From Michael Medved:
LAND FOR TERROR?
There’s something about a ringing phone at five in the morning that’s chilling, not just startling; inevitably, that’s the kind of interruption to sleep that one associates with bad news. This morning ‘s call (July 12) came from my brother Jonathan in Jerusalem. Last time he called me early in the morning with a news bulletin it was nearly five yearss ago; on that Tuesday morning, I was already up, getting coffee, going through the newspapers at about 6.30, when he told me to put on the radio, to watch the news: something horrible was happening in New York City with planes flying into buildings. I remember during the unfolding events of 9/11 thinking of the irony: my brother in Jerusalem called with an alarming update about a terrorist attack not in Israel, but here in the USA — where we always assumed we were safe.
This morning’s call provided another shock to that illusion of safety — for Americans, for Israelis. Jonathan conveyed the horrible news that Hezbollah had attacked across the Lebanese border, killing Israeli soldiers, kidnapping two of them, and that Israel’s decisive response (including the call up of reserves) heralded the prospect of one more major Middle Eastern war. “We’re kicking the crap out of Hezbollah,” my brother reported. “From air, sea and land. But nobody knows what’s supposed to happen next.”
Indeed. The Arab fanatics may celebrate (as terrorist mobs in Lebanon danced and cheered, even in the midst of Israeli attacks) but decent people can feel only a sense of dread and helplessness. The only possible good news from the recent developments involves a new sense of clarity– that quality so cherished by our good friend, Dennis Prager. For years, going back to the bright sunshine surrounding the announcment of the Oslo Accords on the White House Lawn in 1993, Israel has committed itself to a general policy of “land for peace” — agreeing to the notion (later promoted in the “Road Map” of President Bush) that making territorial concessions to hostile Arabs would lead to greater security and less hostility. The developments of recent weeks should end any confidence in “land for peace” once and for all. Not only did the Oslo Accords, with their establishment of Palestinian control over the territory in which 90% of all Palestinians live, explode after a few years into an horrendous “Intifada” that claimed the lives of nearly a thousand Israelis, but other “disengagements” produced similarly disastrous results. For fifteen years, Israel maintained a “security zone” in Southern Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah missiles and killers from massing at the border, but in the late ’90’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak abandoned this buffer in the hopes that the Hezbollah terrorists (the same gang that murdered 243 US Marines in their Beirut barracks) would behave responsibly once the provocative presence had been removed. Yesterday, operating from within the former Israeli buffer zone, these killers invaded a sovereign state, killing and kidnapping its soldiers– after a barrage of missiles had distracted the commanders.
In the same context, ten months ago Israel evacuated every inch of the Gaza Strip– going so far as the uprooting of well-established Jewish villages to make sure that the tender sensibilities of local Palestinians need not encounter a single Jewish soul. Since that “disengagement,” more than 1,000 rocket attacks have rained down on Israeli villages and cities from Gaza— showing the Palestinian preference for rockets over rationality, suicide over statehood.
The entire concept of “Land for Peace” is the main casualty of this new war. Israeli policy makers now confront the inescapable reality that rewarding terrorism by abandoning territory only empowers terrorists… and encourages precisely the tactics that led to the withdrawl.
In place of “Land for Peace,” the Israeli political activist and columnist Yael Amishav (who happens to be married to my father) suggests a new concept of “Land for Terror.” For each terror attack across the border, Israel will seize more land — establishing a publicly declared ratio of acres-per-casualties. The seizures must be firm, decisive and immediate– and long term, if not permanent. “The Land for Terror” concept guarantees negative consequences for outrageous behavior. If Palestinian leaders refuse to rein in the terrorist mass murderers, then they will see their little empire (established by Oslo) begin to shrink, piece by piece. It’s not a pretty concept, or an easy one to enforce. But “Land for Terror” makes more logical sense than “Land for Peace.”
In any event, the Israeli government appears to have embraced this new approach — with its decisive moves into both Gaza and Lebanon. The next steps remain unclear, frightening. But one can only hope for a future morning that might bring the refreshing experience of getting an early overseas phone call that conveys good news– for a change.