Israel’s options for survival and growth in the face of Arab rejectionism

Some recent comments on my blog were full of pessimism at the thought of Israel’s future, or even the possibility that Israel might not even have a future (G-d forbid). It’s true that when one reads reports of the rise of Jihadists throughout the Arab world, Iran’s push towards nuclear weapons and the constant incitement emanating from Israel’s ostensible peace partners, the picture one receives is depressing indeed.

Along comes Professor Barry Rubin with a well-timed article which I quoted in my comment on my post, but which I feel deserves  wider attention.  While Prof. Rubin doesn’t minimize the dangers that Israel faces, he looks at Israel’s situation from a different angle, giving cause for some slight optimism and certainly making it easier for us, Israelis and Israel’s supporters, to resist

Here is an excerpt from the article which is rather cryptically headlined: Israel has no other alternatives but the alternative it has is a good one:

In 1995, Israel signed an agreement with the PLO to make peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The accord, known as the Oslo II agreement, included the following passage in Article 31:
“Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

 

By essentially unilaterally declaring the existence of an Arab Palestine, the world has abrogated that agreement.
[...]
[...]  And at least the Western public should know how this all looks from an Israeli perspective, information often denied it altogether or distorted by the mass media.

 

–They have rewarded the party that refused to make peace.
–They have rewarded the side that rejected the offer of a state and pursued violence instead, cheering the murder of Israeli civilians.
–They have removed the framework on the basis of which Israel made numerous risky concessions including letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip; establish a government; obtain billions of dollars of money; created military organizations that have been used to attack Israel; establish schools and other institutions which call and teach for Israel’s destruction; and a long list of other things.

 

[...] Israel has paid for the 1993 deal; the Palestinian Authority has only taken what it has wanted.

 

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was one of many who stated that the Oslo Accords have now ceased to exist. What then governs the situation and Israel-Palestinian (Palestine?) relations?

 

Nothing.

 

There is, for example, no standing for any claim that the Palestinian side has recognized—much less accepted—Israel’s existence. Indeed, a “one-state solution” is daily advocated by Palestinian leaders.

 

Yet the world’s outrage is reserved for Israel’s announcement that 3000 apartments will be constructed on land claimed by Israel on the West Bank, all built on settlements whose existence until a bilateral agreement was reached was accepted by the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. Incidentally, repeatedly decisions of Israeli zoning boards that permit construction in future provoke global hysteria about the bulldozers moving in next week. Perhaps if the Palestinian Authority would make peace those buildings would never get built in a few years.

[...]

 

Again, what’s important here is not to complain about the unfairness of international life, the hypocrisy of those involved, and the double standards applied against Israel. This is the reality of the situation and must be the starting point for considering what to do.

And what’s important is to do that which is necessary to preserve Israel’s national security and to ignore to the greatest possible extent anything that subverts it.

What has experience taught us? Very simply this: The Palestinian leadership’s priority is not on getting a state of their own--they have missed many opportunities to do so–but to gain total victory. No matter how much you might think it is rational for them to seek to have a country living peacefully alongside Israel forever as it develops its economy and culture and resettles refugees out of the camps they do not think so. And that’s all that’s important.

Taking a state of that kind  is only acceptable to the PA, and even more to the Hamas, leadership  if it serves to promote that goal. Even if moderation provides material rewards they prefer militancy. But after all, suffering–even if self-inflicted–brings massive political gains for them.

What has the world’s behavior taught us? Very simply this: Nothing we can do will suffice.

[...]
What has diplomacy taught us? That the other side will not keep commitments and those guaranteeing those commitments will not keep their word to do so. And then they will complain that Israel doesn’t take more risks, give more concessions, and defend itself too vigorously.

Well, that’s the way things are and in some ways they’ve been like that for decades; from a Jewish standpoint, for centuries. So what else is new?

[...]
That is not a pessimistic assessment at all. Basically, this process has now been going on for about 40 years. It will continue to go on, partly because the West has been and will continue to be content with purely symbolic anti-Israel measures so it can reap some public relations’ benefits without any costs. The quality of existence is more important than the quality of the ability to justify one’s existence.

By coincidence, several surveys have just been published which pertain to Israel’s achievements in the face of such obstacles as small size, lack of resources, international hostility, and war waged against it by neighbors.

In its November 21, 2012,  issue, The Economist Intelligence Unit, a respected research group which is part of The Economist (which has been bitterly anti-Israel in recent years) published a study — “The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013””– of the best places for a baby to be born in 2013 and subsequently live its life. Israel was rated at number 20, just behind the United States [...] and ahead of Italy (21), France (26), and Britain (27).

 

In the World Happiness Report, Israel rated 14th and in health it was in the 6th position, ahead of the United States, Germany, Britain, and France.

Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge. Meanwhile, Israel’s neighbors don’t get criticized by the UN—many of them get elected to the Human Rights Council despite their records—but are sinking into violence, disaster, and new dictatorships.

So which fate is preferable? To win the wars forced on you, to develop high living standards, to enjoy real democratic life, or to writhe under the torture of dictators, terrorists, and totalitarian ideologies?

 

Israel’s fate includes to be slandered, its actions and society so often distorted by those responsible for conveying accurate information to their own societies. And that also means to be attacked violently by its neighbors, though it can minimize the effectiveness of that violence.  Like our ancestors we have to deal with this bizarre situation, this mistreatment that others don’t even understand still exists.

 

But we cannot let this nonsensical excuse for reality drive us mad or make us mad.

There are only three ways, which must be combined, to survive: to believe truthful things, do constructive things, and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

 

[...]

 

Truly, as the Israeli saying puts it and as the story of the Oslo agreement so vividly proves, en breira, there’s no choice. Fortunately, the real-life alternative available is a good one. Go ahead; do what’s necessary; reconcile everyone possible; but don’t let that stand in the way of survival.

 

Read the whole thing.  You may not agree with every point but he certainly helps us to strengthen our belief in our own cause.


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20 Responses to Israel’s options for survival and growth in the face of Arab rejectionism

  1. Debby Potter says:

    Anne, I have so enjoyed your blog and have been sharing it with all my fb connections. If you don’t recognize me, it will be because I fixed my wordpress blog account. The first comment I made was attributed to “littlearkansasdar,” because I was attempting to build our website and managed to mix their blog account into mine (I struggle with wordpress). But I am the same person, and hopefully my account name will be something my own when I post this!

    As your nation struggles on an international level, I thought I would just add in some of my own western perception. The western world was at one time largely Christian. As Christians, we believed in the promises God made to Israel. We also believe He has made us promises, but nothing He gives us erases one smudge of His Word in relation to His promises to you.Therefore, as long as we remained a largely Christian nation, we honored your position as a nation. Many of us continue to pray and support you here. However, we are losing an international battle of our own, and I would not call the United States a Christian nation any longer. Christian teaching is barely tolerated in our own country, especially our schools (where it is often mocked in our textbooks). As such, I would encourage you (as I have to myself) that God is in control and He is good. He allows nations to judge nations, but He is always faithful to keep His promises. He has made so many promises to you in Daniel alone, that you should know that your nation cannot cease to exist. Even through the Holocaust, the forces in this world against you could not erase you. To erase your people would be to erase the Word of God, and this is the goal of a fallen world. But they won’t be able to do that.

    As a Christian, I continue to look for Daniel’s 70th week. I believe the Bible is God’s Word. I can’t imagine God allowing your nation to be taken from you now just to be restored again, because you WILL be a nation according to the Bible in the 70th week. But, if it is, I know that your peoples’ existence will be guarded somewhere by God, for that day when as a nation He will complete His promises to you.

    I almost feel like I need to apologize to you on behalf of the western world for our failures to continue to protect your nation, but maybe this is God’s way of showing you that it is not us who put you in place for this day or who keeps you safe, but it is HIM.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Debby,

      Yes, I recognized your name because I can see your email address and website on my admin page (no one else can see it, don’t worry!). I addressed you as Littlearkansasdar because that was how you called yourself and I didn’t know if you wanted your actual name to be used. Anyway, glad you sorted it out.

      Thank you so much for sharing my blog amongst your FB friends and for spreading Israel’s side of the story, which so often gets distorted or hidden.

      Regarding the rest of your comment, I find it very sad that the Judeo-Christian values on which Western civilization is based are being forgotten. This is as much a problem for the West as it is for Israel.

      As a religious Jew myself I am in agreement with you that G-d has not forgotten us, and that He will always stand by His people, and will bless those people who bless Israel. I am moved by your faith in G-d and am comforted by the fact that there are so many believing Christians like you who support us.

      You really have no need to feel apologetic for those who stand against us. It’s not your fault, and you and your friends are certainly doing your utmost to turn that around.

      As you say, the fact that Israel not only stands but thrives is proof that G-d is the one helping us. There’s no other way to explain all the miracles that take place almost daily in Israel.

  2. The primary predicate to understanding Israel’’s international relations is that these relations are
    not dependent on history, justice, logic or even issues of common sense humanity. Instead, they
    are dominated by anti-Semitic/Islamic religious mandates calling for the destruction of Israel,
    genocide of Jews, Euro/Islamic demographics and oil-economics.
    Criticizing Israeli policies on such issues of settlements, proportionality, legitimacy of
    occupancy, etc., on their merits is a distraction from having to answer for Arab/Palestinian
    religiously mandated objectives calling for the elimination of Israel and genocide of Jews.
    Professor Rubin’s attempt to answer critics on the merits of these issues legitimizes their accusations and validates the
    success of their distraction agenda. The recent criticism from the International Community,
    including the United States and the European Union regarding Israel’’s announcement to increase
    settlement activity in regions belonging to Israel, proper, without acknowledging
    Arab/Palestinian terrorist objectives to destroy Israel and kill Jews is stark evidence that Israel
    will have no “Partner” it can depend on to support its defensive actions, let alone the legitimate
    domestic needs of its citizens.
    Without the ability to mount a credible invasion of Israel, the only weapons available to
    materially threaten Israel are suicide bombers, international criticism and rockets. Suicide
    bombers have been effectively neutralized. International criticism being substantively
    disingenuous is self-defeating. Israel maintains its ability to relegate rocket attacks to a
    psychological/political nuisance through its defensive technology and effective retaliatory
    responses. Consequently, Israel continues to enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living.
    Nevertheless, in response to individual and isolated actions to sanction Israel as token bones
    thrown by individual members of the international community to Arab/Islamic demagogues, as
    well as their being motivated by un-repentant bigotry, hypocracy and anti-Semitism, Israel should
    simply pay the requisite lip-service, and continue to pursue its own interests in defense and
    economic development. And this it can do indefinitely

    • anneinpt says:

      Professor Rubin’s attempt to answer critics on the merits of these issues legitimizes their accusations and validates the success of their distraction agenda.

      I think that Prof. Rubin was making the opposite point: that there’s no point in answering these critics on their own merits for the very reason you write.

      Nevertheless, in response to individual and isolated actions to sanction Israel as token bones thrown by individual members of the international community to Arab/Islamic demagogues, as well as their being motivated by un-repentant bigotry, hypocracy and anti-Semitism, Israel should simply pay the requisite lip-service, and continue to pursue its own interests in defense and economic development. And this it can do indefinitely

      Agreed. That was pretty much Prof. Rubin’s point.

      • Elliott E Alhadeff says:

        Although much of Prof. Rubin’s commentary takes issue and goes to the merits of the points being made by the international community e.g.,

        –They have rewarded the side that rejected the offer of a state and pursued violence instead, cheering the murder of Israeli civilians.
        –They have removed the framework on the basis of which Israel made numerous risky concessions including letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip; establish a government; obtain billions of dollars of money; created military organizations that have been used to attack Israel; establish schools and other institutions which call and teach for Israel’s destruction; and a long list of other things.

        he says nothing of the irrelevance of the merits of these arguments to the basic objectives of the Arabs/Palestinians.

        Again, the basic, unequivocal predicate to any criticism of Israel is not history, justice, logic, or even common sense humanitarian principles. The basic predicate is the Arab/Palestinan intractable adherence to their religious mandate compelling the elimination of Israel and the genocide of Jews. Otherwise, this mandate would have been summarily eliminated decades ago as inhumane at least if not an exhistential threat to the civilized world. Not only has it not been eliminated, it is not even disputed – even by Prof. Rubin. This predicate should be the beginning of every retort to any critic of Israel. Answer this issue first before any other issue is addressed should be the practice – it is now, not even the exception. Instead, Prof. Rubin offers his advice to solve the Middle East Problem:

        “There are only three ways, which must be combined, to survive: to believe truthful things, do constructive things, and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.”

        Really? He forgot to say you should also “hold your head up high and whistle a happy tune. “

        • anneinpt says:

          Elliott, I formatted your comment slightly for clarity.

          To address your point: If I understand you correctly you say that the main predicate of the Arab conflict with Israel is their religious determination to eliminate Israel and the Jews, and that (to quote you)

          This predicate should be the beginning of every retort to any critic of Israel. Answer this issue first before any other issue is addressed should be the practice

          You are upset that Rubin doesn’t appear to address this. But he simply asserts that the only way Israel is going to be able to cope with its current situation is to simply ignore the constant criticism and vilification and just get on with what it needs to do.

          He does not claim that Israel should simply “whistle a happy tune”. He’s a realist, not a day-dreamer. He doesn’t say that Israel must give up the fight, the literal physical fight. He just says we shouldn’t waste our time on claim and counter-claim in the diplomatic sphere. We just need to carry on fighting, building and growing and ignore the shouts and screams from the international community.

          To me this advice seems eminently sensible.

          • Elliott E Alhadeff says:

            Anne:
            As long as there is any attempt to address the distractive criticism of Israel’s policies – without first clearly stating that any criticism that does not recognize the barbarian savagery of Israel’s adversaries is therefore implicitly supportive of that barbarian savagery – ligitimizes the distraction and renders irrelevant the inhumanity of Israel’s aggressors. Prof. Rubin is not the only one duped by this Arab/Palestinian/anti-Semitic public relations program to manufacture and sell distractions from Arab/Palestinian barbarism. Israel’s public relations demise is primarily due to treating its adversaries as good-faith, rational negotiators instead of compelling a focus on their publicly proclaimed, religiously mandated inhumanity of Israel’s elimination and the genocide of Jews.

    • cba says:

      Elliott, I have a request–it seems you’re writing your comments elsewhere and then copying and pasting them here. Which is fine, except that it also looks like you’re starting each new line with a new paragraph, and that means when the lines wrap differently, as they are pretty much bound to do, it makes your comments rather hard to read.

      Could I ask you to start a new paragraph when you really want a new paragraph, and let the software take care of the line breaks?

      Thanks!

      • Elliott E Alhadeff says:

        Hi Anne:
        You’re quite right. I use my word processor to formulate my thoughts and try to insure accuracy in spelling and when I paste them to your blog, it comes out badly formulated, graphically. I’ll try to be more observant – thank you for your patience….

  3. reality says:

    I feel so much better having read this blog! I really do believe that G-d is on our side & “moving things along” in order to test our faith. When all else fails thats all we’re left with & after seeing so many miracles especially in the mini war we just had -this all helps to strengthen our faith. I wish our leaders would read this blog & take heed. The problem is that they are not strong enough to ignore the frantic screaming by the entire world if we dare to utter that we may build. Its bad enough that we Jews survived the holocaust but the temerity of those pesky Jews to build a country, take in thousand of poor refugees ,have a load of wars foisted upon them & STILL SURVIVE & to live a happily pleasant & healthy life too! Such Chutzpah! Bless you all who support us& thank You

    • anneinpt says:

      I felt a lot better too having read Barry Rubin’s piece. Actually I think our leaders do a fair job of ignoring the international community’s smears and vilification, but they need to grow more of a backbone. I think our biggest problem are our “peaceniks” who only wish to be loved by the world. They think if we give in to every whim they’ll all love us more and all will be well in the Middle East. They should read my next blog post to learn what the world thinks about “good Jews” as opposed to “bad Jews”. (Hint: they’re all the same in their eyes).

  4. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Anne, you might have seen this on YNet’s website (I got it via The Tablet, the US online Jewish paper): http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4318976,00.html
    The gist is that King Abdullah II of Jordan is cited as saying that Israel & Palestine will resume “peace” negotiations in 2 months time in Amman. Note that the article also says “the meeting will be held under the auspices of the European Union and the United States. [King Abdullah] expressed his desire to see Washington focus on putting “the peace process on the right track.” ” (This is via the Jordanian newspaper Al-Hayat).

    On another site, I expressed my scepticism (don’t we all), but I added that (following earlier comments I’d made on that site) maybe, as other commentators had said, Bibi was actually saying, re his announcement about Area E1, if you don’t like this, come to the negotiating table and we’ll see what we can do. After all, Israeli bureaucracy is such that it’s going to be a couple of years before any earth is broken for any house-building.

    It’s a nice thought: such subtlety from Bibi. Who’d’ve thunk it!

    • anneinpt says:

      Brian, I’m always sceptical about any news to do with that elusive creature, “Middle East peace”. However I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised. I had read the Ynet article in passing but didn’t give it too much thought to be honest. It’s interesting that Abdullah wants to get in on the “peace” act. He’s been under pressure from Islamists in his own country, and he probably wants something to show for his neutrality re Israel. If he can get Israel and the Palestinians together talking, that would bolster his reputation at home. Although I’m not sure it will help him against the Islamists.

      Your theory about Bibi might well be right. And actually, he’s a lot more subtle than people give him credit for. It’s just that he’s always automatically given a bad name with the modifiers “hard-line”, “right-wing”, “hawkish”, etc. Do we ever see similar adjectives regarding other world leaders?

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  6. Rob Harris says:

    Barry Rubin wrote: “Again, what’s important here is not to complain about the unfairness of international life, the hypocrisy of those involved, and the double standards applied against Israel. This is the reality of the situation and must be the starting point for considering what to do. And what’s important is to do that which is necessary to preserve Israel’s national security and to ignore to the greatest possible extent anything that subverts it. [...]
    Israel’s fate includes to be slandered, its actions and society so often distorted by those responsible for conveying accurate information to their own societies. And that also means to be attacked violently by its neighbors, though it can minimize the effectiveness of that violence…. we cannot let this nonsensical excuse for reality drive us mad or make us mad. There are only three ways, which must be combined, to survive: to believe truthful things, do constructive things, and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.”

    I have huge respect for Rubin’s writing and agree with him 98% of the time but disagree with him fundamentally on this point. I agree with the notion that Israel’s achievement continues to make it a vibrant strong state. It came second in the world in terms of education standards according to the OECD (in 2011 if I remember correctly). However, in my opinion the demonisation of Israel shouldn’t be ignored or simply laughed at. Perhaps Rubin has possibly grown used to this demonisation as it can’t be easy remaining angry at this injustice for so many years or perhaps he thinks it impossible to challenge seriously. All I can say is that all this hatred is driven by an intent to destroy Israel, and harm the Jewish race for some. It has grown from strength too strength, especially since the Millennium. It is impossible to say where it will lead to with certainty but ignoring such intense hatred, commanding powerful forces, would surely be a serious mistake.

    • anneinpt says:

      I don’t think Rubin, or anyone else, is suggesting we ignore the demonisation of Israel. I think what he’s getting at in a roundabout way is that we should stop trying to appease or pacify the demonisers, i.e. if only Israel would do xyz peace would break out, and it’s all Israel’s fault. In matters like that, there is nothing that Israel can do that will ever satisfy them, so we might as well not waste energy on them. And in fact, Israel has managed to succeed so well precisely because it doesn’t really try to appease the demonisers, and just “gets on with it”.

      Of course the demonisers are not ignored, and Israel has a PR “industry” (aka hasbara, the word that sends chills down the spines of demonisers) and, finally, after years of neglect, excellent spokesmen to counteract this demonisation.

      I agree with you 100% that the INTENTION of the demonisers is to harm and even destroy Israel. we just disagree re the possibility of the success of their intentions.

      • Rob Harris says:

        I agree that he suggests ignoring those who try to appease. However, while he doesn’t explicitly state that people should ignore how Israel is demonised, I took the substance of the overall article to infer that Israel will continue to prosper no matter what, and thus the (in)ability to defend Israel’s right to exist is relatively unimportant.

        Statements (besides what I quoted above) like “The quality of existence is more important than the quality of the ability to justify one’s existence.” are fair enough.

        However, he parallels the demonisation of Israel with that of Jewish people with “Well, that’s the way things are and in some ways they’ve been like that for decades; from a Jewish standpoint, for centuries. So what else is new?” I agree with the parallel but that sentence suggest he isn’t truly accounting for what has been visited on the Jewish people in the past by this demonisation, and the potential for its destructive power today.

        For myself, the key issue is how long will the US remain behind Israel to prevent the UN acting against Israel. The intensity of the campaign against Israel is staggering, and there are signs that elements within the US establishment are changing their tone.

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