by Yehuda Poch
Arutz Sheva - January 30, 2006
Hamas' victory in last week's Palestinian elections is the next piece in what is becoming an extremely frightening puzzle. It is a puzzle that is very much the creation of Ariel Sharon, and one that threatens with increasing likelihood to play out within the term of his apparent successor, Ehud Olmert. It is a scenario that no one in Israel's leadership, and no one in the rest of the world, is even contemplating, but one that appears quite obvious to anyone willing to take a sober look at the current situation.
For the past 20 years, Palestinian leaders have been speaking of the yearning of their people for a state of their own. This supposed yearning has formed the cornerstone of the foreign policies of every world power during that time, including every successive American government since Ronald Reagan. Yet, despite the Oslo Accords, despite Israeli concessions allowing for Palestinian control first over some cities, then over others, then over huge swaths of territory, and finally over the entire Gaza Strip, neither Yasser Arafat nor any other Palestinian leader has been prepared to declare the independence their people supposedly crave.
The reason is that with independence comes responsibility, and Palestinian leaders have been more interested in oppressing their own people and blaming Israel for it than in taking on the responsibility of providing for the entire nation. No world leader, Israeli or otherwise, has been prepared to realize this, despite blindingly obvious and overwhelmingly copious evidence.
But Palestinian voters did realize this. Last week, they elected people pledged to end the corruption and to begin providing the services any society needs. The election of Hamas has sown the seeds for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence, which will come as soon as Hamas has solidified its position as the leading party in Palestinian society. As soon as the infrastructure of a responsible government is laid – education, health care, welfare, employment and a functioning economy, all courtesy of donor countries around the world – that declaration will come.
That declaration of independence will remove the final roadblock in the way of the next step: a request by Hamas for arms with which to supply a state police force and armed forces. This will be seen as a legitimate request by an independent state in one of the most dangerous and tense regions of the world. Many leaders, particularly in Europe and Southeast Asia, will forget that Hamas is the primary reason why this region is so dangerous, and that they remain an unrepentant terrorist organization sworn to annihilate another independent state.
Those arms will come. And they will be deployed throughout the Gaza Strip so recently vacated by Ariel Sharon. Sharon, the mighty Israeli general turned protective father-figure, told his nation that the withdrawal from Gaza was in Israel's best interests, and was the only choice if Israel was to maintain and enhance its security; but he managed to execute the plan without ever explaining how it would achieve these security benefits.
It now seems that we will find out the hard way. Those arms - heavy, sophisticated, offensive and deadly - will be deployed throughout every inch of the land Sharon vacated. They will be transported to Judea and Samaria as well, and aimed at every significant Israeli population center. And when all the preparations are made, they will be used.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is widely acknowledged as the weakest leader in the region, and perhaps the world. Israel's security conception, more faulty now than it was in the summer of 1973, posits that he does not have the wherewithal to attack Israel. But the truth is that Assad, more than anyone else, has nothing to lose by such an attack, and everything to gain. Like his father before him, he knows that such an attack - win or lose - will boost his popularity immensely and cement his hold on power in Syria. Once Hamas begins its onslaught, Assad will not hesitate one moment before overrunning a woefully under-protected Golan Heights.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been very strident over the past few months in calling plainly for the destruction of Israel, and even hinting that he will be the person to carry out this deed. From the tone and confidence of his statements, one can assume that he knows something no one else does; perhaps that the Iranian nuclear bomb everyone assumes will be ready in a year is actually already operational. Iran has long been financing Hamas, and has been supporting Syrian-provided training facilities and organizational support for basically every terrorist organization in the world. It is not a stretch to imagine that Iran will not only join the feast as Israel is slaughtered, but will make its non-conventional weapons available should Israel show any signs of actually winning this war.
And lest anyone think that this is just some doomsday preacher making inane predictions, one need only look at the speech made at last week's Herzliya Conference by IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to know what is at stake. In his summary of the major potentialities that stand before Israeli strategic planners in 2006, he said, "I don't see how the Hamas will win and the Fatah will allow them to take the regime." This, three short days before Hamas won and Fatah basically disappeared from the Palestinian political scene.
Halutz then continued: "The only threat that can occur is the Iranian threat. There is no possibility for an Arab coalition against Israel, and there is no country in the region that can defeat Israel."
If that isn't enough, Israel's defense minister, Sha'ul Mofaz, voiced his opinion in the regular cabinet meeting the following week (January 29) that Hamas would soon begin reining in terrorism. Let us remember for a moment that the supposedly moderate Fatah group was not prepared to do this. Why does Mofaz think an unrepentant extremist organization like Hamas would do any better?
These two men are meant to be leading Israel's defense establishment and ensuring its preparedness for any scenario. Instead, they are leading Israel in the creation of a new "conception" (conceptzia) that will likely prove more lethal than the false sense of security into which Israel's leaders lulled the country in the summer of 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.
And while all this has been happening, Ehud Olmert, the man who would have us all believe he is the best choice to be our next prime minister, hasn't said a word in close to a week about any of this. For a man with aspirations to be Israel's leader - particularly one facing the toughest situation ever faced by any leader in Israel's history - Olmert is proving to be even more inept in his role than Halutz and Mofaz are in theirs.
The combination of completely inept military leaders and politicians - whose idea of leadership is to initiate moves such as the withdrawal from Gaza, which are supposedly meant to enhance Israel's security, but instead result in greater threats - has left Israelis with a very low sense of morale. Many IDF soldiers no longer know what they are fighting for or why. And Israeli voters seemingly don't care who wins the election that is but two short months away. Practically no one, including most of the politicians, has noticed that there is even a campaign going on.
The scenario described here will lead to a more severe existential crisis than any faced before in Israel's history, larger even than the crisis faced during the Yom Kippur War. Israel is completely unprepared for this type of scenario, due to the complete - and even willful - incompetence of our political and military leaders.
The first fallout in Israel from the Hamas victory was a widespread call for an inquiry into the failure of Israel's intelligence organizations, particularly military intelligence, to predict the win. While Israel's military and political leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, Israel's citizens would be well-advised to begin preparing for the result - an increasingly likely all-out war launched by Hamas and joined by Syria and Iran. Neither time nor our own leadership are on our side.
Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduction in electronic or print format by permission of the author only.