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Monday, December 01, 2008

Islamist strategy vs. Western tactics

Across the political spectra of Democrats and Republicans, Likudniks and Kadima and "Peace Now," everyone seems to agree on one thing: that peace can only be achieved by Israel conceding land.

It is an appealing thought. A people who yearn for real peace on one hand, and who grew up on the ideals of social justice on the other, seem to agree that it is untenable to hold on to Eretz Yisrael in the face of unremitting Muslim and Arab terror and international pressure.

They all have various reasons for this idea: the demographic threat, fears of "apartheid," fears of another intifada, idealism, a sense of "fair play," an appeal to "justice" or "international law" and so forth.

Very few of them, however, take a realistic view of how the Arab and Islamic side would react to such an act.

Batya from Shiloh Musings recalls that when Menachem Begin gave up the Sinai to Egypt, he moved the Yamit residents to Gush Katif in Gaza. His intent was that by Israel giving up land, it would strengthen its hold on other territories and that the world would be more willing to let Israel keep them. This of course didn't happen - on the contrary, it emboldened the Arab side and their "peacenik" friends. It solidified the idea that territories are negotiable, and that Israeli moves to accept Jews there were reversible.

Likewise, Ariel Sharon felt that giving up the very Gaza and Menachem Begin thought he was "strengthening" would also strengthen Israeli claims in Judea and Samaria. And likewise, this was a fantasy, as the world witnesses daily Qassam attacks from the very areas that peaceful Jews had built beautiful, thriving communities, ostensibly sympathizing with the residents of Sderot but explicitly calling on Israel to stop defending itself.

To be sure, there are short-term gains in world public opinion for Israeli concessions. Israel did gain economically by abandoning Gaza. But those gains are, by their nature, ephemeral. The collective memory of the world is quite short, and it is only a matter of a few weeks or months between Israeli "goodwill gestures" and unremitting pressure for the next round.

Meanwhile, what Israel loses is permanent.

Part of the reason that the West is so keen on pressuring Israel is the unstated but very relevant viewpoint that, somehow, Israeli concessions will take the wind out of the sails of jihadists, that Israeli sacrifices - or the sacrifice of Israel - will appease the terrorists who will no longer have broad-based support in the Islamic world. There is not a shred of evidence to support this wishful thinking; and there is plenty of evidence that shows it to be false.

The West is attuned to short-term thinking. Perhaps this is because of the need to elect new leaders every few years, but it sacrifices long-term strategy for vaporous short-term gains. It would be laughable to even consider that the West has a plan to defeat the Islamist world that spans more than a decade.

The Arab and Muslim psyche, on the other hand, is very much attuned to long-term trends. A hundred years is but a blip in Islamic history and, from their perspective, Israel has not yet lasted as long as the Crusades. The battle takes decades and centuries; it is not something that has to be mopped up by the next election cycle.

As a result, every Western concession to the Islamic world is tactical from the Western perspective and strategic from the Islamic perspective. Tactics without strategy is a loser's game.

This is what drives Islamist confidence against the West.

(It is also why Islamists fear Judaism and Christianity much more than America and Europe - because religious groups do have a long historical memory, and Islam itself cannot stand the scrutiny of history.)

Islamic extremism does not look at "Palestine" as the be-all and end-all of their expansionist goals. Al Qaeda's founder put it succinctly when he said “jihad will remain an individual obligation until all other lands which formerly were Muslim come back to us and Islam reigns within them once again. Before us lie Palestine, Bukhara, Lebanon, Chad, Eritrea, Somalia, the Philippines, Burma, South Yemen, Tashkent, Andalusia.” And this is hardly an exhaustive list of land that Islamists covet.

Each of these seeming "land disputes" is prosecuted locally, as if they each have individual merit, and the fair-minded West will look at each dispute dispassionately and tactically. Well-meaning Westerners will be "even-handed" (and subconciously pro-Islam) in many of these claims, all the while ignoring the worldwide pattern that they represent of inexorable Islamist encroachment and expansionist thinking.

The Islamists have a strategy, we do not.

In Israel's case, every square centimeter of land handed over by Israel is an irrevocable weapon, quite literally, that will be used to get the next piece. When Israel's government speaks of giving Palestinian Arabs land on the west of the "Green Line" in a "land exchange" it means that even that boundary, which the Arab world never accepted before 1967, is negotiable, and the border disputes would not even end if Israel gave up all of its 1967 gains to what Abba Eban famously - and accurately - called the "Auschwitz borders."

To even entertain the thought that Israeli concessions would have forestalled the Mumbai (or Madrid or London or New York) attacks is to engage in the worst kind of self-delusion.

In the Arab and Islamist world, Palestine is the most high-profile and successful implementation of the Islamist strategy. We have shown countless times that the Arab and Islamic world cares little about Palestinians and very much about Palestine. The long-term, strategic approach is hardwired in the brains of Muslims and Arabs.

Over the weekend, yet another extremist quote from a "moderate" group, affiliated with Fatah, was published and ignored by the West:
"Palestine is our land and it belongs to Palestinians. Israel has no right to our property."

"The resolution to divide Palestine into two parts is totally rejected," the statement added, insisting that "resistance" is the only way to "take back Palestinians' rights."
Just as Israel giving up land will not appease the Palestinian contingent of the Islamic and Arab expansionism movements in the least, neither would the sacrifice of all of Israel appease the worldwide Islamic expansionist movement.

The Westerners who support Arab and Muslim claims against the West would have been butchered in Mumbai along with the Jews. No amount of appealing to the terrorists' sense of fair play or "human rights" or "international law" would have made a difference.

Those terms are used as tactics in the grand Islamist strategy against the dhimmis and kaffirs, and we refuse to see the big picture the way our enemies do.