Israel should trust the sword over the pen

Every time Israeli leaders have trusted the pen over the sword it has ended in bloodshed and destruction, as in Oslo.

Rachel Touitou
January 21, 2020
Jerusalem Post

British prime minister Neville Chamberlain returned from meeting Adolf Hitler in Munich at the end of September 1938 after arriving at an ostensible written agreement, waving the piece of paper which he fastidiously claimed would secure “peace with honor” and “peace for our time.”Winston Churchill famously retorted to Chamberlain, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”

These words were prescient because within six months Hitler had broken the agreement, and within a year invaded Poland.This chapter, while not intimately applicable, is reminiscent of the recent reports that the State of Israel is close to an agreed truce with the Hamas terrorist organization.

It is deeply worrying that a nation which spends over 5% of its defense budget, totaling tens of billions of dollars per annum, has complete air supremacy over Gaza, is surrendering to an organization without much heavy weaponry, let alone a single tank division.

Only defeated or weak-willed nations seek truces, and if Israel surrenders and admits defeat against Hamas it will only embolden all of the Jewish state’s enemies near and far.

The ayatollahs in Iran, Hezbollah in the North, and the many other enemies chomping at the bit will be buoyed by these developments.

Israel’s remaining defensive shield, its long-eroding deterrence, will be all but non-existent, which will put the Jewish state at risk of further defeat, destruction and bloodshed.For two decades now, Israeli leaders have made decisions that were meant to prevent friction and conflict, but merely encouraged its enemies to shed the blood of Israelis.

We saw that after retreat from Lebanon in May 2000, which led directly to the Second Intifada and cost the lives of over 1,000 Israelis.

We saw that after the disengagement in September 2005, which led directly to the Second Lebanon War less than a year later and cost the lives of 165 Israelis and left hundreds of thousands of others displaced because of an incessant barrage of rockets.

Every time Israel took steps that it saw as placating the enemy, it ended in even greater bloodshed and destruction.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE State of Israel finds itself in a neighborhood where conciliation and pacification are not met with gratitude but with even greater hunger.

Moreover, the pragmatic and largely Sunni Arab world that has historically always sided with the stronger horse and sat on the fence until it saw a victor, will start turning away from its significant outreach to Israel.

In the First World War, its leaders sided with the Ottoman Empire until it saw that the Allied powers would emerge victorious. Likewise, in the Second World War. In the Cold War, many had bet on the Soviet Union until it was clearly losing ground to the West.

These Arab states have recently come to the conclusion that Israel is now a permanent fait accompli in the Middle East and it can be an extremely useful ally in its battle with the Islamic Republic of Iran and extremist Sunni groups like ISIS.

Unfortunately, many may be forced to recalculate their position after witnessing this truce.

In other words, by signing this truce, Israeli leaders might be convincing themselves that there is some short-term gain, but we know that it will not last long and will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

When the missiles start landing again and the truce is ripped asunder, Israel will not only have lost military deterrence and diplomatic gains, it will have lost its ability to convince its adversaries of its military power.

Instead of rushing to sign truces with Hamas, Israel’s leaders need to return to a policy of victory and deterrence, the spirit that made it defeat all of its enemies, as in 1948, 1967 and 1973.

This is what ensured that Israel not only survived but flourished.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2015, Israel will “live forever by the sword.” This realization has kept Israelis safe.

Every time Israeli leaders have trusted the pen over the sword it has ended in bloodshed and destruction, as in Oslo.

Israeli leaders should heed Churchill’s words, for in this excruciating truce and surrender they need to know that they will have neither honor nor peace.

The writer is deputy director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel office, whose main initiative is the Israel Victory Project.

recommended articles
No items found.
Marketing Permissions Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Middle East Forum:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.