Back in the fall of 2005 I wrote, in an Internet article responding to one of the early rounds of rocket attacks on Sderot from Gaza following Israel’s “disengagement” from the area:
“The PLO and its affiliates now have all the freedom they need to upgrade their rockets. The new, improved Kassam rockets will be able to hit Ashkelon from Gaza. Sharon’s Gaza capitulation will turn the Negev town of Sderot into Israel’s Stalingrad.”
This past week that prediction became fact. Ashkelon became the next victim of the Sharon-Olmert strategy of defeating the terrorists by waiting for them to run out of ammunition. The Olmert government is suddenly upset that Ashkelon was hit by Hamas GRUD rockets and is meowing that this really is intolerable and crosses all the red lines.
Translation: firing thousands of rockets into Sderot and turning it into the Israeli Guernica is tolerable and was never crossing red lines because who cares about those backward, religious Moroccan blue-collar workers in Sderot?
Olmert’s people are saying that if the blitz on Ashkelon does not end, Israel will hit back really, really hard. Of course Israel has been making empty threats to hit back really, really, hard for more than two decades. It did send some troops into Gaza in response to the latest atrocities, but it was much too little, much too late. Only a comedian would consider it to be hitting back really, really hard.
I’ve long suspected that it is the Israeli grand strategy to defeat the Palestinians by forcing them to laugh themselves to death. That seems to be the only possible way to understand the latest resuscitation of the RRH Doctrine, which has dominated Israeli policy toward the Palestinians and the Arab states since the early 1990’s.
The RRH Doctrine was invented in the early days of Oslo. Israeli governments would make deals to hand over most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the PLO, while reassuring Israelis that there was no reason for worry – if the Palestinians misbehaved, Israel would hit back at them. Really, Really Hard.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf was a far more credible strategist.
Even if, perchance, anyone ever took the RRH threats seriously, by the mid-1990’s RRH was little more than a long-running standup shtick. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres had threatened it during the early days of Oslo. Later, after each successive act of terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would loudly invoke RRH, but did little, if anything, to retaliate.
After Netanyahu came Ehud Barak, who also threatened RRH regularly. But his only implementation of it consisted of chopper attacks on empty Palestinian buildings – and only after the PLO was given advance notification so that all humans and terrorists could be evacuated.
RRH was also used by a series of Israeli prime ministers to threaten Hizbullah in Lebanon and their Syrian puppet masters. After each Hizbullah attack on Israeli towns or forces, Israel threatened the most serious RRH. But in the end, the only action taken was a panicked, unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which left Hizbullah sitting smack on Israel’s border with thousands of its rockets aimed at northern Israel.
Almost as old as the RRH Doctrine is the Who-Could-Have-Ever-Predicted-THAT Syndrome. Since Oslo, every new Israeli concession has resulted in escalated Palestinian violence. And each time the Israeli chattering classes would sigh and ask, “Who could have possibly foreseen this?”
Israel’s media and intellectual elite could not foresee any failures stemming from the Oslo capitulations and appeasements because the media and universities are by and large occupied territories of Israel’s radical left. The answer to the rhetorical question “Who could have foreseen the failures of Oslo?” is “Anyone not blinded by ideology.”
Predicting that cowardice in the face of rocket attacks on Sderot would lead to similar attacks on Ashkelon hardly required the prophetic skills of a Jeremiah.
A few weeks after the handshake on the White House lawn in 1993, I wrote my first article predicting the complete failure of the Rabin-Peres Oslo initiative. I said the PLO would simply use any territory turned over to it by Israel to build a terror infrastructure and launch attacks on Israel. I wrote of future rocket attacks and sniper fire against Israeli towns from the Palestinian-controlled areas years before they actually began in earnest. And I was hardly alone in 20/20 foresight.
Let’s give the Arabs some credit. Israel has made so many threats of RRH since the Oslo “peace process” began that a Palestinian leader would have to be learning disabled to take any of them seriously. If I consider them a joke, why should Abu Mazen and the Hamas leaders take any of them seriously?
The fast incursion that killed a few dozen terrorists in Gaza this week will hardly make a difference.
The Palestinians know what we all know: Olmert is afraid to take the only action that, in the end, can end the shooting of Kassam rockets into Israeli homes: R&D – Reoccupation and Denazification.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.