sammy said...

Yaacov: I think Dov Weisglas is the most honest politician I have personally seen come out of Israel. As for the "democracy" in Israel, well I'm from India and I know full well our own history under occupation by the democratic Magna Carta writers. So yeah, I see how disenfranchising the natives works. Jews who survived 1945 are familiar with that kind of elective government.

Anonymous said...

The withdrawal from Gaza was a necessary test of the willingness of Palestinian willingness and ability to make peace if given effective sovereignty. I didn't have much hope that the Palestinians would pass the test, but it was clearly helpful to have that test case if a much more risky withdrawal from the WB was contemplated.

In Gaza, Israel withdrew to the 1967 border. It unilaterally gave the PA 100% of the disputed territory in Gaza. The PA achieved full sovereignty over Gaza (it could create and enforce any rule or whim within its territory) and complete control of the Egyptian border. The PA insisted that the 1994 customs union with Israel remain in place, but Israel has had no control whatsoever over decision-making in Gaza since 2005.

The Palestinians had every opportunity to demonstrate that they cared more about building an independent state than they cared about attacking Israel. They had every chance to show that, given a withdrawal to the 1967 border, they would end their war and build a state.

In Gaza, the Palestinians failed the test in a spectacular fashion.


Anonymous said...

The withdrawal appears to have had one consequence about which I don't hear people talking very much. Immediately after the withdrawal, it appeared that certain Sunni leaders were inclined to urge the Palestinians to focus on investment and building, and some Sunni governments were inclined to reward Israel for this step. It was at this point that Iran made an intensive effort to rally the forces of anti-Israel extremism world-wide, in an apparent effort to rally anti-Jewish and anti-Israel forces to thwart any goodwill or momentum arising from the Gaza withdrawal. His "wipe Israel off the map" speech in Oct 2005 and his Dec 2005 denial of the Shoah (apparently an effort to boost anti-Semitic attacks in general) should be considered in this light.


Lee Ratner said...

Zvi: I remember reading about Pakistani leaders being willing to speak to Israeli leaders about some sort of relationship around the time of the Gaza withdrawal. Your Iranian explanation on why nothing happened makes sense.

Barry Meislin said...

So Jeffrey Goldberg's not that happy about Sharon's decision to leave Gaza unilaterally.

Interestingly (and more than somewhat humorously), that was also a criticism of Hamas and the PA: "How dare Israel break off negotiations and leave Gaza without a negotiated settlement!!!??"

Yes, these guys are a laugh a minute.

Someone might want to ask Jeffrey Goldberg how you negotiate with people who have no real intention of negotiating.

As in:
"So Bibi, how are those negotiations with Hamas over Gilad Shalit going, eh?"
"So Ehud, how did those negotiations with Ahemd go, eh?"
"So Ahmad, how are those negotiations with Hamas over Palestinian unity going, eh?"
"So Mr. President, how are those negotiations with Iran going, eh??
"So Said, how are those negotiations with Hezbullah going, eh?"

Etc., etc.

The point of "negotiations," you see, is to make it appear as though you are "negotiating" so that when "negotiations" break down, as they ultimately must, your "partner in negotiations" can be lambasted for all its worth.

And it works like a charm.

As for Yglesias, well, he's just one of those really intelligent types whose intelligence is only exceeded by his perversity.

Alas, there are a lot of those....

Anonymous said...

after just reading Goldberg today (he has remembered Sderot and the rockets, amazing isn't it?but chastises Israel for not enough care about civilian deaths - when is he going to do that to his fellow Americans or to Europeans?)

can it be that all those know-alls delude themselves into thinking that Israel has the kind of neighbours that allow it to become another Luxemburg or Liechtenstein or Monaco or Andorra i.e. due to geography almost an impossibility but peaceful and secure nonetheless?

One of my bosses taught me the all time wisdom:
One shouldn't trust unreliable partners

What makes those far away pundits think that they now have reliable partners I can't imagine. Even if Abbas etc. are personally now that way they seem to lack the magic to bedazzle the people (excitable young ones) to follow them.

On the one hand I greatly admire the American attitude of accepting anything as being impossible but on the other hand I bristle at their constant sneering at the "old" regions not being able to come to the easy "reasonable" solutions. i.e. always judging as if everybody had borders consisting of two oceans and just two!!! friendly neighbours and no millenia old histories of back and forth.

(sorry Goldberg especially got me up in arms by bashing Israel and Iran in one and the same sentence for a misbehaviour that is of course oh so foreign to Americans ;-(((

JG Campbell said...

As I understand it, international law requires an army to have soldiers on the ground controlling day-to-day affairs in a territory for it to be classed as 'occupied'. So Israel is now no more occupying Gaza than the US, Britain et al were occupying Iraq before 2003 because of their sanctions and no-fly zone. The fact that so many refuse to draw that conclusion, including governments and NGOs who should know better, is yet further demonstration of the double standards applied to Israel.


Anonymous said...

how long will it take for them to come up with a veritable YouTubeHit? It will make the olive tree campaign look like child's play. A few minutes ago this was still smack in the middle of their main page.
is there anything one can do to stop this sanctifying of the underperformer?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't we record everything? It is possible to store hundreds of hours of digital records on disc now.

We should record, video and audio, negotiations, olive groves, checkpoints, weekly fence protests, et al!

We have the means, the technology, the wherewithall.

It should be done ASAP.


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Just out of curiosity, I'd like to know a few more details of Yaacov's disengagement plan. In particular, I'd like to know the final status he envisages for:

1) Road 443.
2) The settlement of Ariel.
3) The Jordan Valley.

Yaacov said...

My personal opinion, Fake Ibrahim? Remember, I'm a mere blogger (and voter, that too).

For the unilateral disengagement we move back to the line of the wall, but might stay in Ariel even tho it's beyond the wall because it would be a major hassle to leave. The Jordan Valley has almost no Palestinians in it, so we might keep some troops there or we might not. It's a pragmatic matter. 443 is inside the line, so there's no problem.

Since you didn't ask, however, I'll say that were we to have negotiated peace with the Palestinains, with End of Conflict and other things they'll never agree to, I'd move out of Ariel, and the Jordan Valley (or allow the settlers to remain as Palestinian citizens - which they wouldn't). 443, like the future Palestinian road from the West Bank to Gaza, can stay. They'll have a 50km road thu our teritory and we'll have a 13km road thu theirs. Sounds fair to me.

Yaacov said...

Jonathan -

Of course Israel doesn't occupy Gaza, any more than the US occupies North Korea, or Cuba. I'm tempted to say only lawfarers say otherwise, no reasonable international lway experts, except I think the two groups are beginning to overlap.

Yaacov said...

Asaf -

If you contact me at yaacov.lozowick at yahoo dot com, we can discuss this interesting idea.


Victor said...

Recording every second and inch of Israeli life is not the answer. This idea reminds me of the piece Yaacov wrote about Pakistan's war against the Taliban. Millions of people were dislocated, tens of thousands killed, without a single thought to limit civilian casualties, and the world did not question the legitimacy of the war, or of the country which launched it.

The issue is political legitimacy, and this cannot be solved by opening ourselves to endless inspection. By doing so, we only enable others to manipulate and punish us, with our enemies never being held accountable for their actions.

The solution to all this is counter-intuitive. Instead of We need to do the things that strengthen Israeli interests and survival in the long term, even if there are severe consequences in the short term. We need to start winning wars, decisively. We need to annex the West Bank and stop pretending (and dreaming) that the Arabs will ever accept an End of Conflict. The Arabs fight the settlements precisely because they understand their importance. When Israel acts as a normal state that pursues its interest, others will accept it. Instead, we attempt to placate implacable foreign interests, with devastating consequences across the board.

Anonymous said...

record everything thus creating a presumably truthful record sounds like hubris to me
- to rely on photos or videos to show reality is delusional, just look at any newspaper on any given day and pay attention on how they shift the bias of articles by the accompanying photos. There's a guy at the NYT by the name of Errol Morris who gnaws endlessly on how misleading recorded stuff can be and how hard it is to find out the truth. Or just look at photos of yourself in the family album, do you really look like that?

Danny said...

Here is what the UN actually had to say when asked...


Victor said...

That was 2 years ago, Danny. The concept of "Israeli occupied Gaza" is now well implanted in the discourse. It has to be, otherwise the responsibility for violence, mayhem and development would fall to Hamas or Egypt.