Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Great Error of Israeli Normalization

Israel has celebrated its 63rd independence day, but it is a hollow celebration in a country that is less independent than it has been in decades. Rather than working within regional and global realities, its leaders instead fanatically pursue normalization and stabilization. But normalcy and stability are illusions in the Middle East, as the past few months have reminded us.

Pursuing stability with unstable regimes is doomed from the start. Normalization relies on peace achieved through agreements with Arab leaders. But such agreements are always hostage to the corruption of the Arab governments and their desperate need for bigoted populism. Even an agreement with the relatively stable Egypt was not able to outlast a single government. The less stable Palestinian Authority breaks agreements as soon as it signs them.

The Camp David Accords, jewel of the normalization crown, have proven to be worthless. The Oslo Accords were discredited in far less time than that. Had Israel given in to pressure and exchanged the Golan Heights for a peace treaty with Syria-- that agreement would no longer be worth the paper it was written on. And yet in January, the Obama Administration was aggressively pushing Israel to turn over the Golan Heights, for which so many IDF soldiers gave their lives, for exactly that.

Arab leaders don't understand the Western obsession with treaties. Nor do they consider them to be binding in any way. To them an accord or an agreement is nothing but a statement of their interests, which becomes obsolete the moment their interests change. There is no such thing as a permanent peace agreement that binds nations and peoples. All treaties with Arab leaders are signed with individuals and their families. They do not represent any permanent reconciliation or normalization. That can only be achieved through intermarriage and complete cultural blending.

Arabs view the Israeli pursuit of peace as insecurity. When Israel talks about how much it wants peace, it loses face. The Arabs view such talk as a sign of weakness, an admission of guilt by thieves who now want to strike a bargain to avoid what's coming to them, or a disingenuous claim to cover up plans for war.

The culture of the Shouk, the middle-eastern bazaar, is the bluff and the mind game. To assert a lie confidently is to strengthen your bargaining position, to speak the truth softly is to be thought a liar. Everyone knows what they want, but no one comes right out and says it. No one but a tourist or a sucker. If you come out and say that you want peace, then you're either a sucker, a coward or looking for an excuse to start a war. Arab states assume all three things about Israel. Often at the same time. Because our behavior confuses them as badly as they confuse us.

Israel demonstrates superior force and then sues for peace. It surrenders to terrorists and then it bombs them. It retreats and then talks about a permanent settlement. Arab behavior often looks crazy to outsiders, but our behavior looks much more crazy to them. We think that they say one thing and do another. They think the same thing about us. And with good cause.

Arab leaders speak the language of the region. Israeli leaders speak some bizarre Western dialect that is foreign to the region and its sensibilities. Arab leaders assume that foreign diplomats who don't understand that what they say isn't what they mean are either idiots or being disingenuous. Confused? You're now an honorary diplomat. And Western emissaries either end up believing everything they hear to not believing anything they hear. But their problem is that they confuse the poetry of the words with the content of the message.

Israel pursuing the mirage of permanent peace and brotherhood is one of the dumber things they have ever encountered. There is no such thing in the region. The Arabs hate the Persians. The Sunnis hate the Shiites. The Egyptians hate the Saudis. Bedouin clans that live side by side for centuries have blood feuds that have gone on for centuries. Look at Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, any Arab country under a microscope and you see a whirling mass of smaller entities who only stop fighting when a stronger force gets in the way.

Everyone in the Middle East hates everyone else, and will go on feeling that way until the end of time. The only way to stop your neighbor from cutting your throat, stealing your car or making off with your daughter-- is to threaten to do the same thing to him. And worse.

Israeli leaders of another generation understood this regional reality. But the distance between the men who drained the swamps and fought bandits, and the men who live enclosed in the massive population density of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area, up there with London, Moscow, Tokyo and Rio De Janiero, has grown too great. They are intimately familiar with Tel Aviv, Paris and Brussels. But they have no understanding whatsoever of the people they live among.

Urbanization in civilizations means that the people who have the most awareness of an external threat, are cut off from the centers of power. Too many Israelis have come to think of Arabs as people like them who happen to speak a different language. Cousins they just don't get along with. Few would have been stupid enough to make that mistake seventy years ago. But insularity, multicultural propaganda and the popularity of surface elements of Arab culture have made it ubiquitous.

The New Middle East is a fairy bubble born out of that myth. And no matter how many times it bursts, there are still those who chase after it.

There can be no permanent peace or normalization with the Arab world, except within the context of regional realities. Those realities are that Arab leaders are obligated to publicly hate Israel, while privately cooperating on issues of mutual interest. Any written treaty is worthless, but oral agreements can work, so long as they benefit both sides. The Arab Street will go on hating Israel, as they have hated religious minorities and anyone who is different from them in any way. There will be no brand new Middle East, just the same old one as before.

The difference between the Middle East as it was and as it is, is window dressing. These are still borderline feudal societies with the important families controlling the land and the government. And the peasants having barely enough to tie their shoes together with. The Arab world consists of ramshackle post-colonial governments run by powerful families. The parliaments and ministers, the bureaucrats and officers, are generally the sons of powerful families, their nephews, distant cousins, and anyone else who can be counted on to be loyal to the tribe. Whether the men at the top call themselves sheiks or colonels, they rely on the support of that oligarchy, and rule through some combination of bribery and armed force. The Arab Spring is nothing more than prominent families and religious factions fighting it out for supremacy.

If Israel is to survive in the Middle East, it will only be able to do by accepting those realities, and maintaining its existence by demonstrating and using the power it has. The only normalcy and stability it can have is that the Arabs will accept that it is not going anywhere. Something that had already been accomplished in the late seventies, only to be trashed by bleeding heart leftists in the nineties. Only by making it clear that it will not be destroyed, undermined or bullied into giving up, will that reassert itself.

The State of Israel exists in a violent and unstable part of the world. That violence will be part of its reality for as long as it is there. There should be no more land for peace or peace initiatives of any kind. They do far more harm than good. Like any bad neighborhood, the only thing to do is secure your property, keep watch over it, move along anyone who doesn't belong there, and keep a weapon handy at all times. Only then can you reach a limited understanding with the local gangs and even gain their respect. That is the regional reality. You don't achieve regional normalization by signing a few accords and turning over some land. Instead you do it by turning your presence into an indisputable fact. And if you work with that regional reality, then the regional reality will work with you.


Anonymous said...

knish -- uraq!

DEXTRA said...

Like wine, you are getting better all the time, Mr. Greenfield.

Keep up the excellent job!

mindRider said...

Again so true your story Sultan yet weird, as we Jews originated in the same dessert and grew into a people understanding the ways of the local culture the hard way. Is it the dream of the making of a livable society from our Tora or the influx of 2000 years exile, where at large we where treated such that one can't say "they where pampered out of understanding the way of the world" that makes it so difficult for us grasp reality as it is manifest in daily ME life?

^TBS said...

Unfortunately the attitude of a posturing bully is completely the reverse of the kind of character needed for research and innovation, the two things Israel
has keeping it at the top of the economic tree!!
Perhaps the army could have another unit specialising in the Posturing Bully Narcissist necessary to keep the peace...

david said...

Sultan, do you agree that the daati leumi political leadership has what it takes to deal with the Arabs?

noboat1 said...

"Arab leaders don't understand the Western obsession with treaties. Nor do they consider them to be binding in any way."

To Arab leaders treaties are a tool, a tool in which to buy time. This is what western leaders refuse to understand about Arabs.

Yassar Arafat referenced the treaty of Al-Hudaybiyah several times throughout his political career. Ask a western diplomat what it is and I'll bet he or she can't answer.

Israel needs to continue to walk tall, and make sure it's always carrying the bigger stick. That's the only way they'll ever get the Arabs attention and more importantly their understanding.

SFMEDIC said...
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SFMEDIC said...

Having lived among arabs in the mideast for the better part of a decade I understand intimately the thoughts you present. Saddam never really believed we would invade and he could continue terrorizing his neighbors with impunity. The present mideast meltdown is nothing more than the result of the mideast apology tour Barack Hussein went on after election. Arabs saw it as the green light to ramp up.
Few from the west understand that an arabs word means nothing because to them lying is an artform and we have always prided ourselves on the adage "A man's word is his bond."
The only action arabs respect is brute force, that is why the region has produce so many military dictators. That is why Israel cannot compromise or negotiate if it wants to survive. Appeasement and negotiation didn't work with Hitler for the Russians or the British and it will not work for Israel.


Anonymous said...

Eli said:-
Absolutely wonderful stuff, spot-on. Problem is it's preaching to the converted; we need to find a way to get Sultan's articles to the powers that be, in Israel and the west.

Anonymous said...

Being the enemies of the Jews uplifted them from primitive tribes to no. 1 important "culture/religion" in the western world. No one would have cared and they would rot and fight each other until destruction.
We on the other hand have build a small secular europe in their midst with as much Arab understanding as the real Europe. By neutralizing the Sephardi community and destoying their traditions, many have adopted and identified the European, secular views of the founders. Israel never had much chance because you can't have European values in the ME.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article! I so appreciate your thinking! And I agree with others up thread that you deserve a wider audience. I hope you submit your work to other media outlets.

Anonymous said...

Why not send your work out to Breitbart, Pajamas Media, American Thinker, etc? They are all wonderful outlets that print the work of guest writers.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Thinker requires exclusivity, at least for a few weeks. And their requirements seem to be on the intimidating side. I might try it one day.

I don't even know how to go about reaching out to Pajamas Media or Breitbart's blogs.

Keli Ata said...

Israel does need to 86 all of the peace negotiations.

Neshama said...

Why don't you approach Barry Rubin who writes for PJ, but worked his way up also. He might be able to guide you. Hopefully you don't mind asking him.

DP111 said...

Israel faces more then a normal Jihad - super-Jihad, as it has taken back territory that was supposed to be dar ul Islam for ever.

Now Jihad is about the conquest of territory, especially Israeli territory. To defeat the Jihad, not only no territory be given to the enemy, but Israel should have made plain, that after each terrorist attack, a certain segment of Eretz Israel, ie the West Bank, would be irrevocably annexed to Israel.

This is fair, as murdered Israelis cannot be brought back to life. The whole Jihad business then begins to be counterproductive, while Israel starts to gain its historic land, and gain strategic depth as well.

This is a situation that the ME likes in a kind of way ie they understand the ethics and dynamics of such a policy, as it how they would behave- Victor dicataes the terms - period. Israel OTH plays according to Western ethics, and this confuses Muslim Arabs. A similar situation arose in Iraq when the US/UK troops drove in. Iraqis expected the conqueror would force them to accept their rules, but were shocked to see that Americans praising Islam and Islamic history. This will confuse anyone.

David Pakter said...

Dear Mr Greenfield:

Your understanding of the realities and clear grasp as to how the Arab mind operates is the best I have seen to date, anywhere.

How sad that so many inside and outside Israel live in a total bubble of self imposed ignorance, hopeless romantic dreamers who believe the enemies of the Jews and Israel can be relied upon to keep their word if only some scrap of paper just gives them what they say they want at some particular moment in time.

How very many of our Tribe have perished over our history (especially in the last century)due to the inability to imagine and accept that the very worst could and very likely and even definitely would come to pass.

Consider if you will the very sad and tragic old refrain:
"But it can't happen here- not to us. Things could never become that bad".

And then things become far worse and Hellish than anyone could ever have conjured up in their wildest dreams or more accurately- Nightmares.

Anyone who does not fall, hook, line and sinker into the "Give Peace a chance camp", is labled a Fascist, Arab hater, sick monster- or still worse.

I agree with others that your writings should be carried by all the more enlightened web sites. I guarantee they would ALL be more than happy to do so if you will simply contact them. It is not rocket science. I read your latest gem BTW, at LOVE OF THE LAND.

Do Israel a big favor and get your writings and ideas circulated much more widely- even exponentially.

Israel is endangered by all those who actually believe that everyone, (meaning the Arabs et al), in the Mid East wants the same kind of Peace the Jews want.

They can't believe that the countries surrounding Israel, (whose maps in schools where children are supposed to be educated)- do not include the word ISRAEL, want us dead.

Sometimes in life when people say very violent sounding threats, it is not hyperbole- indeed they mean what they say- literally. Hamas et al,is a very good example of this idea.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Greenberg, I believe you are underestimating your gifts. As for contacting these various media outlets.

AT: I don't think AT requires exclusivity. Here's their page on how to submit.

Although they state they prefer to print pieces not seen on other blogs, I've seen pieces printed there that were printed on the author's own blog, so I do believe exceptions are made. And if not, why not write a piece just for them?

PJM: Here's a link to their contact page:

Ask them how to submit. The caliber of your work is extraordinarily high. I would think they would be thrilled to publish a piece by you.

Breitbart: Here's the link to contact this org. Find out how to submit:

Do it! (Not to be too bossy about it!)

cornholio said...

I believe the Syrians formerly used the Golan Heights as an artillery position to shell Northern Israel.

The Syrian Muslo-nazis lost the Golan Heights while trying to destroy Israel. Israel owes them nothing.

David Pakter said...

The geographic shape of Israel today is the net result of half a century of wars in which the collective enemies of Israel-the Arab armies- repeatedly attempted in vain to wipe the State of Israel off the map.

The history of the world reflects that no nation that is invaded and successfully repulses the invasion in a manner whereby it gains territory, has any obligation either ethically or legally to return said territory gained in a battle of self defense.

I cannot for a moment imagine that the government of Israel is not well aware of these facts and has zero intention of ever returning even so much as a single grain of sand to its self-proclaimed enemies.

But I well understand that Israel feels a need to let the nonsensical babble continue ad infinitum. It certainly helps to push the next war as far into the distant future as possible.

Hopefully to a point in which the exploding of a few electronic gadgets being carried by Israeli drones will instantly place the cities of Israel's enemies and attacking armies in total blackout darkness with all their communication systems inoperable thus rendering any further military belligerance impossible.

In fact Israel very likely has already perfected the types of high tech military hardware that will make it seem as though the Arab armies are fighting with bows and arrows from the stone age.

But then why would Israel want to advertise such military advances now ?

Doesn't everyone always enjoy a good old/new fashioned surprise ?

jlevyellow said...

We in America have the same values as do the Arabs. Sorry! Mr. Greenfield's next article in his series of gems discusses how the bureaucratic structure of the US is becoming an unsustainable fiefdom for unions - sacrificing along the way ordinary people who are fooled by the rhetoric of "fairness" and "social justice."

I am particularly incensed about the dumbing down of our students to which Mr. Greenfield refers. How different is that process from the classic propaganda produced by Saudi midrassas or Hamas's suicidal rat and rabbit who died in their attempts to kill Jews while mirroring our own Sesame Street visual background and tonal quality.

abirmartialarts said...
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Ronny said...

The thing that makes me want to cry is that if we would just adopt the mindset of our ancestors, not only would we have peace we'd have allies throughout the entire region. We could make the middle east into an absolute paradise. If we would just lead.

But we are addicted to the "bend over and take it up the ass" brand of Judaism that exists in all segments of our society on all levels.

Even the "New Israeli Man". For all their bullshit talk, the NIM was just a tough talking gun slinging version of the Jewish homosexual, without any real character. Who would bend over for European governments instead of the local Pole or Lithuanian.

It's sickening, it's completely unnecessary. We are being butchered like animals because our spirits are wretchedly weak. We have great courage in many ways, but we are just psychologically and culturally broken from this fucking exile.

Our people can be compared to an incredibly strong, brave and good young man who was raped repeatedly as a child. Despite all his incredible qualities, this man, this people have simply been trained on the most primal level inside to cringe for others, and that is not going to go away so quick.

There is a deep illness in our people.

noboat1 said...

The first piece I read written by you was in the Canadian Free Press, it was about the US squashing critisim of Islam. I've been reading your articles ever since.

I fully agree with everyone here, you should get your work more widely published, you wouldn't have any trouble at all. You're a gifted writer with a great understanding of the topics you write about, many others would benefit from what you have to say.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

for the moment I have an exclusive article up at Front Page Magazine

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

ronny, unfortunately there's some truth to what you say

DP111 said...

If Islam ever managed to secure Jerusalem, even in part, then the whole of the Christian world, from the US to Philippines, will have to defer to Muslim wishes. For instance to secure access to Christian Holy sites, the West may have to grant a special place to Sharia law in their own societies. Thus the whole process of Dhimmification of the non-Muslim world will gather pace, as more and more concessions are demanded (Note the negotiating method of the Arabs).

Islam's claim to Jerusalem is totally spurious. Jerusalem is a Holy place for Judaism and Christianity only, and in that order. I believe that Jerusalem is the key to the West's survival, and not just Israel's.

We need to continuously remind ourselves, that the forces of jihad do not accept compromises, except as a short term measure, when faced with defeat.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related to Jews being all too willing to bend over at take it, if you will, Obama's request to have a video of a Jewish singing group performing for him removed from the Internet. And his request has been accommodated. Pathetic.

cornholio said...

DP111 wrote:

"Islam's claim to Jerusalem is totally spurious. Jerusalem is a Holy place for Judaism and Christianity only, and in that order. I believe that Jerusalem is the key to the West's survival, and not just Israel's."

I've just been re-reading a history of the War of Independence. It's interesting to note that the Arab Muslims shelled
Jerusalem indiscriminately, which really goes to show just how holy they considered it.

DP111 said...


When Jordan was in control of Jerusalem, Jewish gravestones were used to line the floor of public toilets. And we all know the state of public toilets in the Arab world.

In any other culture, I would have thought this was insensitive, but in Jordan/Islamic culture, it was not done for economic reasons, but deliberately, to show Islam's contempt for Jews and Judaism. That is the difference.

cornholio said...

DP111, Islam doesn't have any respect for any other religion. All evidence of Buddhism has been wiped out in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Afghanistan was once a Buddhist country). Nigerian and Egyptian churches, Turkish and Gazan synagogues, 2000 year old Buddhist statues, Hindu temples have all been destroyed by Muslims for no other reason than they weren't Islamic.

DP111 said...


It is for this reason that Islam must not be given an inch. One inch will lead to a mile, then before you know it, the nation is just one more Muslim sinkhole.

Jerusalem is in a different category though. Jerusalem is the where the Bible unfolds. As Islam thinks it is part of that legacy, owning it will give it all the reason to lord it over Jews and Christians. The other reason, once Jerusalem is under the Islamic hegemony, the next target will be Rome.

Jerusalem can thus be viewed as the last citadel, the fall of which will lead to the siege of Rome, and thence the West.

David K USA said...

My first day reading Sultan Knish. Remarkable and strong; I'm an instant admirer. Only Caroline Glick writes the truth as I see it so clearly

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

that's high praise indeed

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