Last week at a press conference, Joseph Alpher, director of the Jaffee Center For Strategic Studies, announced the publication of their new edition of "The Military Balance 1992-1993." The Jaffee Center is a part of Tel Aviv University and is highly respected in Labor and Meretz Party circles. The first "Military Balance" I read was the 1984 edition and I have kept up with the later editions.
I first met Alpher at an AIPAC meeting about two years ago, later learning that he was rumored to be a former Mossad agent. That meeting was quite stormy as I disputed most of his analyses of Middle East politics, especially his statement that Syrian dictator Hafez Asad was ready for peace with Israel. Alpher rejected a proposal of mine to do a "Pro/Con" type commentary format in the Jewish Herald-Voice (Houston) and other papers. Although he turned me down, my meeting with him had positive results. It became clear to me that Alpher had access to massive amounts of information, yet could not prevent the politicization of his analysis and conclusions. I founded the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies primarily to provide the American Jewish Community with an alternative source of strategic information, free of political bias.
The new "Millitary Balance 1992-1993" continues this process of politicization. While I have not yet received it from Israel, the press releases alone are enough for great worry. This is the first time in more than a decade that the government of Israel has been in sync (politically) with the Jaffee Center. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will no doubt use its findings to justify his drive for territorial retreat.
Following is a comparison between the Jaffee analysis of the Middle East and that of the Freeman Center:
Jaffee Center: Israel should open negotiations with the PLO.
Freeman Center: No to negotiations with the PLO. No to the concept that the PLO is moderate. The PLO seeks to destroy Israel in two stages. First, cause Israel to withdraw from its secure borders. Second, to use the new Palestinian foothold to complete the destruction of the Jewish State.
Jaffee: Israel should withdraw from the security zone in Lebanon because it is not big enough to stop Katyusha attacks anyway and its purpose was to stop infiltration. The security zone encourages attacks in the first place since it represents a foreign power on Lebanese soil. Syria and Lebanon can control the border area.
Freeman: The security zone was designed to contain the minimum of Lebanese territory for the maximum benefit in both the battles against infiltration and rocket attacks. With a range of 12 miles the Katyusha could reach only one major Israeli population center, Kiryat Shmona. Just before the new round of fighting in the Northern Israel, large Iranian cargo planes were observed off-loading at Damascus airport new high tech weapons for the Hezbollah. The weapons were put on Syrian military trucks and shipped to the Beeka valley in Lebanon and distributed to the Islamic fundamentalists (Party of God and Hezbollah). Included in the weapons were the Sagger anti-tank missiles which took the lives of several Israeli soldiers and a new improved Katyusha capable of reaching targets 16 miles away with increased accuracy.
Eliminating the security zone would place virtually the whole Galilee within range of the new Katyusha including such cities at Acre and Nahariya. Rabin had three choices in the current fighting: 1. Enlarge the security zone to cope with the new range of the new Katyusha or 2. Pummel Southern Lebanon into submission with massive artillery barrages 3. A search and destroy land operation. He chose the second option because the political consequences of occupying additional Lebanese territory far outweighed the benefits and a land operation would be too costly in Israeli lives. The Jaffee Center calls Rabin's shelling of southern Lebanon "excessive." The Freeman Center has always called for exacting the maximum penalty for the taking of Jewish lives. The Arabs must learn that there is a the high price for the shedding of Jewish blood.
As for the Jaffee view that withdrawal from the security zone would take away the motive for Hezbollah attacks, the answer is simple. Why is there security zone in the first place? Have the professionals at Jaffee forgotten what life was like in Northen Israel before the security zone? Can Syria and Lebanon keep peace on the Lebanese border? Of course they can. Don't forget that it was the supply of arms through Syria that started the current fighting. The Syrians get no credit in my book for temporarily stopping actions that cost Jewish lives. When it serves their purpose, the killing will begin again.
Jaffee: It is clear that a real advance in the peace process cannot be obtained without massive American involvement.
Freeman: While we appreciate the American interest in peace in the Middle East, we recognize two indisputable facts: 1. American geopolitical and economic interests and those of Israel are not identical though they converge in many areas 2. The traditional hostility to Israeli interests in the United States State Department remains a barrier to fair mediation between the Arabs and the Israelis by the US. At the Freeman Center we go beyond these factors and demand that any agreements be arrived at directly and independent of pressure from any party, including America. There is no nation in the world which would allow another to determine great issues of security and survival.
The very suggestion by the Jaffee Center of such American intervention, belies an emasculated concept of Israeli sovereignty. One is reminded of the "court Jews" of medieval Europe groveling at the feet of their royal benefactors seeking protection for their helpless Jewish kinsman. When Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, dreamed of the future Jewish State, it was a dream of proud Jews on an equal footing with all the nations of the world. When Jabotinzky founded the first modern Jewish army, which latter became the Haganah, he did not anticipate that the future Jewish State would take orders from any nation. The nearly 20,000 Israelis who gave their lives defending the independence and security of their country would cry out from the grave if they knew of plans to turn Israel into a "banana republic" subservient to America. That sad result is inevitable if Israel accepts American intervention and security guarantees.
Jaffee: There is a limited amount of time to achieve peace, the so called "window of opportunity," and we should therefore move to the final arrangements and skip the interim agreement with the Palestinians.
Freeman: We conclude that there is no "window of opportunity" and that the concept enunciated by former President George Bush is a hoax similar to his "new World order." There is a "window" but it is not for peace. Former Secretary of State James Baker promised his Arab allies in the Persian Gulf War that if they helped him against Iraq, HE (Baker) would help them force Israel to retreat to its 1967 borders. The so called "peace process" is an outgrowth of that promise by Baker. Peace was not a part of the promise -- but a forced amputation of Israel's secure borders was to be labelled "peace." With regard to the negotiations with the Palestinians, the interim agreement is of extreme importance and can not be "skipped." The very purpose of the interim time period is to test the good intentions of the Arabs. The very NATURE of the final arrangement depends on the EXPERIENCE of the interim arrangement
Jaffee: Peace with the Arabs is possible now and if we don't make peace soon the Arabs will have nuclear weapons soon.
Freeman: Peace is possible with the Arabs, but only after mind-boggling changes in the Arab world. True peace can only be made after the Arab world undergoes democratization. Simply put, democracies rarely go to war with one another. All our major wars of the last two hundred years have been between dictators or between democracies defending themselves from dictators. When a ruler is elected by the people, he has a natural restraint preventing him from sending their sons and daughters into combat in an aggressive war. No such restraint exists anywhere in the Arab world.
The second major change required of the Arab/Moslem world is to create secular states not subservient to the rule of Islam. The problem for Israel with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism is the very hostile attitude that Islam has toward Jews and any non-Islamic person. Islam is all encompassing and guides
behavior, law, religion and attitudes and relations with non-Moslems. Islam perceives the world as two separate parts:
1. The first is Dar el-Islam or the World of Islam
2. All the rest is Dar el-Harb or the world of the sword or the world of war -- that is those non-Muslim nations that have yet to be conquered.
The concept of JIHAD or Holy War has been understood by most of us but there is another concept in the Koran with which few of us are familiar. But it is essential to understand this concept when relating to Moslems. That is the law of HUDAIBIYA which dates back to Muhammad and states clearly that "Muslims are permitted to lie and break agreements with non-Muslims." This applies to business, personal life and politics. Would a peace treaty be worth much if the other party is Moslem?
Islam divides the world between Believers and Infidels. Jews and Christians are relegated to the status of Dhimmis or second class citizens. The Koran clearly calls on Moslems to degrade and humiliate both groups. The Arab/Moslem world will have to develop a tradition of respect for women, minorities, and human rights in general before they will be ready for peace with Israel. It seems a bit odd that our State Department is pushing democracy and human rights from one end of the globe to the other -- WITH THE REMARKABLE EXCEPTION OF THE MIDDLE EAST. Why are the Arabs insulated from pressure to democratize their societies?
It is obvious that no peace agreement would be worth anything with people believing in the above Islamic tenets, failing to practice democracy or show respect for minorities and human rights. It is also obvious that the Jaffee Center has a political agenda and uses its enormous resources and prestige to prove the validity of its political agenda. It would be far better if its research staff would examine the facts and then derive conclusions from those facts rather that vice versa.
[This article was published on August 16, 1993 in the Jewish Herald-Voice, in Houston.]