Achieving Israeli Victory
with Martin Sherman
By Daniel Pipes
Israel National News
May 14, 2017
call for Israel victory has prompted Martin Sherman, executive
director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, to write a trilogy of
serious and constructive critiques (here,
for Israel National News. This is how an idea is improved, so I thank him.
response, I shall first recapitulate my thesis, then answer his reservations.
argument: Nearly thirty years of "peace process" has left
Palestinian-Israeli relations worse than when they started; therefore, further
attempts (such as those Donald
Trump is now initiating) are a fool's errand. Compromise and
"painful concessions" do not end conflicts; rather, history shows, one
side giving up does so.
the Palestinian will to fight will be neither easy nor pleasant; but the only
alternative is Israel's disappearance. Palestinian acceptance of Israel hollows
out anti-Zionism and will eventually prompt other Arabs and Muslims also to move
on. Defeat will hugely benefit the Palestinians, who can finally end their
destructive focus on the Jewish state and instead begin to build their own
polity, economy, society, and culture.
goal is to convince Washington to let Israel win; once this is achieved,
Israelis can work out in detail how to attain this goal. Toward this end, the
Middle East Forum, the organization I head, has worked with House members to
start a Congressional Israel Victory Caucus to urge the president – this one
or a future one – to adopt the Israel victory approach.
response, Sherman calls the conceptual foundations of my approach
"eminently sound" and deems the Congressional caucus a "decidedly
welcome and timely" development. Turning then from kudos to caveats,
however, he challenges my approach on five grounds:
What constitutes victory?
Sherman asks 13 probing questions about the nature of victory (sample: How many
Palestinian casualties would Israel need to inflict to achieve victory?). My
reply: Valid and useful as these questions are, my goal is to change the
foundation of U.S. policy, not to work out Israeli tactics. It's premature to
deal with the details he raises. Plus, I am an American foreign policy analyst,
not an Israeli colonel.
everywhere. Sherman notes that the Middle East being full of enemies of the
Jewish state makes it more difficult to convince Palestinians that the game is
over, that Israel is permanent, and that their side lost. My reply: Yes,
living in a sea of anti-Zionism does render Israel's job more difficult. But
when Palestinians do finally give up the fight against Israel, their centrality
to the conflict will enfeeble anti-Zionism from Morocco to Indonesia and from
Molenbeek to Dearborn. That shift won't happen instantly, to be sure; but
sustaining a more-Catholic-than-the-pope position gets harder over time. A
Palestinian defeat marks the beginning of the end of the wider Arab and Muslim
war on Israel.
Palestine – ever: Because he sees the anticipation of a Palestinian
state undermining Israel's victory. Sherman wants Israeli leaders to announce a
permanent rejection of "Palestine." My reply: To the contrary,
the allure of a state after the conflict ends offers benefits to both sides.
Israelis will be free of ruling unwanted subjects. Palestinians have a reason to
"Humanitarian Paradigm": This is Sherman's alternative
to victory. It consists of two steps: (1) Israel's government withdrawing
recognition of the twin Palestinian regimes and cutting off all trade and
services to them (water, electricity, fuel, postal services, communications,
port facilities, tax collection or remittances) followed by (2) its offering
Palestinians sufficient money to convince them voluntarily to leave for "a
better, safer life elsewhere" in the world. My reply: Due to intense
nationalism, even stronger social pressure, and likely threats of violence, I
highly doubt this scheme will find significant numbers of takers, but it's
certainly worth a try.
the "Palestinian narrative": Sherman notes the widespread
international acceptance of the anti-Israel line and points to Israel's
incompetence at getting out its own message of renewal and achievement. He calls
for a $1 billion annual budget really to make the Zionist case. My reply:
Good idea. Maybe the new Abba
Eban will turn up.
Summing up, Sherman and I directly disagree on only one point –
Israel accepting the possibility of a Palestinian state. Otherwise, it's a
matter of timing, nuance, and emphasis. I'm encouraged that we agree on so much
and look forward to working together to promote an goal whose time has come: