Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Strategy, not politics

Zvika Fogel

Not long ago, Israel celebrated its 66th birthday. This is a young country from the point of view of history, tradition, culture and legacy. Sixty-six years have passed and we are still surrounded by enemies who refuse to recognize our right to exist. We have developed, built and established a democracy, which with all of its flaws is a source of strength and pride. We have looked toward the future and have known what needed to be done to provide for the next generations.
Our enemies have morphed and changed shape, but have not changed their objective, their way of thinking and approach. They have been stuck with leadership that cannot see beyond its own nose, and which is not willing to pay the price needed to build a future for its people.
But something bad has happened to us in recent years as well. We have lost the feeling of sharing a mutual fate, our sense of responsibility, our spirit of initiative and determination, everything that brought us to realizing that war is the last option -- but that when it is forced on us we have no choice but to win it. The only thing remaining from the spirit that defined us on the eve of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War is our ability to be pained by loss and embrace the bereaved.

In the not-so-distant past, going on the attack was the right way to defend ourselves and our borders. Today, we are doing everything possible to improve our ability to sit and take cover in a fortified safe area. Until recently, we educated our children and imbued in them a social vitality and the need to volunteer and be part of the national effort toward winning wars of necessity, the heroes of which, with their sacrifices, gave us life. Now, we have become a society that sanctifies status, pretentiousness and reality entertainment, the heroes of which are "rich."
We find ourselves at the height of an era that threatens our existence. The development of the terror states and violent radicalism surrounding us, which has bubbled to the surface in certain communities and towns in Israeli territory, significantly threaten our daily lives and quality of life. The Hamas government in Gaza and its terrorist army threaten hundreds of thousands of homes in Israel; Hamas' satellites in Judea and Samaria, which have already proved their viciousness with abductions and suicide bombings, disrupt our daily lives. Riots, dual loyalties and open support for those who wish us harm, within Arab communities and in east Jerusalem, their willingness to challenge the state's laws and hurt the IDF and police -- prove that the threat is already here. We have withstood more difficult threats in the past. The armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, along with Iraqi units, threatened to throw us into the sea -- and we defeated them.
Great leaders do not need strategic advisers; they live and breathe strategy, not politics. Courageous leaders think about the future of their country, not their own futures. Real leaders do not require media advisers to tell them how to explain to the Israeli people that a war of existence has been forced upon us.
I have no doubt that we have the strength to eradicate the current threats. We have no other choice; if we don't win the war for our right to exist today, we will have nothing left to fight for tomorrow. Whoever wants to be our neighbor and live beside us in peace, and whoever wants to be a part of the State of Israel, needs to understand we have no intention of losing what we have already built. No less important, he needs to understand we are giving him the opportunity to accumulate assets that he won't want to lose in the future.
Operation Protective Edge, now underway with the goal of "reinforcing deterrence," will not bring us to the safe shores of "two states for two peoples" and to a routine of quality daily life we yearn for. Only war against Hamas, in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, the purpose of which is to stamp out its military infrastructure, including its operatives and weapons, will help change the reality. This, in conjunction with setting a price to be paid by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, in the form of withholding work permits while no diplomatic agreement exists, along with fundamentally and honestly confronting the dual loyalties of Israeli Arabs.
Only in this manner can we take the initiative and lead a process of peace through strength. Anything else will be a basis for the continuation of this insufferable reality, in which the Jewish majority is a hostage in the land of Israel.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel is a former chief of staff of the IDF Southern Command.

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