By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
In 850 BC, the legendary Greek author, Homer, introduced the mythical king of
Ithaca, Odysseus, as a role model of leadership. Sailing home from the battlefield, Odysseus overcame sweeping temptations to dwell on wishful-thinking rather than reality. Odysseus overcame supreme seduction to stray away from the proper course of navigation, and join the beautiful Sirens, who lured sailors with their seductively hypnotizing voices, music and looks to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
In 2016, the modern day Sirens of the Western media and policy-making try to divert (and confuse) Israel from the proper course of combatting terrorism, contending that "one's terrorist is someone else's freedom fighter;" that Palestinian terrorism is reaction to occupation; that Palestinian terrorists are "lone wolves" not institutional; and that Islam is a religion of peace, not terrorism. However, contrary to freedom fighters, Palestinian terrorism – a branch of the 1,400-year-old inherent Islamic terrorism - has targeted Jewish and mostly Arab non-combatants (sometimes hitting combatants) deliberately, institutionally and systematically, as prescribed by the Quran, the Palestinian Covenant and Palestinian hate-education in schools, mosques and the media.
Moreover, Palestinian terrorism has plagued the Middle East since the 1930s – before the 1948 establishment of Israel and the 1967 Six Day War – focusing on Israel's existence, not "occupation;" triggering civil wars, subversion and terrorism in Egypt (1950s), Syria (1960s), Lebanon (1970s and 1980s) and Kuwait (1990); assisting Saddam Hussein's and Assad's repression of Iraq and Syria; and systematically siding with anti-US and anti-Western rogue regimes, such as North Korea and Iran.
In 2016, Israel’s leadership is cajoled by modern-day Sirens from Israel, the US, Europe and Arab countries to stray away from its national security course of navigation, which has been charted by costly geo-strategic experience, security constraints and requirements, historical reality and commitments made to constituents.
The modern-day Sirens attempt to allure Israel to join a tempting, seemingly-unprecedented regional peace-for-our-time initiative, pampered by peaceful Arab talk, US and NATO security guarantees, possibly Western troops on Israel’s borders and a lavish economic package. Israel is enticed to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state on its borders, the re-division of Jerusalem, the uprooting of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel, and the miniaturization of its size – in the increasingly tectonic Middle East - to a 9-15-mile-sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which are the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Israel’s only (Ben Gurion) international airport, Israel’s major freeway (#6) and 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructure.
The contemporary Sirens try to smog Israel's critical requirements of strategic depth for (routine) Middle East stormy days such as potential upheavals in Jordan and Egypt, which would cause havoc domestically, regionally and globally, posing a survival threat to the Jewish state. Middle Eastern realism requires security contingencies for future – rather than present day – lethal threats, emerging dramatically, unpredictably and frequently.
The 2016 proposed regional peace initiative is the latest in a litany of Western and Arab peace initiatives – introduced since 1948 – which have been wrecked on the rugged surface of the Middle East. These initiatives have stipulated dramatic Israeli concessions, and therefore fueling – not extinguished – violence, as demonstrated by the 1993 Oslo Accord and the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, resulting in unprecedented Palestinian incitement, hate-education, terrorism, missile salvos and non-compliance with agreements.
Just like Homer’s Sirens, the contemporary Sirens expect Israel to sacrifice long-term principles, values and national security on the altar of short-term pleasure and convenience. They attempt to dupe Israel’s Odysseus into an illusory vision - a “screen saver” - camouflaging regional Islamic/Arab reality, which would lead to an Israeli shipwreck on the 14-century-old Middle Eastern rocks: inherent intra-Muslim fragmentation (tribally, religiously, geographically, ideologically), endemic instability, unpredictability, intra-Muslim terrorism, subversion, treachery, the absence of democracy and civil liberties, tenuous rogue regimes, (hence) provisional policies and short-lived compliance with intra-Muslim agreements, violent intolerance of rival fellow-Muslims and the “infidel,” adherence to Islamic supremacy over the “infidel” (via peaceful and military Jihad), the sanctity of the Waqf (land divinely-ordained to Muslims) and the legitimacy of Taquiyya (Islam-sanctioned double-talk and deception as a tool to subordinate the “infidel”), while smothering Israel with peaceful Arab talk, diverting attention away from the Tsunami-like Arab walk.
Israel is expected to be hoodwinked into assuming that a retreat to the pre-1967 lines (with minor modifications), would convince Muslims to accord the “infidel” Jewish state that which Muslim “believers” have not accorded each other since the 7th century: peaceful-coexistence and compliance with agreements. Israel is expected to assume that "land-for-peace" is a constructive option in the Middle East, where concessions are defined as a symptom of weakness, resulting in intensified pressure and terrorism.
The 2016 Sirens are trying to lure Israel into underestimating the dominant role of supremacist Islam, Arab ideology and clannish, tribal and local loyalties even among “secular,” “moderate” and “modern” Arab leaders, as well as the unbridgeable gap between Middle Eastern and Western ethos, values and state of mind. The Sirens wish to afflict Israel with the suspension-of-disbelief, defining the Arab Tsunami of the last five years as an Arab Spring, transitioning toward democracy and peaceful-coexistence.
Israel is expected to abide by wishful-thinking - not by realism - deluding itself that the 14-century-old Middle East brutal reality could be subordinated to – and shaped by - peace process procedures, diplomatic formalities and written agreements, in a region known for lack of civil liberties, frequent and drastic regime changes, huge walk-talk gaps and systematic non-compliance with agreements. Therefore, Israel is expected to tolerate a Palestinian state, notwithstanding the track record of its highest authority – the PLO - as the role model of international terrorism, rogue regimes, oppression, corruption and alliance with the Ayatollas, North Korea, the USSR and the ruthless Communist regimes of Eastern Europe.
The Sirens expect Israel to embrace Western oversimplification, conventional “wisdom” and the misperceptions that the Palestinian issue is a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers, the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a trigger of anti-Western Islamic terrorism. None of which is reality-driven.
Israel’s 1948 Odysseus, David Ben Gurion, was enveloped by Israeli and American Sirens, who attempted to trick him into postponing the establishment of the Jewish state and conceding land in the Negev, Galilee and Jerusalem. However, with a population of 650,000 Jews, a meager military, barely any economy and less than a skeleton of international relations, Ben Gurion stayed his course in defiance of immense Arab and international odds, which were assessed by the CIA as, potentially, "another Holocaust."
Will the 2016 Israeli leadership – benefitting from 6.7 million Jews, a powerful military force, a robust economy and an all-time-high global integration - be seduced by the Sirens, or will it follow in footsteps of Ben Gurion, embracing the Odysseus legacy?