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David Rovics a long time supporter of Palestine, performs in Nablus

Play his song 'Jenin'

Time in Palestine

Another War, Another Defeat

January 19, 2009 

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

By John J. Mearsheimer

Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don?t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.

The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel?s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel?s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran?s nuclear program.

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel?s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a ?Greater Israel.? Specifically, Israel?s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze?ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the ?Iron Wall.?

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Let?s begin with Israel?s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times? Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to ?build a decent mini-state there?a Dubai on the Mediterranean,? and if they did so, it would ?fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.?

This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel?s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon?s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as ?formaldehyde that?s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.? Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal ?places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.?