'Unilateral withdrawal' - the ultimate in cynicismOver the holiday, I read this past Friday's Jerusalem Post magazine, which has an interview with one Dan Schueftan, who is regarded as one of the 'fathers' of 'disengagement.' The interview was astounding both for its cynicism and its vile hatred of religious Jews. It also shows that he is completely unrepentant. Some excerpts (with commentary):
In fact, says Schueftan - a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa, where he serves as deputy director of the National Security Studies Center - "my concern is not whether the Palestinians will stop being terrorists, because they won't. My consideration is whether Israeli society will be as strong today and tomorrow as it was yesterday."I've discussed the demography hoax - which is a tool of the left - before. So has the US Congress. More references here and here and here.
Schueftan, who also lectures at the IDF's National Defense College, insists that the only way the country can remain a flourishing, modern democracy (what he calls the "eighth wonder of the world") is for the Jews to have a sustainable majority over the Arabs [He never defines what a 'sustainable majority' is. CiJ]. His point is that while "we may be able to do with less aircraft and fewer tanks," demographic imprudence will do us in for sure.
Indeed, the author of Disengagement - the 1999 book that became a virtual blueprint for the 2005 withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Samaria - is a demography doomsayer.
So much so that he even goes as far as to claim that the state's allocation of child allowances, which encouraged "non-Zionist, non-productive, non-democratic, non-modern" elements to be fruitful and multiply, posed as great a threat to its survival as an Iranian nuclear bomb.
As to his reference to "non-Zionist, non-productive, non-democratic, non-modern" elements of society, he's not referring to the Arabs, as becomes obvious later on in the article.
Unilateral steps can take different forms. For instance, I wouldn't suggest today that Israel leave the West Bank and take the IDF out. I would remove the settlements more or less behind the fence - mutatis mutandis - and leave the IDF there for as long as it is absolutely necessary, taking the security consequences of Israel's leaving the area into account. But basically my attitude was, and still is, that Israel without the Gaza Strip is stronger than Israel with the Gaza Strip. Israel without Nablus is stronger than Israel with Nablus. Even more than that: Israel without the parts of east Jerusalem heavily populated by Arabs - with a very different delineation of the line than we had before 1967 - is stronger than Israel that includes 300,000 Arabs. My assumption is that, for the foreseeable future, we'll have neither peace nor any kind of working settlement with the Palestinians. My assumption is that the conflict will go on for at least this generation.For the record, Pisgat Ze'ev is WITHIN the Jerusalem city limits. Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev and Gush Etzion are all within a 5-10 minute drive. How does he propose to defend the city with the Arabs (literally) a few meters away?
What about the Jordan Valley?
The Jordan Valley should be under Israeli control for as long as possible and necessary. The best option would be if we could reach some kind of an accepted settlement according to which the Jordan Valley stays in Israel but the heartland of Judea and Samaria is linked to the rest of the Arab world through a corridor in Jericho. Among other things, this would also protect the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from the Palestinians.
In other words, you support Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's realignment plan that has been put on hold.
Yes, with one exception: not taking the army out of the West Bank... for the time being.
But in terms of territory, I would remove most of the settlements, and keep most of the settlers inside Israel, including the Ariel bloc, Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, Pisgat Ze'ev, Gush Etzion. I'm sorry that the Supreme Court imposed going back to the June 5, 1967, lines in Judea. There is no reason whatsoever for this, as far as population in the area is concerned. We could have taken a portion of it. But, if this is the deal, I would accept it.
When Olmert reiterated his realignment plan during the Second War in Lebanon, he was chastised by the public for it. His popularity has suffered greatly since then. Are you saying that he was given a bad rap?You got this? He says that Israel should give up its strategic depth in return for less than nothing. Why would any rational person do this? Here's his answer:
No. He deserved a setback, because he mishandled the war.
Secondly, Israelis expected the disengagement from Gaza to lead to a decrease in terrorism, which it didn't do.
You didn't expect this?
I certainly didn't. If I may put it in a broader context: In 1977, when asked if I would leave the Sinai Peninsula for peace, I answered, "What [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat is offering (a separate settlement removing Egypt from the active violent confrontation with Israel) is so critical for the future of Israel that I would have paid more than merely the Sinai Peninsula, but it has nothing to do with peace. And when we withdraw - indeed, the more we concede to Egyptian demands - the more hostility, hatred and anti-Semitism we will arouse."
I don't expect the Arabs to accept us. Even the elite among the Arab citizens of Israel don't. They would like to undermine our national existence.
Let me stress that I'm not offering concessions because the Arabs deserve them. When they try to destroy us, they deserve nothing. The question is not, "Will we get peace with the Palestinians in return for these concessions?" Because, whatever we do, we will not get peace.
I have one consideration only: How to guarantee Israeli society's continuing to be as strong as it is. Individual Israelis may be extremely unpleasant, but when you look at the Israeli collective, you cannot but be amazed by the strength and resilience of the society as a whole under extreme pressure. Poets should be praising it. Its strength is manifested in the fact that, on the one hand, it does not turn in the direction of capitulation, like the Europeans; and on the other hand, it does not turn in the direction of radicalization, like the Palestinians.I cannot think of anything that will undermine Israeli society more than constant exposure to terror, constant attacks on our civilians, living constantly in fear. Do we assume that the miracle that there are still Jews left in this country despite all the terror will continue? And what about all the Jews who are afraid to move here because of the constant exposure to wars and bloodshed? I understand the (delusional) Israelis who "just want to live in a normal country" and therefore think we should give the Arabs whatever they want so they will leave us alone. And I agree that the Arabs will never leave us alone. So then why would I do something that can only weaken us? The whole argument makes NO sense. And now, here comes the anti-religious stuff. It drips out of his mouth....
The beauty of Israeli society is that the more pressure you put on it, the more it gravitates to the center. It is the eighth wonder of the world. Look, people are not leaving this country. People don't take their money out of this country. Democracy is flourishing - and if it is threatened, it it is threatened from the direction of anarchy, rather than fascism: In other words, what is threatening the separation of powers in government is not the army, but the Supreme Court. Now, I don't like it, but if you are at war, and your problem is with the Supreme Court, that's somewhat comforting.
Imagine, 25 years ago, we were on the brink of tearing society apart on the Sephardi-Ashkenazi issue. Today, we've got almost a million kids who don't know whether they're Sephardi or Ashkenazi. We all but solve problems of a magnitude and multitude that nobody in the world even encounters. This is a most impressive society, and it's our No. 1 asset. In our arsenal, if there's one thing hostile Arabs should fear, it is the strength of Israeli society.
A few weeks ago, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, I was asked if Israel lost its deterrence after the Lebanon War. I facetiously responded, "You don't understand. If I were a hostile Arab, I'd be frightened of Israel, because this country survives in spite of Amir Peretz's being defense minister."
This is a society that basically says, "If the government doesn't function, we'll function without government." And it works!
This is a country that, after six years of war - with buses and pizzerias and cafes exploding, and then a million people living in bomb shelters - has a booming economy.
We may be able to do with less aircraft and fewer tanks. We can even survive confrontations with the Arabs that we don't exactly win. But if, God forbid, we undermine the strength of Israeli society, we're doomed.
My concern is not whether we will have peace, because we won't. And my concern is not whether the Palestinians will stop turning to terrorism, because they won't. My consideration is whether Israeli society will be as strong today and tomorrow as it was yesterday. In this context, we must understand that the perpetuation of the status quo, in the long run, is not an option.Why don't we just adopt Shimon Peres' solution: Let's not have a country. Let's just have a website!
Because mainstream Israelis didn't want to be in Gaza. I'm choosing Gaza because it's easy; Judea and Samaria are much more complicated. [You got that folks? The people in Sderot who are being hit by Kasssams DAILY aren't 'mainstream Israelis' to this moron. They wanted the army to be in Gaza so they wouldn't be hit by Kassams. Sorry Sderot. You're not mainstream Israelis. In fact, you're about to see that you don't count at all. CiJ]The Israelis who count are those who say, "We understand the need to stand fast for generations; we understand the need for our newborns to serve in the army 18 years from now."
The notion that our children will have to be in the army at some point in the near future is something that most Israelis no longer expect. And if there is the slightest suspicion that this war is continuing because of the Gaza Strip, most mainstream Israelis say, "I'm sorry, thank you very much, you can have Gaza. Your 1.3 million Palestinians can go and do whatever they want, but out of our face. We don't want to see them or have anything to do with them. We want them behind a high wall."
It is only if people realize that this is what they're fighting for will we continue to have a strong society that is not only supported by people who are as ideologically committed as the settlers tend to be, but also by people who may have doubts that settlers don't have - and you need them on board more than anybody else. [This country was built on idealism. More than any other country in the West. CiJ]
The Jewish people made an irrevocable mistake in the early 1920s. Half a million Jews coming here then would have provided a critical demographic mass for a Jewish state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. But we didn't come. This is something we've been paying for ever since, and it means that the Land of Israel must be partitioned between us and the Palestinians. Not because they deserve it. They don't. Simply because we cannot digest it. And what we cannot digest, we shouldn't swallow. And what we cannot swallow, we shouldn't bite off.
We must take a broad strategic view, rather than focus exclusively - or even primarily - on territory. Territory is important; I'm not saying you can disregard it. But there are many different elements that have to be considered.
By this logic, what is Israel supposed to do about "digesting" the Israeli Arab demographics? Withdraw from Haifa and Acre?Before 1992, Haredim got allowances from the Education Ministry that almost equalized their monthly allowance with what those who served in the army received. When the left took power in 1992, they changed that because they wanted to make sure that the Arabs got just as much. But the National Insurance Institute payments (which I have argued for years ought to be apportioned based on income) are nowhere near the cost of raising children. And they weren't in 1992 either.
By disengaging from the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank, we transform an unmanageable threat into a manageable challenge. We have hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship today, who wouldn't have it had we built a fence immediately after 1967.
To this day, the Beduin are taking demographic and geographic control of the Negev, because we failed to take the appropriate steps to secure our most vital needs. In extreme cases, a Beduin marries his cousin; they have 15 children. He takes a second wife from the Hebron mountains; he has another 15 children. He takes a third wife from the Gaza Strip; then has yet another 15 children. Then he can take more and divorce as many as he pleases, who collect Bituah Leumi [National Insurance money] as single mothers. With his 45 or 60 children, in one generation, he is a village. So not building a fence is a crime against Zionism. If you let Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank move freely into Israel, we are doomed. [Yes, if we keep letting them move here we are doomed. But until 1992 - as he admits below - the Arabs were getting much smaller child allowances that the Jews. That was the left's doing - it was the first thing they did when Rabin's government took power in 1992. The second was Oslo. CiJ]
The worst danger was the allocation of child allowances, because it encouraged Muslim Arabs and haredi Jews (Christian Arabs didn't go in this direction) to have many children and only one parent participating in the workforce. Such a policy increases the non-Zionist, non-productive, non-democratic and non-modern elements within the country. This is an existential threat to Israel - almost as much as an Iranian nuclear bomb.
In 2003, when Binyamin Netanyahu was finance minister, he reduced the child allowances. This was as important as having aircraft that can reach Iran.
You don't really believe that people have dozens of children because of child allowances, do you? Wouldn't the populations in question be having that many children anyway?
There is this legend, perpetuated by people who don't know what they're talking about, that haredim necessarily have many children and don't work because their religious belief dictates it. But look at haredim in Antwerp or in New York: They work and have far fewer children. The same goes for the Arab world. The campaign in Egypt to lower the birthrate succeeded, as it did in Iran.
We shouldn't be mortgaging our future by changing our demographic balance in this direction. [In other words, better to give the country to the Arabs than to have it be 'overrun' with Haredim! The hatred just drips out of this guy's mouth! CiJ]
We have a commission of inquiry into the failures of the Second War in Lebanon. But the issue of child allowances - as they were until 2003 and could come back - is far more critical in the long run.
But the child allowances were only a part of an entire welfare state system that has been around since the days of David Ben-Gurion.
It wasn't from the days of Ben-Gurion; it was from the days of [Yitzhak] Rabin.
For a long period of time, the idea was to support families whose children serve in the army. It was only after 1992 that it changed vis- -vis the Arabs; unfortunately, it eroded vis- -vis the haredim earlier than that.
Surely you are familiar with the study conducted by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael Wise of the American Research Initiative, showing there are far fewer Palestinians than is commonly stated.In other words, he has no answer so he dismisses it. "So what."
I'm familiar with it, and it doesn't matter much. It's the "so what" effect. It doesn't matter if the Arabs are already 50% - or let's be radical and say 40%. The question is: Can we have a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority? If it is not overwhelming, this state will not be modern; it will not be democratic; it will not keep the kind of salt-of-the-earth people who make Israel survive and prosper. If you have millions of Arabs inside Israel, Israel is doomed.
In an interview in these pages in 2004, your colleague (and co-promoter of disengagement) Arnon Soffer said: "We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed... if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day."The Dolphinarium bombing was in June 2001, the Karine A incident was in January 2002 and Operation Defensive Shield happened right after the Seder night massacre in April 2002. If he's right, why didn't Defensive Shield happen right after the Karine A? Obviously, because there was no connection between them. Is he suggesting that if the Karine A had not been discovered until 2006 or 2007, it would have been 'worth the wait'?
If the idea, as you say, has nothing to do with peace, but self-preservation, why did we allow Kassams to land while we were withdrawing? And why does mainstream Israel not view disengagement as you do?
In time, the mainstream will come again to see things my way. Look, there is this very childish approach which says: Let's make enormous concessions and then, if the Palestinians do commit even the slightest provocation, all hell will break loose.
But, in every situation, you must ask yourself what the smart thing is to do. The key to being politically smart is to forget about justice and conduct a very strict cost-benefit analysis. For instance, would it have been justified to say that once [Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser] Arafat committed this or that act of terrorism, we would immediately destroy PA infrastructure and reoccupy Palestinian cities and refugee camps? Yes, completely justified.
But wasn't it wiser to do what [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon did - which was not respond to the Dolphinarium bombing [in 2001] until the Americans were on board?
Remember what happened in the interim between the Dolphinarium bombing and Operation Defensive Shield? The Karine A incident. The Americans finally understood that Arafat was a terrorist. As a result, we were able to do something very radical with American support. The difference was enormous, because the Americans shielded us from potentially dangerous European pressures. This was worth waiting for. We have no option of responding to every provocation by indiscriminate mass killing of Palestinian civilians, because of what we are. That is another dimension of the strong society we discussed before.
Now, if you look at the 85-year period since the emergence of the Palestinian people, you will see that our situation gets progressively better, while theirs gets worse and worse.It hasn't been 85 years since there were 'Palestinians' and if the 'Palestinians' wanted to come to Israel we could just say no, just like every other sovereign nation doesn't throw its doors open to everyone who wants to immigrate and settle in it.
In the final analysis, who suffers strategically more from their terrorism? Think about it: If there were no terrorism, how could we defend the fence? What would we do if peaceful Palestinians wanted to come into Israel?
The answer is that it would be much more difficult to prevent our demographic destruction were it not for terrorism. It would have been very difficult to explain to people why Oslo was a profound mistake, if the Palestinians hadn't been so stupid as to revert to radical terrorism. Indeed, until that point, you couldn't convince mainstream Israelis that Oslo was completely detached from reality. Had Arafat not used massive terrorism, we would still have people in the mainstream believing that the Palestinians have abandoned their commitment to the destruction of the Jewish nation-state.
Read the whole thing.