Israel Resource Review 9th March, 2008


Crucial Role That American Citizens Can Play With the American Congress to Stem the Momentum for a PLO State
David Bedein*

Israeli decision makers feel helpless at the hands of such American government directives.

The time has come to realize that American citizens can play a vital role with the US government at this time - to counter the American government momentum to establish lethal Arab sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and, yes, in Jerusalem. After all, sovereignty means guns in the hands of Israel's adversaries.

Why should American citizens act?

The time has come to dismiss the notion that Israel is an independent state which makes independent foreign policy and independent defensive policy decisions, which, for better or worse, are made in Washington, DC.

The time has come to dismiss the notion that the Israeli government would react more forcefully if Tel Aviv and the center of the country were being bombarded.

As a reporter who covered the home front in Israel during the Yom Kippur War for the Jewish Student Press Service and as a reporter who covered the home front in Israel for CNN RADIO, the time has come to share the hands-on perspective of this reporter.

The open secret revealed by Israeli intelligence sources in the early days of the Yom Kippur war was that the US government prevented Israel from carrying out a preemptive attack on October 5th, 1973.

Israeli intelligence knew of the forthcoming attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israel Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Israel Foreign Minister Abba Eban apprised the American government that Israel would be attacked on two fronts and that Israel would need massive help.

New documentation confirms that US Secretary of State Kissinger agreed to provide that help, on one condition: No preemptive attack.

This was deja vu to June 1967, when Israel asked for help from France, its then traditional ally. De Gaulle agreed to provide that help, on one condition: No preemptive attack.

In 1967, Israel ignored DeGaulle, lost French support, yet won the war.

In 1973, however, Israel agreed to Kissinger's condition.

Israel gained vital American logistical support during the war, yet lost its independence to the US - "both militarily and diplomatically". Indeed, the US used its leverage to stop Israel from defeating the surrounded Egyptian Third Army on October 22nd, 1973.

Israel never regained that lost strategic independence.

Fast Forward to January 16th, 1991.

As one of the reporters waiting outside of the Israeli cabinet meeting, the morning after the first scud missiles fell on Tel Aviv, we watched an ashen-faced spokesman of Israelâ's most nationalist government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, when he announced that the US would not allow Israel to respond to scud missile attacks which threatened to devastate the center of the country. Over the next six weeks, 10,500 homes in the Tel Aviv area suffered direct hits, and Israel did not react.

Israel lost its strategic defense and foreign policy independence on October 5th, 1973 to the USA, and never regained it. Hence, the central role played by the American government in the Oslo process, the American sponsored road map, and the American directive to establish a Palestinian Arab state, come what may, whether or not Palestinian missiles are trained on Ashkelon from Gaza, or on Netanya from Samaria.

All this means one thing: American public opinion, the US Congress and the US government will determine the fate of Israel and the idea of a â"peaceful" PLO state.

American citizens have a crucial role to play in this context. Thanks to the American system of checks and balances, the US Congress maintains veto power and fiduciary responsibility over US foreign policy. In that light, the US Congress has established the Middle East and South Asia subcommittee, whose members have the responsibility to oversee US policy in the Middle East. See:

What that subcommittee needs is feedback from American citizens who do not want to see US tax dollars pioneer a Palestinian Fatah terror state, as per the directive of the White House and the US State Department.

American citizens need to understand that the Middle East Subcommittee of the US Congress plays a greater role in Middle East policy decisions that affect the people of Israel than Israelâ's sovereign Israeli Knesset.

On the other hand, spin masters now walk the halls of the US Congress and fabricate the idea that a Palestinian state would live side by side with a state of Israel in peace, while providing the US government with a diplomatic foothold in the Middle East.

These spin masters must be countered and coped with.

It would be nice to ask Israel to act independently.

Except that Israel lost its foreign and defense independence initiative almost 35 years ago to the US.

For that reason, Israeli government policy makers often act at the whim of the US government.

US congress people need to hear from American citizens who care about the role that America can play to preserve the integrity of Israel.

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Israel's Test
Arlene Kushner

The issues facing Israel today are existential, in the most literal sense. It is therefore a matter of grave concern when Israelis who ought to know better offer panaceas that can only bring harm.

As an example of such ill-advised leadership, one might consider Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's decision this week to respond to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's call for a halt to negotiations because of IDF operations in Gaza. In his reply, Olmert uttered not a word about his would-be negotiation partner's failure to recognize Israel's right to defend herself or to criticize Hamas's launching of rockets at the civilian population. Instead, he addressed the imperative for negotiations, as if Israel, and not the Palestinians, most needed a Palestinian state.

"If we don't push the process forward, we'll have to deal with 'Gazafication' in the West Bank - anyone who can't see this is lying to themselves," Olmert said. "There is no way to prevent the West Bank from turning into a second Gaza Strip without some sort of a political horizon in play."

How perversely backwards this is. The issue is not a "political horizon," and it is tiresome having this trotted out as the rationale for proceeding with talks. The Palestinians have known for years what they could have if they were truly interested in peace and compromise. The issue simply is that they have never been truly interested in peace or compromise.

Also relevant to the conflict is the issue of military power. Israel's defense and security experts report that Hamas is as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria, while Abbas's people are not only ineffective, they also lack the will to challenge Hamas. The only thing preventing Hamas from taking over"and turning Judea and Samaria into Gaza" is the presence of the IDF. Were Israeli forces to withdrawal during a political process, Fatah would cave in in a matter of days and Israel would be facing Hamas on its western front, too. In light of this likely scenario, proceeding with negotiations is the worst thing that Israel might do.

If Israeli leaders recognize the gravity of the situation, they show little evidence of it. Monday evening, Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, held a press conference during which he was asked an eminently fair question: "In light of recent comments by Abbas, will the Israeli government be reviewing the question of whether he is truly moderate?" The questioner had in mind such matters as Abbas's recent interview in the Jordanian al-Dustur, in which he bragged about his terrorist background and said he would return to it if he thought it would succeed.

Regev declined to address the substance of the question. He replied that Abbas represents Israel's best alternative for negotiations, implying that Israel must "move ahead" and will take what it can get. But given that Abbas is no moderate, dealing with him will only lead Israel to grief. And because Regev failed to grasp that point, he also failed to acknowledge that there is yet another alternative: admitting that there is no partner among the Palestinians and that negotiations at this point are dangerous.

Only hours after Regev's press conference, the Tuesday edition of The Jerusalem Post appeared, carrying an opinion piece by one Alex Sinclair, who is associated with the Shalom Hartman Center in Jerusalem. The piece, "International condemnation is good for Israel," makes a strong case against a ground incursion in Gaza. Says Sinclair, "There is basically no way we can disarm Hamas…or prevent them from gaining access to Kassams and Katyushas, and there is basically no way we can stop them from using them against us when they want."

If this were true, Israel would already be lost. In truth, Israel can crack down on Hamas's assault if it is genuinely committed to acting against the terrorists. It's the fear of acting, the intrusion of political considerations, that prevents this. Look at what happened after the horrendous suicide bombings in 2002. The IDF initiated Operation Defensive Shield, went in with strength, and retained a presence. As a result, today there is effectively no terrorism emanating from the West Bank. The difference between Defensive Shield and the Second Lebanon War (which Sinclair evokes) is that in 2002 we were still sure of ourselves and our purpose and willing to act on our own behalf.

Sinclair's appeal for a ceasefire is also no solution. This, too, would be a disaster, for it would restrict Israel's ability to respond while Hamas blithely built its arsenal and trained its army towards the day when it would attack.

Similarly unconvincing is his claim that a Palestinian state in the West Bank would motivate Gazans to moderate their ways. This is a slightly different version of the "political horizon" approach. But what is lacking here is a firm understanding of the power of ideology. The people of Gaza are largely radicalized, constituting a population of so-called refugees maintained in indefinite limbo. They despise Israel, to which they have been told they have a right to return. Destroying the Jewish state is far more important to them than emulating a moderate state in Judea and Samaria.

Lastly, Sinclair claims that we should thank the international community for its outrage because "it leads to our way out." But if Israel intends to endure, it must understand that there is no way out. No one " not the US nor Abbas nor the UN " is responsible for Israel's survival. That urgent task falls to the Israelis themselves.

American-born Arlene Kushner is an investigative writer and author in Jerusalem. UNRWA is a frequent topic of investigation for her. She has done major reports on this subject for the Center for Near East Policy Research, and has written articles on UNRWA for Azure Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and Front Page Magazine.

This piece ran in on March 7th, 2008

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