Monday, August 29, 2005


Keep An Eye Open for Gloria Salt

To begin with, thanks to Instapundit for pointing me to Gloria's new URL. My sidebar has been updated accordingly.

Gloria herself has not been idle. One of her latest posts, apropos of this, predicts some hard action in the near future:
Fasten your seat belts, people. The Sharon we remember is getting down to business.

This past Wednesday, as the Gaza withdrawal was drawing to a close, the IDF entered the Tulkarem refugee camp with the intention of arresting Adel Al-Gawi, an Islamic Jihad senior member who had been involved in the planning of two suicide bombings that killed ten Israeli civilians this year in Tel Aviv and Netanya. In the process, Al-Gawi and four other Palestinians who opened fire on the Israeli soldiers were killed. None of the soldiers was injured.


As the Tulkarem raid (along with swift recent moves intended to ensure the contiguity of Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem) suggests, Sharon is less concerned with world opinion than he is with American opinion, and that is still very much in his favor (notwithstanding Condi Rice’s recent grumblings about the insufficiency of the Gaza withdrawal). [...]

I would argue that to Sharon (and to quite a few of the rest of us), the narrative has been irretrievably conceded to the Palestinians, at least in the short- to medium-term. In Sharon’s view (so it appears to me), job one is not to reassure the world of Israel’s good faith but to ensure that in the wake of a concession that increases Israel’s vulnerability, the facts on the ground are as much in Israel’s favor as possible.

Look, therefore, for a low tolerance for Gazan terrorism, as well as a pattern of more and more swift, bold, Sharonesque moves to solidify Israeli control over the future border. The unilateral precedent Sharon set with the Gaza withdrawal will be echoed again and again in moves intended to lock in a preferred border in advance of future negotiations. That’s a pattern I believe will accelerate as we approach a likely early election in November.
In other words: don't see the Gaza withdrawal as an admission of defeat on Israel's part (which is how the Palestinians choose to see it). Instead, see it as a sign that, in the absence of a reasonable negotiating partner on the other side, Sharon will draw up the borders he chooses, with maximum priority given to Israeli security and the safety of Israeli citizens.

The first move happened to be one the Palestinians liked. This does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that the next moves will follow suit.

If nothing else, Sharon is a survivor, and a skilled politician... and he knows full well that you don't get reelected in Israel on the basis of concessions to terrorists. He's going to hit Gaza hard, if only for that reason, as soon as the terrorists give him an excuse to do so (i.e. a successful terror attack).

I wasn't ready to believe that before, although I very much wanted to do so. I'm more inclined to believe it now.

By the way, Gloria Salt quotes Charles Krauthammer's proposal: that, in the wake of the Gaza withdrawal (and the Palestinian promise of ever more rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel), every Palestinian rocket attack on Israel should be met by five rockets in the opposite direction. There's a certain elegant simplicity in that, and it's definitely tempting... but, as Ms. Salt points out, the Palestinian habit of launching their rockets from within schools and hospitals will make such a policy expensive. (Expensive in Palestinian noncombatants, that is... which is a coin Israel respects.)

Personally, I'd rather see something different. The Gaza Strip has essentially been given away, gratis, to the Palestinians. I'd like to see a situation where, for every Palestinian rocket attack against Israel, Israel takes ten square kilometers back, evicting anyone living there into an ever-shrinking Gaza Strip. (Remember, there's a fence along the entire border between Gaza and the Israeli Negev. So for every rocket attack, that fence should be moved, taking another bite out of Palestinian Gaza.)

The Gaza Strip is 360 square kilometers in size. After two or three rocket attacks, people would get the idea rather quickly. (Perhaps Israel could make a point of re-taking uninhabited Gaza Strip land the first time, or the first couple of times. The point would be clear: stop the rockets, because you don't know what ten-sq.-km parcel is next on Israel's list!)

But I don't think Sharon will do that either. I'd like to think that, as a general, he can come up with something better than that. I hope so.

UPDATE: Someone else who sees Sharon differently is Orson Scott Card. I find much to disagree with in his article -- for example, he portrays settlers almost exclusively as "lawbreakers", which is a classic case of inflating a few extreme examples to cover everyone. But he does make some interesting points:
It's a demonstration, then. And those pictures of weeping Israeli settlers being forced from their homes are every bit as good a propaganda tool for Israel as those poor suffering Palestinians have long been for the other side.

It wouldn't really have been half so effective if all the settlers had left peacefully. The world needed to see Israeli troops forcing the settlers to leave. They needed to show how much pain was involved. How much it cost. How serious the Israeli government was about sacrificing for peace.

That's why Sharon took the enormous political risk of alienating his own core supporters by dismantling settlements. He's playing longball here, hitting for the fence instead of bunting.
We'll see.


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