Charles Krauthammer makes a strong argument in the June 18th Washington Post. He says that Israel has clearly won the Intifada 2 war that the Palestinians launched against Israel four years ago. Krauthammer is right. Just as the United States won a complete victory over the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, so Israel has totally defeated the Palestinians by the beginning of 2004.
Like the American victory over the Soviets, the Israelis can’t celebrate; it would be unseemly for such a stunning victory to be trumpeted. I had a party to celebrate America’s victory over the Soviets and I can now write a blog celebrating Israel’s victory.
From my visit a month ago I can state unequivicably that Israelis are now the happiest people I’ve ever been with. This is the first time Jews have been so happy for so long in 2,000 years.
First the magnitude of the victory, then the lessons learned.
Israel suffered a modest 4% decline in GNP and a large decline in tourism over the four years since Intifada 2 began but Israel had recovered by the spring of 2004. Israel is on the road to significant tourist growth and her GNP is on a healthy upswing, growing faster than any European country. Israel now has lowered the level of terrorism to the same that she had before Intifada 2 started. Not good, but nothing like 85 Israelis killed in one month early in Intifada 2. Israelis are looking to the future with hope and exuberance. Israel now defines the border of her state with a fence that no major nation opposes.
Israel has developed counter terrorist skills. From Haaretz: “senior IDF officers at the Central Command, the army's overall West Bank headquarters, told a high-level briefing (last week) that the total number of suicide attacks and attempted suicide attacks had plummeted by 75 percent during the first half of the year (2004), as compared with the corresponding period in 2003. No less than 58 would-be bombers were arrested during that period, and more than 100 threatened attacks were headed off”.
Israel and Jewry have completely changed the international dynamics that formerly had most UN member nations opposing Zionism. In early 2004 there was a European summit that unanimously supported Jews and opposed anti-Zionism. The UN, that formerly held an anti-Zionism conference in Durban, now is holding a conference on stopping anti-Semitism around the globe. Arafat, formerly a globe trotting underdog darling is now seen almost universally as a corrupt despot, completely dishonest and incompetent.
The Palestinian people watched their GNP drop to 60% of its pre-Intifada level, (an historically unheard of disaster) watched more than 45,000 Palestinian jobs in Israel disappear, saw the number of UN defined poverty cases rise from 20% of the Palestinian population to 80%.
No Arab nation, no nation at all, has been willing to lift a finger to help the Palestinians. The Palestinians now have no claim to any land beyond the fence that Israel is building, no diplomatic office in the U.S. and they lost their strongest ally, Saddam Hussein. Their suicide bomber weapon has become ineffective. The Palestinians have no hope. There are virtually no Palestinian supporters left in Israel. Israeli supporters of Palestine dropped from hundreds of thousands of people to hundreds. No Israeli government will have public support to negotiate with the Palestinians for a period that extends far into the future.
I call that a complete victory for Israel and a complete defeat for the Palestinians.
The lessons. Terrorism against people like the Israelis (and probably Americans) is a losing tactic because it generates solidarity and a moral righteousness on the part of the nation being attacked. The resulting vigor and global support of the victim nation are not possible to overcome for the nation launching terrorists.
The best counter tactic is to build a fence and partition off the terrorists.
The fence should be combined with killing terrorist leaders; kill as many as possible and make the goal of killing of terrorist leaders a public goal. (In the case of Saddam Hussein, holding him up to international public ridicule was effective.)
I’m happy about this historical victory and the Israelis are even happier.