not a Chamberlain
New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) hosted the Lenore Broughton Distinguished Lecture given by former Israel Defense Forces Chief General Moshe Ya’alon. Ya’alon spoke to an overflow crowd of over 500 people at the Lincoln Square synagogue in Manhattan Monday night. The crowd listened intently as the General, a former kibbutznik from the Labor movement, mesmerized the crowd during his hour-long lecture explaining the dangers of a Palestinian State to Israel, the dangers of rewarding terror by making more land concessions to the Palestinian enemy, and the dangers of not responding more forcefully to the Kassam missiles and suicide bombings against Israel.
Ya’alon, who is widely regarded as the man who significantly reduced Palestinian terror in the last few years during his tenure as Chief of the IDF from 2002 to 2005, criticized Israeli leaders for offering “illusions” to the Israelis and being “confused.” He said that the Israelis must maintain a military presence in Judea and Samaria as long as the Palestinians refuse to make a serious peace deal, and that “Israel must brand into the Palestinians consciousness” that terror will bring them no benefits.
Ya’alon stressed that the Israelis withdrawal/evacuation from Gaza was a major factor in the Hamas election victory because it was perceived as surrender to Islamic terrorism. “What we are doing is leaving a legacy for the next generation who will deal with Palestinians who believe that terrorism pays, that Israel cuts and runs under pressure,” Ya’alon explained. He added that Israel is in a “war” not merely dealing with an uprising.
These comments were all the more powerful coming from a 37-year military veteran who, in fact, supported Rabin’s Oslo accords. But he said by 1995, he saw that Arafat was not doing anything to move toward peace, but instead was promoting “Jihad.”
Some other comments from General Ya’alon:
- The best defense is a good offense, not a fence. The best way to deal with terrorists is to arrest them or kill them in their beds. The IDF has intelligence capability to intercept terrorists. They use their civilians as human shields, knowing our sensitivities to killing civilians — but we do have the capability to intercept them in real time. Without dealing with the roots, we can cut down the weeds — to deal with the roots would be to force them to reform their education and culture. I am not sure we will succeed but we should be under no pressure to make any concessions until this changes.
- I do not see any prospect for peace and reconciliation on the Palestinian side. I needed no sophisticated intelligence to reach this conclusion — I only had to look at their textbooks, posters and so on. We should not be surprised but we ignored it. Without this kind of change, not just in Israel but the West, all Western powers will have to fight them. They believe they can defeat the West and Israel first. We need a wake-up call here and across the West. Under no circumstances should we surrender to terror. As long as they see our appeasement policy, they will continue.
- The establishment of a Palestinian state will lead, at some stage, to war. Such a war can be dangerous to the State of Israel. The idea that a Palestinian state will achieve stability is disconnected from reality and dangerous.
- From the dawn of Zionism until this day, the source of all terrorist attacks has been the refusal of the Arab world to recognize Israel’s existence. Until this changes we will remain the target of violent terrorist activity. The ’67 borders are neither a solution to rocket attacks, suicide bombs nor to more conventional forms of warfare.
- The two-state solution has failed and to my mind is now irrelevant. In Israel we must consolidate our Jewish Zionist narrative. Without believing in our case, there is no way to convince someone else.
- Even before the Hamas victory, a two-state solution was a mistaken fantasy – now its even more irrelevant. The Palestinians knew exactly who Hamas was when they voted for them.
- After the Gaza withdrawal, I would have recommended after the first Qassem rocket fired into Israel that there should have been a strong and immediate retaliation
- We need moral clarity and clear strategy — or else there is no way to deal with the problem and find a solution. Otherwise, there is no chance for one now over the horizon, meaning in my generation. Yet we prefer to be confused, to ignore reality. This is the case with Israel; this is the case with the West. Iran sees us withdrawing from Gaza, Hamas is elected, they see US trouble in Iraq and because they do not pay price for financing, supporting and encouraging terrorism, they continue.
- It is a good question — why are we confused? We look back to what the West experienced before world War Two. There was denial of reality, denial of threat. The attitude was, Lets leave it to next year, to the next generation. We dont need Chamberlains, we need Churchills. We are flooded with lies, manipulated by Al Qaeda, but most prominently by the Palestinians.
- The front line is in our heads because they challenge our values and culture. We sanctify life, they sanctify death. The first layer of their terrorist infrastructure is education of the young. After a decade of encouraging children to admire suicide bombers, children have been asked about their aspirations and they do not answer that they want to become doctors and lawyers, they answer that they want to become shahids [martyrs] — these are their values.
- Continuing Palestinian incitement — meaning the raising and teaching of children from the age of 3 to hate and kill Israelis — makes peace impossible.
- Yet, we are still confused, as we were in the era of Arafat. Arafat initiated the war in September 2000 to avoid recognition of Israel and end of conflict. This was the third Palestinian rejection of partition. The 1937 British Peel Commission plan was the first and the 1947 UN partition plan was the second. In 1999, I was commander of Central Command and I said then that we would face a war with Arafat in 2000. I knew it when Barak said that he would have a settlement with Arafat within 15 months, which meant by September 2000. Israel and the West were surprised.
- The nature of the threat to Israel has changed form one of conventional threats as in the past … Even now, and this is the core of the security situation, the Palestinians do not accept Israels right to exist as a Jewish sate. So the war has become super-conventional. Syrian scud missiles, Iranian Shihab missiles, Iran pursuing nuclear capabilities — these are the threats today
The deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians — we suffered more than 1000 fatalities in the last five years, more than 70% civilians because the other side believes that Israeli society weakened link in Israeli security chain.
- Iran is seeking a nuclear capability, the Iranian military project — there is no doubt of their intention and determination — and this must be stopped.
- In past, national ideologies — Nasserism, Baathism, etc. — all said that there was no room for Israel in the Middle East. Now it is more and more a religious conflict — from their side, not ours … but like in the past, Hamas says, again, no room for Israel, instead there must be a Palestinian Islamic state. They say what they mean and mean what they say.
- We must step up military actions in Gaza despite the problems of not being able to have laser-like accuracy against the terrorists there.
- We must stop getting used to these constant missile attacks as if they’re rain. We can’t tolerate this missile threat from Gaza or continued terrorism.
- PA will soon increase their missile capability by their own improving technology or the import of new missiles.
- Hamas is part of global Jihad – they talk about the entire nation of Islam not just Palestine.
- If we couldn’t tame and change Arafat, we can’t tame and change Hamas.
- If we’re in Judea and Samaria we can thwart the terrorism from there.
- Israelis are confused about the correctness and justice of Israel’s cause.
- We must promote the true legitimacy of the Zionist narrative.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, It was a capacity crowd that came to hear General Yaalon last night and the reason is obvious — while General Yaalon brings a very sobering message, people were keen to hear his moral clarity and strategic wisdom that states clearly that the Oslo path of the past 13 years has been a terrible mistake. We will not begin succeed in seeking peace until we first win the war.
General Yaalon bears out the ZOAs analysis of events over the years regarding the harm done to Israel and the boost given to the forces of terrorism by one-sided Israel concessions and delusions about Palestinian intentions. He also bears out our belief that under present conditions there should not be even any discussion of Israeli concessions and a Palestinian state while the PA remains a terrorist regime. There are times when a very harsh reality has to be faced, as when Winston Churchill took over as British Prime Minister promising nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat and setting as the national goal victory at all costs. As with General Yaalons address last night, the message is ultimately an optimistic one — if Israel and the West develop a clear strategy based on moral clarity, we can win this war.