we still remember mitch hedberg

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Sep 18th 2007

New Broom in Israel: Will Netanyahu bring peace and security to his country?

This article is reprinted with permission from FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East). Visit FLAME’s website,, to read every one of their excellent articles debunking common misconceptions about the history and current events of the Middle East. — Admin

In what was a surprise development for many people, Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister of Israel, defeating the incumbent, Shimon Peres. This development displeased and concerned those who believed that with the defeat of Mr. Peres, the “peace process” would come to an end. Is that a reasonable assumption?

What are the facts?

Benjamin Netanyahu is a realist, not a dreamer. He has served in elite military units in Israel’s wars. He is the brother of Jonathan Netanyahu, the hero of Entebbe. He has a wife and children. To say, as his accusers here and in Israel do, that he is “against peace” is ludicrous. He yearns for peace, just like all of his countrymen, who haven’t known a day of peace since the forming of their country in 1948, who have been attacked by all of the Arab countries in several major wars, and who have been subjected to the “intifada”, the uprising of the Arab population, for many years! Thus, Netanyahu will certainly be working for peace, but it will have to be peace with security for Israel. From his statements during the election campaign and since his inauguration as Prime Minister, the following are likely to be the policies of the Israeli government.

Land for Peace. This slogan has been repeated so long and so often that, in the minds of most, it has acquired a certain validity. But the whole concept is absurd. Never in the history of the world has any nation returned lands to those who have attacked it and lost those lands in the attack. There is no precedent for it. Even so, under the pressure of the nations and in order to make peace with its enemy neighbors, Israel has yielded the vast Sinai to Egypt — with its oil fields (developed by Israel), its advanced military installation, and its strategic depth. It has yielded Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). What else is expected of a country that occupies only a fraction of 1% of the lands occupied by the Arabs? And shouldn’t land for peace work both ways? Shouldn’t the Arabs give up some land to get peace? Or why not just simply “peace for peace”? Mr. Netanyahu is likely to keep that in mind.

The Golan. Before Israel wrested it from Syria, the Golan was a desolate plateau — 10 miles x 40 miles, about the size of Rhode Island. Since 1967, the Israelis have created settlements and at least one city on the Heights and have created a vibrant industry and agriculture. The Syrians, whose historical claim to the Golan is dubious, are obsessed with it and have vowed not to make peace with Israel unless it is turned back to them in its entirety. But the Golan, which, if it were returned to Syria, could not be more than 1% of that country’s territory, could be of only one use to Syria: To use it as a staging ground for a break-through attack on Israel or, short of that, to use the plateau to wreak havoc on Northern Israel, just as it did when it was in possession of the Heights. For Israel, the Golan is an irreplaceable strategic asset, which should not be bartered for vague and empty promises. The rivers of the Golan feed the Sea of Galilee and provide 30% of Israel’s fresh water. When the Syrians controlled the Heights, they attempted to cut that water off. They are likely to attempt it again. Mr. Netanyahu is likely to keep that in mind.

A Palestinian State. Israel could not survive if Judea/Samaria (usually called the “West Bank”) were in unfriendly hands. And especially in light of the experience of the last two years, since the “handshake” and the signing of the Oslo Agreement, during which more Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists than in any comparable previous period, there can be little question of the fervent hostility of the Arabs. The “West Bank” mountain ranges dominate the narrow waist of Israel, in which over 70% of the Jewish population of the country, 80% of its industrial base, its only international airport, and the most important military installations are located. The Palestinians would not need an Army to make life in Israel impossible. Moreover, Katyusha rockets would dominate the area. And why should the Palestinians be allowed to carve out a state off Israel’s back? There are countless minorities all over the world — the Basques in Spain and France, the Turks in Bulgaria, the Hungarians in Romania, the Kurds in Iran/Iraq, the Turks in Syria, and so many more — all of whom would be deeply grateful to have even a fraction of the autonomy that Israel is already granting its Arab minority and which it is prepared to expand even further. Israel needs to keep strategic control over the “West Bank”, without which it would not be defensible. Netanyahu is likely to keep all of that in mind.

Jerusalem. Before the end of the 1967 Six-Day War, during which the Jewish Defense Forces re-conquered Jerusalem from the invading Jordanians, claims to Jerusalem being a Moslem Holy City or the capital of any Arab country were rarely, if ever, asserted. Despite the fact that the holiest of Jewish places is also located there, the Moslems have designated the entire Jewish Temple Mount as their holy site. The Israeli government, in its constant spirit of accommodation to Moslem sensibilities has largely acceded to this and has put the area under Moslem control. For over two thousand years, Jews have been living in Jerusalem and they have been the majority population since the 19th century. Why should they give up their capital, their holy city, as far back as memory goes — or even any part of it? The Moslems have their holy cities, Mecca and Medina, and they have 22 Arab capitals. And there are other important cities in the West Bank — Nablus, Hebron, Ramalla, or Bethlehem, but not Jerusalem — it is the indivisible capital of the Jewish State. Netanyahu is likely to keep that in mind.

These are perhaps the most important issues that the Netanyahu government will address, though certainly not the only ones. There is also the matter of Jewish “settlements” (in itself a term denoting a measure of illegitimacy), in Judea/Samaria (the “West Bank”). Mr. Netanyahu has made clear that, in contrast to the previous government, he is confident that Jews have the right to live in any part of the land of Israel, or the land west of the Jordan River. And why not? How is it possible that 150,000 Jews living among 1 million Arabs in the West Bank should be an obstacle to peace if over 1 million Arabs live within the “Greenland” of Israel. They don’t have to fear for their lives and nobody considers them an obstacle to peace. Mr. Netanyahu is likely to keep all of this in mind and by not yielding to pressure from any source, will bring peace with security to Israel and to its area of the Middle East.


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