Israel made a mistake in attempting to work with Hamas and Hezbollah. The mistake was attempting to work with them at all.
Israel’s past concessions have not deterred or appeased either of these groups. In fact, those concessions have only worked in the opposite manner, causing more violence against them, not preventing it.
Those two groups view the willingness to negotiate as a weakness. In the end, Israel only emboldened Hamas and Hezbollah to act upon their Jihadist ideologies and react as their culture dictates they should.
Islamic extremists take advantage of weakness. It is part of the Arab culture from which their leadership and ideologies are derived. They only respect strength and courage, having no respect for anyone other than “the toughest kid on the block.” Jihadist’s view others’ readiness to make concessions, moderate positions, or bargain through a situation as weaknesses to be exploited. Any action by an opponent which does not clearly demonstrate resolve, strength, and power encourages them to exploit and attack that opponent. It’s a perfect living example of the old saying “You give an inch, they take a mile.”
In working with the Palestinian’s and Hamas, the Israeli’s have given concession after concession (as demonstrated by their abandonment of Gaza settlements to the Palestinians) in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict. Instead of being appeased and calling for a cessation of violence, Hamas danced in the streets, applauded the suicide bombers for bringing about a victorious reclamation, refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist, continued their attacks on Israel, and then kidnapped one of her soldiers. Do the Israeli’s think it was worth those concessions now?
Israel had been cautious in their activities on the Lebanese border, submitting to and abiding by the United Nation’s prescription for the area; a solution which Israel had to demonstrate moderation, and to some degree, appeasement. They withdrew further south than required, in order to exhibit unquestionable adherence to the U.N. mandates. Hezbollah saw this as a victory, moved in, later crossed the border, killed several Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. How many Israeli’s now wish they had not been so agreeable?
Now, it appears Israel’s desire to negotiate with or appease the extremists is gone, and rightfully so.
After all, how can they negotiate with groups who only see that same willingness to negotiate as a weakness to be exploited and therefore a reason to attack? How can they have diplomatic dialogue with groups whose ultimate desire is to have them wiped from the face of the earth? They can’t, nor should they.
Israel should continue to attack Hamas and Hezbollah and destroy as much of those two groups as possible. If they do not, the violence and extremism of Hamas and Hezbollah will persist, the threat to Israel (and the U.S.) will continue, as will the cycle of violence.
I agree with Secretary of State Rice that a simple cessation of violence is not the answer. That was the Madeline Albright approach, appeasement to end violence, and then stick your head in the sand, hoping for no future violence. Ultimately, it didn’t inspire either Hamas or Hezbollah to denounce their terrorist activities or change their charters; it was clearly not the answer. Ridding the region of the extremist elements that spark and act as catalysts for the violence is the answer. That’s where the efforts of the world community should be focused.
The efforts should not be focused on trying to get Israel to show restraint. In fact, Israel should ignore any demand for restraint if those demands are not coupled with the disarmament and dismantling of Hamas and Hezbollah. Past restraint has only lost them land, emboldened their enemies, and gotten them attacked at a later time. The opportunity for Hamas and Hezbollah to benefit from Israel’s restraint is gone.
Nor should any efforts be focused on blaming the U.S. for the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah. To imply that our presence in Iraq forced those groups into extreme action goes beyond ignorance. They were violent terrorists long, long before we entered Iraq. Anyone remember who killed over two hundred Marines in the suicide truck bombing of a Beirut barracks in the early 80’s? Answer - Hezbollah. I’ll paraphrase Secretary of State Rice who expressed the sentiment more eloquently than I, to imply that our presence in Iraq caused extremists to act extreme is a grotesque allegation.
Until decisive action (similar to Israel’s) is taken against Islamic terrorists, the threat from them will continue to exist. No amount of negotiation will work. It won’t work because their goal is for everyone to convert to Islam or be killed. That leaves no room for negotiation, a process which in and of itself only demonstrates weakness and thus gives them yet another reason to attack. In the end, there are very, very few options available for dealing with terrorists, the best of which is the course currently being pursued by Israel.