There’s a lot of talk among the commentariat in the US and in Israel that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has grossly overreacted to the UN Resolution on Israeli settlements last Friday. Rubbish. Netanyahu’s reaction, furious as it was toward both the Obama Administration and those countries that voted for the resolution, was perfect for the circumstances. Frankly, it was about time. This resolution is a watershed in the peace process, though perhaps not in the way its authors and proponents intended. Netanyahu’s reaction represents Israel’s line in the sand — a defiant stance that says to the world, “no more. The era of Israeli concessions and deference to world opinion is over.”
The entire Oslo peace process since the early 1990s has been a slowly grinding one-way ratchet in which powers committed to Israel’s destruction have slowly, creepingly, obtained more and more from Israel in exchange for absolutely nothing.
- 1990’s: When it first engaged in the Oslo process, Israel brought the PLO out of exile to rule in the West Bank and Gaza and in return got the second Intifada in 2000. (Native Palestinians refer to the PLO leadership derisively as “the Tunisian gang.”)
- 2000: Israel completely evacuated south Lebanon in 2000. South Lebanon promptly became a Hezbollah state bristling with missiles aimed at Israel.
- 2005: Israel completely evacuated Gaza in 2005, uprooting every last Jewish settlement. Rather than create the beginnings of a state, Gazans quickly elected Hamas — an organization committed to Israel’s destruction to this day — to govern it. Hamas took full control of Gaza in 2007 and has used it to wage unremitting war on Israel with rocket attacks on and tunnel incursions into Israeli villages.
- 2006: Israel fought the Second Lebanon War in 2006 after the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. After overwhelming international pressure was brought to bear on the Israelis, they entered into a UN-brokered cease fire with Hezbollah. Under the terms of the cease-fire, Hezbollah was to cease importing missiles into south Lebanon. Hezbollah has completely violated this agreement, stationing an estimated 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel in south Lebanon. The UN has done nothing.
- 2010s: Israel is targeted for boycott, sanctions, and divestment by Western leftists because of their continued policies in the West Bank and Gaza, notwithstanding Israel’s complete evacuation of Gaza in 2005.
So, for those keeping score at home, the Oslo peace process has left Israel surrounded by heavily armed Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy) in the north and Hamas on the Gaza border, both with longer range and more accurate weapons and an unrepentant desire to destroy Israel, and thousands of Israelis dead from attacks in pizza parlors, dance clubs, seders, bus stations, malls, supermarkets, etc. At every step, the noose around Israel has gotten tighter. Every skirmish, every battle, every diplomatic row leaves the Israelis a little less secure, a little less safe, and a little weaker diplomatically. Unable to defeat Israel with all-out military campaigns, the Arabs have settled for slowly chipping away at the foundation of the Jewish state, waiting for the day the foundation is sufficiently weak to topple the state once and for all.
To this injury Obama and his UN minions added the colossal insult of naming the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter “occupied territory” and demanding that the West Bank be judenrein. Left unexplained is why Jews in West Bank settlements could not remain as a minority population in a Palestinian state (you know, the same way one million Arabs are citizens of Israel with voting rights, etc.). But we all know the answer why.
To all this, Netanyahu said ENOUGH. Nuts to all this. He is wise to the game they are all playing, and he instinctively can feel the one-way ratchet turning against Israel. The man who lost a brother freeing hostages held by Arabs and Western leftists at Entebbe and who himself served in Sayeret Matkal has seen enough of the Trojan Horse called the Oslo peace process.
And so he has responded accordingly, punching back with a ferocity that no doubt has shocked the world. Israel has much to offer the world in technology, in investment, and in anti-terrorism expertise (sadly, if darkly ironically, honed during the years of the so-called Oslo “peace process”). Just as Jews have overcome discrimination by becoming indispensable contributors to the scientific, financial, and academic lives of their home countries, Israel has made itself, if not indispensable, certainly extremely valuable to the world with its contributions to cybersecurity, medicine, and agriculture.
But to those complaining he went too far, I ask: what has being restrained and diplomatic gotten Israel in the 20 years of Oslo peace processing? What country has said to itself, “perhaps we will restrain ourselves from heaping further opprobrium on Israel in world forums because they at least evacuated Gaza and are willing to meet with the Palestinians with no preconditions”? What country has said, “maybe we should raise the fact that Palestinian schools teach children to hate and kill Jews”? Countries punch Israel every chance they get and no amount of Israeli concessions has stopped this. Now that the rest of the Arab world is in flames, with genocides in Syria and Iraq, ISIS rampaging, and Russians bombing civilians indiscriminately in Syria and annexing Crimea, the continued focus on Israel is not merely an insult. It is an outrage and a moral calumny.
Netanyahu is right. He knows instinctively that there is nothing he can do to make Israel more loved in the world, at least not anytime soon. So he is turning away from trying to be loved and combining an effort to make Israel feared (by attaching consequences to anti-Israel activities) with an effort to demonstrate the world’s impotence (by authorizing further construction in East Jerusalem, though in neighborhoods that will be a part of Israel in any final settlement anyway). Netanyahu can’t make the world love Israel, but he can make the world pay for hating it.