Upon returning from
The most sympathetic interpretation of Netanyahu's proclamation is that he was engaging in political theater. It was a low and dishonest statement uttered at the end of what has been, in the immortal words of W.H. Auden, "a low and dishonest decade."
Everyone with eyes in their heads knows that there is no chance of making peace with the Palestinians. First of all, the most
But beyond that,
For its part, Fatah is not in a position to make peace even if its leaders wished to. Mahmoud Abbas and his deputies know that just as Hamas won the 2006 elections in Judea,
Clearly, now is not the time "to move the peace process forward."
No less than what it tells us about Netanyahu, his statement is notable for what it tells us about
In 1999, Netanyahu was ejected from office by an electorate convinced that he was squandering an historic opportunity for peace between
His successor, Ehud Barak, promised to remove IDF troops from
Barak lost no time fulfilling his campaign promises. He withdrew the IDF from south
He launched talks with
And in July 2000 at Camp David, Barak offered Yasser Arafat Gaza, 90 percent of Judea and
Barak made these offers as the wisdom of appeasement exploded before his eyes. Hizbullah seized the withdrawal from
Similarly, Barak's desperate entreaties to Assad enhanced the dictator's standing in the Arab world, to the detriment of
To the extent he required encouragement, the ascendance of
Arafat responded to Barak's beggary at Camp David and Taba by launching the largest terror offensive
A year and a half after he took office, the public threw Barak from power. Likud leader Ariel Sharon - who just a decade earlier had been taken for dead - was swept into power with an electoral landslide. To the extent the public vote was for
But this was not to be.
Rather than abandon Barak's policies,
Operation Defensive Shield was a textbook example of what you get when you mix weak politicians with a strong society. On the one hand, during Defensive Shield, the IDF took control of all the major towns and cities in Judea and
On the other hand,
In acting as he did,
Most Israelis explained away
To implement those policies,
The past decade's major policies: the withdrawal from
Whereas Defensive Shield's strategic success was owed to
To further his government's appeasement policies, Olmert refused to order the IDF to seize south
By opting not to defeat Hizbullah or Hamas, Olmert communicated the message that like
As we move into the second decade of this century, we need to understand how the last decade was so squandered. How is it possible that in 2010
There are two main causes for this failure: The local media and Sharon. Throughout the 1990s, the Israeli media - print, radio and television - were the chief propagandists for appeasement. When appeasement failed in 2000,
Misleading phrases like "cycle of violence" were introduced into our newspeak. The absence of a security fence - rather than the presence of an enemy society on the outskirts of
At the same time, opponents of appeasement - those who had warned of the dangers of the
This situation prevails still today. The same media that brought us these catastrophes now derides Likud ministers and Knesset members who speak out against delusion-based policies, while suddenly embracing Netanyahu who - with Barak at his side - has belatedly embraced their pipe dreams of appeasement-based peace.
Then there is
Whether due to his alleged corruption, his physical enfeeblement, his fear of the State Department, or his long-held and ardent desire to be accepted by the Left, Sharon betrayed his voters and his party and he undermined
Auden's "low and dishonest decade" was the 1930s. It was the West's obsession then with appeasement that set the world on course for the cataclysm of World War II.
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