No matter how much denial is smugly stuffed down our throats by homegrown swaggering braggarts, any and every territory which Israel has ever ceded to its still-vital and still-implacable enemies became a breeding ground for festering terror and aggression against the still-vulnerable Jewish state.
It takes stupefying cerebral contortions to deny that this was unequivocally demonstrated in Lebanon (where Hezbollah mushroomed to monstrous proportions after Ehud Barak’s unilateral midnight flight of 2000), in Judea and Samaria (whose cities Israel relinquished post-Oslo), in the Gaza Strip (which in 2005 we ditched via Ariel Sharon’s disastrous disengagement) and in Sinai, whose border with Israel now looms as the most potentially explosive.
No degree of denial-neurosis can belittle this. Each Israeli retreat, without a single solitary exception, comes back to haunt us with vicious vengeance.
Reckless retreat allowed Hezbollah rockets to reach Hadera (they can probably do harm further south too). Reckless retreat allowed Jenin and its sisters to fill our streets, markets and buses with suicide bombers.
Reckless retreat allowed Gaza to rocket Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Yavne, Gedera and more. Rishon LeZion was put on notice.
Nevertheless, incomprehensively, a self-destructive denial syndrome was sanctified over and over as Israel’s nationally sanctioned policy. Withdrawing from territory has become a cyclical compulsion for Israel – nearly as old as the state itself.
We got into the routine already in 1949 at the end of our War of Independence – after seven Arab armies invaded newborn Israel with hoarsely broadcast genocidal intent. By the time their blusterous belligerence was thwarted at great cost – 6,000 Israeli dead out of a population of 600,000 – the improvised army of the tiny, terrifyingly outmanned and terrifyingly outgunned Israel ended up controlling a chunk of the Sinai Peninsula. Incredibly against the odds, infant Israel had defeated the mighty Egyptian army that moved menacingly toward Tel Aviv with the avowed goal of obliterating the upstart “Zionist entity.”
But Israel withdrew in the framework of the Armistice Agreement (whose green-tinted non-border demarcations begot the now-hallow “Green Line”). In no time, Sinai was filled to the brim with military-hardware and marauders called Fedayeen.
After seven years of bleeding, Israel reentered Sinai again in 1956. At that time, Israel also took the adjacent ever-threatening Gaza Strip that jutted along the coast in the direction of Israel’s dense population centers.
However, the fruits of 1956’s stunning victory were surrendered in 1957 at Washington’s insistence.
It was the second time Israel departed from Sinai and the first time it abandoned Gaza. After regaining dominion, Egypt’s head-honcho Gamal Abdel Nasser perpetrated gruesome purges and frightened Gazans off ever cooperating with Israelis.
Thereafter, Sinai was supposed to be overseen by UN forces, but in 1967 Nasser effortlessly booted them out to facilitate his imminent attack on Israel. That spawned the Six Day War in which he again lost Sinai and the Gaza strip.
In 1979, though, Israel and Egypt signed their peace treaty which obligated Israel to give up every inch of Sinai. Israel’s pullback was completed in 1982. Things were never quite nifty after that, despite prodigious bamboozlement by serial denial merchants.
Sinai’s Beduin were scarcely likely to toe Cairo’s line. Lawlessness and smuggling are their livelihood and their insubordination went chronically unchecked, under all Egyptian regimes. Any attempts to control them were met by violent opposition. International agreements made no impression on the tribal gangs that de facto rule Sinai.
Similarly unimpressed is Egyptian bureaucracy, the regime notwithstanding. Its super-snarled red tape effectively stymies all governmental executive decisions. Even topmost policy edicts are unrecognizably ground down as they’re subjected to arbitrary whims enforced along the way by inflated cadres of sluggish officials. Egypt being Egypt, Cairo’s commands are never dependably implemented.
Disorderly domains of this sort irresistibly beckon al-Qaeda – be it in Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea etc. Sinai fits well into this pattern. Assorted jihadist extravaganzas – from targeting tourists to blowing up gas pipelines – proliferated in the peninsula’s opportune setting. But the “Arab Spring” has opened new vistas for the forces of obdurate Islam and enhanced preexisting ones. Foreign firebrands, whose strings are pulled from Gazan control centers, are flocking in.
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood now holds sway in Egypt makes little difference. In the world of Osama bin Laden’s successor, Egyptian Ayman al- Zawahiri, even Cairo’s current headliners are categorized as infidels because he alleges they make nice to the West. It’s all a question of gradation. What to us appears inherently anti-Western, from Zawahiri’s perspective is not nearly enough.
There’s more than a little irony here. New president Mohamed Morsy’s Brotherhood credentials didn’t spare him from the onus of having to replicate the repressive crackdowns practiced by his despised predecessors. He cannot afford failure to assert authority as it’ll allow al-Qaeda and linked outfits to make mockery of him. This is doubly ironic because Morsy’s Cairo had ridiculed pinpointed Israeli warnings about havoc in Sinai.
The question now is whether Morsy’s belated muscle- flexing will suffice to push the rampaging genie back in the bottle. It’s hard to foretell, especially as Morsy isn’t focusing exclusively on Sinai’s chaos. Inter alia, he has exploited the crisis to settle scores with Egypt’s generals as well as to sack some newspaper editors.
His get-tough stance has won Morsy accolades from Washington because the superficial picture is of an elected leader wresting control from a military junta. The trouble with this latest manifestation of Obamaesque logic is that the generals are considerably more pro-Western than Morsy, despite Zawahiri‘s animus toward lesser religious zealots.
Yet again the current White House resident’s proclivities appear inherently anti-Western. Washington’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood’s hegemony is all the more perplexing, considering that Morsy hardly evinces liberality by usurping absolute powers for himself and dictating who may and who may not run a newspaper.
This has less to do with democracy as we conceive of it (and as Obama should) than with Morsy’s vindictive payback for press portrayals of him as lackluster and wishy-washy. Thus he has ordered the confiscation of all issues of Al-Dustour.
Things south of our border are out of control way beyond what’s evident and understood among the mesmerized democracies. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, mobs ran riot in Cairo’s posh hotel district sowing devastation in their wake. The aloof foreign media didn’t so much as report this. It just doesn’t get it.
This holds true for the Syrian upheavals as well. We cannot precisely predict their long-range implications, but odds are that Sinai’s prototype of Islamic mayhem will be reproduced on our northeastern doorstep. The very thought that we were urged to hand over the Golan to the Damascus despot of the day should send shivers down our spines. Bringing Syrian tanks directly to Lake Kinneret’s shores was supposed to be good for us.
Additional existential dangers were somehow supposed to alleviate the existential dangers already bedeviling us. More security, preached omniscient know-it-alls, will be achieved by critically compromising our security.
We plebeians may have exhibited benighted skepticism, but our self-assured left wing couldn’t be bothered by the commoners’ common sense.
While we can thank our lucky stars that the Assads (both father and son) proved too pig-headed to avail themselves of our misguided largess, we may also wonder why there’s no public breast-beating by withdrawal-advocates – not even a wee semi-guilty tap on the upper torso. Hezbollah and Hamas predations, the pullback-promoters lead us to believe, resulted from recurrent, unavoidable natural disasters – a force majeure, which nobody could forecast, much less prevent.
Yet the Kassams, Grads and mortar shells unleashed on civilians should have been instantly recognized as inevitable fallout from the follies of Oslo and its disengagement derivative. We were promised the reverse. Just before the Likud’s May 2004 referendum on disengagement (the one Ariel Sharon adamantly demanded, ignominiously lost and brazenly ignored), the then-premier assured his electorate that “disengagement is good for our national defense. It’ll enable us to pursue an uncompromising war against terror. It’ll give us a free hand to combat terrorists. Disengagement will improve the IDF’s ability to strike back and will confer legitimacy upon its operations.”
Do Israel’s voluble peace-pushers still recall that undertaking? Odds are they’re still in denial.
Already a century ago, Sigmund Freud focused on the denial aberration, defining it as “the rejection of what is too difficult to admit, while simultaneously insisting that the unpalatable truth is actually false,” the hell with empirical evidence. Freud dubbed this “simple denial” of what are indisputable facts.
A variation on the theme is “minimization.” Here the facts aren’t spurned outright, but are rationalized, so that only their grim ramifications are denied. The final variant is “projection,” where both facts and their consequences are acknowledged but responsibility is assiduously denied and attributed to others.
Our Left’s propaganda should make all the above painfully familiar.
Those who obsessively urge us to keep retreating will never confess to egregious error, yet they’ll blame the rest of us for not having dutifully carried out their recommendations. In the end it’s all our fault – the fault of those of us who steadfastly refused to be hoodwinked, the fault of those who warned that ostensible Israeli weakness is bound to boost fanatics, the fault of those who foresaw the debacle only to be demonized as warmongers and/or scaremongers.
But it gets worse. When all aforementioned denial options are exhausted, there’s always one final refuge left – “denial of denial.” It’s the ultimate major impediment to correcting harmful perceptions. Essentially, denial of denial bolsters confidence that nothing whatever needs be changed.
Here, of course, we enter the related realm of self deception, where al-Qaida can be blithely banished from blissful daydreams, the sort that leftist dogma peddlers strive to imperiously impose on all recidivist naysayers and obstructionist denial-resisters. Like us.