...“For a left-winger, you sound very much like a right-winger, wouldn’t you say?” Morris was asked by Ari Shavit in the above mentioned Haaretz interview. “I identify with Albert Camus” said Morris. “He was considered a left-winger and a person of high morals, but when he referred to the Algerian problem he placed his mother ahead of morality. Preserving my people is more important than universal moral concepts.”
13 August '14..
When Ariel Sharon announced his “disengagement plan” at the 2003 Herzliya Conference, he claimed that “the purpose of the disengagement plan is to diminish terrorism and to provide security to Israel’s citizens,” and that his plan “would improve our quality of life and boost our economy.” Since the plan’s implementation in August 2005, over 12,000 rockets have been fired into Israel and more than 5 million Israelis are living under threat of rocket attacks. Around the Gaza Strip, Israelis live in constant fear of a missile landing on their house and of terrorists popping out of their living room from an underground tunnel.
Israel has had to fight three wars to tackle the effects of the 2005 retreat (Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and the ongoing Operation Protective Edge). As for the economy, Hamas has proved its ability to shut down Ben-Gurion airport and to bring Israel’s tourist industry to its knees. Operation Protective Edge is estimated to have cost $3.6 billion (direct military expenses and indirect damages to the Israeli economy). When Sharon submitted the disengagement plan to his Likud constituents in a referendum (whose results he ignored), he claimed that “after disengagement, the international community will no longer be able to assert that the Gaza Strip is occupied.” This also proved to be delusional.
Israel left Gaza, but Gaza never left Israel. In fact, Gaza is more lethal from without than from within.
Sharon came up with his disengagement plan to surprise his enemies from their rear, just as he did three decades earlier when he crossed the Suez Canal. In 2003, Sharon was under criminal investigation and his forced resignation had become a foregone conclusion. In addition, the Geneva Initiative put him on the defensive. His cynical tactical move proved masterful: the state prosecutor suddenly and mysteriously dropped all charges against him, and Israel’s left-leaning media re-branded its bête noire to Israel’s greatest statesman since Ben-Gurion.
But Sharon’s disengagement plan also expressed the zeitgeist of the Herzliya Conference, reflecting an emerging consensus among Israelis. After Arafat had rejected the Camp David proposal in July 2000 and the Clinton parameters in December 2000, even Israel’s most starry-eyed peaceniks were altogether horrified and disillusioned. In October 2000, Shlomo Avineri, an enthusiastic supporter of the Oslo process, published an open letter to Edward Said in The Jerusalem Post saying: “You were right, Edward: compromise doesn’t work … Thank you again for your honesty.” Benny Morris, who started his academic career as a “new historian” on the far left of Israel’s political spectrum said in an interview with Haaretz in 2004: “When the Palestinians rejected the proposal of [prime minister Ehud] Barak in July 2000 and the Clinton proposal in December 2000, I understood that they are unwilling to accept the two-state solution. They want it all. Lod and Acre and Jaffa.”
Unilateral disengagement was meant to solve a two-variable equation: A= Reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO has proven to be impossible; B= Maintaining the status quo might spell Israel’s demographic doom. In theory, unilateral disengagement was clever. In practice, it was a disaster. With the recent failed attempt, once again, to reach an agreement with the PLO, some have been floating the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from Judea and Samaria. As the Gaza precedent has proved beyond doubt, a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would bring Jihadists, rockets and tunnels to the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem of Tel-Aviv, and Ben-Gurion international airport. With psychotic Jihadists taking over Iraq and Syria and heading toward Jordan, and with Iran about to reach the nuclear threshold, the idea of repeating disengagement just to relieve Israel’s demographic concerns is tantamount to treating a headache with the guillotine.
The realistic left acknowledged the conceptual error of Oslo in 2000. It now recognizes that the unilateral plan-B must also be shelved.
In the 1930s, the Arab-Revolt incited by Hadj Amin al-Husseini, Britain’s betrayal of Zionism, and the rise of Hitlerism in Germany convinced David Ben-Gurion that the Jews could not mortgage their self-determination on the Arab’s impossible consent. This was the underlying idea developed by Zeev Jabotinsky in his 1923 article “The Iron Wall” –an idea that Ben-Gurion ended-up endorsing. Today, even the former “new historian” Benny Morris espouses the “Iron Wall” ethos for lack of better options.
“For a left-winger, you sound very much like a right-winger, wouldn’t you say?” Morris was asked by Ari Shavit in the above mentioned Haaretz interview. “I identify with Albert Camus” said Morris. “He was considered a left-winger and a person of high morals, but when he referred to the Algerian problem he placed his mother ahead of morality. Preserving my people is more important than universal moral concepts.”
Dr. Emmanuel Navon chairs the Political Science and Communication Department at the Jerusalem Orthodox College and teaches International Relations at Tel-Aviv University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. He is a Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.