NATIV Online        

  Vol. 6  /  October 2004                 A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS      


Israel’s War with the Palestinians:
Sources, Political Objectives,
and Operational Means

Yitzhak Klein

This paper was published as ACPR's Policy Paper No. 123 (2001)


I. Introduction

The outbreak of war with the Palestinian Authority quickly revealed disarray in Israeli political and military circles. Israel’s incumbent government seemed unable to make up its mind whether it was or was not involved in a war. It explicitly denied that its military exertions against the Palestinians had any positive political objective. The IDF command, for its part, appeared unprepared for the Palestinians’ decision to initiate a prolonged armed conflict. After initially expressing pleasure at the IDF’s preparedness to contain Palestinian violence in its early days, the IDF soon realized it had no effective plan for making the violence stop.2 Almost the entire Israeli political spectrum seems at a loss to comprehend the import of events, or to articulate and pursue political and military goals. During the last quarter of 2000, this confusion was mirrored in military circles as well; only during the early months of 2001 could careful observers detect among some military officers – painfully, partially, and certainly not for public attribution – a realistic appreciation of the conflict they find themselves in.3 This ambivalence is certainly not mirrored on the Palestinian side, where, for example, Gibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in the West Bank, stated on January 17, 2001 that “only damage to Israel’s security and economy will induce [Israeli Prime Minister] Barak to make concessions.”4

The confusion reigning among Israel’s political and military elites is due partly to cognitive dissonance, as decision-makers confront a reality that, while not difficult to anticipate, appears to have been unexpected,5 and partly to a grave ignorance regarding the relationship between war and politics. This paper makes a first-order attempt to clarify the nature of the challenge Israel faces, what objectives Israel should be aiming for, and how they can be achieved. In doing so it provides an answer to the question that has been reverberating in Israeli political space for the past seven years, “What is the alternative [to a peace treaty with the Palestinian Authority]?”

Given the confusion of Israeli public debate regarding the significance of the fighting, the first task seemed to be to clarify the political significance of the war and its implications for Israel. This requires a proper understanding of the PA’s policy and the political motivations thereof. It appears that the intention of the PLO/PA is no less than to destroy Israel, using the Oslo process as a stage toward that goal. The data leading to this conclusion has by now appeared in such abundance, and has been confirmed by so many evaluations, that the conclusion itself cannot come as a surprise or shock to any candid and informed student of the subject.

In the middle of the work, powerful corroboration of the paper’s main thesis regarding Palestinian intentions arrived in the form of the Government of Israel’s White Paper,6 presented to the American Administration on November 20, 2000. The outbreak of fighting in September 2000 caused the Government of Israel to reassess the assumptions on which the entire Oslo process rested. While the assessment of Palestinian intentions in the Israeli White Paper is substantially similar to that presented here, the White Paper drew no policy conclusions from its reassessment of Palestinian intentions. Being intended as a kind of warning, a tactical tool in the Palestinian-Israeli struggle for influence in Washington, it is perhaps not surprising that this particular document included no such conclusions. However, the analysis contained in the document positively demands the drawing of practical policy conclusions of a fundamental nature.7 To do so seems a matter of public interest of the first importance, yet nobody in the IDF, in the Government of Ehud Barak, nor that of Ariel Sharon, seems to have done so in a systematic fashion.

To aid in this task, it seemed useful to place the PA’s behavior in the context of historical examples of similar regimes, with similar structures and similar foreign policy objectives, and to see what response these earlier examples evoked from the democratic nations they threatened. This has been done in Part III, by comparing PA policy and its sources to that of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, two prominent examples of regimes that harbored politicidal ambitions toward their enemies. In both cases one finds a distinctive pattern of an aggressive foreign policy, arising out of an internal, officially cultivated political discourse of hostility. The Soviet Union and Germany evoked however very different policy responses from the democratic nations they threatened, and the question is therefore what kind of policy response is appropriate for Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians. This is the subject of Part IV. The main analytic and policy conclusions of the paper can be summarized as follows:

  • The form of Palestinian nationalism that imbues the PLO, and through it the Palestinian Authority, is of a “malignant” type that defines its own self-determination at the expense of another people’s nationhood – in this case the Jews of Israel.

  • Official Palestinian diplomatic objectives and the character of internal Palestinian political discourse regarding Israel and Jews confirm this. Comparison with the discourse of historical totalitarian regimes that aimed at the political annihilation of their enemies is particularly enlightening in this regard.8

  • The PLO/PA currently dominates Palestinian society, mobilizing Palestinian public opinion and Palestinian society’s resources behind its aims.

  • Israel’s political objective is the elimination of the “malignant” form of Palestinian nationalism and the political agenda associated with it, at least within the Palestinian-inhabited areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. More limited objectives, such as “unilateral separation” or the application of military sanctions against the Palestinian Authority to force it to compromise, are unstable and unlikely to work.

  • On one level this objective requires the destruction of the PLO/PA, its fighting forces, and other Palestinian groups with similar objectives. On a deeper level, it requires breaking the link between the PLO/PA and Palestinian society, by convincing the ordinary Palestinian in the street that the costs of continued adherence to the PLO/PA and its agenda are unsustainable.

  • The political corollary of Israel’s military objectives is facilitating the creation of an alternative form of Palestinian political organization in which can develop a Palestinian political identity that is free of the “malignant” attributes it now bears. While it is not to be expected that such an identity could be created prior to the Palestinians’ experience of PLO/PA rule and its culmination in a destructive war, the aftermath of war should create conditions more appropriate for such a solution than at any time since 1967. Under no circumstances should Israel return to the situation existing prior to 1993, in which Israel attempted to govern large numbers of Palestinians against their will.

  • The government of Israel should devote considerable effort to communicating its intentions, regarding both the prosecution of war and the conclusion of peace, to ordinary Palestinians, circumventing the Palestinian Authority. It should make clear to ordinary Palestinians that the cause of their suffering is the “malignant nationalist” policy pursued by the PLO/PA, but that Palestinians who are prepared to coexist in peace and freedom alongside Israel will be free to do so. However, their sole alternatives are war and suffering under the PLO/PA, or autonomy and peace with Israel.


II. Prologue: War as a Tool of Policy

The purpose of fighting must be, first and foremost, to contribute to the shaping of a political solution acceptable to Israel. Any fighting that does not contribute in such a manner, consciously and premeditatedly, is pointless. That does not mean that fighting, even successful fighting, is the desired solution. A political solution is precisely that – a stable, long-term agreement on terms congenial to Israel. But war has a direct contribution to make to the creation of that solution. The manner in which it can do so depends on what one thinks the solution is and whom, on the Palestinian side, one hopes to convince to accept it.

2.1. Common Israeli Misconceptions About War with the Palestinians

Israeli elites, whether of the Left or of the Right, seem to find it difficult to conceive how fighting is relevant to the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Leftists assert that “only a political solution exists” [to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians]. Rightists assert that the IDF “must be allowed to win”. These assertions might pass muster as election propaganda, but unfortunately they appear to reflect the actual views of policymakers and prospective policymakers on either side of Israel’s political divide.

Space does not allow the citation here of more than representative examples of these views. Regarding the first position, it is instructive to examine the views expressed by no less informed a source than Zeev Schiff, the veteran military commentator of Ha’aretz, whose mastery of the theoretical relationship between war and policy presumably is not in question. In a recent article, Schiff casts doubt on the utility of military force in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians: “[N]ot everything will be solved by force.”9 This is of course a truism; force in war solves nothing unless it is accompanied by a political strategy that can turn military achievements to political use. Schiff’s article however is remarkable for containing nothing but strictures on the use of force; while not denying that some force is to be used, it completely fails to define the role of such force in the context of Israel’s political strategy. Schiff argues: “We are talking about a war of attrition, in which victories are purely local and in which national and social endurance play an essential role in victory. The military element is only one element of strategy.”

Fine and good, but what is the strategy? What is the objective? What is military force’s contribution to that objective? Schiff does not say. Of course nothing is likely to be more corrosive of national will and endurance in a war of attrition than the complete absence of a definition of the political or even military objective of the fighting. The fatal inadequacy of Schiff’s perspective is illustrated by another passage in his article: “The [Israeli] Government and General Staff must define for themselves what Israel will consider victory.”

This is an extremely strange statement. In what terms should Israel’s authorities define victory? In terms of enemy soldiers killed? Buildings destroyed? Territory occupied and positions taken? What if the definition chosen is achieved, and yet has no effect whatsoever either on Palestinian intentions or on the Palestinians’ ability to pursue them? In that case the victory that Israeli authorities “define for themselves” will be completely useless. It will not end the fighting or bring peace closer. The only useful definition of victory is the conclusion of a peace that accords with Israel’s interests, and the strategic objective of war is that which will force the Palestinians to acquiesce to Israeli objectives. Not Israel but the Palestinians will determine when Israel has in fact achieved victory; that is the way with any war. The only object that makes sense is to bring about a situation in which the Palestinians confess themselves beaten, and believe they have no option but to accept Israel’s terms for peace. Schiff however defines neither Israel’s interests nor the contribution of military force to achieving them. As an analysis of the role of force in the conflict, his article is devoid of content.

The state of analysis on the other side of Israel’s political divide is hardly more satisfactory. A cacophony of speakers voice a babble of demands, from “ensuring security on the roads”10 to “erasing buildings from which [Palestinian] fire is directed” to assassinating Muhammad Dahlan, the Palestinian militia leader whose forces are responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against Israeli civilian targets in the Gaza Strip.11 None of these objectives transcend the narrowly tactical. If any of them were achieved, or all of them, they would not imply the achievement of satisfactory conditions, political or military, in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They have no political context and involve no political aim.

Thus while Israel’s Left and Right exhibit different levels of enthusiasm for the use of force, both share the same fundamental flaw: A complete lack of understanding of how military force can be used in support of a political objective, or that it is imperative so to use it if it is to be used at all.

2.2. Using War for Political Purposes

“War,” writes Clausewitz, “is an act of force to compel the enemy to do our will.”12 It is used to kill soldiers and break military equipment, and sometimes to kill other people and break other things as well, but its primary objective is the mind and will of an enemy decision-maker.13 This captures its essentially political nature.

War can accomplish its objective in several ways. One way is to capture or destroy the resources (including territory and/or political legitimacy) the enemy requires to pursue his own policy, forcing him to desist. Another is through the infliction of pain, fear, terror and grief, to escape which the enemy sues for peace.14 Usually the two go together; even a decision-maker who is totally indifferent to the suffering of his people and his soldiers will experience fear and anxiety if he is forced to submit to the steady curtailment of his options at the enemy’s pleasure, and this may hasten his willingness to make accommodating decisions.

The most radical method of pursuing war’s objective is to eliminate a regime of decision-makers whom one feels incapable of the making the decisions one requires. In this case the “decision-makers” one really hopes to influence is the enemy population itself, which has hitherto sustained the enemy’s regime, reluctantly or enthusiastically. Thus the war has another objective in addition to the first: to make the people prefer to acquiesce to one’s objectives rather than pursue the war, and support new leaders who will secure peace by accommodating one’s demands. Naturally, no such resolution of the conflict is likely to be long-lasting if it imposes on the enemy population, temporarily defeated, onerous conditions that cannot be borne.

This extreme case may well be relevant to the problem under consideration in this paper. Contrary to the indignant claims of the ignorant, such an objective is a frequent and far from dishonorable object of modern war, especially during the century of mass “total” wars just past.


III. Palestinian Policy and the Challenge to Israel

The Oslo Accords were based upon the assumption that a fundamental congruence of interests existed between Israel and the PLO, the Palestinian signatory to the Accords, or that one would emerge in the course of negotiations: Each side would be able to secure their mutual, fundamental interests of reconciliation and peace, at the price of surrendering secondary ambitions. Unfortunately, these assumptions seem to be invalid as far as the Palestinian signatory to the accords is concerned.

The conduct of the PLO/PA regarding Israel exhibits a complex of phenomena which can be termed “malignant nationalism”, which defines itself in opposition to another nation’s nationalism and seeks the destruction of that other nationalism as an essential expression of its own national existence. The pattern of malignant nationalism becomes especially clear when the PLO/PA’s behavior is compared with that of other regimes that defined their political objectives in terms of the destruction of other nations’ independence, i.e. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Evidence for these assertions is copious and only representative examples can be presented in the scope of a brief policy paper.

3.1. Malignant Nationalism: Identification and Response

Democracies traditionally find it difficult to come to terms with malignant nationalism and to devise appropriate policies to counter it. The grave implications of malignant nationalism, both for the nation that believes it is the target of malignant nationalism and for the nation that it believes threatens it, means one wants to be as sure as possible that one indeed confronts a malignant form of nationalism before taking the steps such a decision implies.

The existence of malignant nationalism cannot be proven beyond the shadow of doubt, like a proposition in physics. In the past, democratic states have based their foreign policies, including very expensive programs of armament and even decisions to go to war, on the assessment that they probably face serious adversaries whose policies threaten their existence. Thus in 1939, France and Britain went to war with Nazi Germany when the latter attacked Poland, on the understanding that Nazi aggression threatened their existence, even though they were not, strictly speaking, the target of the attack. In 1947-48 the United States began to adopt the policy of “containment” against the Soviet Union recommended by George Kennan, and pursued this policy consistently for forty-four years, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on armaments and fighting two wars.

Assessing a threat of this nature cannot be formulaic. It depends on a careful and prudent reading of the actual policies pursued by a potential adversary, combined with an assessment of the intentions behind the policy. The chief sources of evidence used in such assessments are:

In the realm of foreign policy:

  • The aggressiveness of the adversary’s foreign policy, particularly the use of military force;

  • Evaluation of the military options the adversary is attempting to acquire;

  • The respect shown by the adversary for one’s own international interests; and not least, the degree to which the adversary honors or practices duplicity with regard to international commitments on which one’s own security rests.

  • The other source of information regarding the danger posed by a foreign society is the political discourse habitually used in that society regarding one’s own society. This provides crucial evidence regarding an adversary’s intentions. A political discourse that:

  • Continually disparages and delegitimizes one’s own society;

  • Praises war in general and particularly the use of violence against oneself;

  • Includes hostile propaganda in its official publications, meant for the consumption of elites, as well as in education for school-age children,

constitutes powerful evidence of the intention to habituate an adversary’s leaders and population alike to condone and even enthusiastically support aggressive war. It indicates that the cause of aggression does not lie in anything one’s own country may do or refrain from doing, but in the adversary’s deeply motivated preferences. When one observes in another nation consistent expressions of hostile intent, accompanied by hostile policies and recurrent duplicity, then governments and societies that are the targets of the hostility would do well to assume that they are threatened.

3.2. Malignant Palestinian Nationalism in Comparative Perspective

In this section our methodology is to draw analogies between the political discourse and external policy of the PLO/PA regarding Israel, on one hand, and that of the two regimes that are generally acknowledged to have constituted the primary threats to liberal democracies in the century just past: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The evidence, again, cannot be conclusive in the sense that the proof of a scientific proposition is expected to be, but the analogies are instructive.

The choice of the Soviet Union for comparison requires a little explanation. It can be argued that Soviet policy towards Western liberal democracy was motivated by Communist ideology rather than nationalism. For our purposes however the distinction is not important. What matters are the terms in which Soviet leaders thought of the West and indoctrinated their society to think about it, and the manner in which they conducted their foreign policy, rather than the exact ideological source of their undoubted hostility.

3.2.1 Political Discourse

In examining political discourse we are trying to infer intentions from the language used about political adversaries – specifically, states with whom one is not now at war, but whom one anticipates fighting and perhaps destroying in the future.15 Once war begins there is no great discovery to be made about each side’s hostility to the other, and hostile statements must be expected. Hostile statements before the outbreak of war are what is significant, as is the content of political instruction for the young insofar as it is intended to perpetuate hatred of the enemy in one’s own society.

Nazi Discourse

Significant Nazi texts expressing the intent to attack other nations are most numerous before Hitler came to power. As early as 1919, Hitler gave a speech to the Nazi party identifying Britain, France and the United States as Germany’s “absolute” enemies. By 1923, when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, Russia had joined the list of leading enemies while Britain’s status as an enemy was less decisive. Russia was to be the target of Germany’s quest for “living room”, while Hitler declared that it would be necessary to “settle accounts” with France. However, Nazi Germany tended not to publicize expressions of hostile intent against a nation until it was in any case about to demonstrate that intent by attacking or annexing it. This was a matter of policy, as Hitler made clear on one occasion in a statement to prominent Nazi leaders:

It is essential that we should not proclaim our aims before the whole world... In no case should our way be made more difficult by superfluous declarations... [W]e could do everything wherever we had power, and what was beyond our power we would not be able to do anyway.16

Internal Nazi documents confirm that the policy Nazi Germany pursued against its neighbors was frankly outlined in advance by Hitler in his instructions to his subordinates. Thus in November 1937, Hitler gave a speech to a conference of key people in the Nazi regime, setting forth his foreign policy goals in the coming years: Absorbing Austria and Czechoslovakia, expanding to the east, weakening the British Empire, and going to war with Britain and France no later than 1945.17

The Nazi regime used the press to cultivate readiness for war in domestic public opinion. Hitler outlined his propaganda policy in a speech to German newspaper editors after the Munich settlement:

For years, circumstances have compelled me to talk about nothing but peace. Only by continually stressing Germany’s desire for peace and her peaceful intentions could I achieve freedom for the German people bit by bit and provide the armaments which were always necessary before the next step could be taken. It is obvious that such peace propaganda also has its doubtful aspects, for it can too easily give people the idea that the present regime really identifies itself with the determination to preserve peace at all costs...

But it was now necessary gradually to re-educate the German people psychologically and to make it clear that there are things which must be achieved by force if peaceful means fail... To portray events in such a fashion that the conviction automatically grew in the minds of the broad mass of people: If things cannot be settled amicably, force will have to be used, but in any case, things cannot go on like this.18

Readers should bear this text in mind when considering the themes featured on Palestinian television during the summer of 2000, discussed further on.

Nazi youth education was heavily militarized. While school texts did not necessarily express directly an intention to attack other countries, adversary nations such as France were portrayed in a negative light (according to Nazi lights, of course): France, for instance, was portrayed in a prominent high-school history text as a racially mixed society (a demerit in Nazi eyes), an inferior power that held on to its political status only by virtue of its colonies (having deprived Germany of its own colonies after World War I).19

As customary in totalitarian societies, most youth were required to participate extensively in militarist youth organizations, where war was extolled and young people urged to sacrifice themselves for the nation.20 Hitler youth were encouraged to sing marching songs like this:

Du kleiner Tambour schlage ein!

Nach Moskau wollen wir marschieren!

Nach Moskau wollen wir hinein!

Der Bolschewik soll unsere Krafte spuren

An Wege wilde Rosen bluhne,

Wenn Hitlerleut’ nach Russland ziehn!

Little drummer, beat your drum!

Off to Moscow we will march!

Into Moscow we will come!

The Bolshevik will feel our force

And on the road wild roses bloom

When Hitler’s men to Russia come!21

Soviet Discourse

Soviet ideology held that the spread of Communism to the whole world was a historical inevitability. It could be accomplished by revolution within non-Communist states with capitalist economies (alternately termed “bourgeois” or “imperialist” in Soviet jargon), or by a war in which the Soviet Union and its allies conquered non-Communist countries. Up until 1956, Soviet political doctrine regarded war with the “imperialists” inevitable, and bent great efforts toward preparing for victory.

After 1956, official Soviet doctrine admitted the possibility that war could be deterred by Soviet nuclear weapons. However, the doctrine of the worldwide spread of Communism due to an inevitable crisis within the imperialist countries was retained. In the meantime, the Soviet Union would do all it could to hasten this event by bringing third-world countries within its sphere of influence, by force if necessary. This view of international affairs was expressed repeatedly in authoritative sources. To cite one prominent example, as late as 1972 the official Soviet publication, Marxism-Leninism on War and Army, cited with approval the following statement attributed to Lenin:

A truly revolutionary war...would be waged by a Socialist republic against bourgeois countries, with the aim – an aim clearly defined and fully approved by the socialist army – of overthrowing the bourgeoisie in other countries.22

This official document expresses confidence in the ultimate worldwide victory of Socialism: “History is on the side of Socialism. The Socialist countries advance confidently towards victory over capitalism...”23 At the same time, this source defines the objective of aiding “enemies of imperialism” in the Third World by all means, including military:

The defense of the socialist countries is now indissoluble from the granting of comprehensive assistance to the national liberation movements of the peoples oppressed by imperialism, and also to the national states which emerged as a result of their liberation from colonial oppression.24

The Communists have always recognized the progressive importance of liberation wars. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union considers it its international duty to help the peoples who are out to win and strengthen their national independence, to assist all peoples fighting for the complete destruction of the colonial system.25

As noted above, the leadership of the Soviet Union thought that direct war with the United States and its allies could be deterred. In the event that war broke out, however, it would be the Soviet objective to win it by destroying the opposing regimes:

On the part of the peoples of the socialist states and of progressive mankind as a whole, [world war] will be a holy war for freedom and independence, a just liberation war. Such a world war will be a violent and tense struggle between opposing social forces, a class war on an international scale.26

Regarding youth indoctrination in the Soviet Union, we can best end this section by quoting at length from Peter Vigor’s book, The Soviet View of War, Peace and Neutrality. The author describes his visit to the Leningrad headquarters of the Pioneers, the official youth group that most Soviet 8-to-13-year-olds were expected to join:

I well remember being taken one day to the Pioneers’ Palace in Leningrad and shown upstairs to a room which was said to be dedicated to peace, international friendship and goodwill. The lady in charge made a little speech in praise of these desirable objectives...

While this idyll was going on, I noticed some drawings lying on a shelf, and stepped over to have a look at them... [S]ome of the most savage and vicious cartoons I have ever seen. In all of them, the theme was the execution of American citizens (sometimes civilians, sometimes American servicemen) by members of the Soviet Army. Sometimes the Americans in question were being hanged...sometimes they were being bayoneted or machine-gunned; but in all cases the drawings, and the captions that went with them, were calculated to inspire a sense of hatred against all Americans in the minds of those Soviet children who should happen to see them.

I asked the lady, when she had come to the end of her speech, whether she did not perhaps think that the exhibiting of cartoons like these was not a somewhat peculiar way of spreading peace and friendship among all the nations. Her reaction could not have been more violent if I had spat at her. She turned bright scarlet and began to yell at the top of her voice, screaming that imperialists were not to be counted as people, that no peace could come to the world until all imperialists had been exterminated. She was still yelling and screaming in that vein when I tiptoed away downstairs...27

Palestinian Discourse

In the exchange of documents in which the PLO and Israel mutually recognized each other, Yasser Arafat declared that

The PLO recognizes the right of Israel to exist in peace and security...

The PLO commits a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations. The PLO...renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence...28

Notwithstanding this commitment, PLO discourse since the signing of the Oslo Accords has consistently advanced the view that the Accords represent not a break with the “strategy of stages” meant to eliminate Israel, but a stage in its implementation. In a notorious speech Arafat made in a Johannesburg mosque in May 1994, he likened the Oslo Accords to the Hudaibiya treaty Muhammad made and broke with the populace of Mecca, and declared that the jihad against Israel would continue.29 On January 30, 1996, in a confidential speech before Arab and other diplomats, Arafat outlined his strategy against Israel: He would establish a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, admit millions of Palestinians to it, and then harry the Jews of Israel until they fled, and replace Israel with Palestine: “We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state...we will make life unbearable for the Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion.”30

As has become clear since September, the Palestinians have not demurred from adding actual, fighting warfare to psychological warfare in the pursuit of Arafat’s stated objective.

Unlike Nazi Germany, which found it politic to avoid declaring its hostile intentions toward other states in public, or until just before it attacked a country it had marked for destruction, authoritative Palestinian officials aver their intention of destroying Israel in public. In a speech in Shechem in January 1996, i.e. while Shimon Peres was Prime Minister of Israel, Nabil Sha’ath described how the Oslo Accords represent not a turning-point in Palestinian policy but a step in the fulfillment of the “strategy of stages”:

We decided to liberate our homeland step-by-step... Should Israel continue [to yield territory] – no problem. And so, we honor peace treaties and non-violence...if and when Israel says “enough” that case we will return to violence. But this time it will be with 30,000 armed Palestinian soldiers and in a land with elements of freedom.31

Salim Al-Oudiah (Abu Salam), in charge of political enlightenment in the Palestinian Authority, directly connects the Oslo process with the pre-1993 objectives of the PLO: “When we [Fateh] took up the gun in 1965 [when Fateh was founded] and the modern Palestinian revolution began, we had an objective. This objective has not changed and it remains the liberation of all Palestine.”32

Similarly, Othman abu Gharbieh, Arafat’s Deputy for National and Political Enlightenment, stated in November 1999:

At this stage we will decisively advance our struggle for the objectives of the [strategy of] stages. The objectives of the present stage are the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital. When we achieve this...we will move on to the next stage, using different ways and means... Every Palestinian has to know clearly and unambiguously that the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is not the final objective. The Palestinian state is a stage; after it will come another stage, that is, the democratic state of all Palestine.33

Palestinian educational materials overtly inculcate hatred of Jews and Israel, legitimize the destruction of Israel and indoctrinate young people to become martyrs in the struggle for Israel’s destruction. These messages are reflected clearly in new Palestinian school curricula produced since the signing of the Oslo Accords. While the anti-Semitic material in Palestinian textbooks and teachers’ guides is copious and not at all subtle,34 we will concentrate here on representative examples of incitement to politicide and militarism in Palestinian youth education.

Palestinian textbooks examined in one study include no map of Israel; Israel is labeled Palestine. Arab-inhabited cities in Israel are mentioned as Palestinian cities; no other Israeli cities are named or featured on maps.35 Though Palestinian history, geography and the struggle against Israel and Zionism are covered in depth, the study found no discussion of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and only one mention of the Oslo Accords – in the context of the arrival of armed Palestinian units in Palestine after the Accords were signed.36 A sixth-grade text discusses religious tolerance between Moslems and Christians, but Jews are not mentioned at all.37

PA teachers’ guides explicitly instruct teachers to inculcate in students hatred of Israel and admiration for those who fight to destroy it. In one text, the goals of a lesson on Jihad is defined as follows:

9. Students should be certain that Jihad is the way to free Palestine from conquest. 

10. Cherish the Jihad fighters and Martyrs who quenched the earth of Jerusalem with their blood.

4.   Values and Direction for the student: 3. Belief that the whole land of Palestine is Islamic land that should be protected and liberated. 5. Emulate the Jihad positions of the religious scholars and [military] leaders in confronting the Zionist occupation.38

Students are encouraged to desire martyrdom, as in this poem appearing in a 7th grade Arabic language textbook:

Mother, the departure is near, so prepare the shrouds

Mother, I advance toward death. I will not hesitate

Mother, don’t cry over me if I fall prostrated,

For death does not frighten me, and my destiny is to die as a Martyr39

The PA has reintroduced into its curriculum the book written by Mustafa al-Deba’a in 1947 and revised in 1965, entitled Our Country Palestine. The title page of this book bears the inscription, “There is no alternative to destroying Israel.” The book contains many passages delegitimizing Israel and the denying the Jews’ historical connection to Eretz Israel, of which the following are representative:

[This book] will demonstrate the fraudulence of the Jewish claim that Palestine is theirs by historical right, which is the greatest lie known to humanity. The Jews were foreigners who strayed to it, and their existence there was terminated 2,000 years ago. [back cover of vol. 1]

It is undeniably conclusive from this part of the book that the Jewish claim to historic rights to Palestine has no justification, is a deceitful and disproved claim with no parallel in history, it is a blatant lie... [Introduction, p. viii]40

The existence of Israel is presented as a provocation to the Arab world: “Israel constitutes a military, economic, political and security provocation to the Arab world. The struggle has whittled away much of the economic capacity of the Arab world...”41

And in official Islamic education texts, the eradication of Israel is presented as a religious duty:

...if the enemy has conquered part of its land and those fighting for it are unable to repel the enemy, then Jihad becomes the individual religious duty of every Muslim man and woman, until the attack is successfully repulsed and the land liberated from conquest...42

The preceding passage leaves no place for the concept of sharing Islamic land between two peoples with equal claims to it.

Insofar as the examples cited here are representative, and they are only a few extracts from a large selection of similar sources available in Palestinian print and electronic media and official school curricula, they indicate that both the political discourse of the Palestinians’ political leadership and Palestinian education regarding Israel is little different from what it was thirty years ago, the provisions of the Oslo Accords and subsequent accords notwithstanding.

During the summer of 2000, prior to the outbreak of fighting at the end of September, the Palestinian media, particularly electronic media, began an intense program of agitation for war. The television time devoted to carefully edited television clips, portraying violence on the part of IDF soldiers and graphically displaying the wounds or deaths of alleged Palestinian victims of the violence,43 increased manyfold.44 Such clips were generally accompanied by clips of masked Palestinians or Palestinian children fighting back at the Israeli enemy.45 One clip in particular, displaying Palestinian violence against Israelis and accompanied by the voice-over, “Where are the masses? Where is the Arab people? Where is the Arab rage? Where is the Arab honor?” was shown repeatedly, sometimes daily.46 Many of the messages mentioned in the preceding pages, such as the illegitimacy of Israel, the religious duty to fight her, the temporary nature of the Oslo Accords, and the need to liberate all Palestine, including contemporary Israel, were all featured extensively in programming made for mass consumption. It appears that a deliberate decision was made to prepare the Palestinian public for the denunciation of the Oslo process and to incite them to war, well in advance of the actual outbreak of fighting in September.

The outbreak of violence in September drew with it statements by official Palestinian sources that the Oslo process was, in fact, dead. Thus Gibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in the West Bank, in a statement cited above (p. 7), declared that force was necessary to induce Israel to make the concessions the Palestinians demanded and declared that Palestinian obligations under the Oslo Accords were no longer binding.47

3.2.2 Foreign Policy: Force, Deception, and Military Aggression

Force and Deception in Nazi Foreign Policy.

An aggressive foreign policy lay at the heart of Nazi Germany’s threat to its neighbors. The primary indicators of the severity of the threat were threefold: 1. Large-scale rearmament beyond the limits set by international treaties; 2. Repeated violations of the terms of international treaties and of commitments voluntarily undertaken by Germany; 3. The articulation and pursuit of demands upon other nations that jeopardized their sovereignty, up to and including armed attack. Particularly noteworthy was the systematic duplicity Germany practiced in its foreign policy, lulling the gullible as to its intentions until the time was ripe to use overwhelming force. This policy was conscious and deliberate, as Hitler made clear in a statement we have noted above (p. 16).

Thus one of the primary objectives of the Nazi regime upon taking power was the violation of the disarmament clauses of the Versailles treaty: expanding the German army, recreating the German air force, and constructing large naval combat ships. Of course, the Treaty of Versailles was considered unfair by the Nazi regime, and Nazi apologists in other countries were prepared to make allowances for certain violations. However, Nazi Germany also violated its own arms-limitation undertakings to other nations. The 1935 Anglo-German naval agreement allowed Germany to build major naval combat vessels up to one-third the establishment of the British Navy as determined by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. At the outbreak of war, Germany was building four battleships that were each more than a match for any single British vessel. Had all these ships been completed, German battleship strength would have exceeded the limitations of the Naval Agreement.48 At the outbreak of World War II, in the vital naval arm of submarines, German submarine strength equaled that of the British, while Germany had 60% more submarines being built than Britain did. This again violated the terms of the Naval Agreement.49

Germany repeatedly gave international assurances about its policies during the late 1930s, only to follow each assurance with a subsequent violation. Thus prior to 1938, Hitler disavowed any designs on Austrian independence. In February 1938, however, he threatened to invade Austria unless the Nazi sympathizer Seyss-Inquart was admitted to the Austrian government.50 In March, Germany did invade Austria. Similarly, in November of that year, Hitler demanded the surrender of Czech Sudetenland, again under threat of invasion. When Sudetenland was delivered up to him he agreed to guarantee the borders of the remnant of Czechoslovakia, and declared that he had “no more territorial demands to make in Europe”. In March 1939, Germany occupied the Czech lands of Czechoslovakia,51 while Slovakia obtained nominal independence and in effect turned into a German protectorate. In January of that year, Hitler affirmed the 1934 Polish-German nonaggression treaty,52 and later shared pieces of Czechoslovakia with the Poles. In April, Hitler began agitating against Poland and demanding the cession of Danzig and the Polish Corridor. He attacked Poland in September, and World War II began.

Force and Deception in Soviet Foreign Policy.

Soviet policy in Europe after World War II was based on disregard for the Yalta Accords, which provided for internationally supervised, free elections in the nations of Central Europe occupied by the Red Army. Instead, the Soviet Union imposed Communist regimes on these nations by fiat.53 One of the primary provisions of Soviet-American detente was an agreement, achieved in 1973, that the two nations would not act against each other’s interests throughout the world. As shown in the previous subsection, this provision contravened the essence of Soviet ideology about international relations, and it was violated continuously and repeatedly between 1975 and 1986.54

Unlike Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union conceived strategic arms limitation treaties, which strengthened nuclear deterrence, to be in its interest and generally respected them, with only limited violations. However, the treaties did not limit or deter the Soviet Union from attempting to create the military forces necessary to invade and conquer Western Europe, either with conventional weapons or through a combined nuclear-conventional offensive. Additionally, beginning in 1977, the Soviet Union attempted to bring Western Europe under its domination by deploying a system of intermediate nuclear weapons (INF) in Eastern Europe that specifically threatened Western Europe. This use of armaments to threaten was accompanied by a campaign of political intimidation meant to make it impossible for West European governments, in conjunction with the United States, to deploy a parallel system to counter the threat of Soviet INF.

3.2.3 Palestinian Aims

Palestinian objectives as articulated at the time the Oslo Accords were signed include Israeli withdrawal from the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem, and securing the right of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants to return to their homes.55 At the time the Accords were signed, Israel agreed to “discuss” the issues of Jerusalem and the right of return, apparently in the expectation that the fulfillment of certain Palestinian demands would put the PLO in a mind to be accommodating on issues that Israel finds impossible to resolve according to Palestinian desires.

The events of recent months have made clear that the Palestinians are deadly serious about achieving all these objectives: Complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, except for a few large settlements, in exchange for which Israel is to compensate the Palestinians with sovereign Israeli territory; refusing to allow any Israeli military and/or monitoring presence in Judea and Samaria, despite its vital importance to Israeli national security; complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem, including religious sites holy to Jews and excepting only the residential areas of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City; and the return of very substantial numbers of refugees to Israel proper.56

Authoritative military opinion in Israel holds that so extensive a withdrawal from the West Bank would render Israel indefensible. Israel’s Chief of Staff, Lt. General Shaul Mofaz, took the unusual step of stating that the proposals presented by President Clinton to both sides in December 2000, and which the Israeli cabinet accepted on December 26, made it impossible for Israel to defend her vital interests. Mofaz cited in particular the abandonment of effective defenses in the Jordan River Valley, the impossibility of defending Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem from Palestinian fire,57 and the likelihood that the Palestinians would be unwilling or unable to control terrorism or other violence originating in the territory under their control.58 The Palestinians refused to accept the terms of the bridging document as the limit of their political ambitions, because it did not include the right of return. Most Israelis believe that the return of large numbers of Palestinian refugees would cause the dissolution of the Jewish state.

Force and Deception in Palestinian Policy Toward Israel.

Palestinians’ use of armed force against Israel predates the signing of the Oslo Accords but did not at all halt after the Accords were signed. In 1988, the chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, gave a formal commitment in writing to the Government of the United States that his organization would no longer employ terror in the pursuit of its political agenda.59 This commitment became the basis of the American government’s willingness to recognize the PLO as a partner for discussions. We have noted above the PLO’s commitment in the Oslo Accords to forswear terrorism and violence, in the context of the recognition of Israel.

Despite this commitment, and even after the establishment of the PA, Arafat’s regime continued to condone terror, failing to arrest known terrorists and subjecting those it did arrest to “revolving-door justice” which neither punished, nor prevented, nor deterred. In the fall of 2000 the PA dropped all pretense of eschewing terror and co-opted terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad into the power structure of the PA.60

Repeated statements by Palestinian officials since the Oslo Accords were signed legitimize the use of violence against Israel, implying that the PLO’s commitment in the Oslo Accords to forswear violence and resolve disputes by negotiation was a deliberate act of deception. Thus in 1996, Muhammad Dahlan, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Gaza, stated that an impasse in negotiations with Israel would lead to the resumption of violence.61

The Oslo Accords were based in large part upon the assumption that the police forces of the PA and its inventory of weapons would be carefully controlled. In the words of the Israeli government’s White Paper,

It should be recalled that the PLO was not an “unknown quantity” when it came into the Peace Process: its institutional record – of terrorism, breach of agreements (with Arab governments – Jordan, Lebanon), and the abuse of the “governed” areas under its control – meant that extensive formal commitments were required – beginning with the pledges given to Prime Minister Rabin... These, however, were often interpreted in a slippery way, or honored only when it was expedient for Arafat and the PA to do so.62

The White Paper goes on to list numerous breaches of the PA’s security commitments to Israel: Exceeding the (new, expanded) limit of 30,000 armed policemen by over 10,000; failure to collect illegal weapons or to report, as agreed, on progress made toward this goal; smuggling of forbidden types of arms; the activity of Palestinian security organs in areas assigned to Israel, in Area C, Jerusalem, and Israel proper; the kidnapping and imprisonment or murder of Israeli citizens.

Palestinian Warfighting Against Israel

Notwithstanding the PLO’s commitment, recorded above, to abandon terrorism and violence, both the threat of violence and the actual use of violence and terror has been an integral part of Palestinian policy against Israel since the Oslo Accords were signed. Throughout the period since the signing of the Accords, the PA has condoned the operation of terrorists from its territory, as noted above (see preceding section). In addition, the Palestinian police have opened fire on Israeli civilians and the IDF on a number of occasions: In September 1996, soon after the election of Binyamin Netanyahu, and again in May 2000. Since September of 2000, of course, the fighting has been continuous.

The Palestinians’ use of force and the threat of force testifies to a shrewd and sophisticated understanding of the political utility of violence. Unlike Israel, which possesses a powerful air force, advanced artillery, and high-technology weaponry for the use against an array of long-distance targets, the Palestinians have always possessed minimal weaponry. They have never been able to defeat the IDF in the field, and have never attempted to. They prefer instead to inflict defeat upon Israel where it can be most effective – in the willingness of ordinary Israelis to employ force and absorb casualties in the pursuit of Israel’s national interests. Their armed activity is directed entirely at the morale and staying power of the Israeli public and not at all at the military efficacy of the IDF. Indeed, in strategic terms, the IDF, for all its firepower, has hitherto been completely ineffective: It has never yet succeeded in making Palestinian violence stop, and has completely failed to keep the Palestinians’ most effective weapon – their willingness to apply violence and inflict casualties – from striking Israel’s most vulnerable target, the morale of its citizens. It is this more than anything else that has given rise to the school of opinion in Israel, noted in Part II of this paper, that the conflict “has no military solution”, and that therefore the only possible solution is to accommodate Palestinian interests.

A key element of Palestinian strategy has been the ability to limit both the scope and the intensity of violence to a level which allows their own chosen strategy to function. The effectiveness of Palestinian strategy is significantly dependent upon their ability to use the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as a sanctuary in which Palestinian armed forces can survive and function. The presence of this civilian population has led Israel to limit its use of deadly force to such as can be used with discrimination and in a pinpoint manner against those Israel identifies as malefactors rather than civilians Israel presumes are innocent. This approach, commendable on ethical grounds, means that Israel’s military operations are almost entirely defensive and reactive, and almost entirely lacking a strategic dimension. Israel can try to fight hostile Palestinian forces, and to a degree their organizational infrastructure as well, but it has been quite unable to change the motivation of the Palestinian civil population to harbor them in its midst.

In some ways the signing of the Oslo Accords has increased the effectiveness of Palestinian violence, by creating among Israelis an expectation of an amicable political settlement in which violence will be at an end. Palestinian violence gives lie to the assumption that they actually desire to end the violence, but the political and emotional capital invested in that assumption has hitherto prevented Israelis from concluding that their expectations are false. Rather, Israelis have tried ever harder to appease the Palestinians, in the hope that eventually they will be satisfied by ever greater concessions. This of course has set up a psychological dynamic that serves the Palestinians well. Applying violence encourages the Israelis to give up things more and faster, and in consequence the episodes of violence have grown longer and more intense.

Thus the violence of September 1996 set the stage for the government of Binyamin Netanyahu to abandon its intention to amend the terms of the Hebron Accord, and eventually to agree to cede additional territory to the Palestinians in the framework of the Wye accords. The outbreak of violence in May 2000 caused the government of Ehud Barak to accelerate its plans to cede the politically sensitive Jerusalem suburbs of Abu Dis and El Azariyyah. And the fighting since September 2000 has formed the background for Palestinian demands that Israel make concessions that would in effect eliminate it. At the end of seven years of negotiations and agreements, therefore, Israelis find themselves precisely in the position they were in before the Camp David Accords were signed: Locked in a stark, armed conflict of interests over matters of national life or death.

Palestinian Violence and the Threat of a Wider War

Though Israeli-Palestinian bilateral relations are the focus of this paper, one cannot but note the impact of the deterioration of these relations on Israel’s broader relations with the Arab world. Israel’s eviction from Southern Lebanon created expectations in part of the Arab world that Israel’s demise might be imminent. Since then, the PLO and the Hizbullah, Syria and Iran’s proxy in southern Lebanon, have been cooperating in preparation for Israel’s collapse.63 The danger of a regional war, at least on Israel’s northern front, has grown significantly. Should Israel be perceived to be in real danger, other Arab states might join the conflict, including Egypt, its peace treaty with Israel notwithstanding. Since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1977, Egypt has devoted considerable resources to a constant effort to achieve qualitative and quantitative military parity with Israel. It has made significant strides in this respect.64 The Egyptian armed forces train and plan exclusively for war against Israel.65 In the event of a regional war in which Israel seems to be doing badly, therefore, Egyptian entry to give Israel the coup de grace cannot be excluded.

3.2.4 Is Israeli Nationalism Malignant?

A Palestinian would retort that Israel has no monopoly on feeling threatened by a malignant nationalism that denies other nations’ right to self-determination. An Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, asserted in 1969 that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation.66 Israel subjected Palestinian towns and villages to military occupation for over 25 years after the Six Day War. Partisans of Israel could make excuses for this policy, but one should not expect Palestinians to be much impressed by them.

Two considerations, however, recommend themselves to the disinterested observer. First, even if the Palestinian retort is correct, the implications for Israeli policy are not altered. There are historical examples where two malignant nationalisms have confronted each other, the Peloponnesian War being the classic case. Such cases may evoke disgust in outside observers; after all, wouldn’t both sides be better off if they just agreed to leave each other alone? Yet neither nation in such a confrontation has any incentive to do other but to pursue its own best interest, which is to destroy the opposing regime that threatens its existence.

Second, the Oslo Accords, which both Israel and the PLO signed, was supposed to signal an epoch in Palestinian-Israeli relations – an end to malignant nationalism on both sides. And it is incontrovertible that in 1993, after 26 years of occupation and six years of intifada, Israeli society as a whole was sick unto death of ruling the Palestinians. The decision to sign a peace accord with the PLO was controversial; many Israelis warned, and continue to warn, that the PLO is a terrorist organization with which no lasting peace can be made. Most Israelis, right and left, were however willing to go to considerable lengths simply to let the Palestinians go. This has been the fundamental assumption of all Israeli politics since 1993. There can be little doubt that had the Israelis perceived a similar disposition on the part of the Palestinian leadership, a final settlement would today be within reach if not already signed and ratified.

3.3. Responding to Malignant Nationalism

Nations that confront malignant nationalism face narrowly constrained options, whether the regime that threatens them was popularly chosen or not. They have no choice but to contain or destroy it. “Destroying” malignant nationalism does not, of course, imply destroying nations. It means deterring or destroying a regime. Sometimes, however, it means more than that: Where the regime was popular, or at least passively supported by the people, it means ending popular willingness to support the regime or to tolerate the emergence of a similar successor regime. Peoples who deliberately choose advocates of malignant nationalism to rule them bear a heavy responsibility before those whom their choice threatens.

Sometimes the experience of defeat and suffering in war is required to bring home to a people the costs of malignant nationalism and change their minds about supporting it. Thus the Allies in World War II destroyed the Nazi regime and the Japanese militarist regime. After the war was over they exterminated neither the German or Japanese peoples nor (except for the Soviet Union in East Germany) their right to self-determination, but they subjected both nations to lengthy occupations. An essential element in the transformation of “Nazi” Germany and “militarist” Japan into what they are today, peace-loving liberal democracies, was the experience of defeat: The destruction of aggressive authoritarian regimes, accompanied by great loss of life and property; the evident political and moral bankruptcy of militarist ideologies; and lengthy and humiliating occupation by the victorious powers, who remade Japanese and German society by fiat.

In the case of Serbia, more limited measures sufficed to achieve similar results: the regime of Slobodan Milosevic was eventually voted out of office by political forces that, while no less staunchly nationalist than he, were determined to end the policy of malignant nationalism he pursued. The world generally considers these sufficient grounds to believe that Serbian aggression against its neighbors is at an end.

3.4. Conclusions

Palestinian policy regarding Israel shows the characteristic manifestations of malignant nationalism. This becomes clearer when Palestinian policy and political discourse is placed in the context of prominent historical examples of aggressive nationalism or ideology. Policy alone might lend itself to various interpretations; hostile political discourse, if unaccompanied by aggressive and violent policies, could be dismissed as nothing more than so much hot air blown off for internal political purposes. Hostile policy, arising in the context of a hostile ideology deliberately cultivated, repeats a pattern that is all too familiar from the darkest periods of 20th century history. The preponderance of likelihood must be given to the judgment that Palestinian policy towards Israel is fundamentally hostile, and that this hostile policy arises out of a broad social, cultural and political base of deadly hatred that is deliberately cultivated.

This opinion has, of course, been expressed before by critics of the Oslo Accords. Until now this analysis has been dismissed, not least by Israeli government circles committed to the Oslo framework, as motivated by ideology or ethnic (anti-Palestinian Arab) bias. However, the content and conclusions of the analysis have recently received confirmation from a highly significant source. In the words of the Israeli Government’s White Paper:

The present wave of essentially an attempt by Arafat to achieve, through violence, his maximal political goals, and avoid the choices necessary to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion...67

Against the mounting evidence of bad faith...Israel – and the other parties engaged in the negotiations – kept alive the hope for a stable peace, based on the assumption that the process, and its momentum, would modify Arafat’s stance on compliance and on the question of [Palestinian use of] violence as an option. This hope has now been shattered.68

The passage above implies a devastating critique of the assumptions underlying the Oslo Accords and the entire Palestinian-Israeli peace process. More to the point, it states that the hopes on which the Oslo process was founded have in fact proved fruitless, and that no change in PLO intentions, no abandonment of longstanding PLO strategy, took place at the time the Accords were signed or at any time after.

The PLO and the PA represent a deadly threat to Israel’s existence. Given radical intentions and sufficient will to pursue them effectively, very large disparities in political and military capabilities can be overcome. In the age of guerilla warfare and urban terrorism, one does not need nuclear weapons or large mechanized armies to achieve aggressive goals of a far-reaching nature.69

At present, the PA dominates Palestinian society in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and enjoys as well considerable prestige and authority among Arab citizens of Israel. Its authoritarian nature is well-known. Yasser Arafat may cease to rule the Palestinians in the near future, through processes natural or unnatural, but defeat in an election on the Serbian model is unlikely to be among them. The PA’s mortal hostility to Israel will be a central fact of Palestinian political life unless it is induced to change its policies, or else is destroyed. And for policy to truly change, the social and political environment which encourages Palestinians to think of the destruction of Israel as a worthy goal must be changed as well. The Oslo process has manifestly failed to achieve this.


IV. Combating Malignant Palestinian Nationalism

Israel has two basic options for dealing with malignant Palestinian nationalism: Containment or assault. Containment means arresting the Palestinians’ progress toward their ambitions, and waiting for the passage of time and the frustration of their agenda to bring about a change in the assumptions behind Palestinian policy. Given how deeply rooted present Palestinian policy is in Palestinian society and culture, cultivated by the PLO, this means waiting until a fundamental change has taken place in the Palestinian political leadership and political culture, probably accompanied (as the end of the Cold War was in Eastern Europe) by considerable disintegration of Palestinian society and government. The advantage of this policy is that it requires less in the way of active military and political initiative on the part of Israel. It allows Israel to cast itself as the defender rather than the aggressor. Its disadvantage is that it is likely to take a very long time, during which time Israeli society will be exposed to the depredations of Palestinian violence, accompanied by Palestinian diplomatic action against Israel in the global arena.

The other option is to attack and destroy the political complex now dominating Palestinian society: The PLO/PA, which is the bearer of the agenda of malignant Palestinian nationalism, and particularly its base in Palestinian society, i.e. the willingness of ordinary Palestinians to submit to PLO/PA rule and support its policy of confrontation with Israel. These two options do not represent mutually exclusive alternatives; rather, they represent a continuum ranging from a largely passive policy to an intense and active one with a prominent military component.

While the containment strategy has much to recommend it, the weight of judgment indicates that Israel should prefer an active policy. In considering the reasons for this choice, we will also address the main alternatives to the Oslo process currently under consideration in Israel.

4.1. Why Containment Will Not Work

For a strategy of containment to work, certain political preconditions are necessary, of which the foremost is the absence of active warfare between the parties to a conflict. This is not the case in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4.1.1 Containment cannot work where the two sides are in direct,
 open conflict.

Containment is an open-ended strategy. It assumes that the conflict to which the sides are party will somehow, some day come to an end, but that there is no urgency about it. This assumption is shared by the aggressive side being contained as well as by the defender who is engaged in containment. The price of intensifying the conflict is greater than the aggressor cares to pay. While the political conflict between the two sides may be unpleasant, it is tolerable and entirely compatible with each side getting on with the main business of running a country and developing a society. Both sides are prepared for the current situation to prevail indefinitely, though each continues to hope that eventually the conflict will be resolved the way it desires. This essential aspect of containment is explicitly stated in the classic document by George Kennan that recommended the strategy to the United States for use against the Soviet Union:

The Kremlin is under no ideological compunction to accomplish its purposes in a hurry... [C]aution, circumspection, flexibility and deception are the valuable qualities... Thus the Kremlin has no compunction about retreating in the face of superior force. And being under the compulsion of no timetable, it does not get panicky under the necessity for such retreat...its main concern is to fill every nook and cranny available to it in the basin of world power, but if it finds unassailable barriers in its path, it accepts these philosophically and accommodates itself to them.70

Kennan cited the very moderation and flexibility of the Soviet leadership in the pursuit of its aggressive goals as the reason the Unites States could afford to contemplate a strategy of containment:

This [Soviet flexibility] would itself warrant the United States entering with reasonable confidence upon a policy of firm containment designed to confront the Russians [sic] with unalterable counterforce at every point...71

It will be seen from the above text, and this is confirmed by the context, that Kennan was concerned to assure his readers that the strategy he proposed was one the United States could adopt with confidence and that it could be sustained over the long term.

Containment worked because the United States and the Soviet Union, and their main allies, never went to war with each other. Fighting took place, but it was all conducted on the periphery of Soviet and Western spheres of influence in areas of tertiary importance. In fact, when either of the superpowers got involved in lengthy guerilla wars of attrition – the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan – they usually recoiled home in disgrace and disorder.72 Containment would never have worked politically, nor been attempted, against an adversary who pursued a strategy of military assault against the Western Alliance.

Containment is an appropriate description of relations between Israel and the Arab states; Israel “contains” them and prevents them from realizing such hostile ambitions as they might harbor. There is even a cold, formal peace between Israel and some Arab states, as there was between the United States and the Soviet Union. Neither side seriously anticipates the end of this situation. Though the formal peace treaties may be vulnerable to the exigencies of Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians, even their demise would not change any essential strategic aspect of the larger regional situation.

The essential conditions for containment do not exist between Israel and the PA. The PA assails Israeli society directly, with arms. Its strategy is aimed at eroding Israelis’ will to exist as a nation. One of the assumptions of this paper is that the Israeli public does retain the morale and willpower to absorb casualties and win victory in a war, provided the object of the war is clearly defined and a clear strategy is adopted that will lead to victory in the foreseeable future. But an entirely defensive war of attrition, with no prospect of victory in sight, is quite a different matter. Israel has already been worsted in two such campaigns, the first intifada (1987-93) and the war in Lebanon. Chances are good that, if allowed to continue, the strategy of guerilla warfare will be crowned with ultimate success, perhaps quite soon. The perception on the part of Israel’s civilian population that there is no end to the conflict in sight may have a decisive effect. It is perhaps not flattering to contemplate the weaknesses of one’s own society, but a people’s resources to withstand constant guerilla warfare, on an increasing scale and with no relief in prospect, are not endless.

For years, advocates of Palestinian-Israeli peace have argued that Israel needs to make peace because the power of its society to withstand constant violent attrition is limited. Now that the prospect of a peace agreement has faded away, many of the same voices can be heard arguing (like Zeev Schiff, cited above) that there is no choice but for Israeli society to exhibit patience and gird itself for a long confrontation at a low level of violence, since these voices consider the possibility of a more active strategy against the Palestinians to be impossible or undesirable. The author may be forgiven for pointing out that one cannot have it both ways. Societies far more resilient morally than Israel’s may quail under the prospect of continued violence such as Israeli society has been subjected to since September 2000. For Israel, a quicker and more conclusive solution is imperative.

4.1.2  Only a New Strategy Will Reinforce Political Morale in Israel.

War with the PLO/PA requires the support of the Israeli public.  Whether Israeli leaders choose containment or assault as their strategy, either policy must be adopted in the context of a fundamental change in attitude toward the PLO/PA:  A rejection of its agenda and of any agreement except on terms Israel finds acceptable, which by definition the PLO/PA will not.  A purely passive policy of containment looks too much like a continuation of the situation currently prevailing.  It implies that the rejection of this situation is largely declarative, and not backed up by any practical measures. As time passes and Israeli losses mount, Palestinian violence will have its effect; voices within Israel will call for Israeli policy to take up where the Oslo process was suspended.  To avoid this, Israelis need to be shown by their leaders that the objective of relations with the Palestinians have in fact changed, and that this is underscored by a palpably new policy.  An active policy that involves taking the initiative is important not only in clarifying Israel’s new intentions but in sustaining public morale.

4.1.3  Bringing the Time Factor Over to Israel’s Side.

In an environment of containment, the Palestinians will continue to determine the pace and the degree of intensity of the conflict. This ability has been their greatest military asset in the past. One of Israel’s many potential military assets is the ability to raise the scope, pace and intensity of the fighting. Low-level guerilla warfare and terrorism may work for the Palestinians, but it is for the time being the worst they can do. At a more intense level of fighting, as the PA struggles and fails to sustain the viability of its regime and the integrity of its fighting forces, as the social, economic and human cost of war rises beyond what Palestinian society has hitherto experienced, the factor of time will change sides and recur to Israel’s advantage. The longer Palestinian society experiences an intolerable situation, the greater will be the willingness among the Palestinian population to blame the PLO/PA for putting them in an impossible situation and to accommodate Israel’s requirements. That in itself is not a sufficient condition to bring about the change Israel desires in the Palestinian agenda, as the next two sections will argue, since the PLO/PA leadership is unlikely to share in this “change of heart”. It is however a necessary condition.

4.1.4 Critique of the Barak Government’s “Unilateral Disengagement

At this point it is appropriate to consider the alternative to an agreement put forward by the government of Ehud Barak: The “unilateral disengagement plan”. Barak himself has left the political scene, but his proposals are still under active consideration in some Israeli policy circles. The main points of the plan are as follows:

  1. Those communities in Judea and Samaria that Israel wishes to retain in a final agreement are to be surrounded by defensive cordons and provided with improved road access to pre-1967 Israel. Other communities are to be retained pending a settlement.

  2. An Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley is to be retained, again pending a final agreement.

  3. Economic contact with the Palestinian Authority is to be maintained, subject to security considerations.

  4. Physical separation of the Palestinian population from Israel is to be maintained in some way that is difficult to determine, especially in light of point (3).73

On the spectrum from “containment” to “assault”, this plan is located hard up against the far end of the “containment” side. It does not answer Israel’s requirements for several reasons:

  1. The essence of containment is to make the Palestinians understand that the strategy they have adopted hitherto in the Oslo process is a strategic failure: There will be no further Israeli concessions, territorial or other, to malignant Palestinian nationalism. The “unilateral disengagement plan” seems more another negotiating position than a strategy to defeat malignant Palestinian nationalism. It defines what Israel possesses but is willing to give up, and invites the Palestinians to continue to try to extract it by a combination of force and fraud.

  2. In practical terms the plan does not amount to any new Israeli policy. It calls for the Government of Israel to do nothing whatsoever that it is not doing already; it merely calls it by a different name. It does not signal to either the Palestinians or the Israeli public that the rules of Palestinian-Israeli relations, or Israel’s political objectives, have changed. Nor does it do anything to induce a change of objective on the Palestinian side. It merely declares that Israel will continue its present passive policy, but without negotiating, until the Palestinians should happen to come into a frame of mind more amenable to Israel’s desires.

  3. The plan offers the Israeli public no prospect of relief from the rigors of an indefinitely prolonged low-intensity conflict. It declares, in effect, that their government will do nothing to defend its people or relieve Israeli society of the constant terror that has eroded Israel’s political will for a number of decades.

4.2.  Limited Offensive Options: “We Taught the Bastards How to

If containment is an inappropriate strategy for Israel, then it remains only to take the offensive against the PLO/PA. The question is, what objective does Israel need to aim for in order to defeat the agenda of malignant Palestinian nationalism, and how far along the spectrum from containment to assault ought Israel to move? In principle, if by aiming at limited objectives Israel could threaten vital Palestinian interests sufficiently to induce the PLO/PA to abandon its agenda of malignant nationalism, then this is the option Israel should prefer.

The question is how much offensive action is enough. The government of Ehud Barak employed assassination against mid-level leaders of the Palestinians’ fighting forces, though it took care neither to impose crippling sanctions on the PA economy nor to include the wider Palestinian bureaucracy in its assaults. In principle one can broaden the offensive. On the economic front, one can intensify the severity of economic sanctions. Military activity can be broadened to include a wider list of military leaders, leaders in the Palestinian civil bureaucracy, economic targets, the re-occupation of open areas currently under Palestinian control, and the destruction and/or occupation of localities and structures from which Palestinian fire is directed at Israelis or from which terrorists depart on their missions.

An option of this sort appears to have been considered by the Israeli general staff during the late fall of 2000. An unnamed but probably identifiable source within the general staff told a reporter that a strategy of limited assault is Israel’s most promising option. More decisive strategies were evaluated as being liable to bring about escalation and get out of hand.74 It should be noted, however, that the same military sources appeared some months later to be reconsidering the necessity for a more aggressive strategy than the “limited offensive” option entails.75 Recently, Israel’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, called the PA a “terrorist entity”, though he refrained from drawing policy conclusions from this evaluation.76

Another, more open advocate of the “limited offensive” option is former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu believes that the Palestinian objective is the destruction of Israel.77 In his opinion, the proper Israeli response is to attack the organization, infrastructure and economic resources of the Palestinian Authority, so as to threaten to cause the PA’s collapse. As he correctly observes, only by taking the offensive can Israel mount such a threat, and only by inflicting intolerable losses on the PLO/PA can Israel rehabilitate its capacity to deter, which repeated retreats have all but eroded away. Only when threatened with destruction will the PA consider abandoning its political agenda.

Would this be enough to confound the agenda of malignant Palestinian nationalism? That depends on whether such steps would actually threaten vital interests of the PA, and that in turn depends on what the PA considers vital. The assumption behind all limited-offensive strategies is that the proper functioning of the administrative infrastructure of the PA, including the moneymaking cartels of the top Palestinian leadership, and its ability to deliver such services as it provides to the Palestinian population at large, represent vital PA interests. This is a questionable assumption.

The Palestinians are using a campaign of guerilla terrorism against Israel, of which perhaps the most successful examples known in the West are the Algerian Revolution (1954-62) and the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese, Algerian and Palestinian terror movements all received their training, military as well as theoretical, in the Soviet Union.78 An essential aspect of such campaigns is the acceptance of a great disparity in operational capacity in the enemy’s favor. This implies a willingness to accept very high casualties, civil as well as military, without the prospect of a decisive victory in the field. The primary tool of such struggles is not victory on the battlefield but the very fact of endless fighting and its impact upon the enemy civilian population’s morale.

Both the Vietnamese and Algerian guerilla movements were defeated in the field time and again by the armies that opposed them. In the end this mattered not at all, because their adversaries’ political will – American and French, respectively – to continue the fight, withered.79 Both the Algerian and Vietnamese national liberation movements exposed their own nationals to reprisals, and committed acts of mass terrorism against those of their own nationals who opposed them, underscoring that their prime concern was not the welfare of the civilian population they claim to rule but political success.80

Both in Lebanon, where it constituted a kind of quasi-regime for many years, and in the PA, the current Palestinian leadership has exhibited quite an instrumental approach to the welfare of the Palestinians under its control.81 It has indeed set up the conventional mechanisms of government administration, including social services. However, the PLO/PA leadership is well aware that fighting against Israel involves numerous civilian casualties, economic hardship for the great majority of the Palestinian population, and the blighting of its own top personnel’s economic interests. As far as casualties are concerned, the PA leadership goes to great lengths to explain to its people that martyrdom is an essential part of the struggle against Zionism and to cultivate volunteers for martyrdom among adults and children. More casualties are precisely what the PA needs in its struggle for world public opinion.

In common with containment strategies, limited-offensive strategies leave the duration of the war up to the PLO/PA. As long as Israel limits its actions to those intended to influence PLO/PA decision-making indirectly, by applying pressure to Palestinian society and Palestinian forces, the choice of whether or not to bow to the pressure, whether or not to capitulate, remains with the PLO/PA leadership. By engaging in a limited-offensive strategy, Israel risks exposing its own morale to rapid erosion, through increased casualties and the effect of world opinion, without affecting any vital interest of the PLO/PA. Even if Israeli pressure on the PLO/PA and on Palestinian society is very intense, the prospect of the eventual erosion of Israel’s will to fight will encourage the PLO/PA to hold out.82

Limited-offensive strategies, which propose striking at certain targets the leadership of the PA considers valuable, recall the failed strategy employed by the United States against North Vietnam, called “graduated response”.83 Graduated response involved applying ever more severe sanctions to North Vietnam’s society and economy through bombardment and blockade. The object of the strategy was to deter North Vietnam from continuing to send its forces south to fight in South Vietnam. While the strategy inflicted severe damage upon the North Vietnamese economy and caused ordinary Vietnamese great suffering, it failed. The ability of the North Vietnamese leadership to control its society was unaffected, and it remained unimpressed by the sheer scale of casualties and destruction.84 An apocryphal story relates the judgment passed by an American colonel on the failure of graduated response: “We taught the bastards how to cope.” Undoubtedly, the Palestinian leadership will learn to cope with any level of attack that leaves its top command echelons and its political access to Palestinian society intact.

What the PA leadership must have in order to function is, first, the ability to preserve itself intact and, second, effective political dominance over the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The latter it requires in order to feed, clothe and arm itself and the core of fighters it needs to pursue its low-intensity conflict against Israel. Dominance means that only itself, or organizations that share its agenda, retain the ability to mobilize physical resources and expressions of allegiance from the Palestinians under its control. It does not matter whether those resources and expressions of allegiance are given voluntarily or coerced, or whether the families that yield up their wealth and their sons are unemployed and starving when they do it.

4.3. Attacking the PA’s Vital Interests: The Strategy of the Offensive

If the only real resources the PLO/PA needs are its de facto control, willing or begrudged, of the Palestinian population, and its own top leadership’s ability to survive, function, and above all, articulate malignant nationalist goals, then those are the objectives Israel needs to be prepared to attack. In military terms this means mounting an offensive designed to destroy, through elimination or capture, the PLO, the PA, its leadership, and its armed forces, while uprooting their presence from their current base in the civilian Palestinian population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In political terms it means eliminating the organizations that are motivated by the agenda of malignant Palestinian nationalism, at least within the Palestinian community in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and so deeply discrediting this agenda, because of its bloody failure and the cost of that failure to Palestinian society, that it does not establish itself again within this population for the foreseeable future. In strategic terms it is the only strategy whereby Israel can remove from the PLO/PA’s hands the decision whether, or when [if ever], to capitulate. Rather than waiting on the decision of the PLO/PA leadership, Israel will remove the entire PLO/PA structure from the board within a time frame it determines itself. The locus of Palestinian decision-making will then move to the Palestinian population.

This strategy will be difficult to implement and costly to both sides. It would be desirable if Israel could somehow avoid inflicting and absorbing the casualties, military and civilian, that such a strategy entails. Despite everything that has been said above, there is a chance that Israel may be able to avoid using the strategy of the offensive, and achieve its objective of the elimination of malignant Palestinian nationalism through a limited-offensive strategy. This option should certainly be preferred if the opportunity for doing so presents itself. The precondition for the success of a limited-offensive strategy, however, is that a strategy for attacking and destroying the PLO/PA be completely prepared, and that the Palestinians be utterly convinced that Israel will implement it if it has to. In the end, only the strategy of destruction can secure Israel victory, either as a credible threat or, in the last resort, in practice.

How a limited-offensive strategy under the shadow of an all-out attack might lead to the elimination of malignant Palestinian nationalism is not at present clear. What does seem clear is that, while the current form and structure of PA institutions might be retained, the entire current leadership of the PA would have to be replaced with other leaders amenable to peace with Israel on Israel’s terms. Israel should insist on that as the sine qua non of ending hostilities.

4.3.1 Are the Aims of the Offensive Strategy Legitimate?

Is it legitimate to insist on the replacement of the top leadership and political organization of an adversary or, failing that, to bring about its elimination? It is indeed, if the leadership in question is responsible for leading its people along the path of malignant nationalism. Far from being a violation of international norms, such a policy is the norm for dealing with malignant-nationalist authoritarian regimes, supported by the most respectable precedent and authority. Thus Winston Churchill, speaking on the occasion of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, declared:

We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until with God’s help, we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its peoples from his yoke.85

Making allowances for the hyperbole of political rhetoric, the United Nations was as good as the word Churchill expressed in this speech. At the end of the war every prominent Nazi leader committed suicide, or was tried and hanged, or fled into a distant exile and obscurity.86 The Nazi party, which effectively controlled Germany, was destroyed, its lesser leaders jailed or forced out of public life, and it and similar movements remain outlawed in Germany to this day. On a less dramatic but equally decisive level, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia was cast out of the office he usurped and is currently making the transition from the President’s palace in Belgrade to a prison cell. Any similar resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be acceptable to Israel. What is unlikely is that Yasser Arafat and his closest associates would ever sue for peace on Israel’s terms; and if they did, their past record leaves little doubt that they could not be trusted not to resume the fight.

4.4. Implementing the Strategy of the Offensive

The purpose of this discussion is not to elaborate the operational details of an offensive against the PLO/PA, which are beyond the scope of this paper, but to elucidate certain military, political, and time parameters that will have to be met in order to carry out the offensive successfully.

4.4.1 Significant Assumptions

The strategy proposed here is based on several reasonable assumptions: 1. Victory will be achieved in a reasonably short period of time. When it is, a new situation will have been created, which observers within and beyond the region will have to accept. 2. With adequate preparation, the IDF’s forces will suffice to win the war while deterring intervention by other forces in the region. Effective intervention by forces from outside the region is not likely to materialize. The Palestinians will fight, and lose, alone. 3. The main factor determining success or failure in the war will be the morale of Israel’s civilian population and its willingness to persevere, despite international opposition, until victory is gained. This will hold up as long as operations last – six months to a year.

4.4.2 A Declaration of War

We have emphasized earlier the importance of reinforcing the Israeli public’s morale and its will to win by emphasizing that the period of war represents a breach with the Oslo regime, which the PLO/PA has irrevocably shattered.  It would be useful politically, both for internal and external (foreign policy) purposes, and also to create the appropriate legal basis for war measures, if the period of acknowledged hostilities were to commence by a formal resolution of the Knesset declaring war on the PLO/PA and declaring the Oslo Accords and other accords pursuant to it as null and void.

4.4.3 Making Use of Israel’s Relative Strategic Advantages

Israel’s strategic advantages in a war against the Palestinians are overwhelming. These include:

  1. Effective control of Palestinian access to “the sinews of war” – food, fuel, water, electric power, arms and ammunition, with the exception of marginal smuggling efforts and the supply route from Egypt to Rafiah in Gaza. The latter can be neutralized with minimal effort.

  2. Overwhelmingly superior surveillance and battlefield data processing assets, including complete control of the air.87

  3. Superior mobility, firepower, and reaction times in any large-unit combat.

  4. The theater of operations is very small, compared with theaters such as Algeria and Vietnam. Far from being dispersed, most Palestinians forces are concentrated in a few, even smaller urban areas.

As a result of the preceding three points, Israel can dominate communications outside urban centers and confine Palestinian forces, with the exception of small infiltration groups, to narrow localities.

  1. Overwhelming superiority in tactical firepower and tactical skills.

  2. Perhaps most important of all, the ability to sustain high intensity conflict for an extended period – weeks, if necessary.

Despite scare stories to the contrary, Palestinian forces, though numerous, are trained and equipped primarily for low-intensity conflict. They do not possess the inventory for high-intensity warfare for any significant period of time. They are likely to function poorly in a high-intensity combat environment with inadequate command, control, communications, and battlefield intelligence.

4.4.4 Preparing for Operations: A Two-Phase War

Israel needs to prepare for the strategy of the offensive. Operations will therefore take place in two phases: a preparatory phase and an acute phase, each of three to six months in duration. Chief objectives for the preparatory phase are as follows:

Preparing the IDF for Operations.

As large a reserve force as possible should be prepared for the acute phase of operations. No more than a quarter of the IDF’s total force should be employed in operations against the Palestinians during the acute phase; the rest should be held in reserve to deter intervention by other forces from within or beyond the region. For similar reasons, the bulk of the IDF’s high-technology resources, such as the Israel Air Force, should be withheld from operations. Israel’s effort against the PLO/PA should actually be a “middle-tech” affair, in which the primary assets are massed artillery, patrols and cordons for defensive missions, and some elite ground assault units. Israel’s advantage over the PLO/PA in trained soldiers and in materiel is so great that this should suffice.

It is desirable that all foreseeable requirements for fuel and military consumables be laid in stock in advance of the acute phase; this includes not only materiel for the offensive against the PLO/PA, but also for operations against possible regional intervention forces. The best guarantee against such intervention is to be completely prepared to counter it.

Implementing a “Limited Offensive” Strategy.

During the preparatory phase, Israel should create optimal conditions for the rapid and successful implementation of the acute phase. This means gradually taking control of all open areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and confining the area under effective PLO/PA control to a number of isolated urban areas. Rural localities which remain centers of hostile guerilla operations against Israel should be placed under close curfew for the duration. To control infiltration from, and smuggling of supplies to areas under PLO/PA control, extensive use should be made of cordons and barriers, such as minefields and other obstacle systems, covered of course by patrols and prepared positions. One object of this phase is gradually to exhaust Palestinian reserves of food, fuel and ammunition, keeping their urban centers on a short leash.

Limiting the Impact of International Pressure.

Given continued Palestinian military operations against Israel, the implementation of a “limited offensive” strategy by Israel will fall well within the rest of the world’s expectations.  It will produce vigorous protests, but little more.  The implementation of “limited offensive” measures can be flexible, as long as its objectives are attained by the end of the phase.  The object is to focus the attention of international opponents of Israel’s policy upon the state of Palestinian access to supplies, rather than on Israel’s wider military preparations.  Israel should try to make temporary relaxations of the conditions it imposes upon the Palestinians accepted as the currency of “confidence-building measures” when the latter are requested of her.

Readiness to Implement a Political Solution During the Preparatory/Limited Offensive Phase.

If implementation of the acute phase of operations can be avoided, then by all means it should. Israel should be genuinely ready to adopt a solution that would leave areas under Palestinian control intact and unassaulted if an acceptable political solution can be achieved. However, it should be emphasized again that only the complete preparation of an offensive option and evident willingness to implement it can bring about a situation in which it will not be necessary to carry it out.

4.4.5 The Acute Phase

Under no circumstances should the preparatory phase be allowed to continue beyond six months. If a political resolution satisfactory to Israel has not been achieved by then, the acute phase should be launched. The duration of the acute phase itself should be no more than 3-6 months. The acute phase involves the serial assault on areas where military resistance to Israel is still maintained.

The acute stage should begin with a decapitating strike against the leadership of the PLO/PA, the top commanders of its multifarious military organizations, and whatever centralized command and control infrastructure the PLO/PA has been able to construct. This will help assure that in the subsequent fighting a centralized, coordinated IDF fights against numerous uncoordinated local defenses that cannot support each other. Peace will not be made with the leadership of the PLO/PA but with local leaders who emerge to seek terms for the populations in their localities.

The purpose of the assault is to eliminate PLO/PA forces as a fighting enterprise. It is emphatically not directed at the Palestinian civil population. On the other hand, however, it is not possible or desirable for Israel to increase the casualties it will have to absorb by allowing concern for the civilian population to overshadow considerations of military utility. The best solution for all concerned is for Israel to urge the civilian population to leave the combat zone prior to the fighting. This has been the practice of the Government of Israel thus far in the fighting whenever an IDF attack on Palestinian forces based in civilian-inhabited areas has been contemplated. One reason to give warning of an assault by cutting off supplies to targeted areas is precisely to encourage the civilian population to leave in advance of the fighting. Safe routes out of the combat zones88 must be set aside by Israel and communicated to Palestinian civilians. Adequate preparations for the temporary absorption and shelter of civilians who do leave targeted areas must be prepared by Israel in advance.

4.5. The Political Context of the Strategy of Assault

The object of any attack on the PLO/PA is not merely military but political: It is to eliminate the perception among Palestinians that the PLO agenda of malignant nationalism is a viable option for Palestinian society. An essential aspect of any effective Israeli strategy against the PLO/PA must be the willingness to entertain and facilitate an alternative framework for Palestinian self-rule, provided it is free of the malignant aspects of PLO-style nationalism.

Israel need not await the end of the war with the PLO/PA to experiment with such options. Certain prominent figures in East Jerusalem have expressed opposition to being delivered up to rule by the PA.89 It seems that many of the residents of Beit Jala, whose lives and homes have been ruined by the use of their neighborhood as a firebase against the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, sympathize with their Jewish neighbors and would be happy to be rid of such protection as the PA is affording them. Israel should be prepared to create, for such Arab localities as are willing to accept it, a status of autonomy, involving self-determination, freedom to define their own citizenship, form of government, and relations with foreign states, and access to the Israeli and world economy.90 Enabling legislation creating the legal basis for such a status under Israeli law should be passed by the Knesset at the earliest opportunity.

Creation of such a status, even if only as a hypothetical possibility at the outset, would make clear Israel’s intentions vis-à-vis those Palestinians willing to live beside her in peace: Peace, self-determination, the opportunity for such benefit as they can derive from open access to the Israeli and the world economy, and above all the right to be left alone by Israel and her army if they so choose. No greater challenge to the PLO/PA’s authority and to its agenda of malignant nationalism can be imagined.

In its struggle against the PA, Israel possesses two major assets. The first is its still-overwhelming military assets and its domination of access to the resources – food, fuel, electricity, water, trade – that Palestinian society needs to function. The second is the increasing dissatisfaction of the Palestinians under PLO/PA rule and their disillusionment with the leadership they invited to govern them five years ago. At present this disillusionment does not amount to anything like an effective challenge to the authority of the PA. Such a challenge, if one genuinely is to emerge, could be sustained only under Israeli auspices. However, the experience of having been ruled by the PLO, only to have that rule expire in a fruitless and bloody confrontation with Israel, may have as salutary an effect on Palestinian sentiments as the defeat of Nazi Germany did upon German sentiments and the defeat of Japan’s ruling military clique in World War II upon Japanese sentiments: The Palestinian malignant-nationalist movement, now conceived of as a source of national pride and revival, may come to be viewed as a liability and a nightmare, a dark episode in Palestinian history.

4.5.1 Communicating With the Palestinian People

Hitherto Israel has largely confined its communications with the Palestinians to the PLO/PA leadership. Neither since the signing of the Oslo Accords, nor beforehand during the period of the first intifada, did Israel ever attempt to open a direct channel of communication between its leaders and ordinary Palestinians. This was always a grave error. It needs to be redressed as soon as possible.

Israel needs to speak to the Palestinians. It needs to make clear that their suffering is due entirely to the aggressive policy pursued by the PLO/PA. And it needs to make clear to ordinary Palestinians that their suffering is avoidable, and that the price of avoiding it is not resubmission to Israeli military rule. Israel has not retreated from the decision made in 1989, at the time of the Madrid conference, to stop ruling the Palestinians and let them rule themselves. It is the decision made in 1993, by Palestinians and Israelis alike, that “Palestinian self-rule” means “rule by the PLO” that has turned out to be a mistake and that needs to be reversed. Responsibility for that decision lies partly with Israel, which decided to recognize the PLO as a diplomatic partner. But it lies even more with the Palestinians, who insisted that only the PLO could represent them. That was seven years ago, before the Palestinians had experienced directly what it means to be ruled by the PLO and to put the PLO in charge of their relations with the neighbor they most need to get along with – Israel.

With the destruction of the PLO/PA, primary responsibility for their future will once more devolve upon the Palestinians themselves. They are the chief decision-makers Israel must now interact with. Both military operations and the political reengagement that will follow it are meant to make clear the context in which the Palestinians’ decisions must now be made. The consequences of adhering to malignant Palestinian nationalism is war and suffering; of abandoning it – peace and self-government. The time has come for the Palestinians to reevaluate their decision to put their future in the hands of the PLO, or any similar organization. Indeed, they have no choice.


V. Conclusion: The End of the Oslo Process

The Oslo process has been a disaster for the principal parties to the Oslo Accords, and for the entire region. For Israel, the disaster was for a time mitigated by increased acceptance in world politics, marginally faster economic growth, and, for what it is worth, the replacement of a de-facto state of nonbelligerency with Jordan by a formal treaty. Against this Israel must weigh the cost of a looming threat of politicide. Now, however, Israel has no choice but to respond to the PLO’s threat of politicide by destroying the PLO. That will in all likelihood toss the diplomatic gains of the past decade into the trashcan.

For the Palestinians, the Oslo process has been an unmitigated disaster. Far from bringing them prosperity, it has impoverished them. This poverty is in part due to the misguided economic provisions of the Oslo Accords, which sought to increase Palestinian-Israeli economic cooperation and ended up limiting Palestinian access to world markets. In part it is due to Israel’s policy of repeated closure of the territories under Palestinian control.91 In the last analysis, both closure and the failure of the economic provisions of the Oslo framework stem from the PLO/PA’s policy, which has undermined Israel’s security by tolerating and often encouraging terror against Israel.

The greater part of the Palestinian disaster stems from the fact that they are ruled by Yasser Arafat and the PA. The PLO/PA is authoritarian, with power centralized in the person of Arafat. It is contemptuous of the law and of civil liberties, and permissive towards the lawless depredations of its favored servants upon ordinary Palestinians.92 Its economic policy follows the pattern of what some have termed “the vampire state”,93 creating monopolies and cartels that benefit a closed clique of leaders, imposing arbitrary taxes and levies, and tolerating widespread corruption. Worst of all, it has involved the Palestinians in a totally unnecessary military confrontation with Israel, holding before their eyes a secular, anti-messianic fantasy of politicide, of humbling and despoiling their enemies.

The Oslo Accords may also ultimately prove disastrous for the region. The stalemate reached between Israel and the Arabs in the 1970s and 1980s has been beneficial for those nations that chose to acknowledge it. It enabled them to turn their attention to other and ultimately more useful things, such as economic liberalization and development. The PLO/PA has hitherto achieved what other Arab states could not: it has pursued a successful policy of armed aggression against Israel. This has revived atavistic hopes of politicide throughout the Arab world. The diplomatic progress of the past two decades may be destroyed by the ending of the PLO adventure, unless the powers involved are exceptionally prudent and restrained.

The Oslo story is a story of immense and prolonged folly: Of good intentions pursued foolishly, of evil intentions foolishly allowed to squander opportunities for peace. The Palestinians, who understandably sought both self-determination and vindication of the legitimacy of their long quest for it, chose to do so by submitting themselves to the rule of deceitful criminals. Nations who do this are responsible for their choice before other nations who are threatened thereby, and have to pay the price. Israel, for its part, was too willing to overlook the nature of its ostensible interlocutor in the hopes of a quick and easy resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians. There has been no resolution, and Israel must now pay the cost of its foolish haste.

If there is a lesson in all this, it is that to close one’s eyes to the nature of a band of revolutionary terrorists, even in hopes of quickly bringing peace, represents a moral failing, the pursuit of noble ends by inadmissible means. Peace in the Middle East, as everywhere, is not made simply “with enemies”, but on the basis of a sober consensus of all the parties concerned that peace is prudent. It can be achieved not through messianic fervor but by a measured consideration of the material interests of all concerned. If there is to be peace in the Middle East’s future, that is the basis on which it will have to be built.




The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Palestine Media Watch (PMW) and its Director, Mr. Itamar Marcus, and Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) and its Director, Dr. Aaron Lerner, in assembling source material for this paper. Materials of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace have also been used and are gratefully acknowledged. The author wishes to thank Mordechai Nisan, Nahum Rabinovitch, and Arieh Stav, who commented on earlier drafts of this paper.


See Amir Oren, “Eikh Yotze’im Mizeh”, [“How do we get out of this”], Ha’aretz, November 17, 2000, p. B-3.


A significant exception is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, whose ideas appear to have moved with time in the direction indicated by this paper. Gen. Ya’alon’s ideas, as they seem to be indicated by his public statements, will be taken up in section IV, pp. 40-41, and in footnotes 74, 75 below.


Interview with Al-Hayyat, Cited by “Walla!” News Service, “Ha-Tzevatim Ha-Bithoniim Shel Yisrael Ve-Hafalastinim No’adu” [Israeli and Palestinian Security Teams Meet], <>, January 17, 2001.


Some thinking and planning, especially by the IDF, appears to have taken place in preparation for ongoing low-intensity conflict with the Palestinian Authority. What appears to have been lacking is a moral and intellectual readiness to take such contingencies seriously, to set firm guidelines that determine when the conflict scenario is accepted as dominant to the exclusion of others, and in particular to work out the political implications of violence that is not episodic, as on previous occasions, but a long-term and (if the Palestinians have their way) permanent phenomenon. This is basically a problem of “attitude”, but it is a grave problem that is likely to undermine the seriousness with which contingency planning is conducted and the contingency prepared for. One often finds in the archives of nations which have been surprised by an enemy contingency plans for dealing with the surprise. They are of little use unless the contingency is taken seriously.


Government of Israel, “Palestinian Authority and PLO Non-Compliance With Signed Agreements and Commitments: A Record of Bad Faith and Misconduct”, Israel Government Press Office. Provided to author by Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA), through their website at <>.


It would seem that American officials in Washington immediately understood that this was the case, as well as what the policy conclusions arising from the White Paper inevitably must be. The State Department warned that, if the White Paper represented the considered evaluation of the Government of Israel, it meant that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process was at an end. See Ha’aretz, November 22, 2000.


The comparison of the foreign policy of the PA with that of “totalitarian regimes” is not meant to initiate a debate about whether the application of the term “totalitarian” to the PA is appropriate. The author has no stake and no interest in this issue. No more is implied than that the PA’s policy toward Israel has significant parallels with those pursued by certain historical totalitarian regimes toward their political adversaries.


Zeev Schiff, “I Efshar Liftor et Hakol Bakoah” (One Can’t Solve Everything With Force), Ha’aretz, November 22, 2000, p. C1 (All citations translated from the Hebrew original by the author).


See Jerusalem Post Internet Edition, October , 2000.


MK Rehav’am Zeevi, public address at a rally in Jerusalem, November 22, 2000. Eyewitness reports.


Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, Princeton UP, 1976, p. 75.


Yitzhak Klein, “Long Defensives: Victory Without Compellence”, Comparative Strategy, vol. 15, #3, 1996, pp. 233-250. See esp. pp. 233-234.


See esp. Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence, Yale UP, 1966, chapter 1.


In the ensuing discussion we also omit a comparison of official anti-Semitism in Palestinian and German statements; not because they are not significant, but because both have been amply documented elsewhere. Expressing hatred of Jews and a desire to destroy them is quite as serious a moral offense as expressing hatred of a political entity – a state – and the desire to destroy it. However, there might be some people who wish to argue that expressions of hatred against Jews do not actually include, word for word, expressions of the desire to destroy the Jewish state; and indeed, during the time of the Nazi regime in Germany, there was no Jewish state. Just to keep matters perfectly obvious, we discuss only statements about the desire to destroy states.


Martin Bormann’s record of Hitler’s remarks, July 16, 1941. In Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Documents on Nazism, 1919-1945, London: Jonathan Cape, 1974, pp. 622-3.


“Hossbach Memorandum”, November 15, 1937, in Noakes and Pridham, pp. 522-529.


November 10, 1938. In Noakes and Pridham, p. 549.


Herbert Goebel, German History, Cited in Erika Mann, School for Barbarians, NY: Modern Age, 1938.


See discussion in Erika Mann, School for Barbarians, NY: Modern Age, 1938.


Ibid., p. 130.


Lenin, “Theses on the Question of the Immediate Conclusion of a Separate and Annexationist Peace”, in Lenin, Complete Collected Works, 4th ed., Moscow: Progress, 1966, vol. 26, pp. 442-451.


Marxism-Leninism, p. 125.


Ibid., p. 127.


Ibid., p. 88.


Ibid., p. 87.


Vigor, The Soviet View, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975, p. 164.


Letter from Yasser Arafat to Prime Minister Rabin, September 9, 1993 (document #107). In Meron Medzini, ed., Israel’s Foreign Relations: Selected Documents, 1992-94, vol. 13, Jerusalem: Ministry of Foreign Relations, 1995, p. 306.


Government of Israel White Paper, “PA and PLO Non-Compliance...”, Part 2, “Indications of Essential Bad Faith”.


Cited in “A Different Vision”, editorial, The Jerusalem Post, February 23, 1996.


Government of Israel White Paper, “PA and PLO Non-Compliance...”, Part 2, “Indications of Essential Bad Faith”.


Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, January 20, 2000.


Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, November 25, 1999. Cited (in Hebrew translation) in Itamar Marcus, “Heskem Ha-Keva: Heskem Shalom O ‘Hudna’?” [The Permanent Status Agreement: Peace Treaty or “Cease Fire”?], Palestine Media Watch Research Paper, #31, September 17, 2000, p. 2.


See “The Palestinian Authority School Books”, no author cited, Jerusalem: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, 2000, internet edition, <>, pp. 9-12; Itamar Marcus, “Jews, Israel and Zionism in the Palestinian Authority’s Teacher’s Guides”, Jerusalem: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, 2000, internet edition, <>, pp. 8-11.


Itamar Marcus, “The New Palestinian Authority School Textbooks”, Jerusalem: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, 2000, internet edition, <>, pp. 7-11, 15-16.


 Ibid., p. 10.


Ibid., pp. 12-13.


Teacher’s Guide, Text on Islamic Culture, Grade 11, pp. 167-8. Cited in Marcus, “Palestinian Authority Teachers’ Guides”, p. 19. (This material is displayed as it appears in the source cited, in which extracts from a longer Arabic text are presented.  The latter material appears later in the original Arab text, possibly in a different section or chapter.  The section and paragraph numbers are reproduced as they appear in the original Arab text.)


Ibid., p. 22.


 Ibid., p. 16.


Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part 2, pp. 89-90. Cited in “The Palestinian Authority School Books”, no author cited, internet edition, p. 39.


Textbook of Islamic Education for Grade 7, p. 108. Cited Ibid., p. 15.


The IDF has used force, including deadly force, against Palestinians on numerous occasions. Careful analysis of many of the violent clips used on Palestinian TV in the summer of 2000 reveals however that they were edited to “show” acts of violence that did not in fact take place, such as the combination of footage of an Israeli soldier firing, followed by footage of a Palestinian child falling from a fatal wound in the back – when the latter footage is not a continuation of the former and may not be archival at all. See “Oness, Retzach, Alimut, u-Milhama be-Shem Al-lah Neged Ha-Yehudim: Ha-Kayitz Ba-Televizia Ha-Falastinit” [Rape, Murder, and War in the Name of G-d Against the Jews: This Summer on Palestinian Television], Palestine Media Watch Research Report, #30, September 11, 2000, p. 2.


Ibid., p. 1.


Ibid., p. 5.


Ibid., p. 6.


See endnote 4 above.


Two, the Bismarck and Tirpitz, were completed; the other two were cancelled in mid-construction during the war. Had all been completed, Germany would have possessed six fast modern capital ships to the 15 allowed Britain by treaty. At the time of the agreement, Britain possessed 15 capital ships and was about to begin building five more; the latter, however, were intended to replace Britain’s oldest and obsolete class of ships, which then would have been broken up or disarmed in compliance with the treaty. The Anglo-German naval agreement was unilaterally denounced by Germany on April 28, 1939, after Britain had issued its guarantee to Poland and war had become inevitable. See Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm, London: Houghton Mifflin, 1948, p. 360.


The Anglo-German Naval Agreement granted Germany numerical parity in submarines, but as can be seen from this paragraph, German construction plans violated the terms of the agreement in this area. All naval statistics in this paragraph from Churchill, The Gathering Storm, Appendix A, Book II, “Tables of Naval Strength”, September 3, 1939, p. 689.


At a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Schussnigg, Hitler threatened the use of armed force and terrorism:

I have only to give an order, and in one single night all your ridiculous defense mechanisms will be blown to bits... I would very much like to save Austria from such a fate, because such an action would mean blood. After the Army, my S.A. and Austrian Legion would move in, and nobody can stop their just revenge – not even I.

Cited in William H. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1960, p. 327.


In an interview with Czech President Hacha on the eve of his invasion of the rump Czech state, Hitler again used the threat of armed force to intimidate his interlocutor into signing away Czech liberties voluntarily:

Tomorrow morning at six o’clock the German Army was to enter Czechia from all sides and the German air force would occupy Czech airfields. There were two possibilities. The first was that the entry of German troops might develop into fighting. In that case, resistance would be broken by brute force. If last autumn Czechoslovakia had not given in [at Munich], the Czech people would have been exterminated. No one would have prevented him doing it. If it came to a fight... in two days the Czech army would cease to exist.

Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp. 445-6.


Noakes and Pridham, Documents on Nazism, p. 558.


In Czechoslovakia, free elections were held in which the Communists received a plurality, but not an outright majority, of the vote – the only nation in which they did so well. Nonetheless the Communists carried out a coup d’etat against the democratic Czech regime in 1948, establishing a one-party state.


See Mark N. Katz, The Third World in Soviet Military Thought, London: Croom Helm, 1982; Katz, Gorbachev’s Military Policy in the Third World, New York: Praeger, 1989.


At the time the Accords were signed it was agreed that several issues, including the fate of the refugees and the status of Jerusalem, would be deferred until the permanent status negotiations. The Palestinians did not formally indicate a willingness to accommodate Israeli desires on these issues. Such an accommodation was implied in the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreements of 1996, though they never were adopted by either side as an official position and have been a dead letter at least since the Camp David conference of the summer of 2000, when the Palestinians made clear that the provisions of that agreement were unacceptable to them.


See Jerusalem Post Internet Edition, January 26, 2001. On December 19, 2000, Dr. Nabil Shaath, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, stated that “the success of negotiations, indeed of the whole peace process, depends on Israel’s willingness to withdraw to the borders of June 4, 1967.” This in addition to Palestinian demands regarding the return of refugees. See Keesing’s Record of World Events, December 2000, p. 43926.


The General Staff’s critique of the Clinton proposals are analyzed in detail in Ha’aretz, Dec. 31, 2000. See also New York Times on the Web, Foreign Desk, January 31, 2000. <>.


Arutz 7 Internet News, December 28, 2000, <>.


At an address to the UN General Assembly in Geneva, December 13, 1988, Arafat formally accepted UN resolutions 242 and 338. In response to American requests for clarifications, he affirmed on the following day “the right of all parties... to exist in peace and security, and this included the State of Palestine, Israel, and other neighbors... I repeat for the record that we totally and absolutely renounce all forms of terrorism.” See Keesing’s International Record, vol. 35 #1, January 1989, p. 36438.


See Jerusalem Post Internet Edition, October 12, 2000; also Keesing’s Record of World Events, October 2000, p. 43824.


Al Hayyat, September 2, 1996. In Government of Israel White Paper, “PA and PLO Non-Compliance...”, Part 2, “Indications of Essential Bad Faith”.


Government of Israel, “PA and PLO Non-Compliance...” Executive Summary.


This point has many sources. For an authoritative one, see interview with Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Ma’ariv, February 16, 2001.


Shawn Pine, revised working paper on Egyptian military preparedness, furnished to author by the Ariel Center for Policy Research.


Amir Oren, “Tnu Le-Zahal Lenaseakh”, Ha’aretz, December 22, 2000.


Golda Meir, interview with Frank Giles, Sunday Times, June 15, 1969: “It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine, considering itself as a Palestinian people, and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”


Government of Israel, “Palestinian Authority and PLO Non-Compliance”, Executive Summary.


Ibid., Part I, “Why Were Formal Commitments Important in the Post-1993 Peace Process?”


See, for example, Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War, New York: Free Press, 1991.


“‘X’, The Sources of Soviet Conduct”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 26, #4, July 1947, pp. 566-582. Quote, pp. 574-5. “X” was the pseudonym of George F. Kennan, US charge d’affairs in Moscow at the time this essay was written.


Ibid., p. 581.


It is against the background of this fact that Col. Harry Summers, who authored a post-mortem of American strategy in Vietnam, describes the stalemate in Korea as in retrospect a considerable victory for American arms. See Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1982.


See Aluf Ben, “Tochnit Ha-Hafrada Ha-Had-Tzedadit: Kol Ha-Hitnahaluiot Yisha’aru” [The Unilateral Disengagement Plan: All Settlements Will Remain], Ha’aretz Internet Edition, January 15, 2001.


Amir Oren, “Eikh Yotzeim Mizeh”, Ha’aretz, November 17, 2000, page B-3. In this article on General Staff opinions, Oren mentions a number of ranking officers, but only to one does he attribute opinions that he cites in the article: Maj. Gen Moshe Ya’alon, whom Oren calls “Arafat’s smallest admirer in the General Staff”. Later in the article, Oren cites unnamed sources in the General Staff as saying that Israel had a number of options: 1. To yield to Palestinian demands; 2. To do so under international pressure after the stationing of an international observer force in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; 3. To inflict serious economic and political pressure on the Palestinian Authority; 4. To fuel an escalation that could get out of hand and lead to a regional war. The unnamed interviewee’s preferred option was (3); but again, the only officer whose views were cited (earlier in the piece) were Ya’alon’s. See also next footnote.


[See preceding note] Ya’alon’s views may have been evolving. In an interview in mid-February, in response to a question whether the IDF should reenter the municipalities under Palestinian control, Ya’alon refused to answer directly, but called the Palestinian revolt an existential challenge to Israel, requiring decisions of a fundamental nature. What those decisions should be, Ya’alon, a serving officer, refused to say. See Ma’ariv, February 16, 2001.


Ha’aretz Internet Edition, March 1, 2001.


Netanyahu, Interview with Shalom Yerushalmi and Yossi Levi, Maariv shel Shabbat [Weekend Supplement], November 24, 2000, pp. 6, 26. In this interview, Netanyahu said that the present fighting is led by “Arafat and a handful of others”, though when asked whether he would act to liquidate them, he shied away from the idea.


This type of struggle is termed a “war of national liberation” in Soviet jargon and succinctly defined in Soviet literature; see the book Marxism-Leninism on War and Army, Moscow: Progress, 1977, esp. chapter 2, secs. 1, 3-4, pp. 62-72, 78-90; chapter 4, sec. 3, pp. 161-166, Vietnam and Algeria are the classic examples of wars of national liberation. Though the Soviet Union is defunct, all three national liberation movements survive today.


In April 1975, as South Vietnam was falling, Col. Harry Summers, US Army, was in Hanoi to negotiate the freeing of American prisoners of war and the release of the remains of American war dead. He recalls the following conversation with his opposite number, a Col. Tu, ADRV:

Summers: “You know you never defeated us on the battlefield.”

The Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. “That may be so,” he replied, “but it is also irrelevant.”

It was.

Paraphrased from Summers, On War, p. 1.


On Algeria, see Alf Andrew Heggoy, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Algeria, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1972, and Joan Gillespie, Algeria: Rebellion and Revolution, Westport, CN: Greenwood, 1976. The former book has an especially fine analysis of the political uses of terrorism against a colonialist power as well as within a native population.


For Lebanon, see the documents assembled by Raphael Israeli, ed., PLO in Lebanon: Selected Documents, London: Wiedenfeld and Nicholson, 1983, esp. Part VII, pp. 233-291. A summary of the PLO/PA approach to running the Palestinian economy and to the welfare of the Palestinians under its control may be found in the Government of Israel’s White Paper, “Palestinian Authority and PLO Non-Compliance”, sec 4b, “The Shattered Assumptions: A Stake in the Welfare of the Governed”, and sec. 5b, “Diverting Attention from Domestic Failure”.



If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of that situation must not of course be merely transient – at least not in appearance. Otherwise the enemy would not give in but wait for things to improve. Any change that might be brought about by continuing hostilities must then, at least in theory, be of a kind to bring the enemy still greater disadvantages.

On War, p. 77.


See Brig. Gen. David Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet: US-Vietnam in Perspective, San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1978, esp. p. 75.


See the extensive and informed discussion of Vietnam strategy in Harry V. Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1982, esp. chapter 10.


Winston Churchill, radio address, June 22, 1941. In Churchill, The Grand Alliance, London: Houghton Mifflin, 1950, p. 372.


It is worth noting that Churchill never articulated the objective of Germany’s “unconditional surrender”. That objective was articulated by President Roosevelt at the time of the Teheran Conference in 1943. It is interesting to speculate what might have happened if, 12 or 18 months before the utter defeat and occupation of Germany, a military coup against Hitler had succeeded and a conservative, non-Nazi German leadership had sued for a negotiated peace. The Allies would have been hard-put politically to refuse the offer, and Germany might well have retained all of its acquisitions up to the end of 1938. Churchill would almost certainly have supported such an end to the conflict, which would not have contradicted his declaration quoted in our text.


That does not mean that Israel, as well as the Israeli air force, will not take losses. During the Western assault on Serbia, the Serbs managed to bring down one of the United States’ famed F-117 “Stealth” fighters. This was a considerable achievement, but it did not by any means indicate that the overwhelming air superiority that was the keystone of Western strategy was threatened.


Anyone attempting to use them must of course undergo screening by Israeli forces to ensure that Palestinian fighters are not attempting to infiltrate under civilian cover.


See Government of Israel’s White Paper, “Palestinian Authority and PLO Non-Compliance”.


In economic terms, it may be necessary for Israel to limit, on the one hand, Palestinian access to the Israeli labor market and, on the other hand, to require Palestinians to accept Israel’s VAT regime as the condition of access to the Israeli market.


See Sara Mae Roy, “The Palestinian Economy and the Oslo Process: Decline and Fragmentation”, Occasional Paper #24. Abu Dhabi: Emirates Center for Strategic Research, 1998. Roy blames the deterioration of Palestinian welfare since the Oslo Accords were signed partly on the backfiring of Israeli attempts to create a common economic space with the Palestinians, but primarily on Israel’s policy of closing off Palestinian territories. Israeli closure policy is a direct outcome of the PLO/PA’s willingness to condone and encourage terror against Israel.


See Government of Israel’s White Paper, “Palestinian Authority and PLO Non-Compliance”.


See, e.g., Peter Evans, “Predatory, Developmental and Other Apparatuses: A Comparative Analysis of the Third World State”, Sociological Forum 4, pp. 561-587.