Syria: One More Case of Land-for-War

April 8, 2013 1:49 am 3 comments


UN controlled border crossing point between Syria and Israel at the Golan Heights. Photo: wiki commons.

President Obama’s recent charm offensive in Israel apparently had two aims: 1) lull Israel into forfeiting timely military action against Iranian nukes in the hope that Obama will stop them, and 2) convince Israelis that now is the time to revisit the land-for-peace formula. For years, the conventional wisdom – among Israel’s peace camp and its proponents abroad (Obama included) – has been that if Israel just relinquishes enough territory to its enemies, peace will arrive. But on most of Israel’s borders, history has revealed the naïve folly behind an idea that could just as aptly be called “land-for-war.”

Consider Syria. From 1948 to 1967, the Syrians regularly fired artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights down at Israeli border communities and Fatah used the territory to launch terrorist raids into Israel, until Israel captured it in 1967. But since the US-brokered talks between Israel and Syria began in 1999, peaceniks have posited that a full withdrawal by Israel from the strategic plateau in exchange for peace with Syria involved a risk worth taking. Their rationale was that – in an era dominated more by aerial threats (jets and missiles) than terrestrial ones (soldiers and tanks) – the territory was no longer vital to Israeli security and could be traded for a double boon: peace with Syria and elimination of Iran’s greatest strategic ally.

Current events reveal the deeply flawed assumptions underpinning the land-for-peace-with-Syria paradigm. No Israeli territorial concession is needed for Iran to lose its only Arab ally; the Syrian civil war will ultimately accomplish that. Basher Assad’s regime will eventually fall because the daily slaughter of one’s own people (with over 70,000 dead) is unsustainable when each atrocity can be instantly uploaded to the Internet. Whoever replaces Assad will be no friend to those who armed, funded, and prolonged his massacres: Iran and Russia. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have also been substantially involved in fighting the rebels on the ground, and thus will be distanced from post-war Syria far more than any Israeli-Syrian peace could have separated Iran and Syria.

More importantly, the land-for-peace formula with Syria would have transferred the strategic territory from Israel to an Alawite-led regime reviled by the mostly Sunni rebels who will eventually overthrow it and likely disavow its commitments – including any peace deal with Israel. Indeed, the Syrian rebels already control much of the 200 square miles comprising the Syrian side of the Golan Heights (where they recently kidnapped 21 UN peacekeepers stationed there) and have openly threatened to attack Israel next. Israel comprises about 8,000 square miles. If those same rebels were on the 500 square miles constituting the Israeli-side of the plateau thanks to an earlier “peace deal,” Israel would be that much closer to the errant projectiles of Syria’s civil war, and that much more exposed to whatever terrorist attacks on Israel the Syrian jihadist fighters plan after finishing Assad. Hence, Israel’s tangible security asset (earned with the blood of over 2,100 IDF soldiers who died in Israel’s 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria) would have been traded for “peace” with Assad, but land-for-war with Syrian Islamists is what Israel may have received just a few years later.

Indeed, “land-for-war” has a compelling record. In 2000, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and in 2006 was attacked from there by Hezbollah. It was only the force of Israel’s military response in the war that followed – rather than any territorial concession – that prevented any subsequent cross-border attacks by Hezbollah, although the terrorist group still pursues murderous plots abroad, including in Europe (which still cowers from labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization).

Since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have launched almost 10,000 rockets from there at Israeli civilians (most recently on three days of last week and during Obama’s visit to Israel, violating yet another cease-fire agreement). Since the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord requiring Israel to hand over parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terrorist attacks have killed over 1,000 Israelis.

The 1994 Jordan-Israel peace involved very little land (and heavily depends on survival of the Hashemite Kingdom), so the best precedent supporting the land-for-peace model is Egypt, which agreed to peace with Israel for return of the Sinai Peninsula. That cold peace has held since 1979 mostly thanks to over $60 billion of US aid to Egypt and an unpopular, secular autocrat (Hosni Mubarak). After Islamists hijacked Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the future of the Egypt-Israel peace is less certain, although Egypt now has so many economic and political problems that foreign military adventures seem unlikely.

The spoils of war normally go to the victor. In 1848, the US captured much of its western territory (including California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah) from Mexico in the Mexican-American war. Sometimes – as with Southern Lebanon, Gaza, or the 1938 Munich Agreement transferring the Sudetenland to the Nazis – land-for-peace turns out to be an illusory promise that only encourages military aggression.

Why is Obama so convinced that Israelis will now get land-for-peace instead of land-for-war?

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a doomsday thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and current geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi Shmuley, Sexualization of Teens, Obama Kamela Harris, Sexualization of Women, Objectification, Feeling Lucky, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Bright Young Things Campaign, Stuart Burgdoerfer

3 Comments

  • Jeffrey Justin

    In 1980′s Israel gave back “Yamit” in the Sinai. It might be a “Cold Peace” but it has held all these years. Through the Sadat/Mubarek years and I dont see Tanks rolling into Eilat .Even Morsi has not only stayed the course(so far) he has flooded many of the Hamas Tunnels in order to raise funds for the Egyptian Government through thier tunnels . I think he has more on his mind, like arresting television personalities.

  • glenda urmacher

    Hopefully the Israelis will not listen to the worse American President to date.
    Israelis have seen what land for peace has gotten them, and hopefully will learn from their disaster mistakes,
    Gaza is Israel, Sinai should be returned,( minus its Muslim/Arab/Palestinian populations ), as it was given for peace, and now they have the Muslim Brotherhood, saber saw in the air.
    No land for peace is stupidity at its’ worse.

  • Richard Dixon

    The US wants the UK to remain in the EU, for their benefit. The US wants land-for-peace for, gues what, the US benefit.
    Go your own way guys.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.