After Palestine, conditions in the Middle East would be markedly less favorable to both Israel and the United States. The only credible way for Israel to deter large-scale conventional attacks following Palestinian statehood would be by maintaining visible and increasingly large-scale conventional capabilities. Naturally, enemy states contemplating first-strike attacks upon Israel using chemical and/or biological weapons would be apt to take more seriously Israel’s nuclear deterrent. Whether or not this nuclear deterrent had remained undisclosed (the so-called “bomb in the basement”) could also affect Israel’s deterrent credibility and, thereby, U.S. security.
A strong conventional capability will always be needed by Israel to successfully deter and/or preempt enemy conventional attacks. However, any Oslo Agreement and Road Map expectations related to Palestinian statehood would critically impair Israel’s strategic depth, and thus the IDF’s indispensable capacity to wage conventional warfare (possibly in more than a single theatre at a time).
If, after Palestine, any frontline regional enemy states were to perceive Israel’s own growing sense of expanding weakness, this – ironically – could effectively strengthen Israel’s nuclear deterrent. If, however, these enemy states did not identify such a sense among Israel’s pertinent decision-makers, they could, animated by Israel’s presumed conventional force deterioration, be encouraged to attack. The logical result, spawned by Israel’s post-Palestine incapacity to maintain reliable conventional deterrence, would be: (1) defeat of Israel in a conventional war; or (2) defeat of Israel in an unconventional chemical/biological/nuclear war; or (3) defeat of Israel in a combined conventional/unconventional war; or (4) defeat of Arab/Islamic state enemies by Israel in an unconventional war.
Ironically, for Israel – hence, also, for the United States – even the successful fourth possibility could prove intolerable. The probable consequences of any regional nuclear war, or even a chemical/biological war in the Middle East, would be calamitous for the victor as well as the vanquished. Here, President Obama should take special note: Traditional notions of “victory” and “defeat” would lose all reasonable meaning.
All major Palestinian groups, directly or indirectly, are still committed by their various charters and covenants to both genocide and crimes against humanity. This is hardly an exaggeration, as the published expectations of all Palestinian terror groups plainly call for the physical destruction of Israel. According to The Covenant of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement is “universal.” All Palestinian groups – whether it be the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its subunits, or any other “revolutionary” faction – share an understanding that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad….” As for Israel, all Palestinians have a firm and unchallengeable obligation to “obliterate it.” The Charter of the PLO mirrors the Hamas Covenant, calling the “nucleus” of the Palestinian movement only those who are “fighters and carriers of arms.”
In unassailable Islamic parlance, all war dictated by the shari’ah is necessarily “holy.” Yet, the Arabic word jihad, which has the literal meaning of “effort,” “striving,” or “struggle,” ought to be approached and understood by President Obama with the greatest seriousness. A basic commandment of Islam, jihad is in an obligation imposed upon all Muslims by Allah, and it is now patently military in intent.
Derived from the universality of Muslim revelation, jihadcalls upon those who have accepted Allah’s message and his word to strive (jahada) relentlessly to convert, or, at a minimum, to subjugate, those who have not been converted. Regarding the State of Israel, this obligation is imposed without any limits of space or time. Indeed, this incontestable obligation must continue until the entire world has accepted Islam, or has submitted to the deified power of the Islamic State.
The Palestinian Authority and its allied organizations are obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel not only by the general body of pertinent and peremptory international law (law so fundamental that it can “never permit any derogation”), but also by the Interim Agreement (Oslo II). Here, at Article XXII, it states precisely that Israel and the PA “shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance, and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other….” In the Note For The Record, which accompanies the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding “Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement.”
President Obama, of course, is enthusiastically augmenting the Oslo and Hebron Agreements with his “Road Map.” Whichever codification is in preferential force, Mr. Obama seems not to understand that the binding Genocide Convention criminalizes not only various “acts of genocide”, but also (Article III) “conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. For the Convention to be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the State parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the State parties (Article VIII). Although this has never been done, President Obama – before constructing Palestine upon the ruins of Israel – should consider instead taking this very step. Israel, too, could become an obvious co-participant in this law-enforcing call, but it is unlikely that Prime Minister Netanyahu would ever proceed to do this without first seeking American approval.
The Genocide Convention is not the only authoritative criminalization that can and should be invoked against the interminable and illegal Palestinian calls for the mass murder of Jews in their own state. The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination could also be brought productively into play. This treaty condemns “all propaganda and all organizations which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form,” obliging – at Article 4(a) – State parties to declare as “an offense punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons.” Article 4(b) affirms that State parties “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offense punishable by law.” Still further authority for curtailing and punishing Palestinian calls for the genocidal destruction of Jews can be found at Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”
By definition, of course, all terrorist groups emphasize violence and the use of force, but the Palestinian groups are distinctive in several important ways. Most significant of all is that, for the Palestinians, violence is sometimes its own reward. Often rejecting more demonstrably instrumental views of force, Hamas, PLO and other movement organizations have on occasion come to celebrate and justify terror violence as an end in itself. The doctrinal root of this dark sentiment lies in their common and fundamentally religious hatreds.
President Obama still does not understand that Israel is despised by Palestinian populations because it is Jewish – not the other way round. In fact, Israel’s occasional capitulation to Arab terror tends to elicit even greater Palestinian loathing; as such surrender behaviors merely confirm the prevailing Islamist view of the Jew as coward. When Haj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, spoke together with Hitler on Berlin Radio in 1942, he cried out: “Kill the Jews – kill them with your hands, kill them with your teeth – this is well pleasing to Allah.” Today the PA/Fatah/PLO calls for annihilation of Israel – always denied publicly by “moderate” Abbas whenever speaking with the Americans – still remain undisguised at assorted PA websites and publications. The Hamas Covenant,of course, still calls insistently for the “realization of Allah’s promise: `The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, killing them.'”
Mr. Obama needs to reconsider his preference for a Palestinian state. He should know that in the final analysis, for the Palestinians – and for the Arab/Islamic world as a whole – the “Zionist Problem” is merely a surface manifestation of what is truly intolerable: This is, for them, the “Jewish Problem.”
Recently a prominent Palestinian “intellectual” wrote in Al-Ahram: “We are all, once again, face to face with the Jewish Problem, not just the Zionist Problem; and we must reassess all those studies which make a distinction between `The Jew’ and `The Israeli.’ We must redefine the meaning of the word `Jew’ so that we do not imagine that we are speaking of a divinely revealed religion….we cannot help but see before us the figure of the great man Hitler, may God have mercy on him, who was the wisest of those who confronted this problem, and who, out of compassion for humanity, tried to exterminate every Jew, but despaired of curing this cancerous growth on the body of mankind.”
(To be continued)
Louis René Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism and international law. He has on occasion been associated with certain federal agencies on issues of counterterrorism, and has contributed to such Department of Defense publications as Parameters and Special Warfare. In Israel, Professor Beres was Chair of Project Daniel. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.