Israel’s weak and short-sighted dealings with the Palestinians

Paul Nachman writes:

This Seth Leibson entry at The Corner is good in itself. And it attracted among a bunch of comments, including this:

Seth, you are absolutely correct. Israeli policy in this matter has been the equivalent of tossing the dog a biscuit whenever he poops the rug.

Personally, I think the ”holy hell” policy ought to be applied by Israel to all of the terror modalities employed by the Arabs in and around her: to suicide bombings, hijackings, abductions, arsons, vehicular homicides, stabbings, and so forth.

The nub of it, though, is that the holy hell policy must be as indiscriminate as the terror that triggers it. A policy of carefully targetted reprisal with precision weapons teaches the terrorists’ host population that they will generally escape any reprisal for terrorist acts, that only the terror actors and persons in their immediate vicinity will feel the pain.

A rocket from Gaza or Lebanon into Israel should be responded to with equally unguided projectiles back into those territories, say 100-fold. They hit where they hit—tough luck.

An abduction such as that of Gilad Shalit’s should be responded to by rounding up 100 or 1,000 random individuals from random locations in Gaza, to be held incommunicado, as Shalit was, until the Israeli captor is released.

A holy hell policy of massive, indiscriminate reprisal is the one and only way to teach the terrorists’ host population that any and all of them will pay for acts of terror. If, then, it is true that the majority of the host population only wants to go about its business and build better lives for themselves and their children (as the Left is so fond of insisting) then the business of eliminating terror will become their business. The terrorists will become intolerable to them, and they’ll not tolerate them.

I agree, and it reminds me of a Curtis LeMay quote that I may have run by you before: “I’ll tell you what war is. You have to kill people. When you’ve killed enough, they stop fighting.” That’s from memory. I could find it in Richard Rhodes’s book The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

LA replies:

This would have been the way in earlier times. But with the worldwide dominance of modern liberalism, and especially the idea of “proportionality” in military response, war is not allowed. Every military action must be fine-tuned in the most precise way to avoid “excessive” damage. As a result, war can never be won, and so wars drag on interminably. War is now controlled by bureaucracy, rather than by generalship.

We all remember how U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan had Taliban leader Mullah Omar in their sights in Fall 2001 and asked Tommy Franks, back at Central Command headquarters in the U.S., for permission to kill him. Franks was disposed to give them the go-ahead, but then he said, “My JAG tells me we can’t do it.” And Mullah Omar is alive and active to this day.

The only real solution in Israel is to remove all Arabs from west of the Jordan, as I have been saying since the terror intidada began in October 2000. But short of that, the “holy hell” policy would be the best way to deal with the terror-hosting Palestinian population.

- end of initial entry -

Jeff C. writes:

I assume that your comment about “holy hell” is an “if only” statement, as in, “If only the world would allow it.”

How long would the world, responding to oil power and markets and the imperative of self-righteousness, stand idly by if Israel were killing more-or-less indiscrimately? Even her evangelical friends in the United States would turn away if Israel were to kill the families of suicide bombers: a far more targeted response to Islam.

Was “holy hell” a serious proposal?

LA replies:

From the time that the suicide bombings of Israeli buses and restaurants began in early 1994, such a policy should have been adopted. I cannot convey the horror I felt at the thought of people passively getting on a bus that might contain a suicide bomber who would blow them into bits of flesh, and at the government that would put their people in that situation. As I’ve said before, the Palestinian people, by continuing and escalating their war of terror on the Israelis after the peace process had started, have long since given up any claim on any land west of the Jordan. In any previous time in the history of the world, any country faced with an enemy such as Israel faces, would have long since physically removed them from the land. A set of factors—Muslim power, oil, anti-Israelism, and liberalism (including Israel’s own liberalism—have prevented Israel from taking the normal actions of self-defense that any other country in history would have taken. Of course I understand that world politics at present makes serious Israeli action difficult or impossible. But I am stating what ought to be.

MBS writes:

I think another aspect to this trade is Westerners assume Arabs think like us, they bring their Park Avenue attitude. Rabbi Binny Freedman addresses this point in his article:

Unfortunately, we have been dealing with our enemies based on the way we see things. But that just does not match up with the way they see the world.

In many Jews’ and Israelis’ perspective, the fact that we are willing to release 1,000 prisoners just to get one man, demonstrates our value of life as paramount and above all else, and the fact that we are willing to cross our own red lines, bespeaks a genuine desire for peace and compromise, and a love for each individual soldier as if he were our own. What strength of character we have!

But that is just not the way they see it. In the Arab worldview, Hamas held out and got us to capitulate, demonstrating our weakness. It is not accidental that the first Intifada started after Ehud Barak offered the most far reaching concessions any Israeli Prime minister had ever offered, as well as unilaterally pulling out of Lebanon, and the most intense and protracted missile barrage from Gaza came after we pulled out of Gush Katif….

Yonah shared with me that around the same time, the Amal Militia in Lebanon kidnapped two Soviet diplomats. But the Russians do not think like Westerners. The very next day, the Russians kidnapped two Amal commanders, and sent a box to Amal headquarters in Beirut with two index fingers and two ears, and a message saying the Amal militia would receive two new body parts every day until they ran out of body parts, and then they would kidnap two new Amal commanders and start over again. The two Russian diplomats were released the very next day.

Makes me wonder whether we need to re-think the box we have opened, and at least going forward, start to deal with our enemies in ways they can understand.

Paul T. writes:

It’s emotionally appealing to imagine a “Holy Hell” policy, but as you (Larry) point out, it’s a political non-starter. It would virtually ensure the success of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel in every international and legal forum. We saw what happened to Rhodesia and South Africa (I am not suggesting that these countries and Israel are alike, only that the international response to a “Holy Hell” policy would be the same, or worse). It seems to me that removing all Arabs west of the Jordan is a non-starter for the same reasons, even though the moral and practical case for doing so is admittedly much stronger than, say, the case for expulsion of German Czechs from the Sudetenland following the Second World War. The truth is that there are two great obstacles to any Arab-Israeli peace, Islam in the East and liberalism in the West. Until one of them falls, the problem appears insoluble. All Israel can do is basically what it’s doing — quiet expansion or consolidation of settlements, responding to terrorist attacks, etc. Avoiding thousand-to-one prisoner exchanges is probably a good idea, too :) There may be potential for greater use of drone strikes, for example, but the effect of these would seem to be tactical rather than strategic.

LA replies:

Every large proposal I make at this site presupposes the rejection of liberalism. Our problems cannot be solved so long as we remain liberals.

Daniel L. writes:

In an article at FrontPage critical of the exchange, Steven Plaut suggests alternatives to the exchange similar to the ideas in this entry:

It was clear all along that there were other ways in which Israel and its government could have dealt with the Shalit kidnapping and captivity. Israel could have assassinated 30 terrorists a day and announce that the targeting would continue every day until Shalit was released. Or Israel could have kidnapped the family members of Hamas leaders and held them in captivity until Shalit was free. Or Israel could have executed 30 imprisoned terrorists inside Israeli prison each day.

Better yet, Israel could have eliminated the terrorist “bait” that drives kidnapping in the first place—by executing terrorists. No one has ever been murdered by a terrorist who has already been executed.

I think the last point is worth repeating. If Israel executed convicted terrorists, or at least the worst of them, then there would be far fewer terrorists in Israeli prisons, reducing the incentive for kidnappings. And those imprisoned would be the minor offenders whose crimes did not merit the death penalty, reducing the damage of releasing prisoners.

Unlike the “holy hell” proposal, I believe a death penalty for terrorism could be enacted without critically damaging Israel’s diplomatic position. Despite the international campaign against capital punishment, there are many nations which execute convicted murderers without loss of legitimacy. Israel would be singled-out for criticism, of course, but the storm should be weatherable.

Though as Mr. Plaut points out, this plan would require overcoming significant Israeli opposition to capital punishment:

Every time anyone brings up the idea of capital punishment for terrorism, Israel’s politicians wring their hands and whine about how “unethical” it is, how it violates Jewish ethics. All this coming from politicians who do not have the slightest idea of what Jewish ethics has to say about anything. Suffice it to say that capital punishment is as fundamentally grounded in Torah and Jewish ethics as are bans against incest and adultery.

MBS writes:

This deal reminds me of a joke about a guy who jumps from a high building. As he is passing the 50th floor someone yells out, “How is it going?”

He replies: “So far so good.”

October 20, 2011

LA writes:

As I have been saying since this website began, I am interested in any reasonable proposals, no matter how extreme they may sound, on how to reduce or eliminate the threat of Islam. I post Jerry Z.’s comment in that spirit.


Jerry Z. writes:

Of course the Palestinians are already a sacrificial population, goaded on by the jihadis to immolate themselves in all ways possible to destroy the Jewish state. They’ve been penned in by the surrounding Muslim nations in refugee compounds to prevent their assimilation and forever direct their murderous energies to goad and harry Israel. They’ve been honed and bred as killers by their puppet masters, with no regard for their humanity. What good would it do attack them mercilessly in a policy of “holy hell” reprisal? That’s the mission the Islamic world has created for them. They’ll be sacrificed to the last man and woman, while their malignant handlers are free to establish another front in their ongoing assault.

What would be the next line of attack by the Islamic world after the Palestinians have been beaten to a pulp, and if not defeated, at least rendered ineffectual? The Shiites of southern Lebanon will be mobilized by Hizballah as the next sacrificial Islamic mob. Then (or simultaneously) the Iranian mullahs will begin a bombing or even a land assault: its population is considered no less expendable then the Palestinians or the Shiites of Lebanon. And what about the resident fifth column Israeli Arabs, all 1.5 million of them?

If Israel is to raise holy hell in order to protect themselves from piecemeal demoralization and annihilation, they will have to wage all-out war against the newly-minted and unleashed Egyptian crazies as well as the Iranians. Raising hell against the Gazans or the West Bank Palestinians is wasted energy in itself. It’s the Iranians who will require real “holy hell,” all 125 million of them. Pakistan cannot be left out of consideration, either.

And what of the passive-aggressive danger from Saudi Arabia? Should they be left free to throw their money around to finance the world-wide Jihad against Israel?

No, maybe what’s needed is the Checkmate Scenario proposed seven years ago by Ross Leiber. This is a pan-Islamic solution, and aimed at the real perpetrators, the Islamic nations surrounding Israel, the puppet masters of the Palestinians:

The first step is for the Israeli Air Force to attack and destroy the holy mosque in Medina. It is the closest to Israel, and not as important as Mecca’s. Destroy the mosque using conventional weapons. Don’t touch the city. Don’t touch the people. Do it at first light, because Israel may need as many hours of daylight as possible, on that day. Do not do it during a Muslim holy day. Acting very early in the morning ensures fewer casualties. It also ensures the Western leaders will be disturbed from their precious sleep to “handle” the crisis. She should also destroy a Saudi oil rig—only one—as a message to the world.

At the same moment, have the IDF destroy the two mosques on the Temple Mount. Once again, almost nobody needs to get hurt. If possible, set up a close circuit to Ramallah, so that Arafat can watch it without knowing what it is all about. Then within one minute or two, kill him. It is better this way. Arresting and putting him on trial is likely to lead to many deaths or kidnappings of Jews in Israel, and attacks against Israeli interests abroad, in order to free him. On the other hand, it might not.

Why attack both Medina and the Temple Mount? Why not only one? Because if Israel destroys only the Jerusalem mosques, the Muslim reaction will be one of rage. While if Israel destroys only the Medina mosque, the Muslim reaction will be one of fear. Israel needs both feelings to be present—rage and fear.

At this point, planned military and political preparations will be put into action. It would be desirable to have the fence completed, but it is not strictly necessary. There will be no million martyrs on the way to Jerusalem. Not even one hundred. When dealing with Arabs, fear is the greatest psychological inducement to compliance.

Israel must at once release prepared warnings, both publicly and in private, to all Muslim countries in the world, as well as to the U.S., EU, and UN, as to why she was forced to take this course of action, accompanied by a series of non-negotiable demands. For example, she will announce that: “You Muslims still have your most important religious site, Mecca. We Jews only have Jerusalem. Please think about it, think very hard about it.” She will tell the governments of Pakistan and the U.S. that if the former launches a nuclear bomb in retaliation, both Mecca and Pakistan will be destroyed. It will announce a similar message to all Arab countries and Iran. Any non-conventional attack against her will lead to the destruction of Mecca and the offending nation(s). She will announce that in case of a retaliatory conventional attack or war, she will reserve the right to destroy Mecca and the offending nations by any methods of her choosing, should her defeat look likely. She will ! include Mecca, always Mecca, in all her communiqués. She will hint that no oil fields are safe, if she isn’t. This will ensure no NATO country will be foolish enough to try something “heroic.”

She must put the country on a state of alert, and have her forces in position to control both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs. There will be protests, but mostly are likely to be manageable, given the magnitude of what she has done and what she is threatening to do. Surprise, determination, and troops on the streets are needed. At this point, meaning right away, she should fully engage the U.S. to reinforce her messages. The U.S. will strongly disapprove, but pragmatism will prevail, as it normally does. The oil is important. There will be clashes with Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups, but once again, Israel has the advantage of surprise. And yes, there may be a regional war, but it will be easier for her to win than under the regular “Transfer” proposals, since now she has the control, the momentum, and the initiative.

Israel will also issue the same kind of warnings to terrorist organizations trying to smuggle WMDs. If any is used, Mecca goes, and maybe a few Arab countries, as well. It is as simple as that. The intention is to have Muslims policing Muslims in order to save Islam. For a very long time.

Israel can now specify her terms. It will involve the organized transfer of as many Palestinian and Israeli Arabs as she deems necessary to regain control of her land, including the Golan, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. It is a decision to be made in advance, of course. The fence will be moved to the Jordan River.

Of course, much water has passed under the bridge since 2004. Arafat is gone. With Obama at the helm, the U.S. is a loose cannon and could be expected to defend the Islamic world with American troops. We would also find out if Iran had a useable nuclear arsenal. Israel would be on an irreversible course, with the outcome highly uncertain, the opposite of what Leiber hopes to achieve. No, now is not the time for such acts of desperation as “holy hell” or The Checkmate Scenario, but it’s audacity is breathtaking and an interesting attempt to sever the Gordian knot.

LA replies:
Ross Leiber’s proposal is reminiscent of Westerner’s October 2007 article at VFR, “Dealing with the Islamic Threat,” in which he argued that my separationist proposal did not go far enough because it left Islam itself intact. He proposed instead the pre-emptive nuclear destruction of Mecca and Medina, in order to demoralize the Muslim and world and in effect destroy their religion by convincing them that their god does not protect them. I replied:

I think that Westerner’s idea is wildly premature. Before we could even realistically discuss such a step, we would first have had to do everything to defend ourselves short of that step, including removing Muslims from the West. Surely Westerner is not proposing that we drop A-bombs on Medina and Mecca while 20 million Muslims are residing in the West. If we’re going to wage all-out war, first we would have to remove the enemy aliens from our lands so that we can fight them properly in their own lands and they wouldn’t threaten us in our own.

This is why the separationist policy makes sense. First we roll back Islam from the West and contain it in its own lands, an extremely radical step that would transform the world as we know it. Then at that point, having established both the principle and the practical policy that Islam is our adversary from which we must protect ourselves, we would re-evaluate and see what more needs to be done.

My reply to Jerry Z.’s and Ross Leiber’s proposal is the same. Just as we should separate Muslims from the West before we launch any war against Islam, Israel should remove Muslims from Israel before it launches any war against Islam. In both cases, the first step may render the far more drastic second step unnecessary. If it does not, only then should the second step be considered.

An Indian living in the West writes:

A much simpler solution would be for America to implement the “Pickens Plan“—a plan to eliminate the import of Middle Eastern oil dreamt up by oil tycoon T Boone Pickens. This would be in America’s interests as well. Once this is implemented and the oil price has effectively collapsed, the West’s dependency on ME oil will be eliminated and with it the fear of angering the Saudis, the Iranians or whichever group of Arabs/Middle Eastern Muslims with large hydrocarbon resources at their disposal. It would also destroy the economic base that funds the Iranian military and the Hezbollah. It would be a massive game changer in the Middle East.

Next, the Israelis should effectively abandon their liberal regime and eliminate the one man one vote regime. This nullifies the political risk posed by Israeli Arabs outnumbering Israeli Jews in the future. It is a day that will surely come and there is nothing to be gained by sticking to the one man one vote regime. Once the liberal regime is abandoned, Israel would be able to implement the measures necessary for its survival.

I have maintained for some time that the likes of Mark Steyn are fools to think that Russia will collapse one day because Muslims will outnumber the historic Christian Russian majority. Because Russia is not actually a democracy (though it pays lip service to the idea), a numerical majority for Muslims won’t destroy the Russian state because the Russian state won’t be hindered by liberal dogmas in dealing with risks to its internal security. Israel needs to follow the Russian example.

This is much safer and better than trying to bomb Medina. That kind of measure risks nuclear war since Pakistan already has nukes and Iran is on its way to acquiring them.

Vivek G. writes:

For the sake of argument let us term the “Holy Hell” proposal, or Westerner’s proposal, as Annihilationism. As I understand, your argument against Annihilationism is as follows:

1. There are a large number of Muslims in the West (the USA, Israel and so on).

2. Therefore, Islam also poses an internal threat, besides the external threat.

3. Annihiliationism focuses on the external threat while it ignores the internal threat.

4. Separationism is an effective protection against the internal threat. It reduces practically all threats by Islam to external threats.

5. Thus Separationism must be the first step. This may render the second step, Annihilationism, redundant, by achieving security against the internal threat in the first step.

However we also need to be aware of the following:

1. Currently we are governed by liberalism. [LA replies: But Separationism could not be effected unless we had already ceased to be governed by liberalism. The end of the rule of liberalism is the condition of any meaningful non-liberal policy.]

2. There is, practically, a near complete absence of any genuine foresight and leadership qualities among the current leadership.

3. Worse still, no significant change seems in sight. On the contrary, suicidal moves like supporting Arab Spring are being taken. [LA replies: And there is no significant opposition in the West to supporting Arab Spring, just near-invisible Islam-critical blogs such as this one.]

4. Time seems to be rapidly running out.

My questions are the following:

1. Do you see any critical point beyond which Annihilationism will be the sole solution, no matter whether Separationism has happened or not, and notwithstanding the consequences owing to internal threat posed by Islam?

2. And if such a point exists, then in such a hypothetical situation (though in my personal opinion it is not so hypothetical a situation), what would be the salient features of the Annihilationism proposal?

LA replies:

As I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s a terribly useful question, given that Separationism has never been tried and indeed the West has not even remotely contemplated much more modest steps than Separationism, such as reducing Muslim immigration. If we’re so far away from reducing Muslim immigration, imagine how far away we are from Separationism, let alone how much farther away we are from Annihilationism. For a non-Muslim world that has never done anything to reduce the Muslim threat to talk about suddenly accelerating to the most extreme possible measures against Islam does not seem realistic to me, to say the least.

However, to answer your question, let’s say Separationism had been carried out, which involves quarantining the Muslims in their lands. Let’s say that instead of being cowed by this, they become more aggressive, waging war on non-Islamic neighbors. Let’s also say sharia regimes increase in number and are close to having nuclear weapons. The common element in these scenarios is that the Islamic world poses an existential threat to the non-Muslim world. In some such circumstances, annihilationism might have to be considered. But, I repeat, I think we are very far from that and shouldn’t even be thinking about it at this stage, given our failure to do much more mild things. It is a form of escapism, like expecting to get a high school diploma when you haven’t yet learned simple arithmetic.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 19, 2011 10:20 AM | Send

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