Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Israeli Constituent ­ Realism over Wishful Thinking

The Israeli Constituent ­ Realism over Wishful ThinkingYoram Ettinger “Israel Hayom”,, December 28, 2012On the eve of the January 22, 2013 Israeli election, the Israeliconstituent demonstrates more realism than Israeli politicians.Israelis highlight security imperatives when responding toreality-driven polls, which pose questions based on the stormy ArabWinter and not on the mirage of the Arab Spring.Increasingly, Israelis recognize that ­ in the Middle East - bolsteredsecurity constitutes a solid base for survival and for the pursuit ofpeace.  They realize that the pursuit of peace, by lowering thethreshold of security, could jeopardize survival, as well as the slimchance for peace.Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly dovish Israeli media and academia,most Israelis ­ Right, Center and Left - have concluded thatsecurity-driven peace supersedes peace-driven security.A December, 2012 most thorough and detailed poll was conducted by oneof the deans of Israeli pollster, Mina Tzemach, on behalf of theJerusalem Center for Public Affairs.  The poll demonstrates thatIsraelis respond to real local and regional developments ­ more thanto wishful thinking - when shaping positions on the peace process,security requirements, land for peace, the two-state-solution andIran.  Such positions are directly impacted by the 20-year trackrecord of the 1993 Oslo accord: an unprecedented Israeli gesture metby unprecedented Palestinian hate-education, terrorism andnon-compliance. Israeli opinions are also influenced by the currentturbulence, unpredictability, unreliability, treachery and instabilityon the Arab Street. The Israeli state of mind is also shaped by theviolent Palestinian response (thousands of missiles launched atIsrael) to the 2005 Israeli “Disengagement” ­ a tormenting, painfulconcession of uprooting 25 thriving Jewish communities.According to the December Mina Tzemach (Dahaf Polling Institute) poll,most Israelis assume that Palestinians are concerned about theexistence ­ and not the size - of Israel, and therefore are veryskeptical about the Land-for-Peace formula.  Most Israelis do nottrust Palestinian compliance with agreements, and therefore aredubious about the Two State Solution, which they increasingly considera Two State Delusion.For instance, 76% (83% among Israeli Jews) believe that an Israeliretreat to the pre-1967 sliver along the Mediterranean would notsatisfy the Palestinians/Arabs. Only 22% (15% among Israeli Jews)assume that such a concession would produce an end to the conflict.74% of Israelis are convinced that strategic depth - a code word forJudea and Samaria- is pertinent to Israel’s national security.  21%discount the importance of strategic depth.  66% disapprove (and 29%approve) a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in return for a peaceaccord with the Palestinians and all Arab countries. 63% are against awithdrawal to the 1967 lines with minor modifications.A ratio of 65%:33% opposes the repartitioning of Jerusalem in thecontext of a peace accord; 65%: 31% reject a withdrawal from theJordan Valley; 68%:28% refuse evacuation of Ariel and western Samaria;72%:22% insist on retaining control over the blocs of Jewishsettlements; 73%:18% disapprove relinquishing control over the Judeaand Samaria mountains which dominate Ben Gurion Airport; 67%:22%insist that Israel retains control of the Judea and Samaria Highway443 connecting Jerusalem to the coastal plain.Only 20% of the Israeli public assumes that the recent developments onthe Arab Street are irrelevant to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeliconflict.  Only 21% maintains that these events warrant anacceleration of the peace process.52% - compared with 49% in 2005 - consider secure boundaries superiorto peace, compared with 36% who view peace as the prerequisite tosecurity.Most Israelis trust only the Israel Defense Forces to protect thecountry. For example, only 39% assume that Israel can rely on the USmilitary during an emergency. 68% oppose the stationing of foreigntroops ­ including US troops - in the Jordan Valley.  Only 26% wouldsupport such a deployment.68% do not believe that sanctions constitute an effective optionagainst Iran; 53% presume that the US will not resort to the militaryoption in order to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; 53% support anIsraeli military preemption against Iran, if the US fails to preempt.This most comprehensive Mina Tzemach poll highlights the Israelipublic as top heavy on realism and low on wishful-thinking.  MostIsraelis do not indulge in the New Middle East Delusion, March ofDemocracy or the Facebook and Youth Revolution; they brace themselvesfor the Real Middle East and its clear and present threats.  It is arare state of mind among Western democracies, enhancing Israel’spower-projection and Israel’s role as the beachhead of the Free Worldin the economically and militarily critical Middle East. It is asource of optimism.

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