Monday, November 8, 2010

Reaching the Bottom of the Barrel

When the Oslo process collapsed in October 2000, and then the violence of the 2nd Intifada got worse and worse, and stayed worse for almost three years, there was total unanimity of opinion among almost anyone who had an opinion: the media, the diplomatic corps, the UN, accepted wisdom, academia, heads of state, politicians the world over, the remnants of our own peace camp (the blogosphere, too, tho it hadn't yet hit its stride in those faraway days). Everyone preached that the one and only single option to end the violence was through peaceful means, which in most cases meant that Israel had to offer the Palestinians better incentives to convince them to desist from the anger and its resultant violence. There's no other option, we were told. None. Not any. Inconceivable. Unimaginable. Not even theoretically possible. Only one thing to do: give the Palestinians more than had been offered them, and hope for the best. That'll work, but nothing else will. Absolutely totally completely nothing.

I apologize for laboring the point a bit, but I'm merely reflecting the reality of those days.

Alas, there wasn't much we felt we could offer the Palestinians at the time, nor were we in the mind to continue to offer what we'd already offered anyway, just before they launched the violence. Arguably, we're not in the mood till this very day, but that's a different subject.

Eventually some of our security chaps began suggesting we could arrest or kill so many terrorists, that the Palestinians would run out of supply. This thesis was called "emptying the barrel", and was much derided by all those folks cited above.

The security chaps were right. In all of the northern West Bank, there is no-one left they're still trying to get, and in the southern half of the West Bank only a handful are still being sought for. True, this achievement has been significantly assisted by collaboration with the PA security forces in the West Bank, but that has been reached without Israel making any strategic compromises of the sort demanded by "the World" back in 2000-2003. The PA made the decision because of its own interests, some of which have to do with Israeli actions.


Anonymous said...

Fabián said...

Excellent, Yaakov! Really good news.

Paul M said...

Two points:

1 — The people who always show up to insist that Israel (or America or, occasionally, the UK) can't solve it's problems militarily, seem to be disinterested in persuading Hamas, Hezbollah et al that the same is true for them.

2 — In a recent interview for the Jerusalem Post, Britain's new Ambassador to Israel was asked to comment on Abbas's wasting of 9 months of the 10 month building freeze. His response was: "We are where we are. ... The focus now needs to be on how we ensure that process continues. I’m not sure it’s necessarily helpful to go back and start allocating blame for this period of things not happening or that period of things not happening." We should all thank Ambassador Gould for his concise explanation of the stupidity of making unilateral "goodwill" concessions.

zalman said...

Two weeks ago (I think), Makor Rishon published an interview with Hendel and a co-author about their new book which also addressed the ability to fight terror. (Sorry for the partial information.)

I do think it is a continuing battle.

Avigdor said...

I've never been satisfied by the argument that "kill one terrorist and ten more will rise in their place". Maybe it's a Russian thing, but.. so what? We don't have ten more bullets? What's the problem? On the other hand, rebuilding expertise - terrorist tradecraft - takes time, resources, mistakes. It's a win-win in every sense of the word.

Is this really a contested concept after what happened in Sri Lanka?

Bryan said...

Victor: "We don't have ten more bullets?" may be my favorite retort to that suggestation. I'm going to borrow it from now on. I hope you don't mind.

Stan said...

"Maybe it's a Russian thing, but.. "

Is this an expression of a particular view of the Eastern Front of WWII which is held by some educated Westerners? More than half of Russians killed in that war were not uniformed combatants. With all the focus on Soviet atrocities in occupied Germany, it seems Americans have yet to assimilate this other fact...

Bryan said...

"With all the focus on Soviet atrocities in occupied Germany," is a bit of a stretch about how the US education system deals with the Soviets.

Here's how I remember my "world history" lecture on WWII: 1) Germany invades Poland for no reason whatsoever after the nancies running Europe hand over Czechoslovakia. 2) France cries and gives up. 3) Britain fights Nazi Germany, Churchill is badass. 4) Japan attacks US, "sleeping giant" wakes up, US invades Germany. 5) Germany kills SIX MILLION JEWS and maybe some other people too or something. 6) WE WIN! Then those dirty Reds lower the Iron Curtain for some reason, maybe to oppress a few million more people.

Who's missing? The Soviets were barely mentioned at all. Even when we did a whole unit on genocides, we focused entirely on the Shoah, the Armenian Genocide, and the killing fields in Cambodia. The German "abuse" of Soviet POWs (no mention of civilians, really) was a footnote in our discussion of the German's systematic murder of European Jewry.

Avigdor said...

Go for it Bryan.

Stan... what?

Barry Meislin said...

So ["how I remember my 'world history' lecture on WWII"] = ["how the US education system deals with the Soviets"]?

I can't figure out whom you're mocking more? The education you received or your own ignorance (or is it---also?---the connection between them)?.

BTW, if that WWII lecture did actually begin with "1)" (at least with regard to the Soviets), it should have included, beforehand, a "0)" and several negative outline numbers, besides.

Is it too late to ask for your money back? (Or pick up a book?)

P.S. Was the "maybe to oppress a few million more people" bit also an attempt at humor? Or just faulty memory?

AKUS said...

I used to hate this typical Israeli attitude, but it was perfectly correct: The only thing the Arabs understand and respect is force.

Building the security fence, consistent and continuous security operation in the WB, elimination of the worst of the jihadis - that's what worked.

Everything else was a pipedream.

Avigdor said...

Are you going to make me into a peacenik, AKUS? :)

Everyone understands force. The Palestinians understand plenty of other things too, math, farming, love, etc., just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

it seems that this new book by Timothy Snyder will give Russians their due but doesn't seem to include the comparison as to one's chances to die on the Western or the Eastern Front (which implies the accusation that Roosevelt and Churchill "favoured" their troops over the Russian ones)

Besides talk about Snyder's book I keep hearing stuff which makes me suspect that we will soon witness a variant of the Historikerstreit
if I should be right about predicting that one it is not going to be pretty

I've heard in one US-Uni-Seminar on German history where the lecturer seemed perfectly sane to me until she came up with the canard that at Dresden allied bombing killed 100.000. That figure is up to 5-fold of the research easily available at the time that I wonder what are they after when they tell students such BS. The US participated in the raid so it can't be Brits bashing.


Bryan said...

Barry, I was mocking the US educational system. I went to a good public high school in an affluent town, and yet my understanding of World War II was terribly deficient.

I have since picked up plenty of books on the subject, thank you very much.

If you didn't find my summary (as told by my 15-year-old self) amusing, you didn't have to say anything at all. The point was that high schoolers don't get told both sides of the story, and what they do get told they don't fully understand.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, things are But anyone who has even talked with a Palestinian can tell you the "favorable" situation is not sustainable.

Terrorism is symptomatic of a larger disease of oppression. And while the symptom can be treated, it may metastasize if the root causes are not addressed.

In this case: if West Bankers continue to live under an oppressive dictatorship propped up by Israeli troops and US aid, all the while Jews are continuing to colonize Har Chevron and the can bet that in three, five, ten, fifteen years, there will be a third intifada.

And yes, things may be better now than they were a few years ago - but think how much better they would be, for everyone, if there was actually a bilateral peace.

Bryan said...

Anonymous: Criticisms are fine, but criticisms without constructive suggestions are just bitching. What do you suggest Israel do?

Barry Meislin said...

...but think how much better they would be, for everyone, if there was actually a bilateral peace.

Yes, just think how much better things would be if Israel would disappear.

Because then, even if the Palestinians and their brothers knocked the living daylights out of one another, NO ONE WOULD CARE.

End of problem.

(Did I say, "even if"?)

You see, the problem, dear Anonymous, is that the Palestinians WANT to be oppressed by Israel far more than they would like to live side by side with it.

(Not to worry, though. I don't expect you to understand.)

Avigdor said...

Is all terrorism a consequence of oppression?

Anonymous said...

Terrorism is symptomatic of a larger disease of oppression.

When I read that sentence I thought: Aaah finally finally somebody is taking on the authoritarian and don't care one penny about the Palestinians neighbour and brother states.

And then the disappointment, only the same old dreary song to which my answer is:
"Es kann der Frömmste nicht in Frieden bleiben (oft zitiert: leben), // Wenn es dem bösen Nachbar nicht gefällt." - Wilhelm Tell IV,3 / Tell
(The most pious man can't stay in peace
If it doesn't please his evil neighbor.
Act IV, sc. iii)

I'd translate pious from the lingua of the time as peaceful.

Victor: Tablet mentions your former home-town here

Sérgio said...

"Terrorism is symptomatic of a larger disease of oppression."

This is a version of the theory of
the "Superior Virtue of the Oppressed", criticized long ago by Bertrand Russell, but still a mantra for self-style (and self-obssessed) progressives. It is easy, it´s simplistic and it´s plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

Barry, I appreciate the condescending assumption that I am unaware of the sado-masochistic relationship between the Palestinians and the Arab states. However, I disagree with your allegation that all (or even most) Palestinians would prefer to live under occupation than in peace.

Victor, not all terrorism is an outgrowth of oppression. However, much of it is - and certainly so in the Palestinians' case.

Sergio, I ascribe no sanctity to victims nor virtue to the oppressed. Terrorism is not to be celebrated or even tolerated - by Palestinians, Jews, international Islamists, Tamils, deranged American recluses, or anyone. The Palestinians' cause is not more just than Israel's, nor are the Palestinians more oppressed than Jews, when taking even the last 50 years into account. I was simply stating that Palestinian terrorism's base are the grievances of the Palestinian people, while the radical organizations who conceive and execute the attacks are the structures built upon them. Israel would be committing a grave error for its long-term security if it assumes it can boast over destroying terrorism's structures while not also destroying its base.


Going back to Yaacov's original post: Your point that Israel was able to "empty the barrel" is absolutely valid despite the many naysayers. However, this is not going to be enough for the future - and Israel should seize the opportunity of having a more stable security environment and a Palestinian partner, however flawed, to be serious about preventing the barrel from filling up again.

Anonymous said...

Anon, if Palestinian terrorism is the result of oppression why did it flare up in 1936-1939?

As for living in peace vs occupation, I think it is pretty clear that the leadership at the very least would rather the "occupation" go on than have any sort of peace that Israel could even begin to contemplate. One only has to look at South Lebanon to see how desparate "militants" are to have any form of "occupation". Ditto Gaza.

Israel can always keep the barrel empty. Who knows what the situation will be in 5-10 years, you think the regime in Iran will still be power then? If not then what happens to Hamas/Hizbollah funding?


Barry Meislin said...

Oh, I get it. What's eminently sensible to you must be eminently sensible to Palestinians too.

Along with everyone else.

Been there. Done that. Ain't so.

P.S. When they start marching in the streets declaring, chanting, shouting that they want exactly what you say they want (or what say they should want---who the heck are you, again?----then you may actually be saying something that approaches reality. At the moment, though, all I see is support for suicide bombers, shaheeds, and maps of Palestine from the Jordan to the Sea (along with the corresponding declarations, chants and shouts).

That being said, let us all hope that Palestinians really do want what you claim they want (and what you claim they should want).

Carrie said...

"Terrorism is symptomatic of a larger disease of oppression.

Was the Fort Hood murderer oppressed? Was the Christmas day bomber oppressed? Was the Times Sq bomber oppressed? Heck, were the 9/11 hijackers oppressed? What about the British doctors who tried to bomb the UK airports?

Carrie said...

"not all terrorism is an outgrowth of oppression. However, much of it is - and certainly so in the Palestinians' case.

So the Hebron massacre of 1929 was a direct result of the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967? I see.

Anonymous said...

"Anon, if Palestinian terrorism is the result of oppression why did it flare up in 1936-1939?"

Please read about this revolt from any source that doesn't simply write them it as מאורעות. The terrorism that occurred in these years was in the context of a national revolt planned by the Arab leadership in Palestine and was the direct consequence of perceived oppression. You are certifiably blinded by partisanship if you cannot detach yourself from the official Zionist narrative for even a moment to consider that the Arabs in Palestine might have been motivated by a rational fear of losing their country, rather than some sort of lust for Jewish blood.

- I would categorize Hebron in 1929 as a pogrom rather than terrorism.
- As for the rest, I ask you to read carefully before responding: I did not say that all terrorists were oppressed. Rather that terrorism symptomatic of the disease of oppression, and more precisely, is an outgrowth of oppression. This does not mean that all those who commit it are oppressed - but all of the Islamist terrorists you cited were radicalized by feelings of solidarity with what al-Qaeda calls "crimes against the Muslim people". Whether you agree with them that the umma is being oppressed is another matter altogether and frankly irrelevant to their motivations.

Barry Meislin said...

Absolutely correct.

The State of Israel is a "crime against the Muslim (and more specifically, the Palestinian, people."

(I'd rather deny it, but still....)


Anonymous said...

as to oppression
Orwell muses long and intelligently on who resists oppression
it is not the really oppressed, it is those who have their rights as "gentlemen" encroached upon.

so concentrating on oppressed masses gets it wrong, the perpetrators (those doing it themselves and those doing it by proxy) are gentlemen who have been dis-respected. Once they get what they claim is their due they'll happily continue to oppress their own masses while probably suffering no ill effects from it.

As it happens our Muslim loudmouths prove my above "thesis" every day. They are surpassing even the most rabid feminists in their skills at finding reasons for having been disrespected and thus become entitled to fundamental changes of how the society is to be run.


Sérgio said...

"Rather that terrorism symptomatic of the disease of oppression, and more precisely, is an outgrowth of oppression."

This is the standard leftist lie and, yes, a typical lame excuse for wanton violence in the name of the "cause" of the day. And, yes, it is a version of the "Superior virtue of the oppressed", because in the end it justifies terrorism once a group is tagged as "oppressed". It´s another of that endless series of lies that helped crushing any credibility the left might still have.

Of course, as every honest observer knows, not all oppression leads to terrorism: jews were oppressed for centuries, more recently in the Shoa, and you don´t see jewish terrorist blowing up themselves in Germany. Also, one rarely see african suicide bombers (though they kill each other a great deal).

Most terrorism is ideologically driven and seldom linked with "oppression", e.g.: nazi-terror, Stalinist terror, the myriad leftist terrorist gangs (Baader-Meinhof through Sendero Luminoso), the latin american right-wing dirty-warriors,
basque separatists, and nowadays and Islamo-fascism.

Sérgio said...

"Whether you agree with them that the umma is being oppressed is another matter altogether and frankly irrelevant to their motivations."

Agreed. So, bottom line is that whomever for whatever irrelevant reasons, say of "perceived opression" or such nonsense, uses terrorism to further some irrelevant fantasies on others, will be fought appropriately, possibly causing them pain and death in the process.

Carrie said...

what Sergio said...

Anonymous said...

Anon, actually the 1936-1939 revolt was more about a power struggle between the Husseinis who were riding the anti-semitic/anti-Zionist wave to greater power and their opponents, most of whom ranged from indifferent to openly pro-Zionist. This can be seen by the fact that most of the terrorism was directed at other arabs, not Jews and not the British.

Also they were in no way "losing their country" because they didn't have a country before and only 20 years earlier had seen themselves as Syrian and shortly before that as Ottoman. In both of those cases "rational fear of losing their country" didn't lead any of the Arabs to fight.