The Israeli left needs to tell Israelis the truth

I’ve just read Mairav Zonszein’s latest article in the Guardian Comment is Free. What she says is obviously correct. A lot of it is what I say too. But it is also largely irrelevant because the implication of her conclusion is that if Israel wants to gain real security, a withdrawal from the West Bank is a necessity, is a fallacy.

As long as there is an Israel there will be terror attacks against her.

I say that an agreement and phased withdrawal is a necessity ANYWAY so as to prevent more of the following:

– The erosion of the IDF into an army capable almost only of occupation

– The extremism being bred within certain settlements and expanding outwards to Jerusalem

– Israel’s dwindling standing in the world,

– Making life easier for terrorists by moving vulnerable civilians right into the areas they know most intimately for ideological purposes.

– Threatening the success of the entire Zionist project by fusing Israel together with Palestine, demographically, politically there is no situation where Israel can incorporate millions of Palestinians with her borders indefinitely and survive as the Jewish majority (before even thinking democratic) state.

These arguments are not new, they are practically clichés. They are clichés because they are correct, these arguments will never go away.

Pretending however that a withdrawal and a peace deal will mean all terrorists will just disappear is the fairy tale that made the Left unelectable. Terror will always be there, Israel won’t if managed badly and man is it being managed badly.

The left really needs to start saying something to the Israeli public that makes sense to them rather than throwing up their hands in frustration and running off to the Guardian.

Right now Herzog is telling Bibi that he should quit because he has failed to bring the security to Israelis that he promised. However only 5% of Israelis trust Herzog to bring them that security is because he isn’t offering them anything that Bibi can’t do & isn’t doing.

Herzog must tell the Israeli body politic the truth and say that if elected he will simply remove X and Y settlements and not build any new ones, by doing so we will show the Palestinians Israel is serious about peace and we will take civilians out of the easy reach of terrorists.

He should tell them he will move as many Israeli civilians out of the non negotiated parts of the West Bank as possible, he should tell them the IDF will remain in the West Bank as long as necessary to ensure that security is as good as it can possibly be. He should tell them we will cooperate with the PA in the provision of security and should the PA find it impossible to provide security effectively then the army will NEVER LEAVE the West Bank. Israeli civilians on the other hand will be moved out and never be moved in both for their own security and for the reasons stated above.

He should show the Palestinians that Israel will be following a tactical and a strategic path at the same time. Strategically the road is towards either a Palestinian state or a West Bank policed and secured by the IDF without Israeli civilians interfering. Israel will unilaterally take steps to reduce tensions by removing settlements, and therefore many checkpoints established to protect settlements. If as a result of this tensions slowly reduce security restrictions can gradually be eased even more, the PA can take more responsibility for greater chunks of territory, the IDF presence can be steadily reduced, ease of movement for Palestinian workers into Israel every day can be arranged in a much more efficient way and a whole host of other benefits that come with statehood can come into effect.

Tactically, day to day, the IDF will come down every bit as hard on acts of terror as it does today. There will inevitably be the occasional terrorist that slips past the PA and the IDF and is able to commit a terrorist act, it will likely be a lot harder and the numbers of extremists will dwindle as the situation of Palestinians improves. But crucially the ability of terrorists to compromise Israel’s overall strategy will be negated by a government that simply won’t allow terrorists to have the power over Israeli policy.

Hit terrorists while ensuring Palestinians know that statehood is a genuine prospect. Rather than building more settlements in the wake of an attack to teach Palestinians some kind of a lesson.

It might not work, Israelis might decide that they’re not interested in this policy but hell at least they’d be making an actual choice when they vote between a right wing dominated only by day to day tactics and a left taking a broader, long term view. At least there would be a left wing policy that could be debated and accepted or rejected. Right now there is nothing at all to discuss when discussing the left.