Gina Faigen, daughter of the late Dr. Morris H. Faigen, who founded the annual Faigen Family Lecture Series, with this year’s speaker Daniel Pipes. (photo by Jocelyne Hallé)
Israel should stop trying to find a negotiated solution that provides a mutually agreeable resolution to the conflict with Palestinians, says Daniel Pipes, and instead declare victory and force the Palestinians into the realization that they have been defeated.
Pipes, a commentator and historian who is president of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, made the comments in Vancouver May 9 at the fifth annual Faigen Family Lecture.
The idea of land for peace, in which Israel gives up concrete real estate for the “ephemeral idea” of peace, has failed, he said.
“We can all agree that the Israelis do not have more peace for giving up Gaza and parts of the West Bank,” said Pipes. “It’s not working.” Instead, he said, Palestinians view Israeli concessions as a sign of weakness and this has led not to increased peace, but to increased hostility.
“Rather than mediation and compromise and painful concessions, such has been the case, how about something different?” Pipes asked. “How about Israel wins and the Palestinians lose? How about Israeli victory?
“Victory is not a term you hear much,” he continued. “People talk about a peace process, negotiations, but this is a conflict, this is a war. It’s been a war for a century. And an end comes to a war when one side acknowledges that it’s lost, that the gig is up, that it cannot win.”
Germany lost the First World War, Pipes said, but they didn’t feel defeated. They wanted another round and they got it in 1939. After 1945, the Allies realized they had to demilitarize Germany and Japan, to demonstrate that they had been conclusively defeated.
“Defeat is sanitary,” said Pipes. “Defeat allows you to move on.… I think that’s what the Palestinians need. Not only for Israel’s sake – obviously for Israel’s sake – but also for the Palestinians’ sake. Only by being defeated can the Palestinians stop obsessing over harming Israel and instead start building their own polity, culture, society. It’s good for everyone, Palestinians as well.”
Pipes clarified: “I’m not calling for killing Palestinians.” The idea is to impose on Palestinians the sense that they have lost.
“There’s no point in getting into the details,” he added.
He would like to see Western governments adopt policies that would urge the Israelis to win the conflict.
“We don’t go to the negotiating table. It doesn’t work. We need to win,” he said. “Let’s give up on this failed, decades-old effort to have the Israelis give more and the Palestinians take more and give nothing in return.”
Questioned by an audience member on what victory would look like, Pipes said: “You’ll know that Israel has won when the Jews of Hebron have no more need for security than the Arabs of Nazareth … when an irate Palestinian writes a strongly worded letter to the editor.”
Pressed on how such a victory would be achieved, Pipes at first demurred.
“I did not talk about how to get there because I would encourage you to see things this way,” he said, before giving some examples.
“The other day there was shooting out of Gaza. The Israelis replied with shooting back into Gaza,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be more effective to cut off the water and electricity for a day? The next time two days? Wouldn’t that send a signal? Why don’t the Israelis do that? Because they don’t have a plan for victory.”
Until 1993, Pipes said, Israel strove for victory.
With the Oslo process that began in 1993, and after, Pipes said, Israel adopted a policy of appeasement. When that failed in about 2000, they adopted a policy of unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza.
“And, since about 2006, there’s been no policy at all,” he said. “I think we should return – it’s not my idea – return to the old ways.”
Palestinians need to realize that their strategy isn’t working, he said.
“They’re engaging in suicide stabbings and other atrocities because they think this will help the Palestinians win,” he said. “If you can convince them there’s no chance of this working, why would a sane individual – and these are, they’re perfectly normal – why would they give up their lives? They believe that they are on a path to victory. Convince them that they are not on the path to victory and I think they will be less likely to engage in this kind of violence.”
Pipes acknowledged that people say the Palestinians will never accept defeat.
“But I say, the Germans did, the Japanese did,” said Pipes. An audience member noted that the Palestinians have an international support network that the Germans and Japanese did not.
“They do,” Pipes responded. “All those professors of English.… In the end, what really counts is, for example, water and electricity.”
While Israelis and Americans are trying to find creative ideas to hasten peace, “Palestinians aren’t playing around with creative ideas,” he said. “They’re killing.”
If the Palestinians can be convinced to give up the fight against Israel, Pipes believes that the rest of the Arab and Muslim world will similarly give up. He called Palestinians “the tip of the spear,” saying it’s hard to be more anti-Zionist than the Palestinians.
Though Pipes believes Arab and Muslim states may be tiring of losing to Israel, “I don’t see any fatigue at all” among leftists who are rallying against the Jewish state.
About the United States, Pipes said President Barack Obama seems to think that U.S. foreign policy before him has been a force for ill rather than for good in the world. Obama is making overtures to the traditional enemies of the United States, including Cuba and Iran, and paying less attention to allies, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, said Pipes.
Were Donald Trump to find himself president of the United States, Pipes worries that the “consummate dealmaker” would, like all his predecessors, fail at facilitating an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
“He would call them in, he would give them his instructions, they would reject him and he would blame guess who?” Pipes speculated. “I suspect he would turn against Israel.”
The Faigen Family Lecture Series – which is held in partnership with Vancouver Hebrew Academy – was founded by the late Dr. Morris H. Faigen, who passed away in 2012. The evening was introduced by his daughter, Gina, who said her father wanted a forum for conservative perspectives on Israel but also one where people with a more liberal perspective, like her, could engage.