Friday, August 26, 2011

The Difference Between Winning and Not Losing

Caroline Glick has a whiny column up blaming the Israeli media for sabotaging "American media superstar" Glenn Beck's trip through Israel. Her breathless account of Beck's boundless influence ("His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the US has such influence.") manages to omit the fact that he got himself axed from Fox for being just too crazy. But whatever -- Glick is of the persuasion that the vast majority of Israel's "friends" are really enemies, and that the only friends worth having are the one's that cheer alongside whatever policy Avigdor Lieberman bumbles into next (Tzipi Livni, in Glick's telling, is clearly not among Israel's friends). What Israel needs, she said, is for folks to "empower it to defeat its enemies and to stand up to an increasingly hostile world."

Glick's ideological blinders are doing more than deluding her into thinking that Glenn Beck is anything but a deranged nutjob. It also is causing her to seriously misappraise Israel's security situation. Israel can't win its battle by military force. It can lose it that way, to be sure. And that's important to remember. Losing is bad, and the sort of losing we're talking about -- where the state gets wiped off the map and Jewish communal self-determination is extinguished -- would be exceptionally bad. That's why you won't see me get behind notions of throwing up an arms boycott against Israel. We're talking about a country that has been at war a half dozen times in barely 60 years of existence, that is still technically in a state of war with two of its immediate neighbors, that has another regional power promisng to "eradicate" it ... I could go on. Given that, I fully subscribe to the notion that Israel needs an armed forces able to, paraphrasing Sergeant Johnson, "blow up any son-of-a-bitch dumb enough" to try and mess them up.

But that's simply a case of "not losing". Successfully not being destroyed is certainly important, but it's not the end goal. The end goal is for Israel to not have to fight such wars. It's for Israel to be a recognized part of the region, stable and secure as a Jewish, democratic state. And that's something that force can't accomplish. Force can defend against hostile action, but it can't stop hostile sentiment. Force can respond to military incursions, but it can't stop demographic realities. Force can defend democratic institutions, but it can't create universal suffrage. All of these things have to be resolved with political courage, not military might.

These political reforms and negotiations and compromises -- jumping into an unknown future in the hopes that former enemies can become peaceful neighbors -- can be frightening. They are risks. Luckily, Glick and Beck are correct that there exists against many Israelis an incredible reserve of courage that often has been called upon to make these deals. It is just a shame that Glick and Beck seem not to have kept any for themselves.

1 comment:

Cycle Cyril said...

When you crease a universal suffrage do you have cuffs or no cuffs? Do you have a break over the shoe or no break?

I have yet to read Glick's column but when in the past has Israel come out ahead on a permanent basis when it made a leap of faith, or as you put it the political courage to sign a peace treaty or unilaterally cede territory?

The peace treaty with Egypt is currently being shredded as the military is unable to maintain order and as the Moslem Brotherhood is positioning itself to assume control of the government.

The peace treaty with Jordan hangs on one man as he allows the population become more anti-Israel.

The unilateral withdrawals from southern Lebanon and the Gaza strip has merely embolden Israel's enemies and allow them to rain missiles on Israeli cities.

Unfortunately human nature is such that until it knows and feels defeat in its heart of hearts it will not concede to an enemy. You see this in everything from political battles that extend far beyond the close of the polling booths to the fields of battle as during the Civil War when after Gettysburg and Vicksburg and especially after Atlanta the South had no chance to win but continued to fight.

The Islamic countries and most importantly their peoples have not conceded to the existence of Israel let alone even tolerating its presence in their hearts.

This is what is against Israelis, a reality that requires the courage to ask what is the nature of people and what can make their foes to change to accept an enemy. Unfortunately it is not a Star Trek universe where everyone can get along but a Firefly universe that is rough and tough and quarter is rarely given.

It is time for Israel to have the political courage to say it is your move to eradicate the teaching of anti-Semitism in their Mosques, schools, media and wherever else it exists, to extent the hand of peace and acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state. And also to have the courage to response to any attack with a huge, disproportionate force as retribution.