INTO THE FRAY: Sept. 17: Will the Right snatch defeat from the jaws of victory…again?

By MARTIN SHERMAN

The continued existence of the Left as a viable force in Israeli politics, despite the manifest failure of its political credo, is the gravest indictment of the Israeli Right.

For by… faith more firm in their unhallowed principles, the bad have fairly earned a victory over the weak, the vacillating, inconsistent good. – William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850).

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the upcoming September 17 elections is the fact that they are taking place at all—after the “ Right” managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of almost certain victory . But no less astounding is the fact that the “Left” actually has plausible chance of winning them!

(Of course, in the Israeli political context, the Left- Right rift is not along the usual welfare state vs free market divide in the socio-economic sphere; but more along the dove-hawk split on security and foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—with the former advocating Palestinian statehood and far-reaching territorial concessions by Israel, and the latter opposing them.)

Lack of intellectual depth and daring

Indeed, there can be no greater indictment of the political incompetence and impotence of the “Right” than fact that the Left still remains a viable force in Israeli politics. After all, not only has their entire political credo been proven, beyond shadow of reasonable doubt, to be a disastrous blunder that has wrought death and devastation on Jew and Arab alike, but the Right has been totally vindicated in warning of the calamitous consequences that the “Left’s” patently ill-founded folly would precipitate.

 

Perhaps more than anything, its failure to vanquish the “Left” reflects the lack of intellectual depth of the Right—and even more so, a lack of intellectual daring.

 

It is true that Israel has progressed and developed almost beyond recognition under Likud-led coalitions, which had held power the for first two decades of this century—except for the five years of the brief Ehud Barak incumbency and the slightly longer one of Ehud Olmert. In terms of its physical parameters, its architecture, its infrastructure, in terms of its economic stature, its cultural achievements, its diplomatic relations and its military prowess, it is almost unrecognizable from what it was in the last decade of the preceding century.

 

Yet despite all of this, the “Right” has not been able to inflict strategic defeat on its failed political rivals on the “Left”. In this regard, it is important to note that the point is not merely to defeat the “Left” at the polls but to remove any thought of implementation of its perilous prescription from the political discourse.

Inexplicable ideological capitulation

 

Indeed, in the wake of Oslo and up until recent years, the “Right” focused its energies (rightly) in condemning the dangerous defects of the concessionary policy of political appeasement and territorial withdrawal that the “Left” had embarked upon—without ever offering an actionable prescription of its own.

 

As a result, it found itself unable to respond effectively to the pointed and pertinent question from its adversaries on the “Left”: “So what’s your alternative?”

 

With no comprehensive, countervailing policy paradigm to promote or defend, the “Right” found itself gradually forced to give way under the weight of this irksome question, and to adopt increasing portions of the failed formula it had once rejected.

 

This process culminated in 2009 at Bar Ilan University, when Palestinian statehood was officially—albeit under duress—embraced.

 

Having crossed the ideological Rubicon into the “Land of the Left,” the “Right” found itself in what, for it, was largely uncharted territory.

 

This ideological capitulation by the “Right” is totally inexplicable—for it came about after all its censure of the “Left’s” wildly reckless doctrine had proven totally justified.

 

After all, by 2009, the jury was no longer out—or at least, should not have been. None of the promises of sweeping benefits, pledged by the architects of the land-for-peace initiative, launched by the “Left” over a decade and a half previously, had been fulfilled; while all the perils, warned of by its opponents on the “Right”, had indeed materialized.

 

Lebanonization or Balkanization?

 

Unwilling, or unable, to base its own strategic paradigm on an independent analysis of Israel’s strategic imperatives and deriving a consequent comprehensive policy prescription from that analysis, the “Right” took the “Left’s”  paradigm as a conceptual point of departure and attempted to formulate its alternative as a negation thereof.

 

The result was an unfortunate and unconvincing batch of proposals that were easily exposed to be either a formula for:
(a) The Lebanonization of Israeli society (by annexation of all of Judea-Samaria, together with is Arab residents remaining part of Israeli society); or
(b) The Balkanization of Judea-Samaria (by partial annexation—with the overwhelming bulk of the Arab population left encapsulated in disconnected, quasi-autonomous enclaves, whose orderly administration would be all but impossible).

 

Indeed, any dispassionate assessment of Israel’s minimal strategic needs will reveal that, to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people, it must adequately address at least two imperatives—the geographic imperative and the demographic imperative.

This is almost a self-evident truism since if it does not, it will either be untenable geographically, or demographically—or both.

The former precludes any withdrawals west of the Jordan River, significant enough to facilitate a self-governing Palestinian entity; while the latter precludes the inclusion of a large, recalcitrant Arab minority within the permanent population of Israel—whether fully enfranchised or not.

For more details of the perils of full and partial annexation—see here and here respectively.

Dangerous & detrimental symmetry

 

Clearly then, the geographic imperative rules out the “Left”-wing prescription for a Palestinian state; while the demographic imperative rules out the alternatives usually proffered by the “Right”—for full or partial annexation of Judea-Samaria together with the Arab population resident therein.

 

Thus, while the “Left” is prepared to imperil Israel geographically to preserve it demographically; the Right is prepared to imperil it demographically to preserve it geographically.

 

It has been the Right’s inability to eliminate this perceived vulnerability to the charge of promoting a policy that exposes Israel to no less a peril than the concessionary policy of the “Left”, which has breathed life into what should have been, by any rationale criterion, the long lifeless shell of its political adversaries.

 

For, unless it breaks away from unlikely proposals that entail “domesticating” an addition to Israel’s permanent population of around two million hostile and recalcitrant non-Jewish inhabitants, drenched with decades of incandescent Judeocidal hatred, the Right will not be able to dispel claims of a detrimental symmetry between the dangers entailed in its policy prescriptions and those of the “Left’s”.

For that, it is not enough to point out the flaws, however fatal, of the “Left”.  It must present the public with a plausible and persuasive alternative that does not merely replace a geographic peril with a demographic one.

 

Until it does that, the “Left”, in defiance of all rationality and reality, will remain a viable political force, with a tangible chance of retaking the reins of power. That is the gravest indictment of the political “Right” in Israel.

 

Epilogue

 

Of course, one need not be endowed with exceptional powers of deductive analysis to reach the inescapable conclusion that the only non-kinetic policy that can effectively address Israel’s twin imperatives of geography and demography—in order for it to survive as the nation-state of the Jewish people—is that of a large-scale initiative for incentivized emigration of the non-belligerent Palestinian population to third party countries.

Happily, the necessity of such a policy seems to dawning on increasing sectors of the political “Right” in Israel—see here, here, here, and here – although, regrettably, it is doubtful whether its promotion will play a significant part in the upcoming elections.

(Just how the Right should go about advancing this crucially important policy—and the public discourse on it—in an upcoming column.)

 

Sadly, until September 17, there is little to do in this regard but to wait and see whether, once again, the “Right” will snatch defeat from what should be, without a shadow of doubt, the jaws of certain victory.

 

Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

 

 

 

September 6, 2019 | 5 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. Dr. Sherman, I am well aware that you have had much to say about the public relations-public diplomacy issue in the past, and very wise and relavant comments on this topic. But in your recent posts over the past year or two, you have devoted very little attention to it, instead concentrating almost exclusively on the incentivized immigration scheme and military strategy issues. I wish you would return to the Public diplomacy-public relations-counter-propaganda issue over the coming (Jewish) year and make it your main theme.

    Neither the incentivized emigration plan or the tougher military measures that you and many other strategic experts support stand much of a chance of being adopted until Israel’s “narrative” begins to get a hearing from the “international community,” especially the great powers. Rightly or wrongly, the Israeli government and all of the major Israeli political parties are terrified of international condemnation.

    It is therefore a very urgent priority not only to persuade or pressure the government to finally invest in public relations and information, but to begin work on designing an effective public relations strategy, including different appeals to different audiences. As a student of English political writing (the subject of my doctoral dissertation) I am convinved that how something is said, and when it is said, is just as important for winning people over as the substance of what one says.

  2. Adam Dalgliesh
    You write:

    Israel has neglected public relations and has failed to seriously address the Palestinian narrative for seventy years, even an enlightened government that understands the importance of public relations (which is not the case at present) will have to mount a sustained public relations-counterpropaganda campaign for many years to discredit the Palestinian narrative in most non-Muslim, and even perhaps a few Muslim, nations.

    See:

    IF I WERE PRIME MINISTER…
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Into-The-Fray-If-I-were-prime-minister-330300
    The first order of business would be to devise and deploy a political “Iron Dome” to protect Israel from the incoming barrages of delegitimization and demonization…

    MY BILLION-DOLLAR BUDGET: IF I WERE PM (CONT.)
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Into-The-Fray-My-billion-dollar-budget-330947
    Perhaps the most important lesson the pro-Zionist advocates of today should learn from the Palestinians is this: “If you will it, it is no fantasy.”

    DERELICTION OF DUTY
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Into-The-Fray-Dereliction-of-duty-329723
    Continued impotence and incompetence in the (mis)conduct of Israel’s public diplomacy is becoming not only strategic threat to the country but is beginning to imperil Jewish communities abroad.

    INTELLECTUAL WARRIORS, NOT SLICKER DIPLOMATS
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Into-the-Fray-Intellectual-warriors-not-slicker-diplomats
    Israel’s greatest strategic challenge, its gravest strategic failure, its grimmest strategic danger is the (mis)conduct of its public diplomacy.

  3. @ dr martin sherman:Good question, Dr. Sherman. Because Israel has neglected public relations and has failed to seriously address the Palestinian narrative for seventy years, even an enlightened government that understands the importance of public relations (which is not the case at present) will have to moun ta sustained public relations-counterpropaganda campaign for many years to discredit the Palestinian narrative in most non-Muslim, and even perhaps a few Muslim, nations. When and if that is accomplished, it is highly probable that your program could be put into effect. But of course, some progress in the direction of achieving your goal, and above all protecting Israel from armed attacks (the two goals are of course closely related) should be made immediately. In order to achieve this large-scale. changes in both government policies and personnel (of course these two are also closely related) will be necessary. How can this be achieved? I admit I don’t know. I do have a suggestion:Yet another new political party should be formed, this one devoted solely to the goals that either your I I have proposed: A drastically improved and well-financed public relations effort, much stronger actions, including military operations, against the terrorist regimes and organizations in Gaza and Judea-Samaria; an end to Israeli and Israeli-supported “humanitarian” aid to these regimes, at least to the extent of prohibiting any financial aid being used to pay the salaries of Hamas and Fatah officials; judicial and legal reform to prevent the judiciary and government lawyers from any further interference with military operations. And of course financial and transportation assistance to Palestinian Arabs wishing to escape the fighting and realize their dream of a better life abroad (I think it would be best to phrase this program in these terms, to minimize the inevitable accusations of “ethnic cleansing).

    I also think it might help if you formed this party and announced its formation. I beliieve that you have sufficient prestige and name-recognition, especially in security circles, to attract other prestigious personalities to join such a party. I reaize that you had bad luck the last time you sought to enter the political arena. But there is no law that prohibits you from trying again. Perhaps such an effort would prove more timely now).

  4. Adam Dalgliesh

    You write:

    I wish that Dr. Sherman would get past constantly reiterating a “strategic vision” that the Israeli establishment clearly regards as unfeasible given the almost universal foreign hostility to, and prejudice against, Israel, and instead develop a strategy for overcoming this foreign bias. That in turn would involve changing the “international community’s” embrace of the “Palestinian narrative” of the conflict, and persuading significant segments of it of the validity of the Israeli “narrative.”

    And once the Palestinian narrative has been disproved –i.e. their claim to authentic national status and statehood has been discredited — what policy would you suggest to deal with them?

  5. As I have pointed out in numerous previous comments, the “Right’s” acquiescence in the “Left’s ” policies has nothing to do with a lack of an alternative strategic vision. Rather it is generated by a fear of “BDS” (Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment) that Israel’s leaders fear would be the result of its implementation of Dr. Sherman’s “strategic vision.” The “Right” would love to implement it if it thought Israel could “get away” with it” without foreign great-power intervention.

    I wish that Dr. Sherman would get past constantly reiterating a “strategic vision” that the Israeli establishment clearly regards as unfeasible given the almost universal foreign hostility to, and prejudice against, Israel, and instead develop a strategy for overcoming this foreign bias. That in turn would involve changing the “international community’s” embrace of the “Palestinian narrative” of the conflict, and persuading significant segments of it of the validity of the Israeli “narrative.”

    Dr. Sherman has rightly embraced, in the past, the need for Israel to embark on a well-financed “public diplomacy” campaign. However, he and others on the Israeli right should also work on developing the contents of such a campaign, a “narrative” that would be marketable to foreign countries whom the Arab-Muslim bloc has succeeded in brainwashing the West, Russia, China, and even India into believing.