The Ceasefire Trap

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 

The cease-fire agreement that Israel accepted Wednesday night to end the current round of Palestinian rocket and missile attacks is not a good deal for Israel by any stretch of the imagination.

At best, Israel and Hamas are placed on the same moral plane. The cease-fire erases the distinction between Israel, a peace-seeking liberal democracy that wants simply to defend its citizens, and Hamas, a genocidal jihadist terrorist outfit that seeks the eradication of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.

Under international law, Israel is not just within its rights to defend itself from Hamas. It is required to. International law requires all states to treat Hamas terrorists as criminals and deny them safe haven and financing. But the cease-fire agreement requires both the Israeli policeman and the Hamas criminal to hold their fire.

At worst, the cease-fire places Israel beneath Hamas. The first two clauses require both sides to end hostilities. The third suggests Israel is expected to make further concessions to Hamas after the firing stops.

Then there is the cease-fire’s elevation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government to the role of responsible adult. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Muhamad Morsi openly supports Hamas. Morsi sent his Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to Gaza to personally express the Egyptian government’s support for Hamas’s criminal assault against Israeli civilians.

Over the weekend, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held what the media claimed was a stormy meeting. Its members were split over what to do about Israel. Half wanted to go to war with Israel immediately. The other half called for waiting until the Egyptian military is prepared for war. In the end, the voices calling for patient preparation for war won the day.

And for their patience, the Muslim Brothers received the plaudits of the US government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss President Barack Obama were effusive in their praise of the Egyptian government, and joined Egypt in placing Israel on the same moral plane as a terrorist group.

Moreover, Obama and Clinton compelled Israel to accept wording in the cease-fire that arguably makes Egypt the arbiter of Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the agreement.

Aside from the administration’s de facto support for the Hamas regime in Gaza, it is hard to think of a greater humiliation than Israel being forced to submit complaints to its sworn enemy about the actions of the sworn enemy’s terrorist client.

And yet, for all of that, it isn’t clear that Israel had a better option than to sign on the dotted line. Israel might have gotten better results if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the ground forces poised at the border to take out a few Hamas ground installations. It certainly would make sense for Israel to end Gaza’s electricity supply.

But as it stands today, a full-blown ground invasion in the mold of the 2002 Defensive Shield Operation, where Israel seized control of Judea and Samaria from Palestinian terror groups and reasserted its security control over the Palestinian areas, so ending the Palestinian terror onslaught against Jerusalem and central Israel, was not in the cards.

Israel is in a strategic trap. And it is one of its own making. Starting with the Rabin-Peres government’s decision to embrace the PLO terrorist organization as a peace partner in 1993, Israel has been in strategic retreat. Each incremental retreat by Israel has empowered its worst enemies both militarily and diplomatically and weakened the Jewish state militarily and diplomatically.

In May 2000, following years of political agitation by the radical Left, then-premier Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to retreat from Israel’s security zone in south Lebanon. Hezbollah immediately seized control over the border area. Within months it kidnapped and killed three IDF soldiers and held them for ransom – hiding the fact that they had been murdered. The same Barak-led government that withdrew the IDF from south Lebanon was loath to acknowledge the failure of its policy and so did nothing when the three soldiers were kidnapped.

Within six years, Hezbollah was strong enough to launch an all-out missile war against Israel.

Facing them was the government that had just carried out the withdrawal from Gaza. The governing strategy of Ariel Sharon’s heirs, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, was based on surrendering land and demonizing as warmongers those who opposed surrendering land. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in July 2006, Olmert and Livni were in no position to order a serious ground invasion of Lebanon. And since that was the only way to win the war, Israel lost the war, paving the way for Hezbollah’s subsequent takeover of the Lebanese government.

As for that withdrawal from Gaza, just like the phony peace process with the PLO and the strategically demented withdrawal from south Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza was a self-evidently insane policy. It was obvious that it would lead to the strengthening of Palestinian terrorist groups and so put Israel’s population centers in striking range of their missiles.

After both the Oslo process and the withdrawal from Lebanon left Israel strategically and diplomatically weakened, with its politicians, generals and its very existence brought before international tribunals and targeted by diplomatic pogroms, there was no basis for the empty claim that by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel would gain international legitimacy to defend itself.

By leaving Gaza, Israel was saying – as it had in Lebanon – that it had no right to be there. And if it had no right to be there, it had no right to return.

To force this mad initiative through, Sharon had to explicitly disavow the platform he was elected to implement. Sharon won the 2003 elections by pledging never to surrender Gaza.

After he betrayed his voters, Sharon demonized and, when possible, fired everyone in positions of power and influence who opposed him.

He called a referendum of Likud members to vote on his plan, and when his opponents won the vote overwhelmingly, he ignored it. He fired Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, then IDF chief of General Staff. He fired his cabinet ministers. He castigated as “rebels” his party members who opposed his plan.

Moreover, with the active collusion of the legal system, Sharon violently repressed his political opponents. Young girls were thrown into jail without trial for months for participating in anti-withdrawal demonstrations. Privately chartered buses en route to lawful demonstrations were interdicted by police and prevented from traveling.

Protest organizers were arrested in their homes at 3 a.m. And with the active collusion of the media, all debate on the merits of the withdrawal plan was stifled.

As bad as it was in Israel, the situation in the US was arguably even more devastating. Since Oslo, Israeli opponents of the Left’s strategic insanity were intellectually and politically buoyed by their conservative counterparts in America.

The latter helped legitimize political opposition and enabled the conceptualization and maintenance of alternative policies as viable options.

Despite government repression, some 45 percent of Israel’s Jewish population actively participated in anti-withdrawal protests. In the US, virtually no one supported them. The absence of opposition owed to the fact that in America withdrawal opponents were boycotted, demonized and blacklisted by the American Jewish community and the previously supportive conservative media.

During the years of the fake peace process, conservative US Jewish groups and conservative publications led by Commentary, The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal forcefully opposed it. But when Sharon joined the radical Left by adopting its plan to withdraw from Gaza, these formidable outlets and institutions enthusiastically followed him.

Leading voices like former Jerusalem Post editor and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, Commentary editors Norman Podhoretz and Neal Kozodoy, commentator Charles Krauthammer and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol not only lined up to support the dangerous planned withdrawal. They barred all voices of opposition from the pages of their publications.

To greater and lesser degrees, their shunning of voices that warned against the Gaza withdrawal continues to this day.

So, too, with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America, every major American Jewish organization supported the withdrawal.

Like the editors of Commentary, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal, they barred voices of opposition from speaking to their groups.

All commentators who warned of the strategic calamity that would befall Israel in the aftermath of a withdrawal from Gaza were marginalized and demonized as extremists.

In a notable gesture, this week, Stephens along with Commentary’s Max Boot, acknowledged their error in supporting the withdrawal from Gaza. Their recantations are noteworthy because most of their colleagues who joined them in pushing Israel down the garden path and cheered Sharon’s “democracy” as 8,500 Israelis were thrown out of their homes and off their land in order to free it up for a terrorist takeover, continue to deny that they were wrong to do so.

But Stephens’s and Boot’s belated intellectual integrity on Gaza is not enough to make a difference for Israel today.

Israel has only two options for dealing with the ever-escalating threat from Gaza. It can try to coexist with Hamas. This option is doomed to failure since Hamas seeks the annihilation of the Jewish people and the eradication of Israel. Recognizing this state of affairs, in a public opinion survey taken on Wednesday for Channel 2, 88% of Israelis said that a cease-fire with Hamas will either not hold at all or hold for only a short time.

74% of Israelis opposed accepting a cease-fire.

The other choice is to destroy Hamas. To accomplish this Israel will need to invade Gaza and remain in place. It will have to kill or imprison thousands of terrorists, send thousands more packing for Sinai, and then spend years patrolling the streets of Gaza and arresting terrorists just as it does today in Judea and Samaria.

Whereas the first option is impossible, the latter option is not currently viable. It isn’t viable because not enough people making the argument have the opportunity to publish their thoughts in leading publications. Most of those who might have the courage to voice this view fear that if they do, they will be denied an audience, or discredited as warmongers or extremists.

So they remain silent or impotently say that Israel shouldn’t agree to a cease-fire without mentioning what Israel’s other option is.

The millions of Israelis who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza do not seek personal vindication for being right. They didn’t warn against the withdrawal to advance their careers or make their lives easier. Indeed, their careers were uniformly harmed.

They did it because they were patriots. They felt it was their duty to warn their countrymen of the danger, hoping to avert the disaster we now face. They should be listened to now. And their voices should be empowered by those who shunned them, because only by listening to them will we develop the arguments and the legitimacy to do what needs to be done and stop fighting to lose, again and again and again.

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  • riverboatbill

    Somehow, the Iron Dome mentality reminds me of the Maginot line.

    • pyeatte

      Not even close. The Iron Dome can be moved around as required – they are mobile sites. Israel must increase the number and be ready for any missile strike the bad guys can muster. They must deploy the Arrow system before Iran gets a long range missile that can carry a nuke. No one believes this cease-fire will last. Israel has no choice but to be ready.

      • riverboatbill

        The best defense is a good offence. Also, only a few missiles with "special" warheads need to get threw the rusty dome.

        • Roger

          An enemy on the doorstep taught to be aggressive for concessions is a bad idea.

          Obama must have been brutal in forcing this on Israel, Bibi understands evil and doesn't cower as a general rule.

        • pyeatte

          There will be very few "special" warheads due to their very nature of being extremely expensive. For these, and you would know which ones they are, you would launch two or three missiles for insurance. Of course the best defense is a good offense, but that does not mean you don't need a good defense in its own right. There is no absolute guarantee of any outcome – all you can do is improve your odds. The Iron Dome is not rusty, it did its job quite well. They only fired at those missiles heading to actual targets. About two-thirds of the Hamas rockets were headed to deserted areas and there was no reason to waste a good missile to hit these.

          • riverboatbill

            It is not only the readily availability of numerous "special'" warheads from your unfriendly neighborhood terrorist states ,or fences; nor even their very deadly nature. It is the attitude that one can defeat an enemy by staying in a bunker that can be dangerous to a nation.

    • Larry

      The Maginot Line did its job perfectly. It absorbed less than 5% of the French military budget during its construction (and as an added bonus, provided work for business and workers during the worst of the Depression), and enable to French to man it with second and third line troops. The Germans didn't attack it, and it "fell" only when France as a whole surrendered.
      The problem was that the rest of the French military structure sucked, and they got hammered in the field where there wasn't a Maginot line.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    Lucy & the Football.

    The 'Balanced Approach' Is an Unbalanced Lie

  • Mary Sue

    Man I thought Sharon was nuts for withdrawing from Gaza. Now it's an object lesson for what happens when they do something stupid like that.

  • PaulRevereNow

    When I was in Israel some years ago, an IDF officer told me it wasn't "cost effective" for Israel to stay in Gaza. However, it should be obvious(and is obvious to the 74% who opposed the cease fire) that its no longer "cost effective" to stay out. But now that they've agreed to this most likely short-lived cease fire, Israel will have to go through the mobilization process all over again, while rockets are raining down on Beersheba and Ashkelon; and Hamas is zeroing in on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And they'll have to overcome the inertia of having been put in the junior position vis a vis Hamas, and the Obama administration, as Caroline Glick points out. Agreeing to the cease-fire seemingly doesn't make a lot of sense. Why'd they do it? Do the upcoming January elections have anything to do with it? I wonder.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The unmerrygoround, it is Israel, no brass ring to pull, just the pins of a grenade or get a
    surprise smack in the back of the head and dance to the tunes of devils. Is it so hard to
    think of destroying an enemy that wants you dead and gone and you refuse there desire
    but they keep on killing you and terrorizing your citizens. War is a terrible end to troubles
    not the beginning if you are in the right and decide there is no other way, is it not obvious
    there is no other way for Israel, fight, destroy, uproot evil and prevail, grow and gain
    solidity that can not be undone. Israel is waiting for the entire World to come up against
    it and this is not necessary to get the message, act, act in self interest, be assertive and
    without compromise for your future because there is none for Israel if it does compromise
    any longer, compromise means the end of your children's heritage, compromise is
    the destructive force of all future Israeli generations……………………………..William

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Is it so hard to think of destroying an enemy that wants you dead and gone and you refuse there desire
    but they keep on killing you and terrorizing your citizens. War is a terrible end to troubles
    not the beginning if you are in the right and decide there is no other way, is it not obvious
    there is no other way for Israel, fight, destroy, uproot evil and prevail, grow and gain
    solidity that can not be undone."

    This is why I hate the radical left, and even the soft left delusional idiots who speak programmed phrases of "peace" that translate to appeasement. Without them, there would be a lot more peace, freedom and prosperity, but good luck selling that to them, no matter what objective facts you use in your presentation.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      I never think of "good luck" though it does happen. As far as the left is concerned they
      get in trouble and it is the right thinking people that have to bail them out or suffer equally
      the consequences of leftist actions. When life and limb are concerned I divorce myself
      completely from their thinking and actions, nothing against the girl scouts but the left would
      run away like a bunch of screaming girl scouts if confronted by mortal enemies. The left
      in Israel is responsible for the past and present quagmire of incessant death and
      destruction. It may be one day the Israelis will take a stand and not budge, this will
      probably be about Jerusalem……………………..William

  • Anamah

    Israel should not offer anything else to live in peace. They should be preparing themselves to act decisively when Hamas end of the cease fire. They must be organized to launch a lethal attack killing all the terrorist and making clear they are deter to end Hamas aggression. It would be necessary for Israelis to stay in Gaza to change laws, manage their communication network and of public entertaining, change education school programs to promote positive behavior, tolerance, and end brainwashing and prejudices, making every aspect of people life compatible with progress and peace. Israel need to make Gaza responsible for the cost they cause. Gaza must be cleaned, and they need to take all the time its needed., until they become thinking as humane again.

  • Larry

    I would hope that the Israeli population is making in very, very clear to their Knesset representatives that they are not happy with HAMAS being let off the hook once again, and with Israel bowing down before the dictates of the OIC as laid out by the UN and the Obama administration.

  • Paul

    It's kill or be killed. Israel wants the world to like her.Israel needs to be feared by the world.Where is the israeli general Sherman?.

  • BS77

    Caroline Glick is one of the most honest and clear minded journalists around. This cease fire is but another pause in the on going Hamas attack against Israel.

  • SoCalMike

    Caroline Glick is the antidote to the information urine and feces dumped on Americans every day by the collection of media false prophets.
    If you want to get your brain around what's going on in Israel, read her.
    If you want to be mislead and confused or absorbed in irrelevant drivel, read the N Y Times and the Washington Compost or the Huffington Post.

  • Mladen Andrijasevic

    We have a cease-fire with an organization which in its Charter has the following Article 7:

    "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews."

    Article 7 is taken from Hadith Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177 and quotes the Prophet Muhammad:

    Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

    Does anybody want to guess what has greater sway over Hamas- the terms of cease-fire agreement or the words of the Prophet?

  • akreynin

    Israel needs to reoccupy Gaza and destroy Hamas completely. Then it should allow the Gazans to elect a new government, one that does not involve terrorist organizations. This new government, then, should sign a peace treaty with Israel and recognize it. Only then can Israel withdraw its troops again.

  • FPF

    Obama and Clinton and the left are cursing Israel and all Americans will suffer from their abomination.

  • Lord Howard Hurts

    You have made an impressive and logical summation of the current situation……….now what choice has the nation of Israel? Continue to retreat and spar with Hamas to extend the life of Israel?……Or put faith in the Lord, and using the "Moral Compass" meet fate in battle, and establish a Third Temple on the Temple Mount? It is "Do Or Die" time. The Muslim Brotherhood has shown their plans. There is no turning back. Why let Egypt get organized? One only has to view the ring on the left hand of President Obama to know where he stands. Don't be impressed by his false words.
    Lord Howard Hurts

  • Scullman1a

    As far back as I can remember in times of war, no one yet has misunderstood a two-by-four across the face.

    The examples are replete throughout world history. Take Japan's experience from1942-1945, for one.

    Why, Israel, do you consider your present course battling Islamofascism will ultimately be any different? No one will be coming to your aid. You have no allies, really. Obama will support you only because of the intense Jewish political influence in our country. Absent that political reality and you are on your own. The European world despises you. What are you waiting for?
    You told the world in 1948, "Never Again".
    Times a wastin'
    Prove it.

  • dannyjeffrey44

    I cannot help but feel that many are underestimating Netanyahu. He stood up to Obama on the issue of retreating to the 1967 borders and I don't think he capitulated in this "understanding", not "agreement". The entire Middle East fears Iran, and Obama knows that the issue must be dealt with, he just wants plausible deniability on his side when the event occurs. I think that the recent ceasefire has much to do with coming events.

  • Mr. Polly

    ALL Jews to Palestine or ALL Jews out of Palestine. Make up your minds!

  • Ghostwriter

    Why should we listen to you,Mr. Polly? You're just a vile Jew hater.

  • Grayeagle

    As American, and as a Christian, I apologize to Israel and her people for the election of Obama, and for his obvious support of islamic extremists/terrorists , a.k.a. the muslim brotherhood. If there were anything I could do as a single individual, I would. As for Israel, I love you, but God loves you more. Please listen to Him, and follow Him. As in days of old, you must defend yourself and His land. Allow no more to be given away in false hope that such will bring peace. Conduct yourselves as in 1948; attack and give no quarter to the enemy. Go into Gaza. Take it back! Track down and eliminate the vermin that seek your annihilation. Tell the world and the USA to take a “hike” and stay out of your business. You may think you need these nations, but you don’t. It is written in scripture that the nations of the world will come against you, but that the Adonai will make you victorious! Believe. Yahweh/Yeshua has your back – act like it! No more whimping out! Just do it…