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Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir

A View from Israel: Shaul Amir

Shaul Amir
It has been a long time since I bothered you all with my insights on what is happening in Israel.

With all that is happening here in the last two weeks, I am sure that you all have many views but I felt that as I used to give updates which included my biased opinion in the past, you would be willing to accept this one as well. There are several subjects I would like to cover and I will deal with each one separately. I think that at the end of the analysis, it will all make some sense.

1. Operation Pillar of Defense – There is no question that Israel’s action was justified, surgically accurate and timely. The big argument in Israel at the end of the operations was whether or not it had achieved its goals which were: The destruction of much of the Hamas abilities to threaten our civilians, the renewal of the deterrent ability of Israel and as a result achieving a long period of tranquility in the South of Israel. I believe that these goal were achieved in most part and furthermore, I believe that we could have achieved the same, on day four of the operation.

A ground offensive would have not achieved any other goal accept the loss of many lives of Israeli soldiers and Hamas and innocent civilians on the Palestinian side as Hamas shields itself with civilians. Eventually Israel would have had to stop any ground invasion, due to political pressure, which would end with the same results. I do not think that anybody believes that one can fully destroy a terrorist organization with military force. It does not work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon South America etc. The only thing that has been proven with time is that any terrorist organization that became part of the political system, reduced if not stopped its terrorist activities.

I firmly believe that we have a window of opportunity now to try and change what many of my right wing friends see as fate (forever shall we live on our swords). Egypt and President Morsi now have much more influence in Gaza than in the days of President Mubarak, due to the fact that Hamas is a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot. Egypt needs the US for economic support or else, its economy will collapse (it is rather close to it).

President Obama is now in his second term and thus can apply pressure on both sides without having to look over his shoulders in order to be re-elected for President. Therefore, if the US will pressure Egypt to apply pressure on Hamas to stop its terror activities against Israel; if the US will apply pressure in Israel to ease some of the restrictions on Gaza (with full understanding that weapons smuggling is off limits) and help improve the Gaza economy, Hamas will have more to lose in case Israel will be forced to act again.

This will lead Hamas to impose its will on the rogue organizations as well and maintain the quiet. As a quick reminder I would like to stress the fact that until the late 80’s, beginning of the 90’s, talking to the PLO was against the law in Israel. Maybe it is time to recognize the fact that we cannot remove Hamas and come to a long time ceasefire arrangement (Hudna) via direct negotiation that might lead to a permanent solution in the future for reasons mentioned above.

Photograph by Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images
An Israeli missile is launched from the Iron Dome defense missile system in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod in response to a rocket launched from the nearby Palestinian Gaza Strip on Nov. 18, 2012

2. The Iron Dome and its effects – In addition to its ability to enable the IDF to achieve its goals with minimal loss in civilian life in the home front and thus work without pressure, Iron Dome sent a message which I am sure will resonate not only in Gaza but also in Syria, Iran and with the Hezbollah. They all lost the “advantage” they hoped they had in threatening to turn our cities to rabble and cause many civilian casualties. In another year or so another layer of defense “Magic Wand” will be added to defend against the missiles of the Hezbollah, this will be added to the Arrow 3 defense against long range missiles from Iran. The success of the Iron Dome will ensure that any enemy of Israel that decided to rely on its missiles ability will have to think twice. Our Air Force has already proved that it can get to distant targets any time.

3. The Likud Primaries and the Israeli elections – The results of the Primaries in the Likud Party a couple of days ago proved a couple of things.  The first one, that “vote contractors” who are making deals with voters to assure the voting of certain candidates can make or break candidates. Beni Begin, Dan Meridor and Miki Eitan who were the most honest and moderate members of Knesset (on behalf of the Likud party) and part of its history, were left out of the list while the extremists were voted in.

Second, the results show a definite move of the general population to the right side of the political map. The apparent deduction of this fact is very simple: if the existing Government of Israel FAILED to make any progress regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the next Government (if Netanyahu wins the elections), will not be capable or able to move towards a two-state solution. This again leads to another conclusion, we are heading towards a bi-national state which will either lead to a state with a Jewish minority in the foreseeable future or alternatively, to an Apartheid state where the Palestinians will not be able to vote and will be second class citizens. This last, by the way, is the surreal reality where the extreme right and the extreme left of Israeli politics have the same agenda but for different reasons.

4. Palestinian request for a Resolution to the UN to become an “Observer State” – With the blessing of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Abu Mazen cannot and will not withdraw his Resolution request. He is assured to receive at least 153 votes in support of the resolution, among them European countries, friends of Israel such as France. The isolation of Israel will be very apparent and despite the support for Israel from the US, Canada Micronesia and a couple of other countries which will oppose the resolution, it will pass.

If however, Israel would have voted in favor of the resolution, it could lead to the opening of several opportunities.

The first one is a dialogue with a strengthened Palestinian leadership that will now be able to make compromises it could never make before. If the Palestinians will fail to join and participate in candid talks with Israel regarding a two-state solution, Israel will not be blamed for any action it will take to ensure its security and survival.

The second opportunity is that the recognition of this resolution by Israel will be the first time that the borders of the future Palestinian State and Israel will be defined and accepted by the General Assembly of the UN. The resolution calls for a Palestinian State BASED on the ’67 borders. It does not mention Jerusalem as its Capital and leaves room for negotiation about the clusters of Israeli settlements and land swaps all under the auspices of this resolution.

I all-heartily believe that we do not have any alternatives; we are destined to live surrounded by people who do not like us and will never become “lovers of Zion”. I also believe that we are strong enough to take calculated risks which will possibly lower the flames of hate and eliminate the “Palestinian excuse” used by the Arab countries to boycott Israel diplomatically and economically. If we take this course, we will hopefully leave our children and grandchildren a better and more peaceful future in Israel.

About Shaul Amir

Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir has served two terms as Shaliach to the Denver area from Israel, the most recent combined with directing Allied Jewish Federation's Israel Center from 2002 to 2007. He and his wife Kika now live outside Tel Aviv and enjoy welcoming visitors from Colorado to Israel.

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  1. Bravo! Thoughtful, clear, and courageous. Thank you, Shaul.

  2. Bruce Shaffer

    Shaul. Thank you for your reporting, analysis, opinion and, especially, your bravery

  3. Thank you for sharing your views about Israeli recent events. We will be reading your article at Beth Ami's Jewish Cultural School this Sunday as we make links between the Hasmoneans and Israel's current political situation.