Sunday, October 09, 2005

A (Partial) Response to Rich Brownstein

Richard Brownstein has just posted a long, thoughtful, passionate and (I assume) personally cathartic rumination on the Disengagement. He has properly, and respectfully, highlighted some of the abuses that the process generated (though he's totally ignored the less than shabby way that the refugees have been treated). He has also, I must admit, cogently presented the case in favor of the withdrawal from Gaza. Indeed, I agree wholeheartedly that the continued rule over Palestinians is a key issue in quieting down the conflict.

He does not, however, do such a good job with the arguments against.

Allow me to react to these very briefly:

1) Politically, there is no question that internationally Israel has benefited from disengagement.... We have seen a significant post-disengagement dividend: a new and hopeful dialogue with Pakistan, Indonesia, etc., as well as the Red Cross. The habitually hostile European Union is now pressuring the Palestinian Authority to rein in terrorism, secure their streets, and show that they have the ability to be a sovereign nation. Indisputably, disengagement has dramatically improved the efforts of Israeli Foreign Ministry. It may be temporary, but Israel's international position has improved dramatically.

In the world of realpolitik, words are worthless unless backed up by both territory and self-interest. Neither the US (and a fortiori the European Union) can be trusted to maintain their pro-Israel posture. The latter will certainly fold first, as it gives in to a powerful trend of 'Eurabization.' Even the US, though, will only do what its electorate and/or its interests dictate. Let me just invoke the solemn promise of President Eisenhower that if Egypt should ever block the straits of Tiran, that would be viewed as a legitimate causus belli by the United States. As Michael Oren carefully documents, the exact opposite occurred. The World loves Israel when it concedes. [In this connection, it might be well to revisit Chesnoff's book, If Israel Lost the War.]

2) According to former player Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters, disengagement has sent the message to the Palestinians that terror works. Netanyahu’s "terror works" theory has some popular support, but didn’t even manage to persuade his own party. Most, like me, think it’s a red herring.

In his recent series of articles and books, Prof. Bernard Lewis has pointed out that Arab-Islamic culture reacts to perceived weakness with contempt for the weak. Hence, they have sincerely declared the withdrawal from Gaza to be a victory. I know this could be taken as racist. The truth is, however, that the real racism is found among those who dismiss the powerful, self-sufficient world-view of Islam (and there is such a thing, despite the wide variation that obtains in the Muslim World), thinking that Arabs must think like other westerners.
The frustration of the Palestinians at not being able to kill more Jews is due to the GSS and the Army.

As for the Likud Central Committee, the only thing they proved was that their jobs and Pork Barrels are more important to them than their beliefs. Recall, Zeev Jabotinsky supported Netanyahu.

3) On the issues of Democracy and its abuse, I defer to Ben Chorin (here and here). Josh Ragen's article is also relevant.

4) Holocaust Imagery

Some of the damage done by the Shoah has been less than obvious. For example, the Holocaust forever changed the definition of Jewish martyrdom, and turne it upside down. In the present instance, it eviscerated the memory of Jewish Persecution. In other words, the Nazis managed to visit upon the Jews of Europe and North Africa every form of humiliation and persecution that they had previously known. To that they added extermination. The result was to make anything short of Auschwitz pale by comparison. In addition, because these 'lesser' deeds were in the context of Auschwitz, invoking them meant invoking Auschwitz. This, in turn, creates a serious dilemma for protesters. If you don't protest you're in trouble, and f you do you open yourself to inappropriate use of the Holocaust. Now, as an historian I would respond to the expulsion of the Jews from England, Provence, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Navarre, Savoy, the Papal States, Russia, part of the Pale and Kentucky. Unfortunately, most people don't know Jews lived there, much less were expelled.

The Holocaust was not only gaschambers and extermination camps. The Holocaust was also all of the above - the degraded Jew, the evicted Jew, the humiliated Jew, the uprooted Jew. The Jew who believed that in the national home of the Jewish people he would besafe.

5) Peace is a process. I know it sounds Pollyanna-ish. I know it stinks of Oregon leftist. And I know that my opinions are in the minority amongst observant Jews. But I believe peace is a process that started in 1948 and will succeed within 5 years. It will have taken two generations of Arabs to understand that Israel is here to stay. Sooner or later the Palestinians might just realize that, if massive Arab armies supplied with billions of dollars of the most sophisticated Soviet tanks and fighters could not destroy us, Palestinians will not fulfill their anachronistic, genocidal dreams with homemade and smuggled hand rockets. And I believe -- contrary to most -- that the catastrophe of Oslo was necessary in order to reveal the real intentions of the Palestinians and, more importantly, to relieve political pressure on Israel. With or without Oslo, the Arabs would have found another venue to unleash a terror that resulted from Oslo, killing thousands. Without Oslo we probably would not have the de facto final border called the security barrier. Without the spurned opportunities offered to them at Oslo, the Palestinians would still be seen in the world as the underdogs. Oslo changed world opinion revealing the Palestinian leadership to be bloodthirsty terrorists and incompetent political hacks.

I agree with his evaluation of the Oslo War. The rest is wishful thinking. The Muslim world cannot, I repeat, cannot make peace with a kafir state ruling over waqf (loosely defined). Period. Such a thing is nothing less than blasphemy against Allah. Does Islam have to teach that? I happen to think so. Even if there are other voices, they are insignificant. The West, however, prefers to believe that pressuring the Jews will take pressure off of it. Do we need to live on our sword? I'm afraid so. The alternative, in this world, is worse.

7) Rich Bornstein is a religious Jew. He is an obviously intelligent and perceptive person. How he was able to write his essay without any mention of the Kulturkampf that made it possible, is beyond me. I've written enough about it here. I need to get back to writing for Brill, not Blog.

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