15 September '10
Every once in a while, I’m reminded that it’s necessary to restate some things that I think are obvious, because they are clearly not obvious to everyone. I had a conversation the other day with someone who said something like this:
Why don’t you just give the Palestinians what they want? Israel is a military and economic superpower and the powerless Palestinians have been kicked around for years. Remove the settlements and let them have their state in the ‘West Bank’. That will take the wind out of the sails of the terrorists.
My goodness…where can I start?
Let’s take some of my friends’ explicit statements and implicit assumptions one at a time.
Israel is a superpower. It’s true that Israel has the most powerful military force in the Middle East. But there are several reasons that this is less important than it looks. First of all, there are severe constraints on Israel’s use of this power. Almost every war or operation undertaken by Israel since its beginning has been terminated by an imposed cease-fire, sometimes to Israel’s great disadvantage. Success in war usually means not being destroyed, rather than changing the overall situation in a permanent way. The withdrawal from the Sinai in 1956, the escape of Yasser Arafat and his men in 1982, and the toothless UN resolution that ended the second Lebanon war in 2006 are a few examples among many.
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