How did we get here? Israel’s policy mistakes and one American policy mistake

Israel made many bad decisions historically and appeased their enemies.  This is one reason for the terrible war now and the dangerous state of affairs. What I write here is not my playing Monday morning quarterback because I was deeply grieved and saw the error at the time of those decisions. We are dealing with two primary entities, the state of Lebanon and Gaza.  The Lebanon problem is older so I will deal with that first. Here is my list and explanation.  These views of the events were formed at the time of the decisions.

1.  The withdrawal after the First Lebanon War, 1982.  In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon to end the attacks from the Palestinians.  The campaign was known as Operation Peace in Galilee.  The Christian Maronite militia allied with Israel.  The terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization was expelled.  The hope was to see a Christian government under Bashir Gemayel that would make peace with Israel.  Many things went wrong.  For one thing, this leader of the Lebanon government was assonated.  His brother who came to leadership was weak.  Secondly, the Maronite army perpetrated a massacre against civilian refuges in two of the camps.  Israel lost her heart for the war after this and withdrew.  However, she should have continued to see full victory and then to ensure a Christian government in Lebanon.  Israel still had the Southern Lebanon Army Christian Zone that was controlled by the SLA with Israel’s support.  There was still a buffer.

2. The United States abandoned Lebanon after the bombing of the Marine barracks.  The Marines were part of a Multinational Force providing security and peace after the Lebanon civil war. Islamic Jihad, akin to Hezbollah, a Shiite group, sent suicide vans to bomb the Americans and French. The U.S. Embassy had been bombed prior to this.  My desire at the time was that President Reagan would go to war against Islamic Jihad, and take out their leaders, and destroy their militia.  He did not. He withdrew.  This show of American weakness empowered terrorism. Now the Christian leader Gemayel had to deal with this.  Islamic forces were growing at the expense of Christians.   

3. Israel’s decision to withdraw from South Lebanon and to abandon the South Lebanon Christian Army.  In April 2000 Israel began to withdraw from Southern Lebanon.  Israel was not the primary fighting force but a support to the South Lebanon Christian Army.  Yes, Israel lost a few soldiers from time to time, but the brunt of the responsibility and dealing with the terrorist Palestinians was the South Lebanon Army.  Yet for Israel, their losses were too much.  Yet this withdrawal would lead to the loss of many more Israelis.  When they withdrew the South Lebanon Army was not strong enough to continue without Israel’s support, so many were allowed to move to Northern Israel.  My daughter was in Israel with a group known as Souled Out at the time and remembers the pain of the Christian soldiers.  They danced and entertained the soldiers from this army.  At the time I shouted inside, NO!  I knew the vacuum would be filled by Palestinian terrorists.  Israel had a great buffer against Hezbollah, a Christian Ally. As I and others predicted, the radical Islamists took over South Lebanon and made it a place of operations against Israel.

4.  Israel allowed Hezbollah to regroup and be rearmed after the 2006 Lebanon War.  After Israel went to war in Lebanon against Hezbollah she made a tactical mistake.  The head of the military was an air force man who pummeled the infrastructure of Lebanon including Beirut.  This turned many who were not anti-Israel against Israel. Israel waited too long to send ground troops. I remember watching the news with my brother in Georgia.  He had been an Air Force major and was quite dumbfounded that they were depending on air power for so long and delayed the invasion. Finally, when Israel invaded, world pressure sought a withdrawal before Israel could decimate Hezbollah.  The U.N. then agreed to send peacekeepers.  The agreement with Lebanon and the U.N. was that Hezbollah would not be allowed to re-arm. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called this a robust Chapter Seven U. N. agreement.  I knew at the time that the U.N. would not enforce this agreement.  Soon Hezbollah was rearming and not only that but importing missiles.  Today there are from 150 to 200,000 missiles, some of them precision ones that are geared to destroy Tel Aviv.  When it became clear that the U.N. would not enforce the agreement. Israel should have gone to war and then said to the U.N., “Until you enforce this agreement we will return again and again and will enforce this agreement.  Alas, Israel allowed this to happen under successive governments, but primarily under P. M. Netanyahu.

5.  When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, they turned over the government to the Palestinian Society.  They were released to be a free territory with open borders to Egypt and the sea.  Hamas rebelled and overthrew the Palestinian authority.  Some of its leaders were killed.  Since Hamas is a terrorist organization, whose charter is to destroy not only Israel but world Jewry, Israel should have invaded Gaza. Hamas was still weak.  They should have said, that Israel would not allow terrorist government on its borders.  They then could have reinstalled the Palestinian Authority.  However, Prime Minister Netanyahu had the idea that as long as the Judea and Samaria Palestinian areas are ruled by the P.A. and Gaza by Hamas, there could be no two-state solution.  Of course, Hamas could declare Gaza a state but will not do so since they want their state and rule to first include Judea and Samaria and then all of Israel.   Israel then set a blockade to prevent Hamas from receiving offensive arms.  This policy has failed.  The naval and border blockades did not prevent a terrible level of arms and missiles from being stockpiled in Gaza.  Israel should as a policy both for Gaza and the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria say that no government will be allowed that is terrorist.  Elections must exclude individuals and parties that are terrorists.  Netanyahu thought he could contain Hamas.  He was wrong.  In 2006 when Hamas came to power, I saw the handwriting on the wall.

These mistaken policies have brought us to this sad situation, but the good thing is I hope that Israel will not allow Hamas to rule on territory on its borders.