Sunday, February 15, 2009
Let's have a Proportionate Response!
by Jonathan Mark*
I condemn Israel's disproportionate attack on Hamas because, so far, it
has only lasted four days and I would like to see a proportionate response
that terrifies Hamas for seven years, the years that have filled Sderot
and neighboring towns with nightmares, death, amputations and trauma
coming from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza.
Perhaps a proportionate response would have Gaza's leaders fearful of
being killed every day for the next two years, as Gilad Shalit has been
terrified of torture and death every day for the last two years in his
solitary Gaza dungeon.
A proportionate response would have Hamas mothers and fathers as fearful
for their children's lives as Shalit's mother and father have been fearful
for Gilad's life.
A proportionate response would have Gaza's children crying for their
mommies and daddies, the way at a Hamas pageant earlier in December a
Palestinian actor dressed as Shalit got down on his knees, mock-begging in
Hebrew for his Ima and Abba while the Gaza crowds laughed.
A proportionate response would so intimidate Hamas that they will grovel
and, as a "gesture," send cocoa and jam into Sderot, the way Israel has
groveled in response to rockets from Hamas, sending cocoa and jam into
Gaza. Imagine Churchill sending cocoa and jam into Berlin as a
humanitarian gesture after - during - the bombing of London.
A proportionate response would be one that will convince Hamas there is no
military solution, no solution but surrender. They can then call surrender
a "peace process," if they like, just as the mostly unanswered attacks on
Jews have convinced some Jews that there is no military solution but
surrender to any and all demands. They suggest a euthanasia by the
euphemism of "peace process," that Israel become what some are already
planning to call "Canaan," a non-Jewish state of all its citizens.
A proportionate response will convince Palestinians that if they insist
that the starting point to peace negotiations is that no Jew be allowed to
live on the West Bank, the proportionate response will be that Israel's
starting point in negotiations is that no Arab be allowed to live in Tel
Aviv. Horrible to contemplate? Fine, let there be a proportionate
A proportionate response to Hamas, one might gather from the European
scolds, would be as if the United States, after Pearl Harbor, would bomb
just a few Japanese fishing boats and call it a day, believing the war
would have ended with that.
A proportionate response will begin to remind Jews that there is no peace
process like victory, just as Israel's decade of disproportionate
restraint and self-doubt has convinced young Palestinians that their
victory is inevitable, like Aryan youth in 1933 singing "Tomorrow Belongs
Let it be said to Israelis and Jews everywhere, in the words of Churchill:
"You have enemies? Good. It means you've stood up for something." But
remember: A war (and Hamas has repeatedly said this is war) is never won
if you are disproportionately kind to someone who wants to destroy you
and, failing in that, demands with indignation that you not destroy him.
When meeting that enemy, be proportionate.
2. Jimmy Carter and the Camp David Myth
It was only by putting aside the Palestinian issue that Mideast peace
progress was made.
By ARTHUR HERMAN
Will Jimmy Carter be President Barack Obama's role model on how to bring
peace to the Middle East?
Some, especially in Israel, view that prospect with apprehension. Others,
like Ralph Nader, have greeted the possibility with enthusiasm, urging Mr.
Obama to rely on Mr. Carter's "wise and seasoned counsel" in dealings with
the volatile region. After all, Mr. Carter is renowned as the master
craftsman of the historic accord between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's
Menachem Begin at Camp David in September 1978, which opened the way for a
formal peace agreement three months later.
The myth of Camp David hangs heavy over American foreign policy, and it's
easy to see why. Of all the attempts to forge a Middle East peace, the
1978 treaty between Egypt and Israel has proved the most durable. Mr.
Carter's admirers extol Camp David as an example of how one man's vision
and negotiating skill brought former enemies together at the peace table,
and as proof that a president can guide America toward a kinder, humbler
foreign policy. Camp David was indeed Mr. Carter's one major foreign
policy accomplishment amid a string of disasters including the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan, the rise of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and
Ayatollah Khomeini's ascent in Iran.
But the truth about Camp David belies this myth. The truth is that Mr.
Carter never wanted an Egyptian-Israeli agreement, fought hard against it,
and only agreed to go along with the process when it became clear that the
rest of his foreign policy was in a shambles and he desperately needed to
log a success.
As presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter was sharply critical of the kind
of step-by-step personal diplomacy which had been practiced by his
predecessors Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. President Carter's
preferred Middle East policy was to insist on a comprehensive settlement
among all concerned parties -- including the Arab states' leading patron,
the Soviet Union -- and to disparage Nixonian incrementalism.
Mr. Carter and his advisers all assumed that the key to peace in the
region was to make Israel pull back to its pre-1967 borders and accept the
principle of Palestinian self-determination in exchange for a guarantee of
Israel's security. Nothing less than a comprehensive settlement, it was
argued, could ward off future wars -- and there could be no agreement
without the Soviets at the bargaining table. This was a policy that, if
implemented, would have thrust the Cold War directly into the heart of
Middle East politics. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had strained to achieve the
Interestingly, the man who ultimately prevented this Carter-led calamity
from unfolding was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat decided that Egypt needed to start
from scratch in its relationship with Israel. Sadat found natural allies
in Nixon and Mr. Kissinger after throwing out his Soviet patrons in 1972.
With American support, he came to a disengagement agreement with Israel in
1973, and again in 1975. The culmination of this process was Sadat's
historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, where he discussed a separate
peace between Egypt and Israel, and forestalled Mr. Carter's plan for a
Geneva peace conference.
It was this trip -- not Camp David -- that marked the true seismic shift
in Middle East relations since Israel's founding. It came as an unwelcome
surprise to the Carter foreign policy team, who still wanted their
grandiose Geneva conference. In fact, for the better part of 1977, as
Israel and Egypt negotiated, the White House persisted in acting as if
nothing had happened. Even after Sadat's trip to Jerusalem, Mr. Carter
announced that "a separate peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is not
But by the autumn of 1978, the rest of Mr. Carter's foreign policy had
crumbled. He had pushed through an unpopular giveaway of the Panama Canal,
allowed the Sandinistas to take power in Nicaragua as proxies of Cuba, and
stood by while chaos grew in the Shah's Iran. Desperate for some kind of
foreign policy success in order to bolster his chances for re-election in
1980, Mr. Carter finally decided to elbow his way into the game by setting
up a meeting between Sadat and Begin at Camp David.
The rest of the story is now the stuff of legend: For 13 days Mr. Carter
acted as the go-between for the two leaders. Yet for all their bluster and
intransigence in public, Begin and Sadat were more than ready for a deal
once they understood that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to stop
the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, such as the PLO, from derailing a
peace. An agreement was hammered out for an Israeli withdrawal from the
Sinai, coupled with vague language about Palestinian "autonomy." The item
Mr. Carter had really wanted on the agenda -- a Palestinian state -- was
kept at arm's length.
Camp David worked because it avoided all of Mr. Carter's usual foreign
policy mistakes, particularly his insistence on a comprehensive solution.
Instead, Sadat and Begin pursued limited goals. The agreement stressed a
step-by-step process instead of insisting on immediate dramatic results.
It excluded noncooperative entities like Syria and the PLO, rather than
trying to accommodate their demands. And for once, Mr. Carter chose to
operate behind the scenes . la Mr. Kissinger, instead of waging a media
war through public statements and gestures. (The press were barred from
the Camp David proceedings).
Above all and most significantly, Camp David sought peace instead of
"justice." Liberals say there can be no peace without justice. But to many
justice means the end of Israel or the creation of a separate Palestinian
state. Sadat and Begin, in the teeth of Mr.Carter's own instincts both
then and now, established at Camp David a sounder principle for
negotiating peace. The chaos and violence in today's Gaza proves just how
fatal trying to advance other formulations can be.
The true story of Camp David is one of two ironies. The first is that, far
from being a symbol of a more modest foreign policy, Camp David rested on
an assertion of go-it-alone American power. Both Ronald Reagan and George
W. Bush would be bitterly criticized later for following this winning
technique. The second irony is that if any one man deserves credit for
Camp David, it is not Jimmy Carter but Anwar Sadat. It was Sadat who
managed to save Mr. Carter from himself and revealed the true secret about
forging peace in the Middle East: The Palestinian issue is the doom, not
the starting point, for lasting stability in the region.
Mr. Herman is the author of "Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That
Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age" (Bantam, 2008).
3. New England's Hitlerjugend:
War of Words on Investments in Israel
4. How I love the whimpering of leftists in the morning: