Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →