The events in Gaza make it clearer than ever before that Abba Eban was right, “The Arabs never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s truer than ever before. Israel’s opponents (which still include most, if not all, of the Arab world), by protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza now, are handing withdrawal opponents an clear-cut argument on a silver platter, to be used next time a withdrawal is proposed.
The main argument used by Israeli politicians in defense of withdrawal from various swaths of land is that once Israel withdraws to an “internationally recognized border,” it will then be able to strike back the first time Israel is attacked from across that border. This was the argument used by Ehud Barak in favor of the withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon. He said that if Hezbollah attacks Israel after the withdrawal, Israel would be able to fight back, and enjoy international support. The very same argument was used by Sharon and his supporters with regards to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
Israel suffered numerous attacks after the 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon, including the kidnapping of three soldiers, and it took six years for Israel to react (badly). Qassams have been raining down on the Sderot area for years, and Israel hasn’t truly responded until now.
What do people think is going to happen next time a withdrawal is proposed? What is going to happen the next Israeli politician who advocates another withdrawal? When Israel restrains itself for years, and once it finally does respond, Israelis find themselves on the receiving end of international condemnation, how many Israelis are going to believe the same argument?