INTO THE FRAY: Israel- Lost without a map?

It is difficult to know what is more disturbing-whether some ministers actually believe in the policy proposals they promote – or whether they don’t—but promote them anyway


What I see clearly…is incredible negligence and lack of systematic, long-term planning effort on behalf of Israel’s top political brass…we are facing a deep crisis of political leadership, and a deep disbelief in our power to shape reality.  -From insightful Op-Ed, “Defeatism at Its Worst” by former Netanyahu staffer,  Anya Zhuravel-Segal July 14, 2014

It doesn’t matter what Trump thinks but what Bibi does.  – Richie036 , Talkbacker To Caroline Glick’s, “Trump Embraces The PLO Fantasy” March 13, 2017 

The US elections have come and gone. The high hopes for the widely predicted sea-change in official US policy towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict in general, and settlement construction, in particular, which they were purported to usher in seem to be fast eroding. Indeed, as far as this particular issue is concerned—in stark contrast to other issues the new administration has broached—things are regrettably beginning to look like they are reverting to pre-election “normal” – at least in terms of substance, if not in tone.

Has Israel lost the moment?

After eight years of acrimonious relations with the Obama-administration, the election of Donald Trump to the White House, and the Republicans’ sweeping win in both Congress and the Senate, seemed not only to provide welcome respite for hitherto harassed Israeli policymakers  but also to present a golden opportunity for change.  Many saw—some with elation, others with trepidation—the emergence of a true point of inflexion in the bilateral relations in general, and on the Palestinian issue in particular.

The expectation was for a dramatic reversal of what was widely perceived as an ongoing deterioration in ties between the two countries—and indeed, there was much to justify the expectations.

On the issue of Iran, which had been a bitter bone of contention with the previous administration, Trump and Netanyahu shared outspoken condemnation of the agreement   over Tehran’s nuclear program. Both harbored deep suspicions as to the true designs of its present theocratic regime.

On the Palestinian front, there also seemed to be prospects for far greater US understanding of Israeli positions. Unlike his predecessor, the new president was not bound either emotionally to the “Palestinian cause”, or ideologically to the notion of Palestinian statehood.

His immediate entourage and inner circle of advisors was replete with individuals strongly supportive of Israel and even sympathetic to Israeli settlement activity.

Moreover, during his election campaign, Trump had made some stridently pro-Israeli pronouncements—even a solemn pledge to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Yet in stark contrast to some of his other controversial electoral declarations—such as imposing restrictions on Muslim entry into the US, the construction of a wall along the southern border—on which he demonstrated stout resolve and initiative, on his declarations regarding Israel there were clear indications of hesitancy, possibly even retraction.

Was Obama merely a convenient excuse?

However, not all the blame for what is beginning to look distinctly like backtracking away from previous robust pre-election positions, can be attributed to Trump. Indeed, perhaps much of it should be ascribed to Israel’s lukewarm to chilly post-election reaction to them.

Instead of enthusiastically embracing the moment to extricate itself from the constricting bonds with which they had been encoiled under the Obama-administration, Israeli leaders seemed to be caught totally by surprise, and equally unprepared to take advantage of the momentous opportunity history had afforded them.

They stuttered and stammered when it came to initiating a dramatic upsurge in building in the Jewish communities across the pre-1967 lines. They hummed and hawed over the prospect of the US moving its embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem—even to the western portion of the city.
Instead of seizing on the chance to abandon  the perilous two-state prescription, the Israeli government seemed to reaffirm its unfortunate commitment to that fatally flawed formula, as articulated in Netanyahu’s regrettable 2009 Bar Ilan speech.

But now, the onus could not be placed on an inimical White House and the relentless pressures it exerted on Israel.  This time, it seems that it was Israel who appeared reluctant to relinquish positions it hitherto claimed it had only adopted under duress.

Sadly, with the Israeli government bereft of any coherent alternative paradigm, it is beginning to look like, at least on the Palestinian issue, that Obama was, in fact, little more than a convenient excuse for Israel’s impotence and inaction.

“What if the GOP wins?” revisited

Almost four months before the (then-unexpected) Republican victory, just after the party had expunged any endorsement of the two-state formula from its platform, I urged the Israeli leadership to prepare for such an eventuality (What if the GOP wins?”).

I predicted “the recanting of support for the two-state formula by the GOP…will create a dramatically different and challenging reality” for two state skeptics/opponents.

I warned that in case of Republican victory, it will not only “be increasingly less plausible to invoke ‘irresistible international pressure’ for reluctant acceptance, under duress, of a two-state compliant policy…” 

Accordingly, I cautioned: “To the contrary, with the declining dominance of the two-state concept, its opponents will be obligated to proactively produce and present a plausible and practical Zionist-compliant alternative…or suffer the consequences of its generally accepted default option:  a multiethnic un-Jewish state-of-all-its-citizens.”

Regrettably, the Israeli leadership has been unequivocally remiss— even derelict—in addressing this crucial challenge.  There have been no high-level discussions to fashion such an alternative—certainly not at cabinet level.  Moreover, and more disturbing, there seems little likelihood of any government consensus emerging as to such an alternative.

From the puerile to the pernicious

Although it is true that there has been no official ratification –either in the government or the Likud—of Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan parameters, entailing qualified endorsement of  Palestinian statehood, it has become generally accepted that this largely reflects official Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Arab question.

Within the government itself, there are considerable misgivings in this regard–with several ministers declaring that they, personally—as opposed to officially—reject the establishment of a Palestinian state. Some have come out, with varying degrees of conviction and persuasiveness, in favor of extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria—or parts thereof—usually at some later indeterminate date, when presumably the hope is that the international community—for some unspecified reason—would become more amenable to the idea.

Several ministers have even formulated  “plans” (for want of a better word), which upon even cursory analysis are so patently implausible, that one cannot but assume that rather than being intended as serious strategic alternatives, they are aimed at domestic constituencies—and for whipping up political support by exploiting misinformed/uniformed segments of the electorate.

Typically, such proposals fall somewhere between the patently puerile and the positively pernicious. Indeed, virtually every one of these alleged “alternatives” would, if in the unlikely event of their implementation, precipitate realities no less perilous than the two-state paradigm they are designed to replace.

Poppycock not policy

At the risk of appearing uncharitable, these proposals are, arguably without exception, pure poppycock rather than practical policy prescriptions.

These include:

-Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s proposal to annex Area C alone, which would leave Israel with an array of enclaves and corridors and a contorted border about 2000 km long, virtually impossible to demarcate and secure, with no real solution for 90% of the Palestinian-Arabs in the disconnected “islets” that make up the Areas A & B and comprise 40% of the territory across the pre-1967 lines;

-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s proposal, which, in fact, endorses a two-state reality—but with borders even more tenuous and tortuous than the pre-1967  “Auschwitz” borders—and involves stripping Israeli-Arabs of their Israeli citizenship  (on the basis of their ethnic origins) and transferring sovereign territory, on which they are resident, to the administration of the envisaged Palestinian state—in exchange for Israeli sovereignty over several “settlements blocks” across the  1967 “Green Line”;.

-The “one-state” proposal, entailing extending Israeli sovereignty over the entire area of Judea-Samaria and incorporating the Palestinian-Arabs into Israel’s permanent population, with paths to future enfranchisements,  and which—even if optimistic demographic assessments are correct—will lead to the Lebanonization of Israeli society and to the country’s descent into Islamic tyranny, within a few generations;

-The “regional” solution, favored by several ministers which entails making perilous, irreversible territorial concessions in exchange for guarantees from some of the most despotic and decadent regimes on the planet, all with a highly questionable “shelf-life”, just so that they will deign to accept Israeli  assistance confronting a common foe in Iran.

-Transport Minister Yisrael Katz’ proposal to offer Hamas a seaport and airport if Hamas will promise to stop being Hamas, with no guarantee how Hamas will behave once the project—liable to take a quarter century, and inflict grave ecological damage to Israeli beaches, to the north—is completed.

Required intellectual integrity

This is a partial list of hare-brained and hazardous schemes that are being promoted by senior Israeli ministers. It is difficult to know what is more disturbing- whether they actually believe in these preposterous proposals or whether they do not but persist in promoting them anyway.  However , one thing is certain: They serve only to discredit the endeavor to displace the two-state paradigm and bring efforts to do so into disrepute.

At the heart of the flawed attempt to produce a cogent, comprehensive Zionist-compliant alternative to the two-state formula, lies the failure of Israeli leadership to muster the required intellectual integrity to follow through on the logic of their own objections to that formula.

Such intellectual integrity imposes several politically incorrect obligations:

(1) The need to define the Palestinian-Arab collective as what it really is—and indeed as it—through its leaders—defines itself: An implacable enemy.

(2) Given this definition of the Palestinian-Arab collective, in order to  endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people, Israel must address both its  geographic and demographic imperatives –which dictates retaining the strategically vital territory of Judea-Samaria, while  radically reducing the Arab presence in that territory.

(3)  Formulation of policy that takes (1) & (2) above into consideration, and creating the conditions for its practical implementation.

Defining the Palestinians as “Enemy”: The Consequences

Israel will never arrive at an effective alternative to the two-state proposal unless it refrains from avoiding designating the Palestinian-Arab collective as the enemy, confining its focus solely to the terror organizations themselves.

The Palestinian population is not some hapless victim of the terror groups but the very crucible from which they emerged.  It has by its own hand, by its deeds and declarations, made it clear that it will not—except  on some temporary, tactical basis –brook any manifestation of Jewish political independence (sovereignty)  between the River and the Sea.

The clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives—as former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon once correctly diagnosed (Nov 25, 2015).

It, therefore, cannot be individualized.

One collective must emerge victorious, the other vanquished. Only then can the issue of personal misfortune be addressed.

But defining the Palestinian-Arab collective as the enemy has clear consequences.  If Israel wishes to be taken seriously it must behave in a manner consistent with that definition.

If the Palestinians are defined as the enemy—then for that definition to be accorded any credibility—Israel must treat them as the enemy, not as temporarily recalcitrant potential peace partners.

If the Palestinians are enemies Israel must not offer them a port in Gaza as does Yisrael Katz; it must not offer them “autonomy on steroids” in a quilt-like hodge-podge of detached enclaves, connected by a dizzying array of over- and underpasses, as suggested by Naftali Bennett; it must not offer them a path to future enfranchisement and access to Israel’s generous social security system, as proposed by “one-state” proponents…

The one coherent consistent alternative

Short of large scale military action , there is, therefore, only one policy paradigm that is consistent with relating to the Palestinian-Arab collective as the enemy and that can adequately fulfil the requirements of Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives.

Accordingly, in a brutally condensed nutshell:

Israel’s must announce  that it will begin a staged denial of services to that enemy collective – water, power, tax collection, port services and so on  – and, in parallel, offer generous relocation grants to allow non-belligerent individuals to extricate themselves from the impending hardships. All remaining Palestinian-Arabs will be considered enemy aliens.

That is the only intellectual “roadmap”, the only policy blue-print, that can bring Israel to safe shores and genuinely extricate it from the threatening waves of two-statism.

 Martin Sherman (  is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (


March 24, 2017 | 13 Comments » | 60 views

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13 Comments / 13 Comments

  1. Hi, Ted. You said,

    “The expectation was for a dramatic reversal of what was widely perceived as an ongoing deterioration in ties between the two countries—and indeed, there was much to justify the expectations.”

    Things ARE better between the US and Israel under President Trump. The situation if far more complicated, than the leaders of both countries (who genuinely seem to hit it off well) coming into accord:

    1. The fact that we have only now, after two whole months, gotten our Ambassador to Israel confirmed, is testimony to the tremendous sabotage of the democratic process by the Democrats (and a few fickle Republicans). The key is to get the Republicans on line with one another, and our President is working on this.

    2. The ganging up of the MSM, the Dems and Obama time bombs in the Intelligence community are a deliberate attempt not just to thwart President Trump, but to make the US ungovernable. This means that everything takes longer; but it will get done. Ironically, this “intelligence” business may, if anything, lead to the demise not of Trump, but of Obama.

    3. Obama left our military in an absolute shambles — aircraft sitting idle without spare parts, ships stuck at dock because there’s no money to crew them, etc. Trump cannot execute a meaningful foreign policy, without backing by military muscle. Again, this takes time.

    4. Our allies have been fighting against us. The whole NATO BS is due to the fact that the Europeans (read, “Germans and friends”) are perfectly content to have the US protect THEM, at great expense; but they have no intention of protecting US. In fact, they are endangering us by their reckless handling of the migtrant crisis. They have to decide whether to help, or get out of the way; and you know that when it comes to Israel, they have little inclination to help.

    5. The European Establishment is greatly distracted with Brexit, among other problems. At the same time that they are ignoring their “refugee” stupidity and waging a war of bluster with Turkey, they are re-designing their visa policy to shut out the “Five Eyes” (US, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ). The French election could also prove disastrous for Juncker, Merkel & Co. It does not seem like “business as usual” across the pond.

    This does not seem like the time, to make far-reaching projections concerning US-Israel relations. Israel has weathered Barack Obama’ blatant hostility for eight years, and even substantially increased housing construction in Yesh during that time while avoiding war for several years. I hope we will not get confused by the intentional, well-funded campaign afoot to discredit the US and its President. The buzz will pass, and reality should start settling in over the next month or two.

    I AM anxious to see, what sort of reality that will be; and Israel, frankly, plays only a minor part in it. Will we be at war with North Korea? With China? You may have family in Israel; but I have family in China. What will Turkey do next? President Erdogan, frankly, is far less predictable than N. Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Ayatollah Khamenei. I consider him more dangerous to Israel than Iran; and he may even team up with Iran in the months ahead.

  2. I’m with Martin Sherman. If only… I agree with Michael S on his first two points, but not so sure the dems in Congress will wind down their plan to delegitimize POTUS.
    So many cats to herd in so many places.

  3. Looking honestly to the facts leads to an simple and obvious conclusion. The rest is wishful foolishness!

  4. Reports are that the Arabs next door have many thousands of rockets waiting to launch at random targets within Israel.

    Of course every so often, before their next fussilade, they let one fly. You know, just to test their latest fuel mixture and guidance systems, to make sure the weapons have been properly maintained, to probe IDF anti-missile weak points, and so forth.

    Israeli-Jews (not the army) need to be sure that they too have kilotons of powerful explosives, and the delivery systems to carry them, ready to shoot back, (at-will) and pointed in the general direction from which the Arab missiles came.

  5. Email received:

    My guess is that Trump does not have the power.

    My guess, which I thought, without actually knowing, back in 2009, was that the State Department was driving Obama.

    When Obama started, he was going to change the world, but the deep state was actually in charge and that’s why he never did anything – he was useless and willing to let them drive him. It could be they knew about his birth certificate and thats why they wanted him because they could control him.

    I don’t know what they have on Trump that would make him backflip like this, Ted,

    but it seems obvious to anyone really looking, that he is not in control.

    I replied,

    I think you are wrong about Obama. He was always pro Palestinian long before he became president.

    As for Trump, yes he also has to deal with the deep state but he has come to the realization that if he wants to count on the UK and others in Europe or on the Sunnis to fight Iran, that he has to please them too.

  6. ..
    This guy is hopelessly in-love with the Big Government idea of spending tax dollars on ads and incentives to get Arabs to leave.

    Why not try less government? Let Israeli taxpayers *keep* more of their own money.

    Who knows? Some might decide to use the extra cash for buying out the Arabs (i.e. their properties) directly.

  7. Though I totally agree on M.Sherman diagnosis of Israel conceptual weakness , the very short formula ( the declaration of palestinian as alien ennemies ) should be preceded , by a declaration of zionist paradigms:
    – The international law and treaties are on our side : we shall declare San Remo treaty as a cornerstone of our rights ; we shall make clear our claim to Judea-Samaria is enshrined , in the status of ” terra nullius ” which remains up to that very day the only reality concerning Jordan 19 years presence in YeSha.
    Then the Knesset will vote the abrogation of Oslo1 – 2 and the subsequent withdrawals.
    Then we apply the practical policy of treating the PLO and the PO as ennemies.And we offer some relocations grants ( to the few arabs who will be able to leave the PLO taking them as hostages like did the hamas with its own constituency in Gaza ).
    This historical-diplomatic drive is a tectonic shift .
    If we stick to our zionist paradigms then WE have to remove the Abbas gang from Ramallah and expel them to Syria .
    Are we ready , morally and practically to make that shift ? Except Bennett , I do not see the rest of the jewish-zionist population ready to roll up their sleeves , and perform that huge mental transformation. Bennett as education minister has a lot to deliver in terms of zionist education at schools . The Likud has morphed into a bunch of business-minded practitioners , half-corrupt , half-nebbish . The haredim are still the haredim , keeping their beggars camp , the center are petty bourgeois , shop owners windows dressers at best , the labour is a sleeping corpse , the extreme left , manure of meretz-decadent readers of Haaretz who dreams of Vienna in 1937 , as the crest of their elitist status .
    Therefore , I see the slow process , building our presence meter by meter in YeSha ,as the realistic option , unless there is some dramatic change in the neighborhood and some moral-historic-zionist improvement among our population .
    Military consequences will immediately follow : Hamas will bomb us and dormant cells of PLO murderers will hit here and there .

  8. Philippe,

    It’s all yours. Run with it.

    I’d say you have a dim view of your fellow Jew, something which unfortunately seems to be the norm. I had to look up “nebbish”, and noted that it looked like a word wives might use, in denigrating their husbands.

    Is this normal Jewish parlance? If so, the Jewish people have made amazing progress in spite of it. My experience with American blacks was otherwise: After living 23 years among white people, hearing the word “nigger” only about a dozen times, I spent an hour in a black pool hall and heard blacks calling each other “niggers” several times that often. That sort of mutual abasement, in my opinion, has not helped American blacks; but as I said, it doesn’t seem to bother Jews.

    So, go with it, Philippe. I can’t encourage you in the matter, though. Concerning Israel’s legal rights to their land, which I grant you are all correct, I can only say that the international “legal” system, since perhaps the 1960s, consists of ad hoc maxims, tailor-made to fit the tastes of the bigoted, anti-American, anti-white, anti-Jewish tyrants and their minions, who make up the United Goyim (UN). Israel can claim its legal rights from evening to evening; but the world, midnight to midnight, will ignore them.

    That’s not encouraging, I know. Where shall we look for comfort? The Bible? I read,

    Zech. 14:
    [1] Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
    [2] For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

    That’s the chapter about the coming of Messiah, the hope of Israel. Cheer up; it gets better as you read: It talks about a nuclear war that will hit the goyim right in the kisser. Is that cheery? It’s just, but not cheery. As the Bible says, “The Day of the Lord is a day of gloom”.

    The cheery part, is that after we’re killed, if we trust in God and His Messiah, He will raise us from the dead, in a new body that can never die. We shall live and reign on earth, with Messiah. But kvetchers will not be allowed; so this is bad news for many people.

    Meanwhile, I wish you the best, in reforming the Knesset.

    Shalom shalom 🙂

  9. When blacks call each other “nigger” like “He’s my nigger” it’s not a form of debasement at all. It’s actually better thought of as a form of comradeship. I do believe there is a cultural difference in that Jews are far more self-critical, as we know, to a fault. Unfortunately (and this could have been different if Obama had been a different kind of black president) the black community is probably not self-critical enough. I don’t think your comparison is valid since, if anything, in terms of introspection, Jews and Blacks are on opposite sides of the spectrum. All this is just my observations. Shabbat Shalom

  10. Bibi spends 24 hours, 7 days a week thinking only about his next move to stay in power.

    He HAS no time or energy to plan for ISRAEL’S SURVIVAL.

  11. Nebbish : timid , meek , ineffectual ; that’s the Webster definition.And I apply to the actual ” likudniks ” who are mainly meek , ineffectual . Martin Sherman described in his article , Israel Katz,( likud minister ) offer of a seaport and airport to hamas as an ineffectual proposition . So I feel right to call him ” nebbish ” . By the way , nebbish is a soft expression . For the rest either you agree with M.Sherman or not , is unclear .

  12. @ Philippe:
    Hi, Philippe

    So, how are you doing with the MKs? Any progress? Please pardon my probes into the Jewish psyche. When I see the way Jews have behaved through history — being chosen by God, then complaining about it, then becoming a strong kingdom, then ignoring God, then being conquered, then rebelling, then getting a reprieve from God, then falling away, then getting conquered, then rebelling and winning, then fighting amongst themselves, throwing citrons at the High Priest, crucifying each other by the thousands, becoming holier than thou, rejecting the {believed by many to be) Messiah, rebelling, defeating powerful Roman legions, fighting amongst themselves — in three factions — while the Romans look on in amazement, yada yada…

    …then, for some 2000 years, becoming the poster child of “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…

    …when I see these things, I look on in astonishment. These are God’s chosen? I believe it, though many Jews do not; and every time I think of it, I think,

    1. God has a treamendous sense of humor (but sometimes, the “jokes” get extremely nasty and bloody),

    2. God is E X T R E M E L Y patient, and

    3. There’s hope for me, there’s hope for [ ], there’s hope for everyone!

    Then I thank God, and wonder at it all.

    You do realize, of course, that Israel and the US are joined at the hip. Anyone who hates the US hates Israel, and anyone who hates Israel hates the US. Oh, there are many who love our MONEY and our Macdonalds hamburgers and our trashy Hollywood films; but the ones who actually love America, its history, and the character of its people, loves Israel; and visa versa. Israel’s the Little Satan, and we’re the Big Satan, no matter what either of us does.

    Someone once noticed, that the olim who complain the most about Israel and its absorption programs, are the ones who plan to stay for good. The ones who plan to leave, tend to have glowing reports of everything. I guess that’s why I sometimes seem to annoy Jews (when I’m not annoying everyone else): I’m stuck with you. Until the last days, when America foolishly tries to be like the rest of the world and attacks Israel, we’re wrapped together with shrink wrap.

    So, Jews are who they are; and yet, Israel functions — better, I notice, than any other country in the region. Is this proof of miracles, or what? Christians reckon that the greatest miracle in the Bible is in Acts:

    Acts 2:
    [1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
    [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
    [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

    The miracle wasn’t the mighty wind, nor the tongues of fire: It was the fact that all those Jews were “with one accord in one place”.

    I don’t think Ted, nor anyone here, needs fear whether the US will stick with Israel. Bozo Obama had a great hissy fit before leaving office, abstaining at a critical UNSC vote. May all God’s enemies end up as that man will!

    In not too many years’ time, that same UNSC will vote for sanctions, then for a military attack against Israel. This will be Zechariah 14:1; and then the US will take its place in the ranks of “All Goyim” (the UN), and join (nay, probably lead) the attack. We’ve been practicing for that day: Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya… whether with the “Coalition of the Willing”, or with the whole UNSC company, we will “intervene, to save the world, the innocents, the region, some other flowery piece of BS”. You know it’s coming; I know it’s coming; Ted Belman knows it’s coming.

    In the meantime, get ready to pass the matzoh. Another holiday, another celebration of when the goyim tried to destroy God’s people and failed. Next year in Jerusalem, where I hope to see the US Embassy.

    Shalom shalom 🙂

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