Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
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Piecemeal compromises blur Israel's objectives

The fallacy of Israel's minor concessions to Arabs

Piecemeal compromises blur Israel's objectives

Concessions obscured the objective of peace when Israel has only short-term goals. Exchanging territory for peace makes sense if it means liquidating Israelís immense standing Israel Defense Forces and freeing Israeli economy from war pressures. But peace with Egypt did not reduce Israel Defense Forces, since other Islamic enemies remained. The same Israel Defense Forces could have kept the Egyptians at bay without conceding most of the territory Israel held at the time. Any other country would consider such a loss of territory, whether original or annexed, a defeat, not a political gainómost certainly so if the territory was historically significant for the national conscience. Joshua did not trade the Promised Land for peace treaties.

Israeli acceptance of compromises on Sinai, Golan, and Gaza only prompts the victorious Arab enemy to ask for more concessions. Peace is best achieved in a single agreement, when one side has a lot to trade in and the other is desperate to recover territorial losses. The more territory Israel gives to Arabs under interim agreements, the less Israel's bargaining power and the less Arab interest in settling the Middle East conflict.

The fallacy of Israel's minor concessions to Arabs

Although all the Arab demands could be settled somehow or other, giving in to them all would reduce Israel to insignificance. Concession is futile and leads only to more demands, until the Israelis find themselves in the sea. The fallacy of an endless chain of minor Israeli compromises, none with a clear offsetting gain, shows in the fact that though Israel refused Sadatís 1971 offer of normalization with the Arab world in return for Sinai and the Golan Heights,[1] in the thirty-odd years since, Israel agreed to return most of the territories but has not achieved peace with her Middle East neighbors. Israel continues that policy now, transferring Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians without a peace treaty with other Arabs, most of whom stated previously that the Jewish settlements in Palestinian regions were the only impediment to peace after 1976. Although not exactly appeasement, acquiescing to Arab demands certainly provokes more than would a one-time Israeli-Arab settlement undergirded by the goodwill of the stronger power.

Arabs have long since spotted Israel's willingness to make concessions as Israelís national weak spot, and they pound it with the terrorism. Although Israel has the right to agree to whatever concessions she wishes, Israel should do so as the strongest power dispensing favors to Islamic nations, not giving way before the demands of others.

[1] Though the offer was formulated as the return to pre-1967 borders, Sadat did not care about the Palestinians or their land and probably not about a partitioned Jerusalem, either. Sadat could not force other Arabs to cease hostilities with Israel, but they would not have risked war with Israel at that stage without Egypt.