There was a time when life seemed much clearer and simpler. The Arabs openly rejected any thought of peace with Israel or even negotiations on recognition of the State. The world was openly hostile to Israel defending itself, condemning it whenever it refused to accept a terrorist or military attack from the Arab enemy. The leaders of Israel, as divided reigiously, philosophically and politically as they were, recognized that the country, as a Jewish state, had no real friends and had to put its interests and those of its citizens first.
Since the Oslo Discord, however, things have become much murkier. Following the advice of Nicolae Ceausescus, the former communist dictator of Romania, Yassir Arafat changed his approach to attacking Israel. While continuing to call for our State's destruction in Arabic, when he spoke in English he talked of peace, negotiations, a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The world media predictably lapped it up. For decades, the Israeli government had been begging the Arabs for peace. What they never expected was an insincere response from the Arab side that would be taken seriously by the world despite how obvious it was that they were lying.
The world community then jumped on the bandwagon, seeing this as a new opportunity to cripple Israel and perhaps help to destroy the State, chas v'shalom, without being implicated in the resultant deaths and destruction of the lives of millions of Jews. Thus the one-sided calls for peace began: give the Arabs what they want. Don't expect them to hold up their side of the deal but Heaven forbid you don't give up everything they demand of you. And if you do comply with these accords despite any reciprocity from the other side, despite the other side continually violating the terms of the deal, well, we'll like you, that's what!
All this, however, did not have to lead to the disasterous situation Israel finds itself in today. In my opinion, the last real leader Israel had was Yitzchak Shamir. After the Madrid Conference in the wake of Gulf War I, Shamir developed an extremely pragmatic response to Arafat's new "talk peace in English, talk war in Arabic" strategy. He would give positive responses when asked about his enthusiasm for a comprehensive peace plan. Of course Israel was in favour of this and looked forward to negotiations. But any actual call to begin them was met with a busy signal on the phone (no e-mail back then, remember). He knew the true intentions of the Arab world, he knew that they were not offering anything other than the peace of the grave for the Jews of Israel, he knew Israel held the cards when it came to making demands, and he was prepared to wait.
So successful was his strategy that Yitzchak Rabin campaigned against him in the 1992 elections with an equally hawkish platform! It was only after he was elected that he and Shimon Peres began their betrayal of the State by deliberately working to empower the greatest Jewish enemy in the history of the 20th century after Hitler, y"sh, and Stalin, y"sh.
With the ascent of Rabin and Peres, a new philosophy took hold of the Israeli government, one which infects it until today. Having been raised with the idea that Israel wants peace, Israeli leaders, especially on the left, have decided that they must accomplish a peace treaty with the Arabs no matter what the cost to Israel. In their eyes, the State is illegitimate without the recognition of its neighbours and that recognition will only come with a peace treaty.
They have also become enamoured of the respect and recognition the world community has offered to Israel since the signing of the Oslo Discord in 1993. Previously, Israeli leaders were received around the world, with the exception of the U.S., with all the enthusiasm one greets a rotten piece of meat one finds in the back on one's fridge. Suddenly, Israeli leaders were invited to all the best cocktail parties. Menachem Begin, a"h, insisted on kosher food and avoided Saturday functions when travelling? What a fool! Pass the caviar and what time did you want to meet on Saturday afternoon? They love us! was the new Israeli attitude. They really love us!
Only those of us who were paying attention noticed that, really, they didn't. Before the ink was even dry on the Oslo Discord, Arafat was giving interviews in Arabic about how he had no intention of keepnig his side of the deal and was only interested in Israeli concessions since that would help his plan of weakening Israel for its eventual destruction. Buses started to get bombed. Israeli civilian casualties in the first 7 years after the great peace deal was signed were higher than in the 45 years preceding it. But everytime Israel wants a show of reciprocity, every time the Israeli government suspended ongoing negotiations or announced a delay in the fulfilling of one of its obligations as a response to the rising wave of terror, the world community showed its true face: surrender to the Arab demands unconditionally, or we won't like you anymore. Some friendship.
It is in this spirit that the Second Lebanon War was fought and lost and in which the current operation "Cast Lead" will be lost as well. Remember Ehud Olmert's claim to fame: he helped unilaterally surrended 'Aza to the Arab enemy, destroyed the lives of 7000 of the most patriotic citizens of the State after a sustained campaign designed to villianize them, and then when the deal went sour, he proceeded to outline his plans for further surrendering of territory in Yehuda and Shomron.
This is why the Second Lebanon War went so poorly for Israel. When Hezbollah made its presence on Israel's border intolerable, Olmert found himself with a horrible choice. He wanted to continue the process of unilateral surrender to the Arabs but the ones on the northern border were making such a plan seem so absurd. So he ran a half-hearted war, as if to say: See, if things get out of hand, we'll deal with them. Only he couldn't decisively defeat Hezbollah because that would have involved a full-scale invasion of Lebanon which would lead to disapproval from the world community.
And now, for the last 5 days we have been reading on the brave efforts of the Israeli air force and been told repeatedly about reservist call ups and tanks massing on the border of 'Aza. But now, just as Hamas seems to be reeling, we are told there is to be a 48 hour ceasefire. In theory, this makes perfect sense. The Israelis would hold fire for 48 hours while the Hamas continues to fire rockets. Then an Israeli invasion would be perfectly justify. See, they could say, we tried to tone things down and they wouldn't help. The world would approve.
Or maybe not. In the eyes of the world community, any missile fired out of 'Aza that wasn't personally launched by a senior minister in the Hamas government is out of Hamas' control. Therefore, even if missles continue to bombard Israel, as they did almost every day during the recent six month "truce", the world community will decide that since Hamas did not personally fire them, they held by the truce, hence Israel cannot strike 'Aza any further.
Consider the criticisms that have already been heard. Just as they did during the Second Lebanon War, Israel's enemies have raised the concept of "disproportionate response". Never mind that a proportionate response means that Israel would lob random missles into populated areas with the intent of killing civilians.
And then there is Olmert, again. Although he is in the position of caretaker, that has not stopped him from continuing his unilateral surrender negotiations with Syria and Fatah. Unfortunately, a re-invasion of 'Aza would work against all that. How can he talk about surrendering more territory when he's gone and reoccupied the ones he already gave away? So he cannot invade 'Aza. Half a million Israelis or more who live in rocket range of 'Aza will have to pay for his delusions of grandeur because a definitive solution to the problem would not bring "peace" to Israel.
In the end, Israel will taper its bombings off, make a couple of tank runs to the edges of 'Aza and destroy a few symbolic launch pads. Then Olmert will declare Hamas properly chastened and stand the Israeli army down, all the approval of the world community.
And the rockets will continue to fall, all in the name of "peace"