Israel in Twilight

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


plIsrael’s predicament today is the work of Rabin and Sharon; two generals turned prime ministers who launched ambitious ventures and died leaving them unfinished and their nation in twilight.

Rabin’s peace process destroyed Israeli national security and revitalized terrorism as a force in political affairs. Had he lived, he might have turned away from it. The idea had been thrust on him by the fringe left and he had grasped it as a hedge against the political oblivion of a leftist party that had lost credibility in a new Israel no longer dominated by the Socialist vision of cooperatives and bureaucracies.

That door was shut permanently by Rabin’s death and Sharon’s rise to power was made possible by the terrorist fallout from the peace process. Israelis had attempted to make earlier course corrections by voting for Netanyahu over Peres, but Netanyahu, proved unable to change the course of the nation. And so, after Barak’s disastrous retreat from Lebanon, Sharon’s hour came.

There had only been two politically acceptable options in Israel for dealing with terrorism; negotiated appeasement or holding the line. The latter meant making occasional forays after a terrorist atrocity into the territories under Palestinian Authority control, arresting a few wanted terrorists and then pulling back, and hoping the public would be satisfied.

Voters expected Sharon to go further. And he did.

After the Passover Massacre in 2002, Sharon issued a brief statement in which he dropped one phrase. “As we speak, the IDF is already inside the ‘Mukta’a’ (Arafat’s compound) in Ramallah.” Israeli forces took the compound and arrested Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist leader behind much of the violence, who has yet to be released despite international protests.

In a speech to the Knesset, Sharon said, “Our dead lie in a long row: women and children, young and old. And we stand facing them, facing the vacuum created by their murders, and we are speechless.”

“The murderous gangs have a leader, a purpose, and a directing hand. They have one mission: to chase us out of here, from everywhere — from our home in Elon Moreh and from the supermarket in Jerusalem, from the cafe in Tel Aviv and from the restaurant in Haifa, from the synagogue in Netzarim — where the murderers slaughtered… worshippers, walking in their prayer shawls to morning prayers — and from the Seder table in Netanya.”

“And there is one dispatcher: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat.”

But it would not be Arafat who would chase Israeli Jews out of the synagogue in Netzarim. Sharon would do that. All that would be left for Arafat’s gangs would be to burn down the synagogue after its worshipers were gone.

Of the two options, negotiating or holding the line, Sharon had decided to choose a third option.

Israeli generals have a weakness for seeking an impossible alternative and then making it work. Sometimes they succeed, other times they fail.

Sharon aspired to cut the Gordian Knot of negotiations and terrorism by putting as much space, real or virtual, as possible between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli population. There were to be no more negotiations and no more fruitless raids. Arafat could have the land he already controlled and would be kept out of the rest. It was a retreat meant as a consolidation.

The strategy was not an original one. The ‘separation wall’ that every trendy lefty denounces was begun by Rabin. The unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews living there wrapped up the strategy. But it was a bad strategy from the start.

Separation worked and it didn’t. Israeli casualties dropped sharply since 2002. The days of the constant urban suicide bombing have receded into history. Israeli parents still worry, but the atmosphere isn’t what it was a decade ago and many Israelis are once again able to convince themselves that a West Bank withdrawal will stop putting soldiers and settlers at risk and end the terrorism threat.

Sharon, like Rabin, left behind an unfinished strategy, but his was the more tangled one. If Rabin was making a terrible mistake, many wonder whether Sharon had a bigger plan than mere separation; an endgame that would have shifted the strategic landscape.

Death has closed the door on these questions as firmly as it did on Rabin’s second thoughts.

After Sharon, the country has floundered with no meaningful strategy except the old one of holding a shrinking line. The separation wall helped keep out suicide bombers, but not rockets and for the first time in a long time, rockets struck Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The country’s current predicament was shaped by two men, one born in 1922 and the other in 1928; both products of the old left and of the military establishment. The baby boomer new left has done its damage, but there has been little in the way of leadership from that generation. Now that generation is also growing old; it has done a decent job of modernizing and privatizing Israel, but it has no answers to its strategic questions.

The Netanyahus and Baraks, the Israeli leaders who were born in the forties, are now in their sixties, and it isn’t likely that they will dominate Israel into their seventies and eighties the way that Sharon, Rabin and Peres did. Their successors, men like Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, were born in the sixties and seventies and they are now coming into their own.

It will be up to Generation X to solve Israel’s strategic problem. That is assuming that they ever get the chance.

Israel cannot afford to exist in twilight. If it were in a peaceful part of the world, if its people were not murderously hated by billions, if it were not constantly at war, it might be able to move through an undistinguished prosperity without worry or doubt; but that is not its fate.

The Jewish State cannot persist in twilight. It will either fall into the darkness of an old night or step into the light of a new day.

*

Don’t miss Ann-Marie Murrell‘s video interview with Daniel Greenfield on Robert Gates’ Revelations Confirm Horowitz’s “Party of Defeat,” Abandoning Iraq,  How Americans Died For a War Obama Didn’t Believe In, The Release of Terrorist Lawyer Lynne Stewart, and much, much more:

Part I:

Part II:

To sign up for The Glazov Gang, Click here.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Trapnel

    Am Yisrael Chai

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic

    Not quite right. Israel very much has a direction and that is to survive the Iranian threat despite Obama. And Israel even has the men who tell the truth:

    Bravo Bogie!

    Well, about time someone in the Israeli government states the obvious. And the obvious is that we have an ignorant and incompetent or even malevolent US administration whose ignorance/malevolence, it is almost irrelevant which, has created a trail of disasters in the Middle East with its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and appeasement of Iran. The Egyptians managed to reverse the US administration’s serial bungling, but Iran’s acquisition the bomb due to US administration’s stupidity and obsession with the “peace process” would be catastrophic. Of course, Israel will never permit that.

    But it is almost surreal that the very survival of Israel is so influenced by people who have no knowledge of what they are doing, supported by so many sycophants and questioned by so few. The American people have finally begun to catch up with the disasters Obama has created on the domestic front, but they have no idea how their electoral choice has placed the entire world under threat from an Iranian nuclear bomb.

    Given the gravity and imminence of the threat we are under, it is surprising that it took so long for someone in Israel to state that The Emperor has no clothes. Finally a perfectly sane reaction to an insane and dangerous policy.

    http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/bravo-bogie.html

    • Raymond_in_DC

      Unfortunately, Israelis aren’t allowed to speak the truth about the unclothed US emperor – in this case, John Kerry. The US reacted in outrage, as it only does against Israel, to the reported sentiments of the DM. Not only is Ya’alon now in the doghouse, with Netanyahu expected to “distance” himself and his government, but there will now be more pressure on Israel to “prove” it is serious about peace by (what else) making more concessions.

      The truths – that Kerry is “obsessive” and “messianic” to expect a peace deal any day now, that his security proposals and framework aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, that Kerry has nothing to teach Ya’alon about Palestinian intentions – have been set aside.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Yup, unfortunately that is how it is.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      I’m all for Ya’alon, though history suggests the political establishment will never let him get there. I would hope that he would.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    I thihk Netenayahu has been an ineffective Prime Minister.

    Israel needs new leadership, young, vibrant, uncompromising leadership.

    Certainly every rocket fired from Gaza should be responded to by Israel in kind – times two or more.

    I like the fact that the Hamass savages build their tunnels, spend the time, effort and money to build the tunnel, and then Israel destroys the tunnels.

    One setback islamofascists had was the ouster of muslim brotherhood morsi.

    It is the Western powers who give Fascist Iran what it wants – getting nothing in return – unless you consider the money Fascist Iran pays for its purchases.

    What is bad for Israel will be bad for the rest of the world. The sand nazis speak the truth in their language and lie like snakes when they speak in Western languages.

    • Bamaguje

      Gaza should be re-annexed!!

      • wildjew

        Re “occupied.” I agree.

        • Drakken

          Hard to re- occupy an area that is pali free, I call it re-conquered territory. Fore every roch thrown, for every rocket fired, for every sniper attack, start taking territory and let the ragheaded savages knash their teeth and go jihad on you, sooner or later this has to end, so Israel, take the damn gloves off and give them what they so richly deserve, Carthage, anything less is inviting your doom.

          • defcon 4

            It would be nice if Israel had a fleet of boomers to back up those actions — just in case the scum in the District of Corruptistan or Eurabia or the rest of the Islam0nazi world get any ideas on helping out the islam0nazis squatting in Israel.

          • Drakkend

            They have German made Dolphin subs which have nuke capability. So I am not worried where that is concerned, I am worried about Iran getting nukes and using them as an extortion tool.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Netanyahu is fine on economics, he’s weak on security.

      • Wolfthatknowsall

        And that central fact is what has puzzled me about Netanyahu. I was of the impression if there was anyone who was a gutsy leader, and would not hesitate to act in Israel’s interests, it would be him. To say that I am disappointed by him is an understatement.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          He knows the right to do and he’s a good speaker, but he’s not daring and that is a needed quality tight now

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            He speaks well, understandably to Western ears, but the content is weak.

            If Obama is unreasonably pressuring Israel, and not applying equal standards to the “palestinians”, Netanyahu should tell the world.

            What are the “palestinians” doing for Peace???

          • Drakken

            The Israeli General Staff is not that impressive either.

  • wildjew

    There are lots of idealistic, faithful, up and coming Jewish leaders in Israel. Naftali Bennett and his friends, I believe, I hope are among them.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      I would hope so. Bennett was impressive initially, but he’s too far in the deep end. Let’s hope he learns to swim.

  • tickletik

    So basically, his “alternative solution” was to surrender the conquered territories to a gang of criminals that were even hated by the government we originally conquered it from (Jordan)

    Here is a wacky and original idea. If we don’t want to hold the territories, then why not simply give it to the Jordanians?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      The “Jordanians” in the person of its king don’t want it. He’s barely hanging on to power already and they have too many pallies.

      • tickletik

        What are the “Jordanians”, and what are the “Palestinians”? It seems there is a lot of confusion on this. I understand that the family of the king originates from some Hashemite tribe from Saudi Arabia, but what of the rest? Who is what?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          These labels are abstract. Clans matter. Nations not so much

          • defcon 4

            How does the ummah fit into the picture? Or for that matter the untermenschen of islamic theology, the najjis kaffir?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Same old attempts at transnationalism that revert to family control and clan power, just like Mohammed’s rule did when the Sunnis and Shiites quarreled over which relative ought to be running things.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Supposedly 60% of Jordanians are “paleeswinians”.

        King Hussein knew how to deal with the plo.

      • Drakken

        Don’t forget the MB is gaining there and will be a threat to Abdullah, he needs a nice purge to rid himself of this threat. His military and intelligence services are quite competent to take care of the problem.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          It’s a balance of power. The MB were his argument for the West keeping him in power. Bit dated now.

          • Drakken

            Alliances shift like the wind over here. What was good today has the very same arab sticking a knife in your back, King Hussein understood this and was very adept at dealing with who ever was a threat to him. Does anyone talk about the over 20,000 palis Hussein killed in the early 70′s? No they don’t.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Indeed. The lifetime of an alliance in the Middle East is until the other guy notices the knife in his back.

  • Matt Dickinson

    “Now that generation is also growing old; it has done a decent job of modernizing and privatizing Israel, but it has no answers to its strategic questions.”

    So what is the solution then, the answer? The writer of this article probably doesn’t have any ideas either. Just criticism of the left.

    The left fights the right. The right fights the left. Neither ever has any worthwhile answers to anything.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      What is YOUR solution?

      • defcon 4

        I’m sure he would propose a hearty handshake and a group hug w/the islam0nazis. After all there’s nothing friendship and love can’t conquer and love, love is all you need.

        • Guest

          I think they should be flushed out or killed. But I don’t know what the borders are.

        • Guest

          I don’t know what the answers to these Middle Eastern topics are at all. I don’t know why I even bother trying to learn about it.

          I think of Israel as a separate country that needs to solve its own problems. But then I think “is that antisemitic of me? to think like that?” Is that like isolationism before World War II? And didn’t 9/11 bring the problem home? etc.

          But the terror networks are spread all over the world now. How do they all get snuffed out? Is progress being made? Are they more dangerous than the common criminality that’s always been around?

          I mean, you’re more likely to die by a mugger, a burglar, a killer of some other kind than a terrorist in America, and probably Israel too. I haven’t looked at the statistics, but they probably have their share of homicides.

          You’re probably more likely to die in a car wreck.

          I just wish I knew if the plans for routing out terror in the Middle East are 20+ years long and how many countries it entails. Is it the whole wide world? I don’t see what the end game is.

          If you say we’re fighting these wars in part to protect Israel you’re sometimes called an antisemite. At least, if you are on the side of ending the wars and drawing back. Maybe not if you are for fighting more of them. But none of this is ever made clear to the American public.

      • Guest

        I think they should just decide on their borders and give a trial to anyone who’s caught doing crimes, including terror, or they should flush out all suspected terrorists. As far as I know gentiles are allowed to live in Israel if they are law-abiding. So that would include Muslims, if it isn’t, by nature of the religion of Islam, to be a terrorist. Some people in conservative circles say it is. That all Muslims are fundamentally terrorists, especially if they are “good Muslims” (practicing their religion), as their founder was one. So that makes sense. Maybe they just shouldn’t allow any Muslims to live there.

        Then they could build their temple and do their animal sacrifices or whatever it is that’s so important.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Ending the peace process and taking back control of its territory

      • Guest

        Is there agreement on what Israel’s actual territory is?

        • Drakken

          It is what ever you conquer and you get to keep what you kill.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Agreement with the Muslims? no

          • Guest

            No, agreement with the Jews. What is the size/borders of Israel? For instance, in this article it says the Torah has one set and Ezekiel outlined another:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Israel

            As it shows on the map on the right. It just seems like there should be agreement on what the borders of Israel are.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            The borders of the land of Israel are listed twice in the five books of Moses. The first set would be the borders of the First Temple era. The other set are the messianic borders of the land which are meant for the future.

          • Guest

            OK thank you

          • defcon 4

            I suppose it’s hard to agree w/members of a religion that take the entire world as their own.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Only if you agree to be a slave

    • Drakken

      Here is my answer to your security question, the ragheaded arabs do not want peace with you Jews, they want you dead period, so you had better get it through your thick skulls that the only peace with those muslims is wipe them out, before they wipe you out. There is no other way.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Keep bombing the pal-e-SWINIANS until they cry for a cease fire – hudna.

        Repeat as necessary.

        • Drakken

          No cease fires or hudna’s, wipem all out to the last arab. and call it a day, then you will have peace. The arab is either at your feet or at your throat, I prefer them as vulture bait.

    • Guest

      I wish to delete my comments. I don’t know much about this subject. Sorry for bothering anyone

  • Mishka

    A lot of israelis murn that Igal Amir shot the wrong man.
    _______________
    In memoriam.:
    How I learned to overcome my fear and love Arik Sharon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivk1XJHPzqk

    _______________
    The Solution is simple.
    Israel & Palestine with the Jordan River as Border.

    The current Plan is stupid.

    Land for Peace is right,
    just Israel has no Land but Peace to offer.
    and Arabs have lots of Land but no idea what is Peace

  • Habbgun

    Whatever happens Israelis need to speak the truth and they should be rallying around the negative report about Kerry. There are far too many people around the world who are now learning the realities of Islamic violence. People felt for the Palestinians because they saw it as a territorial dispute and even if you were pro-Israel you could see the Palestinian issue as one of history’s sad stories.

    A lot of people are learning a valuable lesson. Where Islam is “indigenous” it has preferred rights because it is “indigenous”. When Moslems emigrate it has preferred rights because not to give it preference is Islamophobia and xenophobia.

    If there is another massacre in Israel by a suicide bomber in Israel (I hope there isn’t but that is a naive hope in the USA as well) Israel should enact the death penalty for terrorism. Let the world snicker about how Israel expects to use the death penalty on suicide bombers and let Israel prosecute and hang those smarter terrorists who realize they can be heroes and get exchanged.

    Israel should also pull out of the UN. When they go eventually other nations will follow. None of this is big strategic solutions but not one nation as yet has “solved” Islamic terrorism. The most important thing is not to institutionalize the existence of terror. The most important thing is to make sure the opposition knows it is in a fight and in a real fight you have the risk of losing. It is also important to let the terror apologists know they can’t hide as peacemakers. They are terror apologists with the ugly reasons apologists have for being so and we’ll fight them too.

  • JVR

    Interesting writing and thoughts Daniel!

    I would assume, from the above, that you believe the Great Man Theory, at least with respect to Israel?

    It is remarkable that the boomer generation did not leave any Great Men, who would transform and define their world. As you rightly observe the “baby boomer new left has done its damage, but there has been little in the way of leadership from that generation…”.

    Perhaps there are other forces at play here? Historical forces operating on a larger level than single leaders? I tend to believe this sort of thing, for example, about America — that despite, or in spite of, leaders like Bush and Obama, the US is on a historical trajectory driven by historical forces seated in demography and ideology which are larger and more persistent than any leader. These forces will take the US along its current decline into the future, and who knows what the outcome will be. Linear projections are not encouraging.

    Perhaps the same is true for Israel?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      I don’t know that I’m putting that much weight on it, but a country in crisis does need leaders to move forward.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYRtmMxB5yw CrossWinds

    The Lord Jesus is going to return to Israel. Israel will live forever. God will fight against those who seek to destroy them………

    …….Ezekiel 37:11-14………

    11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’”

    Zechariah 12:8-10……….

    8 In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. 9 It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

    …………….Mourning for the Pierced One…………….

    10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

    • defcon 4

      But his name wasn’t Jesus. As a matter of fact I don’t even think the name Jesus, or Paul for that matter, existed before the 1st century CE.

      • Gary Dickson

        You’re right, those names did not exist until the first English Bibles were published.

        From the Messianic Jews that I’ve learned from, the Greek transliteration of Yeshua’s, or Yehoshua’s, was Ieosus – sorry that I’m not using the Greek or Hebrew letters – which morphed into Jesus by the time it got to English.

        For Paul, I understand his name was Sha’ul Paulos of Tarsus in Cilicia. His first name, Sha’ul, was his Hebrew name and his second name, Paulos, was his Greek/Roman name.

        Tradition does indeed tend to get in our way of truly knowing the names of the Bible. I’d recommend the Complete Jewish Bible for a full Messianic Jewish treatment of Biblical names.

        Crosswinds is right in another respect, that is, the people of Yisra’el will last forever.

        • defcon 4

          Interesting read. So “Paul” wasn’t even born in Israel (Ysrael?). Was he a convert to Judaism?

          • Gary Dickson

            It’s correct that Sha’ul Paulos wasn’t born in Yisra’el but he was indeed a Jew from birth. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia but he was most definitely a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, but he also had “free-born” Roman citizenship as did his parents. He was a Parush (i.e., a Pharisee) and a child of P’rushim. He spoke Hebrew, Greek, and possibly Aramaic and Latin. As a young man, he was educated in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) under the tutelage of one of the top rabbis of the time, Gamaliel. He became so zealous for the faith – that is, Torah and Judaism – that he pursued those of “The Way” (i.e., Christians, Messianics) to arrest them and get them tossed into jail.

            On his way to Damascus to do that very thing, Sha’ul was stopped in his tracks by Yeshua the Messiah, where Yeshua revealed himself to Sha’ul to pick him for being His emissary of the Good News to the Jew and to the Gentile.

            (My apologies if it appears that I’m trying to show off with Hebrew transliterations. Please don’t take it that way. I prefer to use original names and terms as much as possible.)

  • Dyer’s Eve

    Israel will prevail. Sounds sloganistic, doesn’t it. Go for it, Israel! The risk always lives.