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by Martin Sherman


"Yesteryear's spy masterminds, military geniuses, and political heavyweights have seemingly gone into high tech, leaving the state in the hands of corrupt, short-sighted mental midgets" -- Daniel Pipes, July 21, 2008

There is well-known quip about politicians defying the Law of Perspective that goes something like this: The closer you get to them — the smaller they look. Sadly nowhere has the wry truth in this barbed witticism been more apparent than in Israel over the last two decades. For the leadership of Israel has clearly been afflicted with what can only be termed "terminal stupidity," which is bringing this nation to its knees — if not to its demise.

This is the only explanation — other than purposeful perfidy — that can account for the preposterous and perilous policies that it has adopted in the past, for those it is adopting in the present, and for those that it overtly considers adopting in the future.

It is difficult to deny the entire concept that Israel chose to embrace since the early 1990s is in ruins. One after the other, the tenets on which it was based have cracked, crumbled and collapsed. What makes this failure all the more alarming is the fact that — in virtually all its aspects and all its stages — it was not only entirely predictable but indeed...predicted. For every-one of the security mishaps that have befallen the country since the start of the Oslowian misadventure, were foreseen and foretold -and the leadership forewarned that their advent was imminent if not inevitable. But such sober voices were drowned out by a cacophony of politically-correct drivel and thrust scornfully aside by sycophantic pseudo-sophisticates who dismissed sound common sense as simplistic and primitive and the time-tested principles of political prudence as anachronistic and out-dated.

Irrefutably, the concessionary doctrine adopted at the beginning of the previous decade proved to be a disastrous error. While this is something even the most ardent advocates may ruefully and reluctantly concede, there appears little willingness on their part to internalize the lessons of this regrettable endeavor, to acknowledge the fallacies on which it was based and to accept the unavoidable conclusions that arise from a dispassionate analysis of the past. Quite the opposite — seemingly oblivious of the calamitous chain of recent events, the current leadership seems unswervingly resolute to press on with policies that are based on the same manifestly flawed precepts.

Having experienced the bombardment of both the north and the south of the country from areas evacuated by the IDF, the government is still pressing ahead with plans to transfer the highlands overlooking the coastal metropolis in the east to Palestinian control — thereby willfully and knowingly exposing the nation's only international airport, its road and rail system and its principle urban and industrial centers to the same fate suffered by Sderot and the surrounding villages in the south.

Baffling counterproductive elements

Astoundingly, this policy is being advanced even though the alleged rationale that was presented initially as its justification no longer exists. For if previously, the conceptual basis of conceding territory to the Arafat-regime was rooted in the claim that it was the only Palestinian partner with the necessary authority to implement an accord with Israel, today even this flimsy — and discredited — contention has been abandoned. Almost unbelievably, the current government is considering conceding to the Abbas-regime territory of vital strategic importance, despite the fact that no-one believes that it has the authority to impose its will on the Palestinian population — and certainly not to ensure the long-term implementation of a peace agreement with Israel. Indeed if the IDF were to transfer control of Judea and Samaria to the feeble Abbas — an indispensable part of an peace deal — there is more than a tangible possibility that it would hastily toppled and replaced by radical Islamists, as it was in Gaza.

So any concessions made to the allegedly "moderate" Abbas will readily, and predictably, fall into the hands of the extremists, whose enmity to Israel is the very reason that government refrains from negotiating with them. Can the Israeli leadership really be so blind so as not to see the self-contradictory — and self-defeating — nature of its policy?

The same question can be directed at the recent imbecilic decision regarding the wholesale surrender to ransom demands for the return of Israeli hostages — dead or alive. Perversely, instead of embarking on a harsh punitive policy to create disincentives for further kidnappings in the future, the conduct of the Israeli government in this traumatic and tragic affair has actually created enormous incentive for the Arabs to abduct more Israelis — and very little to keep them alive. The decision taken — and the one apparently about to be taken — are even more difficult to understand and to accept in light of past precedents, which show that, as matter of statistical certainty, released terrorists revert to their violent ways and will indubitably kill more Israelis.

Likewise the same baffling counterproductive elements characterize the policy regarding Gaza. It is difficult, if not impossible, to fathom the rationale behind the decision to halt military operations against the Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. For the present and regularly violated lull serves the strategic interests of the Islamists far more than it does those of Israel. Indeed, while it may bring brief and temporary respite to the harried the residents in the environs of the Gaza Strip, there is no doubt, and little argument, that it is being utilized by the radicals to regroup, rearm and retrain their forces. Thus any short-term benefits will soon be wiped out, with both Israeli civilians and soldiers facing even greater perils than today, making what is becoming increasing inevitable — a large-scale land operation — far more costly, bloody and difficult.

What could possibly motivate a responsible government to raise, rather than reduce, the level of risk; to reinforce, rather than remove, the source of dangers facing both its civilian population and its military combatants?

Of course the latest episode in this relentless march of folly relates to recent indirect contacts — via the good services of the Islamic-leaning government of Turkey — regarding Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. It is little short of staggering that immediately after finding it necessary to destroy a "strategic installation" which the Assad regime had surreptitiously been constructing, the government begins negotiations with the self-same regime, renown for its brutality and treachery, on the evacuation of the IDF from strategically vital territory — when it is precisely the IDF deployment in this territory that has made the Syrian border the most tranquil Israel has had for over one third of a century.

The government of Israel includes two former IDF chiefs of staff, two former heads of the security services, one of whom was the also commander in chief of the Navy, two well-known professors and an array of former high ranking army and intelligence officers. Yet by any criterion of common sense this very government seems to be working consistently and constantly against the national interest of the country, recklessly gambling with vital security issues and with the physical safety of its citizens, in the manifestly forlorn and unfounded hope that the most unlikely "best-case" scenarios will materialize. There appear to be only two possible explanations for this behavior. Since the first of these possible explanations for this behavior. Since the first of these — purposeful perfidy — cannot be entertained (could it?), the second — terminal stupidity must be the answer.

Some pertinent talkback comments to the original article

Martin Sherman writes:

"The ominous position expressed in talkback #27 reflects a real and growing threat for entire concept of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and should be urgently addressed by all those who are concerned with the fate of the country and future of Zionism

For Hebrew readers: A recent article on the political dimensions of the water crisis.,7340,L-3574666,00.html

6. Excellent points
Keren, Haifa, Israel (08.01.08)

This article states the common sense points we all know - whether we admit it or not. The subtle message of our government seems to be there is no hope for the long-term existence of the state and we are on our own regarding individual survival. Examples, in addition to those mentioned above, abound: Corruption and venality at every level of government and the private sector (with the consequent cynicism and hopelesssness this has bred in the citizenry); total inability of authorities to deal with organized crime; lowering of academic standards in our schools and acceptance of violence against faculty, staff and students; growing inequality in all areas of daily life and the erosion of the middle class. Once can go on and on.

Before Oslo, Israel seemed to be strong, confident and secure, its continued existence internationally accepted — even by our enemies. Today, it has lost its confidence in the future and seems to question its very right to be here. This is reflected in the way we are treated internationally.

12. Politically, we only had a chronic illness.
Terry, Eilat, Israel (08.01.08)

Now our politicians are in favour of euthanasia.

14. "Our terminal stupidity"
I.Kemp, Nahariya Israel (08.01.08)

Brilliantly said ! What a prospect that we are subjected to more of the same as someone superbly wrote (an Arab in Egypt) that Livni is in we have "the Queen of Surrender". Perfect description and that could be said about the wohole of Kadima and Labour

27. Israel used to be the source of pride for the Jews worldwide
GZ, USA (08.01.08)

Now it is the cause of shame and depression. The transformation of Israel from a small but courageous and proud country into a weak and pathetic mini state will have a terrible effect on Jewish psyche. The assimilation process will accelerate drastically as many Jews will lose the source of pride they used to have. The Jews will be avoiding each other. Many will cease to care about Israel altogether. There will be a drastic distancing between Israeli and Diaspora Jews. A catastrophe of biblical proportion is upon Jewish nation.

45. the underlying reason
Yuval Brandstetter M, lehavim Israel (08.04.08)

Martin Sherman and Pipes flounder when it comes to providing reasonable explanations for the idiotic policies that lead Israel back to the Ghetto. The explanation is simple. Look at the present value of real-estate in TA and environs now, and in 1987, prior to the intifadeh. It has sky rocketed. Double the population, triple the GNP, half the territory. When 20 families hold more than seventy percent of the assets, and those assets are in the Ghetto, the same families see to it, via the politicians they own, that the ghetto stays small, and that the economy stays bottled up inside their fist. Barack knows, he bought his flat in a high-rise own by one of them. There are no politicians in main-land israel, only agents

47. #45 the underlying reason
Martin Sherman (08.05.08)


Sounds a little short sighted to me. Are these money grabbing capitalists so myopic as to purposely make this enormously valuable asset vulnerable to Katyusha/Kassam barrages - which undoubtedly will cause its value to collapse. Surely unless afflicted by terminal stupidity they would be the first to try and thwart such a policy?

Surely if they are financially motivated, the far-sighted thing to to would be for them to speculate on the rise in the value of NEW areas allocated for future development - by selling their current real estate at todays highs before terrorist bombardment or urban over-crowding undermine the value of their present assets.

If not - perhaps both agree. Terminal Stupidity it is

49. our terminal stupidity
Rob Bowles, Birmingham England (08.06.08)

Very eloquently written, but like your able politicians, it's time to start thinking outside of the Zionist box.

50. #49 "Outside the "Zionist Box"
Martin Sherman (08.06.08)

Hmm ...what does that mean?

No nation-state for the Jews? Don't they deserve one? After all by all the accepted criteria which are usually accepted as a valid basis for national self-determination the Jews have a far stronger claim than most nations - particularly the Palestinians.

A unique language, a unique religion, and unique script, unique heritage, unique....

Whereas in the case of the Palestinians — nary a unique characteristic in any of these (or virtually any other) areas — except unmitigated and proven failure in establishing a national entity.

Perhaps its time to call on the Muslim world to think outside the Jihadi box

Would "Outside the Zionist Box" include setting up a secular state of all its citizens — which quickly — and inevitably - degenerate into another Muslim dominated tyranny — see BEWARE OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR,7340,L-3505608,00.html

Is this the true aspiration of the enlightened liberal world??? Or is it just that appeasement is back in fashion??

Indeed perhaps its time erudite anti-Israelis to think outside the PC box.


This article was published July 21, 2008 in Ynet News,7340,L-3576299,00.html


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