What Now for Israel? By Elliott Abrams. Mosaic, September 2014.
Netanyahu’s “Long War” Doctrine. By Jonathan Spyer. JonathanSpyer.com, August 5, 2014.
In case you had reason to be optimistic about the post-Gaza situation in Israel think again:
According to the data collected on August 26-30 by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) headed by pollster Khalil Shikaki, 79 percent of Palestinians questioned in Gaza and the West Bank said that Hamas had won the war against Israel, while only 3% said Israel had won. A similar majority believed that Israel was responsible for the breakout of the war. . . . 94% of respondents said they were satisfied with Hamas’s performance in confronting the IDF and 78% were pleased with the movement’s defense of civilians in Gaza. Eighty-six percent of the 1,270 adults questioned in the survey said they supported the continuation of rocket attacks at Israel as long as the blockade on Gaza is maintained.
In fact, they think it went so well they want to try it in the West Bank. (“Asked whether they supported transferring Hamas’s model of armed resistance to the West Bank, 74% of respondents in Gaza and 70% in the West Bank answered in the affirmative.”)
Even if one considers a certain fear factor (i.e. bad things will happen if they denigrate Hamas), it is a stunning reality check for those who still fancy a two-state solution. Coupled with polling showing Palestinians to be overwhelmingly anti-Semitic, this reminds us that the failure to achieve peace is not merely a function of rotten leadership. That doesn’t mean the war was a mistake or did not achieve its aims. To the contrary, as with the 2006 Lebanon war, Israel may have bought itself a few years of quiet, and destruction of the terror tunnels was of paramount importance. Nevertheless, the assertion that “both sides want peace” or that the failure of the “peace process” is Israel’s fault is delusional.
Understand that the polling covers both the West Bank and Gaza. The so-called “moderates” in the West Bank aren’t any more amenable to living in peace with Israel than are Gazans. To the contrary, the West Bank seems to be outpacing Gaza in the anti-Israel department:
Paradoxically, and worryingly for Israel, Hamas received higher support in the PA-controlled West Bank than it did in Gaza. The poll found that if elections were held today, former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh would easily defeat Abbas with 61% of the popular vote versus 32%. Sixty-six percent of respondents in the West Bank said they supported Haniyeh, compared to 53% in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, Abbas received just 25% approval, as opposed to 43% in Gaza. Overall support for the Palestinian Authority president plummeted 11% points in two months, from 50% in June to 39% in August, the poll found.
For the first time in eight years, Hamas’s presumptive candidate, Haniyeh, received higher support than Fatah’s more militant Marwan Barghouti, who is serving out multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail for his involvement in terror attacks during the Second Intifada. If elections were held today, the poll found, Haniyeh would defeat Barghouti with 49% of the vote versus 45%.
These are not people ready to accept a permanent (or even temporary) peace, disarm and give up the right of return. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams in a must-read piece writes: “Realpolitik may lead a king or sheik or general to ally with the Jews for a while, or even to admit to himself that age-old prejudices must be abandoned. But until this new attitude replaces decades if not centuries devoted to the inculcation of hatred, Israel will continue to face millions of neighbors who see Jews as accursed by God and the Jewish state as an alien and, it is hoped, temporary usurper of Arab lands.” He continues, “Even the teaching of elementary civil tolerance appears to be beyond the ability or the will of most Arab states—not to mention the Palestinian Authority, whose official and unofficial media are founts of anti-Semitism and glorify terrorists as heroes.” He therefore concludes: “That, in sum, is why Israel’s national story still remains ‘a long war . . . against those who seek its destruction,’ and what makes Israel as unique among nations today as it was in 1948. For what other country on the face of the earth confronts unceasing attempts to bring its national life to an end? And yet, where Israel is concerned, for hundreds of millions of people around the globe, the very existence of the Jewish state is the unsustainable status quo.”
So when diplomats and pundits say there must be an alternative, they are simply wrong. There is no final peace in the offing and there won’t be for a good long time. We may find it unimaginable that Israelis live and in fact thrive under such circumstances. Nevertheless, this is the reality, no matter what is happening or not in conference rooms. Israeli journalist Ruthie Blum (coincidentally Abrams’s sister-in-law) puts it succinctly: “But that is how Israelis have lived since the the state of Israel was born — between wars. We are not really at peace; we are in a break between wars.” It is only when politicians recognize that reality that they can give up the useless and perhaps counterproductive “peace process” and work on encouraging the budding relationships between Israel and its Sunni neighbors and refocusing on the real menaces in the region, Iran and the Islamic State.