Renowned scholar discusses the true path to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at Restoration Weekend.
Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Daniel Pipes at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2017 Restoration Weekend. The transcript has been lightly edited for content and clarity.
Daniel Pipes: I’d like to start by recalling Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army. Lt. Onoda was, in 1974, convinced to surrender. He was living on an island in the Philippines, and for 29 years, he had very seriously been engaging in war. He'd been killing people, maiming them, and stealing. Finally, he was convinced, when his commanding officer came to the island, that he should lay down arms, that the war was over and that Japanese had lost.
I would suggest to you that in 1993, on the White House lawn, Yasser Arafat gave up the conflict with Israel and recognized Israel's right “to exist in peace and security.” Of course, he didn't mean it, and it wasn't accepted by most Palestinians. Still, the Palestinians gave up those many years ago, making them now a larger version of Hiroo Onoda. They're continuing to fight, to maim, to kill, but they're not actually getting anywhere.
The so-called peace process hasn't worked for the reasons that Khaled [Abu Toameh] just pointed out: education and leadership. We find ourselves in a situation where everyone is skeptical of its chances, no one believes in it, and yet the process rolls on. The Trump administration has revived it and we expect to see a new peace-process plan in March 2018.
I'd like to suggest a new paradigm, putting the negotiating one completely to the side. It rejects the old idea of bringing Israelis and Palestinians together and, basically, the Israelis trying, or the Americans pushing the Israelis, to accommodate the Palestinians, who sit in judgment and say, “Well, no, 99½ percent isn't enough” or “100 percent isn't enough.”
I would like to see an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat. The Middle East Forum calls this the Israel Victory Project.
Now, these words “victory” and “defeat” are not found in the modern American vocabulary. Rather, we hear of a “compromise,” “painful concessions,” “mediation,” and the like. But, as Khaled pointed out, peace processes don't work. If you look at history (and I'm a historian), what ends conflicts is one side giving up. Now, think about it. If you and I are in a struggle, it's only going to end when one of us gives up, at which point it's over. Until one of us gives up, the conflict can resume. The Koreas could be at war today because neither side has given up. In World War I, the Germans lost, but didn't give up, so they gave it another try, and in World War II, the Allies forced them to give up; and note how much they benefited by giving up. So, victory is defined as imposing one's will on one's enemy.
We need the Israelis to impose their will on their enemy, the Palestinians. The Palestinians need to accept the permanent existence of a Jewish state. The U.S. government should encourage the Israeli government to do everything within the bounds of the practical, the moral, and the legal to effect that victory. This doesn't mean murdering people but taking steps to compel Palestinians to give up, to cry uncle, to say, “The jig is up. We can't continue this. We need to coexist with our neighbor.” At that point, liberated from their foul, irredentist goal of eliminating their neighbor, Palestinians can begin to build their own polity, economy, society and culture.
Ironically, the Palestinians will win even more from their defeat than will the Israelis. Israelis won't get blown up on the way to the pizzeria, but they basically a good life economically, legally, culturally, and so forth. The Palestinian live in oppression and poverty. They can only leave that once they give up the monstrous goal of eliminating their enemy.
The idea is simple: To repeat, Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat.
I've been brewing this idea for close to two decades. About a year ago, I went to my colleagues at the Middle East Forum and said, “Let's roll with this. Let’s try make this a campaign.” I'm pleased to report that we now have 32 members of the House, a bipartisan group co-chaired by Ron DeSantis of Florida (who I'm sorry to note has left the room), Bill Johnson of Ohio, and Juan Vargas of California, and we're building all the time. We are building the political base. We now have 16 members in the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus coming from all six Zionist parties, opposition and government, every party but Meretz, the Arab Joint List and the Haredim. At the same time, we're also building an intellectual base, working with allies in think tanks, sponsoring research: what precisely does victory mean? How is it to be effected? What are the implications?
We hope this campaign for Israeli victory will culminate, one day, with an American president saying, “Staff, this perpetual effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians together and get some result hasn't worked for 30 or 40 years. Is there another approach out there?” We want to be prepared with that other approach, one that which pushes negotiations aside as futile and counterproductive, and puts off negotiations until after defeat. Then talks will be productive; but until then, it's war and our side needs to win.
I hope you will adopt this idea. Please press your member of Congress and your senators to become part of this movement.
Audience Member: Back in the Cold War days, our policy was to contain communism. Along came a man called Ronald Reagan and he declared we don't contain but we push back. What you're saying is very parallel to this, and I love it. Do you have any ears at the White House?
Daniel Pipes: Historically, the American way of war is to destroy the enemy, leaving him without hope. And that model works. That’s not been the case since World War II, however. That's what will work here - not talking to Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat, and all these clowns. It's time to push them aside in favor of an Israeli victory.
Yes, I am pleased to inform you that the Middle East Forum has gone multiple times to the White House and we have had a good hearing there.
Audience Member: The Palestinian base of their position is totally rooted in the Islamic narrative of victory and superiority. Is there anything that we can help them hook into in the history of Islam that might be able to help this project along?
Daniel Pipes: Good question. There are several reasons why the Palestinians have maintained this illusion that they can still win. One very important one is the Islamic doctrine that whatever territory was once controlled by Muslims must return to Muslim rule. Well, in fact that's not the case. If you look around the world, Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, and India are no longer under Muslim rule. They once were, and they provide a model for Muslims accepting that Israel, or what they call Palestine, is also no longer under their control.
Audience Member: It’s wonderful if we can get our country, our Congress, and possibly our administration to understand the need for an Israeli victory; but what about all the money coming from Europe, the UN, and all those other institutions that are propping them up financially?
Daniel Pipes: Yes, as I just mentioned, Islamic doctrine is one major cause of Palestinian illusion. A second major cause is what I call international succor: diplomatic support, money, UN resolutions, and on and on and on, which give the Palestinians the hope that one day they will prevail. There's not much we can do about that support; but when push comes to shove, if you're a Palestinian, resolutions voted on in New York are less important than what you're actually facing in your own circumstances. So, while international succor is important, it's less important than what Israelis do on the ground.
The Israel Victory Project has been started with the United States and Israel - the easy places. We are beginning to make plans to go to some major European countries, to Brussels, and perhaps to Japan and beyond; it's the beginning of a larger push. But, the United States and Israel are the natural places to start because of their importance and their openness to this approach.
Audience Member: As recently as this month there have been a number of rocket attacks aimed at Israel from Palestine. Now, your idea of winning a war without blood in the face of the attacks repeated, repeated, repeated over these years by Palestine on Israel (and their helpless dependence on Israeli charity to take care of their wounded) tells me that they are miles away from even considering the idea of defeat without a war that stamps them down. Therefore, I don't understand how there could be a bloodless conflict that pushes them down.
Daniel Pipes: I did not use the word “bloodless.” What I meant to say is this approach is not necessarily primarily military. To influence an adversary to give up, you can use all sorts of indirect means. For example, this country’s greatest defeat was in 1975 in Vietnam. We didn't lose because we ran out of bullets or soldiers or dollars; we ran out of will. And we ran out of will because there were so many Americans avidly against continuing the war. That was indirect: we lost not on the battlefield but in the political arena.
Likewise, when the United States and perhaps other governments, say to the Israelis, “Go ahead. Win your war,” a whole range of policies exist that the Israelis can adopt, some of which will be military to be sure, but it's far broader than military.
Take, for example, the Israeli policy towards Gaza. You might respond, “What policy towards Gaza?” and that's my point. It's inchoate. It's moving from one brushfire to another. My advice to the Israelis would be, “Assuming your goal is to convince the Palestinians to give up, figure out the strategy and tactics to achieve that aim.” In some cases that might involve military action, to be sure, but it's not primarily or limited to military. It's a broad approach but I do not think it appropriate for me, here and now, to get into details.
I might add that we're also not talking about what comes after defeat, where the borders are; how many, or if any, Palestinian states should exist; who controls what in Jerusalem; and so on. We are just advocating an approach: instead of peace processing or what I call “war processing,” achieve victory.
The Palestinians must understand that their 100-year war on Zionism has failed. Israel is a remarkably successful state. I could go on and on and on about its successes: the expanding birth rate, the breakthroughs in water technology, high tech, and medicine, the rule of law, the stable political culture and so forth. It's a vibrant, successful country. The idea that Palestinians can undo Zionism and destroy Israel is sheer fantasy.
They need to understand it's a fantasy. Our government needs to impose on them, or help the Israelis impose on them, this understanding.
And by the way, it's in that context that we can move the embassy to Jerusalem. So long as it's merely a matter of bureaucratic neat-keeping, because all our embassies are in capitals and this one isn’t, it's not going to happen, will never happen. But once it's put into the context of sending a signal to the Palestinians that we are stand with Israel and they should forget trying to break up this bond, then moving the embassy to Jerusalem will send a message, be meaningful, and be worth the trouble.