It’s nothing new to say that Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, anxious over Netanyahu’s recent rise in the polls –and pretty website – are using the current conflict to gain a hard line advantage over their opponent. Many commentators have said it, both leaders have earnestly denied it, and so it’s not farfetched to contend that the two seek to ride the wave of public support for Operation Cast Lead into the Knesset. Barak, absolutely. With Livni, more gray area.

But personal politic aside, could there be a bigger strategy unfolding right before us, with Operation Cast Lead as catalyst for a more moderate Arab leadership to emerge? Try and follow this chain of logic:

(1) Hamas disintegrates under Israeli military pressure and abandon by its so-called allies in the Arab world. Labor wins in Israel.

(2) Palestinians say goodbye to extremism and fall in love with moderate Fatah, a clear win for Livni and brokered by the Obama-Clinton dream team, eager to make an early success.

(3) This change gives more weight to power players in the Saudi and Egyptian government, many of whom are critical of Iran’s fiery rhetoric and fearful of extremist sentiment growing in their own countries

(4) Ahmenijhad loses the general election in June, Iran chills out on its quest for nukes, and the world remains happy until the next shit storm arrives

That’s a pretty big gamble. Huge. Idealistic.

But this isn’t just about defending citizens from rocket attacks. There’s something bigger happening. Netanyahu wrote: “There is the need for the regime to disappear once and for all. The required initiative is to put them out of the picture.” And Livni herself told Sarkozy: “At the end of the day, Hamas is a problem not only to Israel but to the entire Palestinian people.” Israel wants to redraw the map, both politically and militarily. Livni has to win to stay in her seat of power, Israel has to win to rebuild public morale, and so Hamas will need to be decimated to pave the way for a fresh start.

And what will THAT look like? Remember how things fared in Lebanon II: a relentless attack by the air, with infantry sent in only on the last two days. Hezbollah emerged victorious and stronger than ever. The IDF is locked and loaded at the gates, its boys ready to fight. A serious ground assault and sustained occupation is inevitable. Believe it. Gaza is cruisin’ for a bruisin.

The question is, and has been: Will it work? Why do countries believe that the sword can change hearts, and turn enemies into friends? How much artillery will Israel need to fully sway the Palestinian people to ditch their current leadership and cooperate?

I don’t know. But my guess, a shitload. Either way, Israel is going ALL IN in on this one, as the world waits to see what card she’ll pull next. Get ready for some red.

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  • Wishful thinking along with you. It is incredible to me that we (Israelis) fall for this over and over encouraging escalation and our own deaths. Not that our “reactions” aren’t justifiable (that doesn’t mean they are right or in our own best interests).

    We went into Lebanon II to save lives and get our boys back, did we succeed in saving lives, in getting our boys back? And now…how many Israelis have died from Kassams before we reentered Gaza? How many Israelis will die as a result of our entering Gaza? Is our objective to save Israeli lives?

  • If this ground offensive is 2 days…or even just a week it will be a complete and utter failure. No, the only way for this gamble to work, whatever gamble it is, it will require a sustained and determined presence.

  • I believe Israel is prepared for that.

    No one can afford to lose another war.

    And that includes Hamas, too.

  • Netanyahu is a putz, I hope to G-d he doesn’t get in. I may not care for the other two, but he’ll just screw everyone and the world over thrice as bad. Thanks but no thanks.

  • While you and other well-intentioned folks spent the past 2 decades thinking we were building towards peace, the vast majority of Palestinians were interpreting things differently. They saw Israeli weakness that made “drive the Jews into the sea” increasingly plausible.

    (One interesting marker for this is the shift in attitude among Israeli Arabs and groups like the Druze – we now have a Druze fifth column, sympathetic to the Pali cause, that did not exist before Oslo.)

    With autonomy, these desires came out into the open, and got heavy play in Pali media and schools. Palis have been heavily indoctrinated/radicalized – and not just in Gaza.

    To be blunt, the peaceniks have spent the last 2-3 decades deceiving themselves.

    It never was anything but an us-or-them situation.

    And now that is true more than ever.

    The real change will come when Israelis detox – when the last bits of PC, peacenik pseudo-morality are removed from Israeli discourse, and we do what has to be done in an us-or-them struggle: destroy (or transfer) them and preserve us. Without any hand-wringing about “ethnic cleansing”.

  • Ben David,

    I find it incredible that you do not see a shift the other way. Jordan, Egypt and Fatah are now Israeli allies. Time and again they together with other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia have condemned Hamas and Palestinian terrorist attacks.

    They fear these extremist elements and have their own agendas to promote. Nonetheless the fact that they speak against other Palestinians is more than noteworthy

  • Ben David, kind sir:

    I have no idea what the hell you mean. Please hire a proofreader and restate. I am interested in many of your points but need clarification on exactly all of them.

  • Robert,

    Would you like to make a wager on length of time?

    In the vein of The Price Is Right: I’ll say, 45 days Bob.

  • Ben-David,

    If Jews were subject to the same us-or-them mentality which you are advocating we’d have none of the freedoms which we are accustom to in most Western countries. You are a very hateful and naive person to say those things.

    I’ve read to many Palestinian comments which sound identical to yours except you are advocating the removal of the Arabs and they are advocating the removal of Israel.

    Aaron I’ll some up Ben-David’s response: utter bullshit!

  • Charlie K wrote:
    I find it incredible that you do not see a shift the other way. Jordan, Egypt and Fatah are now Israeli allies…. They fear these extremist elements and have their own agendas to promote.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    The peace with Jordan and Egypt are “cold” and enacted only at the higher levels of government – the thugs concerned with growing pan-Islamic fundamentalism (and it’s kinda shaky to lump Saudi Arabia in there, since they are major global sponsors of this Islamic fundie revolution).

    But they’re still thugs – and the pan-Islamic fundamentalism is growing in these countries. Every academic and professional union in both Jordan and Egypt have passsed non-cooperation resolutions, and interaction at the civilian level is nil.

    I have no idea what the hell you mean.
    – – – – – – – – –
    Go ahead and move your lips while reading, if it helps you. It’s the internet after all – nobody can see you. Or maybe that sweatband is too tight.

    Yoni C:
    If Jews were subject to the same us-or-them mentality which you are advocating
    – – – – – – – – – –
    I’m not advocating it – it’s the reality.
    Have you ever visited Israel?
    Israeli Arabs are not treated with an “us-or-them mentality.”

    But that’s the dynamic underlying Israel’s defense situation, and sooner or later we will have to use the tools of national self-defense to address our enemies’ views and hopes. If those views are implacable, then we have to choose us and defeat them – permanently, so we don’t go on bleeding.

    So when you write:
    we’d have none of the freedoms which we are accustom to in most Western countries.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    The only country in the Middle East with those freedoms is Israel. Remember?

    I’m not advocating us-or-them as a philosophy of life or method of government.

    But it is the reality of the Arab Israeli conflict.

    So when you write:
    I’ve read to many Palestinian comments which sound identical to yours except you are advocating the removal of the Arabs and they are advocating the removal of Israel.
    – – – – – – – – – –
    There are a couple of important differences:

    1) Israelis/Jews don’t say Arabs are sub-human (sons of pigs and dogs) nor does my religion.

    2) Israelis/Jews don’t posit a religious obligation to kill Muslims (beyond my moral obligation to defend myself and those innocents depending on me).

    3) Israelis/Jews have come to the us-or-them conclusion only after long, tortured efforts to make peace and accommodate Palestinian national aspirations.

    It is the Arabs who have kept this an us-or-them proposition – they refused to acknowledge valid Jewish connection to this land even before the Palestinian nationality was invented in the 60s.

    4)Israelis/Jews have not instigated or pursued a policy of targeting civilians. I believe they will eventually, but only with deep regret and as a last resort.

    In contrast, the Palis purposely target civilians, and hide behind their own women and children while doing so – in deep disregard for human life.

    ….oh, yeah, you also write:
    You are a very hateful and naive person to say those things.
    – – – – – – – – – –
    Which is a revealing bit of PC blather – slapping labels on undesirable opinions (“hateful and naive”) rather than refuting them.

    Oh, and “sum up” isn’t spelled with an o – try not to confuse Aaron.

  • No need for the history lesson Ben-David, I know all of this too well. But the reality is Israel can’t ethnically cleanse, relocate, or kill them(all).

    There needs to be some sort of resolution. Israel is at peace with Jordan and Egypt, every-body thought that was impossible….

    Also thanks for the spelling lesson, does pointing out a typo make you feel powerful? makes you seem like sort of a prick to me.

  • Now now Yoni. I tightened my sweatband a few hours ago, the real cause for my sorry attempt at understanding Ben David’s previous post. And it’s still tight on my head. So allow Ben David to go out of his way to point out your typos. Every little bit helps.

    Where was I. Crap I got lost in my thoughts again. Stupid headband! My apologies Ben David. I’m reading the words out loud just like you said. It actually works! Now for my response, as I lessen some constriction.

    Ben David, I find your us vs them outlook very troubling. How can you blanket an entire people and label them as opposing forces? I met many friendly Israeli Arabs while living there. My family is Iraqi, and we have deep connections to the Arab world and its culture. Your us and them policy is outdated, close minded, and too unrealistic. With some deeper probing and closer investigation, you’ll find that the world is not as black and white as you like to think. And your us vs. them points, irrelevant to what Yoni was writing.

    The Saudis sponsoring terror? They’re playing their own game, truth. But the Arab countries have been silent during this conflict. They’re protesting in London, not Cairo. My friend. It’s more complicated than you think.

    I seriously hope you don’t have any weapons.

  • Aaron:
    Your us and them policy is outdated, close minded, and too unrealistic.
    – – – – – – – – –
    Again: us or them is not my policy.

    It is the reality – forced upon us by Arab desires and sentiments – within which we must act to defend ourselves.

    I have also met lots of nice Arabs.

    But in the current climate in the Arab world, there is no one to talk to, no one that can guarantee peace for Israelis and commit to coexistence. Any such voice in the Arab world is struck down. Many “nice” Arabs are suffering under this reality – not just in Palestine.

    But it IS the reality.

    The Oslo process has been interpreted by most Arabs as evidence of weakness, and whetted their appetite for conquest, not coexistence.

    You didn’t have to be very wise to see this coming – all you had to do was take the Arab leaders at their word.

    This is not “unrealistic” – it is very realistic.

    It’s certainly not “outdated” either. You may be young enough to have grown up within the bubble of the peace/piece process. You may associate my opinion with the “prehistory” before 1967 and the invention of the Palestinian people.

    But look around you: every wishful fantasy of the peace camp, everything they desperately wanted to be true – now lies in ruins. Hamas does not even pretend to want coexistence, and Fatah has played a cynical game of not being to pro-Israeli to keep power.

    What does that say about the Palestinian people’s desire for peace?

  • Tom:
    The Gazans should be evacuated to the east– that’ll solve the problem.
    – – – – – – – –
    My guess is that Yoni and Aaron are too young to get this reference…

  • Hi Rob.

    First off, please spare us the ‘You’re too young to understand’ argument. It’s simply patronizing and makes you sound older than you are. Which, by meager estimation, is old. So why be older?

    Palestinians are one thing, and Arabs are another. Stop lumping them together, and argue that you’re not. What Arab nation, aside from Iran, is coming out and defending Hamas? Palestinians are a different entity. Which makes Fatah’s on the fence attitude and trapped position more logical. But Abbas is only spitting words, and refraining from intervening. In fact, every Arab nation could care less what happens.

    About the Palestinians’ desire for peace…I don’t know. And I don’t think you know what the situation is like on the ground. There are a few parties, like the Third Way, and Alternative Palestine, which ran against Hamas and Fatah in 2006, but one need only look at American politics to see how hard it is for a third party to enter the fray and win a substantial minority. They could’ve had an awesome platform, sure, but how can you win an election without money or more importantly, political clout?

    You met some nice Arabs. Maybe it’s time you get to know some more.

    And yes. Let’s evacuate them to the East. Explanation please?

  • wish it would really happen, but it’s not likely, and anywhere except Otef Azza it’s pretty quiet

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