There is a Greek tragedy unfolding today in the Middle East. In response to past mistakes and as a result of hubristic political calculation, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is setting in motion forces that promise to lead inexorably to grief for his nation. The result could be staticide, the destruction of the Jewish State, with incalculably serious repercussions for the Free World in general and the United States in particular.
In the pursuit of peace with its neighbors, Israel has made one strategic concession after another. In 1979, it surrendered the Sinai to Egypt when Anwar Sadat promised peace and then was murdered for doing so. In 1993, Israel adopted the Oslo accords, legitimating one of its most virulent enemies, the PLO terrorist chief Yasser Arafat, and setting the stage for Palestinian control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Eight years ago this month, Israel unilaterally withdrew from South Lebanon, creating a vacuum promptly filled by Iran’s proxy army there, Hezbollah. Then, in 2005, Israel forcibly removed its citizens living in Gaza and turned the Strip over – temporarily – to Arafat’s right-hand man and successor, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Space constraints will not permit a full rendering of the costs associated with these serial mistakes. The “peace” with Egypt proved to be a very cold one. In Sadat’s stead, the government of Hosni Mubarak has promoted virulent hatred for Israel among its people and assiduously armed for renewed conflict with the Jewish State. It has also used the Sinai to funnel ever-longer-range missiles and other advanced weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip – now under the control of another Palestinian terrorist faction, Hamas.
The latter and its friends, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are now using Gaza as a safe-haven for planning and executing terrorism against Israel. It is a safe bet that Israel’s most important ally, the United States, is being targeted from there, as well.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah has not just taken over South Lebanon – its dominance of which was greatly strengthened when Olmert’s government proved incapable of decisively defeating the forces of this so-called “Army of God” in 2006. In recent days, Hezbollah launched attacks in Beirut that effectively produced a coup d’etat. The hopes for a democratic Lebanon, free of Syrian and Iranian interference, have given way to a dark future for the Lebanese people and their neighbors in Israel, alike.
Tragically, despite this sorry record of retreat followed by intensified danger, Ehud Olmert is making further and even more strategic territorial and political concessions to Israel’s enemies. By so doing, the Israeli prime minister evidently hopes to stave off accountability for these past mistakes. He also appears to be calculating that “peace-making” will spare him prosecution on myriad corruption charges.
Unfortunately, there is now no basis for depicting such a policy as one in which Israel trades “land for peace.” Today, Israel is giving up land for war.
In the illusion that that there is any appreciable difference between Fatah and Hamas, Olmert’s government is trying to turn over nearly all the West Bank and even parts of Jerusalem to Abbas and his faction’s Palestinian police force. A similar illusion is causing the United States to give Fatah’s troops training, intelligence collection equipment and arms. The latter have already used their American-supplied know-how and weapons to kill Israelis.
Olmert is also allowing the Egyptians to broker a cease-fire with Hamas. The result is predictable: Hamas will be legitimated, effectively ending international efforts to relegate it to pariah status and probably producing a unity government whereby the two Palestinian factions join forces once again. The stage will then be set for the ultimate defeat of Fatah by Hamas in the West Bank as well, putting all of Israel within range of its weapons.
These tragic steps are now being compounded by one further, potentially staticidal act: Olmert has just launched negotiations to surrender all of the Golan Heights to Syria.
This concession would place Syrian – and quite possibly Iranian – forces on high ground which, in Israeli hands, has kept the peace for 35 years. If once again at the disposal of Israel’s enemies, these heights will put northern Israel at risk of, at best, harassing fire and, at worst, a new invasion in force.
Moreover, as my esteemed colleague, Caroline Glick, observed in her Jerusalem Post column last week, if Israel can no longer use the Golan to threaten Syria, Damascus and Tehran may feel free to redouble their subversion in Iraq. Iran may even conclude the Golan can allow it to checkmate any lingering Israeli willingness to interfere with the mullahs’ pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Importantly, the Israeli people finally seem to have had enough of false peace processes. Recent polls indicate that two-thirds of Israelis oppose their country’s surrender of the Golan; a majority believe it is motivated by Olmert’s efforts to stave off prosecution. Even the Bush Administration is said to be unhappy about his Golan initiative.
This weekend, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – universally known as “the Israel lobby” – holds its annual Policy Conference in Washington. The organization exists to support the Israeli government. At this juncture, however, attendees have an opportunity and an obligation to object to that government’s increasingly reckless, and predictably tragic, conduct. After all, friends don’t let friends commit staticide.