Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Winning Strategy for Israel’s Next Prime Minister—Begin by Going on Offense!


Only time will tell if Tzipi Livni’s failure to form a government ultimately works to her advantage.

Ron Ben-Yishai, a reporter injured on more than one occasion while covering Israel’s wars, correctly framed the big problem facing the next Prime Minister.

He said, “What we lack today is a winning strategy. Such strategy would enable us to successfully cope with the “slow destruction” strategy used by Iran, Syria, and radical Islamic elements to undermine Israel’s staying power and ultimately wipe it off the map.”

He’s right. What Israel lacks is a winning strategy.

Ms. Livni’s strategic aim of confining Israel to, more or less, the 1949 armistice lines that held until 1967, is the wrong strategy. Therefore, it is in Israel’s interest that she not be Prime Minister.

She, like Prime Minister Olmert, does not have a winning strategy to bring long-lasting peace to Israel. A winning strategy would ensure that Israel would be a strong, self-reliant, and independently viable state well into the future. Her strategic success might bring a lull in fighting, but would leave Israel weak, and in danger of failing as a state at some point down the line.

So, what would a winning strategy entail? First, going on offense.

Defense may win football games, but offense wins political games.
In politics, when you are on defense, you are losing the game.

President Clinton was first elected to the presidency because James Carville, Clinton’s campaign strategist, played offense and kept George Bush’s team on defense the entire campaign. Bush lost on defense. Clinton won on offense.

In the arena of international politics, Israel predominantly plays defense. It never challenges the status quo that Israel must give up land for peace. It barely challenges corrupt Arab regimes. It never tries to reach Arab people who for the most part hate their own regimes because of the known corruption. It never challenges Islam, yes Islam, to be its best self and fairly share the land of the Middle-East with the Jews of Israel. It never challenges Jordan’s monarchy to honor the agreement of the current King’s great uncle (an agreement made with Jewish leaders about 90 years ago that, in part, called for the reestablishment of a “moderate and proper” sized Jewish state that is larger than Israel is today).

Rather, Israel plays defense. It answers all charges. It sweats, for instance, whether or not to let “Free Gaza” protesters sail into Gaza. It gets mired in nuance. It too seldom goes on offense.

Today, Israel is too small for the good if its own people. It is too small for the good of humanity. And there are better ways to solve the Palestinian Arab humanitarian issues than to create a 22nd Arab State that is bound to be disaster for its residents and the region.

It is time to confront current Israeli leadership’s insistence on playing defense. It is a losing game, and Israel is losing.

One need not be bombastic to go on offense. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Empire an evil Empire, he was on offense. The international press at first was shocked, but most people, especially in the Soviet Union, knew it was the truth. When he asked Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, Reagan was on offense. When he pursued “Star Wars,” he was on offense. No bullet was ever fired, no war ever came, and no soldier ever died. But the debate, even within the Soviet Union, changed. The cold war ended.

Like the Soviet Union, Israel’s enemies have a lot of explaining to do (just read my book). But they will never be properly questioned or scrutinized in the court of world public opinion unless and until Israel has a Prime Minister who is willing to go on offense.

He or she should start by proclaiming that it is unjust for Israel, the sole Jewish majority state, to be confined to tiny borders when there is so much empty land in the Arab and Muslim world in need of owners, citizens and workers, and so much oil wealth available to help them prosper.

--David Naggar