Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

Unilateral withdrawal vs. evacuation of civilians

Jewish Russian Telegraph alerted me to this:

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert now admits that Israeli’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip did not work.

In an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Olmert said he believes in the establishment of a Palestinian state, which will require Israel to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank. But he said he does not believe such a move can be made unilaterally.

“A year ago, I believed that we would be able to do this unilaterally,” Olmert was quoted as saying. “However, it should be said that our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is not encouraging. We pulled out of Lebanon unilaterally, and see what happened. We pulled out of the Gaza Strip completely, to the international border, and every day they are firing Kassam rockets at Israelis.”

Israel withdrew its troops from a buffer zone in southern Lebanon in 2000, leaving a vacuum that was filled by the Iranian-backed Hizballah. Hizballah launched more than 4,000 rockets at northern Israel during a 34-day war this summer.

Israel uprooted 21 Jewish communities and withdrew all of its troops from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by Hamas, which openly calls for the destruction of Israel.

Now, let’s clarify some terms, shall we? What we came to call “unilateral withdrawal” actually should have been called “evacuation of Israeli civilians from hostile territory”. At the time it was done, I actually supported the idea. Why? Because those civilians were potential hostages and potential victims of friendly fire. The only way Israel could hold that territory was by deporting every single Arab from there. While some people would argue that this is exactly what should have been done, this is simply unrealistic. For starters, which country would take those people? By doing what was done Israel was actually gaining some moral ground, even a little bit that the European anti-Semites were willing to give it. Now some people ask me if I changed my mind. The answer is no, because I sure didn’t support the crap that actually happened. I expected that evacuation of Israeli civilians from Gaza would untie IDF hands. What I thought should happen was that after the Palestinian Arabs given the chance to govern themselves in Gaza, the very first attack against internationally recognized Israeli territory, be it rocket, kidnapping or any other terrorist attack, should be followed thus:

1. Media campaign starts, in which Israel declares that it has been a victim of aggression by a hostile neighbor. Then Israel asserts the right to defend itself and vows to push the aggressor back.

2. Within hours tanks are rolling in, perhaps preceded by a massive artillery bombardment. Special Forces move in ahead of tanks, hunting down the terrorist leaders, including those in the local government. The regular troops are battling the rank-and-file terrorists. Since the members of the terrorist organizations usually do not wear uniforms, they are considered illegal combatants, according to Geneva Convention. Thus, no prisoners are taken. That applies to the leaders as well. Of course, those capable of providing useful intelligence and cooperating should be spared.

3. After every possible terrorist is hunted down and bomb and rocket factories are destroyed, Israel temporarily re-occupies the territory and restores the damage to civilian infrastructure. Why? Because the contrast between being friendly and hostile to Israel should be demonstrably stark. It has to be shown that any individual or group attempting to kill Israelis will meet certain and unglamorous demise. But simply leaving the Israelis alone will allow those individuals to lead normal lives. For those who disagree with this specific point I would recommend these books:
Small Wars Manual by United States Marine Corps;
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power by Max Boot.
I have just finished the second one. I’ll probably post the review over the weekend.

But back to the Israeli situation. Everything I wrote applies to Lebanon, except there were no Israeli civilians. Thus, in hindsight, the withdrawal was a mistake. But given that it was done back in 2000, the very first attack from there should trigger the same response as any attack from Gaza. My friends at Jewish Russian Telegraph seem to think that Olmert regrets the withdrawal. But I am afraid it is much worse than that:

But given Israel’s experiences in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, he said, “it would be more practical to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations rather than [unilateral] withdrawal.” (italics mine).

Could please someone tell me, who Mr. Olmert is going to negotiate with? And what is he going to negotiate away? The rest of Israel?

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January 11, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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