Written by Jim Sinkinson
One of the most powerful tenets in public relations is the need to "control the narrative." You must define the terms of the discussion, you must tell the story that helps people understand your perspective and your interests.
Since the Yom Kippur War in 1973---when Israel miraculously crushed Syria and Egypt and captured Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights---the Middle East peace narrative has been all about Israel making concessions to its avowed enemies, the very ones it defeated.
Under pressure from the United States and other Western powers, this narrative has said "There will only be peace when the Arabs' demands for the return of land are satisfied."
But since when in world history has the victor in a war been required to make involuntary concessions? When Germany lost the war, it had to give up all the land it had taken during the war . . . and then some. Likewise virtually every other defeated nation. But not the Arabs.
But this "land for peace" narrative hasn't worked for numerous reasons. First, some of the land that Israel won was part of ancient Israel and had been continuously occupied by Jews, even during Arab domination. Israel merely recaptured the land it had lost in past wars.
Second, the Arabs do not want only the land they lost in 1973. They want the Jews out of Palestine, and Palestine means from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. No wonder when Israel abandoned Gaza a few years ago, the Palestinians began using Gaza as a staging ground for an unprecedented number of rocket attacks on Israel---more than 10,000 in four years.
Indeed, the land-for-peace narrative is not only unrealistic, it obviously has not served Israel's interests.
To provide a refreshing perspective on the prospects for Middle East peace, commentator Daniel Pipes offers a bold proposal, whose brief exposition we include below.
In this piece, Pipes, who is Founder and Executive Director of the Middle East Forum, suggests that the only way to win peace is for Israel to definitively win the current, decades-long war that the Palestinians have been waging against her. While this is not a perspective President Obama is likely to soon embrace, I thought you, your friends and colleagues might appreciate it. Please pass it on, using the forward-to-a-friend button at the bottom of this email.
President Obama has asked for input from U.S. citizens on his Middle East policies. To give him your opinion about his unfair pressure on Israel, please write the President---immediately. To identify and contact your Senators and Representative, go to Contacting the Congress. (You'll need your nine [5+4] digit zip code to find your Representative, so find an envelope addressed to your home before visiting this website.)
As you know, the President has recently snubbed and criticized Israel because Israel has continued its decades-long construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem. To give you updated background on Jewish rights to Jerusalem, I refer you to a brand-new FLAME publication: "Jerusalem (III): Should Israel be able to build residences in its capital city?" This piece is being published in newspapers and magazines with more than 5 million circulation, including college campus newspapers it debunks the myth that the Palestinians have inalienable rights to Jerusalem or that their ownership of parts of Jerusalem is fundamental to a peace deal with Israel. I hope you'll review this message and pass it on to friends. If you agree that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html. Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.
My Peace Plan: An Israeli Victory
by Daniel Pipes, April 29, 2010, National Post
National Post Editor's Note: This month, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak declared that Israel must withdraw from Palestinian territories. "The world isn't willing to accept - and we won't change that in 2010 - the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more," he said. "It's something that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world."
Is he right? Is peace even possible? And if so, what form should a final agreement take? Those are the questions we asked National Post writers in our series "What's Your Peace Plan?"
My peace plan is simple: Israel defeats its enemies.
Victory uniquely creates circumstances conducive to peace. Wars end, the historical record confirms, when one side concedes defeat and the other wins. This makes intuitive sense, for so long as both sides aspire to achieve their ambitions, fighting continues or it potentially can resume.
The goal of victory is not exactly something novel. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist, advised that in war, "Let your great object be victory." Raimondo Montecuccoli, a seventeenth-century Austrian, said that "The objective in war is victory." Carl von Clausewitz, a nineteenth-century Prussian, added that "War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfill our will." Winston Churchill told the British people: "You ask: what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory - victory - at all costs, victory, in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be." Dwight D. Eisenhower observed that "In war, there is no substitute for victory." These insights from prior eras still hold, for however much weaponry changes, human nature remains the same.
Victory means imposing one's will on the enemy, compelling him to abandon his war goals. Germans, forced to surrender in World War I, retained the goal of dominating Europe and a few years later looked to Hitler to achieve this goal. Signed pieces of paper matter only if one side has cried "Uncle": The Vietnam War ostensibly concluded through diplomacy in 1973 but both sides continued to seek their war aims until the North won ultimate victory in 1975.
Willpower is the key: shooting down planes, destroying tanks, exhausting munitions, making soldiers flee, and seizing land are not decisive in themselves but must be accompanied by a psychological collapse. North Korea's loss in 1953, Saddam Hussein's in 1991, and the Iraqi Sunni loss in 2003 did not translate into despair.
Conversely, the French gave up in Algeria in 1962, despite out-manning and out-gunning their foes, as did the Americans in Vietnam in 1975 and the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1989. The Cold War ended without a fatality. In all these cases, the losers maintained large arsenals, armies, and functioning economies. But they ran out of will.
Likewise, the Arab-Israeli conflict will be resolved only when one side gives up.
Until now, through round after round of war, both sides have retained their goals. Israel fights to win acceptance by its enemies, while those enemies fight to eliminate Israel. Those goals are raw, unchanging, and mutually contradictory. Israel's acceptance or elimination are the only states of peace.
Each observer must opt for one solution or the other. A civilized person will want Israel to win, for its goal is defensive, to protect an existing and flourishing country. Its enemies' goal of destruction amounts to pure barbarism.
For nearly 60 years, Arab rejectionists, now joined by Iranian and leftist counterparts, have tried to eliminate Israel through multiple strategies: they work to undermine its legitimacy intellectually, overwhelm it demographically, isolate it economically, restrain its defenses diplomatically, fight it conventionally, demoralize it with terror, and threaten to destroy it with WMDs. While the enemies of Israel have pursued their goals with energy and will, they have met few successes.
Ironically, Israelis over time responded to the incessant assault on their country by losing sight of the need to win. The right developed schemes to finesse victory, the center experimented with appeasement and unilateralism, and the left wallowed in guilt and self-recrimination. Exceedingly few Israelis understand the unfinished business of victory, of crushing the enemy's will and getting him to accept the permanence of the Jewish state.
Fortunately for Israel, it need only defeat the Palestinians, and not the entire Arab or Muslim population, which eventually will follow the Palestinian lead in accepting Israel. Fortunately too, although the Palestinians have built an awesome reputation for endurance, they can be beaten. If the Germans and Japanese could be forced to give up in 1945 and the Americans in 1975, how can Palestinians be exempt from defeat?
Of course, Israel faces obstacles in achieving victory. The country is hemmed in generally by international expectations (from the United Nations Security Council, for example) and specifically by the policies of its main ally, the U.S. government. Therefore, if Jerusalem is to win, that starts with a change in policy in the United States and in other Western countries. Those governments should urge Israel to seek victory by convincing the Palestinians that they have lost.
This means undoing the perceptions of Israel's weakness that grew during the Oslo process (1993-2000) and then the twin withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza (2000-05). Jerusalem appeared back on track during Ariel Sharon's first three years as prime minister, 2001-03 and his tough stance then marked real progress in Israel's war effort. Only when it became clear in late 2004 that Sharon really did plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza did the Palestinian mood revive and Israel stopped winning. Ehud Olmert's debilitating prime ministry has been only partially remedied by Binyamin Netanyahu over the past year.
Ironically, an Israeli victory would bring yet greater benefits to the Palestinians than to Israel. Israelis would benefit by being rid of an atavistic war, to be sure, but their country is a functioning, modern society. For Palestinians, in contrast, abandoning the fetid irredentist dream of eliminating their neighbor would finally offer them a chance to tend their own misbegotten garden, to develop their deeply deficient polity, economy, society, and culture.
Thus does my peace plan both end the war and bring unique benefits to all directly involved.