I would have missed this entirely if Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, hadn’t brought it to my attention. It spells out good news for Israel and reveals an important lesson for Americans:
The mantra “there is no military solution to terrorism” is so rarely challenged these days that it was shocking to see the following commentary last Wednesday on the front page of Haaretz, a leading bastion of the “no military solution” theory.
“It’s common to claim it is impossible to defeat terrorism,” the analysis stated. But in the seven years since the intifada began, “the IDF and Shin Bet have come as close as possible to achieving victory. Since the beginning of the year, two soldiers (one each in the West Bank and Gaza) and six civilians (three in a suicide bombing in Eilat, two from Kassam rockets in Sderot and one who was stabbed to death in Gush Etzion) have been killed by terrorism. This is a very small number, considering the number of attempted attacks, and also compared to the high point of the intifada, when 450 Israelis were killed in 2002. The last suicide bombing in central Israel occurred 18 months ago, in April 2006.
“The formula that produced this achievement is known,” it continued: aggressive intelligence gathering, the security fence and “the IDF’s complete freedom of action in West Bank cities.”
If this is not victory, it is a close enough approximation that most Israelis would happily settle for it. That is why the June Peace Index poll found Jewish Israelis overwhelmingly opposed to security concessions to the Palestinian Authority, with 79 percent against arming the PA, 71 percent against removing checkpoints and 54 percent against releasing prisoners: Few Israelis want to scrap measures that have reduced Israeli fatalities from 450 to eight over the last five years.
It also helps explain the stunning reversal in Israeli attitudes toward Sderot revealed by August’s Peace Index poll. According to that poll, fully 69 percent of Jewish Israelis now support an extensive ground operation in Gaza to stop the Kassam fire at southern Israel – whereas last December, 57 percent opposed such an operation. Moreover, this support crossed party lines: Even among people who voted for the leftist Labor and Meretz parties, 64 and 67 percent, respectively, favored a major military operation in Gaza.
That’s just the intro. The rest of the article makes the same point, tracing the history of Israel’s response to the Intifadah, which ranged from non-military and passive to the current (and successful) military and aggressive. Despite this manifest success, Evelyn Gordon, the article’s author, still has to ask why senior Israeli officers and politicians are still going around saying “the military option doesn’t work.”
I can think of a couple of reasons. The first is that the muckety-mucks are saying this as a meaningless platitude to satisfy world opinion, which is untroubled by dead Israelis, but they still intend to go on doing what needs to be done to save Israeli lives. Alternatively, because these muckety-mucks keep rubbing shoulders with the European and American political class (including Condi Rice, who’s always weak about the Middle East), they may be suffering from the Greenhouse effective.
What, you ask, is the Greenhouse effect? It does not mean that their brains have been fried by rising global temperatures. Instead, it refers to one theory about why many Supreme Court justices, once ensconced, start turning Left: Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times‘ Supreme Court correspondent. Even conservatives recognize that (at least until it started its startling decline), the Times was the paper in America, which made Greenhouse the Supreme Court reporter. If she stroked you for a good decision, you purred; if she complained, you felt wounded. Since people like strokes, even Supreme Court people, there came into being a subliminal urge to make Linda Greenhouse happy, so that she would write nice things about you, saying that you were a brilliant jurist, a humanist, and an inspired thinker.
In that light, maybe the high-ups in Israel are unconsciously craving a break from the relentless international criticism directed at Israel. By saying what the world community wants to hear, these men and women in turn get to hear what they need — “you’re so smart and correct.”