Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.
When formulating the Israel Victory idea in the late 1990s (and first writing about it in April2001), it seemed as distant as the moon to me. But now, a more realistic Israeli body politic and Arab states focused on the Iranian threat, bring it within reach. Therefore, its implications need to be worked out in some detail. That is the goal of the book in your hands.
Polling shows the Israeli public increasingly attracted to the idea of Israel Victory. For example, a Midgam Research & Consulting survey after the Israel-Hamas war a year ago found 82 percent of Jewish Israeli respondents agreeing that “There can be no appeasing Hamas; only by defeating it unequivocally can we bring this conflict to an end.” And 70 percent agreed that “There can be no deals with terrorist organizations, only defeat. Israel must use all its military, diplomatic and economic means to crush Hamas’ will to continue fighting.”
Israeli political leaders newly speak of winning. Naftali Bennett did so when blessing the troops: “Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory.” Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Israel “will succeed for Israel’s victory.” Reuben Rivlin jumped on the Israel Victory bandwagon: “From the inception of Zionism until today, an Israel that initiates is an Israel that is victorious. Now is the time to initiate; now is the time for victory.” Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman articulated his goalvis-à-vis Hamas to “break its will to continue to fight.”
So too with the military brass. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, holds that the Israeli military has “formulated a concept for victory through the Multi-Year ‘Momentum’ Plan.” As he prepared to take over the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, addressed the challenges ahead: “I am responsible for border protection, for winning the war and for providing security and a sense of security to the citizens of Israel.”
Tehran’s dominant influence over four Arab-speaking capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Sanaa)as well as its further aggression, combined with weak U.S. support, has turned several Arab leaders to look to Israel as an ally. Starting with the United Arab Emirates but also Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, decision makers view Israel less through the lens of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and more in terms of bilateral relations, providing Israel with more freedom of action.
Israel Victory is simple to explain: Israel imposes its will on West Bank and Gaza Palestinians so majorities there eventually cease to try to eliminate it and instead accept the permanent existence of the Jewish state. Ironically, liberating Palestinians from their obsession with Israel benefits them even more than Israelis, for it finally opens a path for them to build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. Thus do all sides gain from Israel victory and Palestinian defeat.
Israel Victory represents Israel’s only possible path to resolution. It has two main virtues. First, unlike Jerusalem’s current policy, which merely puts out brushfires, it squarely addresses the Palestinian rejectionism that inspires worldwide anti-Israel emotions. Second, it is solution agnostic, with no implications for what happens after the Palestinians accept Israel – for example, it says nothing about the West Bank’s final disposition; this means that all seeking security and welfare for Israel can support it.
But Israel Victory has complex implications. What tactics should Israel use? How much violence is required? Do Israeli ethics obstruct victory? Does it brutalize Israeli society? Does it harm Israel’s reputation internationally? Can Palestinians be defeated in the face of their worldwide support network? Does Islam provide an undefeatable core? How does one recognize a Palestinian change of heart? How will defeat affect Israel’s Muslim citizens?
The excellent essays that follow take up several aspects of this inquiry: MK Zvi Hauser argues for disarming Hamas, MK Evgeny Sova claims сlaims to strengthen the consciousness of victory, Major General (res.) Itshak Brik shows how IDF should win the next war, Brigadier General (res.) Chilik Soffer shows that the Israeli public’s resilience is higher than usually thought, Brigadier General (res.) Amir Avivi claims that it is impossible to win without establishing sovereignty in the Negev and Tom Nissani goes on to explain that an Israeli victory cannot be when the Jews are overthrown on the Temple Mount, Shlomo Neeman argues that international pressure can be withstood, Sarah Haetzni-Cohen talks about the importance of civil society organizations in victory, Adv. Yifa Segal calls to stop thinking that poverty causes terrorism, Carma Feinstein Cohen calls on Israelis to develop a greater sense of self-trust.
The Israeli strategist Efraim Inbar reassuringly sees Palestinians as nothing but a “strategic nuisance” to because they lack economic or military heft; but he overlooks the fact that the global Left’s ever-more furious anti-Zionism results almost exclusively on its perception that Israel abuses Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. That means the only way to reduce this dangerous hostility– imagine a Bernie Sanders-style leftist one day in the White House – is by settling the Palestinian issue. From an Israeli point of view, this must be as urgent as dealing with Iran’s nuclear arsenal. And now is the time to address it, while the international context is relatively benign.
Israel Victory represents Israel’sonly possible path to resolution. Current governmental policy merely aims to put out brush fires. Unlike other proposed solutions – such as Benjamin Anthony’s New State Solution, Caroline Glick’s One-State Solution, Mordechai Kedar’s Palestinian Emirates, Martin Sherman’s Humanitarian Paradigm, or the old Jordan-is-Palestine chestnut– Israel Victory directly addresses the Palestinian rejectionism that inspires worldwide anti-Israel emotions.
Brig. Gen. (res) Yossi Kuperwasser, one of this book’s authors, correctly points out that “When we talk about victory, we begin to win.” God apparently endorses Israel Victory when speaking to Israel in Deuteronomy20:3-4: “Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” On a lighter note, the American comedian Alan King quipped that every Jewish holiday can be summed up as “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” Note the operative verb here: “won.” It’s excellent advice for the Government of Israel.