Israel's Oslo-inflicted vulnerabilities can be summed up in three words: loss of control. One needn't be a student of Clausewitz or Sun-Tzu to recognize that, militarily, Israel is now in a position in which its enemies define the nature and order of battle. Operating brilliantly with a two-pronged strategy of attrition and annihilation, Islamic leadership cadres in Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, Teheran and, of course, Gaza, have now drawn Israel into a pointless pattern of defense. Under these abysmal conditions, Jerusalem's only option is to speak loudly and carry no sticks.
Since Oslo, the IDF has been reduced to a pathetic caricature of its former self. Reconfigured to deal with expanding terrorism generated by Israel's "partner in peace," it is an attrited armed force that is confused, demoralized and badly led. Once a proud and capable army, it is now approaching the point where it will be ineffectual on both essential fronts, counterterrorism and warfighting. Burdened by the unbearable foolishness of a political leadership that stubbornly presumes cooperation with those who are sworn to destroy Israel, the caricatural IDF must now wait patiently for its own government-engineered defeat.
What has gone wrong? How has Israel lost all control, of its safety, of its destiny, of its survival? At one level, the answer is obvious. Israel's leaders, political and military, lack the sheer intellectual talent that is required. Captivated by cliches (because they do not read) and by a slobbering retinue of academic whores who have never had a serious thought, the post-Oslo prime ministers and their generals can only react, viscerally, irrationally, suicidally. Perversely, Israel is now a nation in which those courageous Jews who peacefully protested the death bargain of Oslo have been found guilty of sedition, while those fawning apparatchiks and Court Jews who brought disaster to Israel buy airline tickets to Los Angeles.
Could anyone have ever imagined so intolerable a state of affairs? Could the Arabs ever have imagined an Israel so willing, so utterly willing, to collaborate in its own liquidation? Could they have ever imagined a Jewish nation so stooped-over and self-loathing that it would scrape its own flesh and blood from terrorist-marred sidewalks without nary a hint of retaliation?
Why have so many been reluctant to say the obvious: that the emperor is naked, stark naked? When a retired Major-General of the army of Israel announced, several years back, at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, that Israel would benefit from Arafat's planned recruitment of Palestinian "security forces" in Gaza (because these Arabs would have he said, intifadah experience, i.e., experience in killing Jews) there was no public outcry. The Jews of Tel-Aviv, for the most part, were not worried. By sacrificing their Jewish brothers in Hebron, they reasoned, they would be able to continue to munch pastries on the happy, oh-so-happy beachfront.
Where were the professors, the academic strategists who so dilligently drew moneys from any American funding source they could manipulate? They were not silent. No, on the contrary, they spoke authoritatively, unconcernedly, with conviction, about the virtues of "security regimes," "confidence building measures," a "New Middle East," "peace." At Jaffee and BESA (a center linking the name of an Israeli prime minister with an Egyptian admirer of Hitler) the professors said whatever they thought had to be said in order to stay in good graces with the sugar daddys, with the apparathchiks, with the ministers and with the generals who were barely able to walk and think at the same time. At Jaffee they actually helped to draw up the Oslo agreements that dismembered hundreds of their fellow Israelis as well as the very Land of Israel. And why not? They were rewarded handsomely for designing the Arab Trojan Horse.
The Arabs are now in complete control of the Jewish State. Israel can only respond. The Jewish State, created as a last refuge for the endangered Jewish People, has become the most dangerous place on Earth for Jews. It is an irony so far-reaching, so overwhelming, that merely to acknowledge it is to fall into despair.
But despair is of no use. Israel was recreated in 1948 with the idea that even if the Third Temple Commonwealth would face destruction, Israelis would die on their feet, standing up. Today this idea has been discarded, replaced by the Oslo-inflicted notion that only weak and groveling Jews will be left in "peace." But Israel's Jews, like their State, is only left in pieces. For Jews it should have been a very familiar and time-dishonored notion.
Looking at the endlessly familiar sight of severed Jewish limbs in markets, buses and shopping malls, one wonders what has happened to a once-proud nation. It is one thing to suffer the wrath of murderers when there is no other choice, when one is imprisoned in a ghetto or in a death camp, but it is another to suffer such persistent anguish when there is still an opportunity to fight back. It is altogether conceivable that Israel may now have to suffer more terrorism and major war, perhaps even unconventional war, but the Jewish State can at least choose to use power for Jewish justice (a choice unavailable to earlier generations of Jews) and if necessary to die, with some measure of dignity.
LOUIS RENE BERES is a Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science, Purdue University was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security affairs.