UPDATE: Israel Air Force bombs empty buildings in Palestinian terrorist Gaza overnight in response to rocket fire yesterday at citizens of southern Israel. IDF arrests 7 wanted Palestinians.
There has been much talk in the news here in Israel over the last month that the series of laws being passed by the Knesset are one of the worst mistakes that Israel has ever made–an assessment that israelstreet has made clear that it vehemently disagrees with. Nevertheless, this discussion has set your humble servant wondering what are the 10 worst decisions that Israeli governments have ever made?
So with apologies to you younger readers who will have to read a little history, here is Part 1 of the list that he has come up with (somewhat in chronological order):
1. The decision in November 1956 to withdraw from the Sinai.
As hostilities concluded in the Suez crisis which had been precipitated when Egyptian President Nasser closed the Red Sea to Israeli shipping, President Eisenhower wrote a letter to David Ben Gurion threatening the withdrawal of American support for Israel if Israel failed to withdraw from the Sinai. Moreover, he wrote that “Any such decision by the Government of Israel would seriously undermine the urgent efforts being made by the United Nations to restore peace in the Middle East, and could not but bring about the condemnation of Israel as a violator of the principles as well as the directives of the United Nations.” Ben-Gurion agreed to withdraw, and Israel did so in March of 1957.
Why was this a terrible decision? It established the principles of Israel trading “land for peace”, Israel functioning at the beck and call of the United States, and Israel submitting to the notion that it might be considered as a “violator” of U.N. principles. In addition, Egypt was pushed more into the Russian sphere of influence, and Israel lost the oil and gas rich Sinai. Finally, Israel was left again with an almost indefensible border–remember that the fedayeen gangs had been attacking Israel from the Sinai prior to 1956; 55 years later, in 2011, Israel is still being attacked from the Sinai.
By the way, in October of 1965, President Eisenhower admitted that forcing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai was a mistake that he deeply regretted.
2. The decision in 1967 to hand over control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to the Islamic Wakf.
After Israel reunited Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan made a “politically correct” decision to permit the Islamic Wakf to continue to exercise civil authority over the Temple Mount–Judaism’s holiest spot. In a practical sense, Dayan’s blunder has made it impossible for Jewish worshipers to take a Torah to the Mount or to pray there–and not a week goes by that we do not see Israeli police (which are in charge of Mount “security”) arresting Jewish worshipers on the Mount.
More than this, instead of pacifying the Muslims, Dayan’s decision has emboldened and inflamed them in the intervening years. As was reported in this blog yesterday, there is now a Muslim movement around the world to protect the Mount from “Judaization” (can you believe it–protect the holiest spot in Judaism from Judaization?). The situation is so bad that Israel’s attempt to replace the decrepit walkway up to the Mount (which is in the Jewish Quarter!) is being used as a pretext by the Wakf to exhort the Muslim masses to Jihad.
3. The decision in 1973 not to stage a pre-emptive strike on the Egyptian and Syrian air forces prior to Yom Kippur.
In what can only be described as a disastrous failure, the Israeli intelligence community determined that Israel should not be worried about the massing of Egyptian and Syrian soldiers and materiel on their respective borders with Israel. Golda Meir’s failure to ignore this “intelligence” and make the appropriate decision led Israel to a catastrophe in which it suffered more than 10,000 casualties including almost 2800 soldiers who were killed. Even though Israeli forces eventually ended up on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal surrounding the Egyptian army and pushed the Syrian army off of the Golan Heights, the myth of Israeli military invincibility was crumbled.
4. The 1979 decision to withdraw from Yamit.
Yamit was an Israeli town built in the northern Sinai close to Gaza in 1973. It eventually became home to more than 2500 mainly religious Israelis. In 1982, as part of the final phase of the 1979 Israeli peace treaty with Egypt, the city was forcibly evacuated by Israeli soldiers and razed to the ground.
Menachem Begin’s decision to withdraw from Yamit had many terrible repercussions such as setting the precedent of the IDF forcibly evicting fellow Israelis from their homes, and setting in motion an ever deepening fracture between religious nationalist Israelis and left-wing Israelis. More than this, the appeasement principle of land for peace, first practiced in the Sinai in 1956-7, was reinforced.
And, as important as the peace agreement has been with Egypt, the principle of Judenrein Arab lands was officially established with the withdrawal from Yamit (and Taba). Why should the Palestinians agree to have Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria if Egypt would not?
5. The decision in 2000 to unilaterally disengage from south Lebanon.
There is no doubt that by the year 2000 the time had come for the IDF to leave Lebanon. But Ehud Barak’s decision to slink out of Lebanon in the middle of the night with no prior negotiations was an unmitigated disaster. The IDF was left looking like an impotent force in comparison with Hezbollah which victoriously paraded the unceremonious IDF departure as further evidence of its growing power. More than this, Israel displayed overwhelming weakness to the Arab world by not even bothering to negotiate the withdrawal and demand Hezbollah concessions in return.
That concludes the first part of the list–part 2 will appear tomorrow unless events intervene.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On November 27, 1961, Muhammad Oufkir–the head of Moroccan security–signed the first “collective passport” allowing Jews to leave Morocco legally signalling the beginning of “Operation Yakhin.” In fact, the signing was the result of a $500,000 bribe paid to the Moroccan government to begin the process–eventually the Israeli government paid between $5 and $20 million dollars to the Moroccan government to let its Jews leave. Between 1962-1964 over 100,000 Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel.
FOLLOW-UP: Readers of this blog will remember the scandalous actions of the Israeli police and IDF in August of trying to coverup the murder of Asher Palmer and his young son Jonatan by rock-throwing Palestinian terrorists (see blog about the Palmer scandal). Today, the four suspects who were eventually arrested for these murders will be read their indictments.