July 18, 2013
Hawks, Doves -- and Ostriches
Power politics is not about the good, the bad and the ugly. It is about hawks, doves, and ostriches. Hawks and doves can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. Ostriches are always ugly.
Hawks are assertive and even aggressive, while doves are responsive and even submissive, but the ostriches always stick their heads in the sand. Ostriches ignore real conditions on the ground, and they dig in. They wave their tails in the air, hoping they will not get bitten in the rear.
In the Mideast, where the sand is hot, getting one's head stuck in the sand is not an optimal strategic position, but sometimes it's a great pose.
High-level poseurs, like European Union (EU) representatives, like group pictures with world leaders. Their book of achievements is never more than a picture portfolio. "We call on all sides to show restraint," is the caption on the photo of the ostrich at the White House , the EU or the State Department preaching to the rapists and those they raped, telling Iranian protesters not to offend the ayatollahs, urging Egyptians not to insult Muslim Brothers, and bloodied Syrians not to be mean to Uncle Bashar.
If you want to see humans imitating an ostrich look at Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, or EU officials repeatedly ignoring realities in Syria, Libya, Iran, and Egypt and concentrating their attention on that great Middle Eastern mirage known as the "Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
This week, the EU declared guidelines for its 28 member states banning any funding, cooperation, or awards to Jews in the West Bank and "East Jerusalem." The EU feels that this helps peace or at least shows it loves peace as much as John Kerry, who has been jetting around the Mideast to advance the "Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
Apart from the fact that the EU (which is a witness to some Israel-PLO agreements) is essentially prejudicing, intervening in, and violating the process it is supposed to support, there are three little problems with the "Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process."
�-� Palestinian: The Palestinians are not really a national group in any sense, but only sets of clans and tribes without a real self-image, historical heritage, or any real desire for self rule. "Palestinians" are now divided between Hamas, the PLO and others. Hamas swears to kill all Israelis, while the PLO does its swearing in private.
�-� Process: Palestinian leaders are working on the "process" of dismantling Israel. Their "negotiating" begins and ends by imposing schedules for Israeli pull-outs and freeing convicted terrorists. The PLO-Hamas idea of nationhood is a zero-sum game that begins and ends with dismembering Israel.
On brief occasions when PLO and Hamas assert "unity" for a few days, as in March 2005, they agree only about the old doctrine of taking Israel apart by stages. In Arabic, this is called barnamaj al-marahil -- the strategy of stages, announced in 1974. It has been frequently reasserted by the PLO and Hamas, but never renounced.
�-� Peace: When PLO leaders talk "peace with Israel", they do not mean a peace of tranquility but only a transitional "stage" that will become a graveyard peace.
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) does not mean "wa-'aleikum al-salaam" -- "peace be upon you" the traditional blessing to an equal colleague. He does not feel Israel has the right to be treated like an equal partner or as a predominately Jewish state. Like Arafat, Abbas has broken every agreement with Israel. He has urged boycotts and sanctions of Israel and turned a blind eye to terrorists in his territory. He continues to honor those who attack Israel. Abbas wants to get the international community, to force a diktat down Israel's throat, to make Israel weak. When Abbas opposed attacking Israel, he only did so because he thought it would be "counterproductive" since Israel was too strong militarily. When Abbas speaks of peace in English, he means what Arafat meant: the Arabic phrase for the dead: wa'alaihi al-salaam -- "may he rest in peace."
Western doves --Israelis, Americans, Europeans -- who devoted much of their careers to supporting Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas have had mixed results.
They achieved "accords" with the PLO and a pullback from Gaza. Over time, however, the hawkish position seems to have won the strategic argument, particularly as viewed through the prism of the "Arab Spring" that has become the Fall of the Arab state system.
Though some doves were honored in diplomatic councils and in the media, often, their political careers died with the false promise of a phony peace. Shimon Peres still pushes the PLO as a peace partner. He is feted by the likes of Bill Clinton and Barbra Streisand. But after signing with the PLO, Peres never won another election, because Israelis think the accords with the PLO were a mistake.
Hawks, however, proved they were right about much of the strategic analysis: making concessions to Arab regimes and organizations is a very risky gamble that can vanish with sudden political change, especially when the deal is built on sand -- trusting the word of hardened tyrants and terrorists like Yasser Arafat and the Assad Family:
�-�The Peres vision of PLO-Israeli peace actually ushered in the worst decade of terror in Israel's history, with more than a thousand murdered;
�-� Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and his immoral and illegal eviction of 10,000 law-abiding Israelis led to terror, rocket warfare on Israel's cities, and internal dislocation for hundreds of Israeli families. This is something Israelis now think was a huge error, even a sin.
�-� Many doves who pushed for "sacrifices for peace" such as withdrawal from Gaza also pushed hard to force Israel to withdraw its army and its citizens from the Golan Heights. Just imagine what Israel's strategic position would be if it had listened to the doves and had ceded the Golan Heights to the bloodthirsty Assad regime.
As the EU again scolds Israel or Obama-Kerry ask for Israeli concessions, we should heed Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's warning against "salami tactics" by Arab states and Western powers pressing Israel to slice off pieces of herself, her hard-won land and security for promises that often turn out to be pure baloney.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and he will be a visiting professor at University of California, Irvine.
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