George Soros is the billionaire who contributes significant sums to liberal causes (e.g. MoveOn.org) and the democratic party. In today’s London Guardian newspaper he contributed an op-ed piece entitled: We need to break this cycle of violence. In past posts I’ve commented on the use of the phrase cycle of violence suggesting that it leads to a cycle of stupidly. Here are Soro’s comments with a few of my own. He begins:
Israel's failure to subdue Hizbullah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One weakness is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.
So … Israel cannot defend itself militarily because in doing so, collateral casualties result and the “reinforces the terrorist cause.” Rather, after having its civilians attacked repeated, its internationally recognized borders broached by a terrorist state within a state, it should do … what? I know, it should sit down with a group that has sworn to wipe it off the map, or wait, maybe it should negotiate with their sponsors, but I forgot, they have also sworn to destroy Israel. Oh, well, we certainly can’t perpetuate the cycle of violence, can we?
In response to Hizbullah's attacks, Israel was justified in wanting to destroy Hizbullah and to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimise collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted Hizbullah from aggressors to heroes of resistance. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hizbullah.
Hmmm. “Israel should have taken greater care.” The classic left-leaning meme—bloodless war, no collateral damage. What Mr. Soros fails to understand is that the civilian casualties are Hezballah’s fault, NOT Israel’s. Hezballah put Lebanese civilians in harm’s way, not Israel. But wait, even if the casualties were on Hezballah, they “inflamed Muslims.” Oh my, we certainly don’t want to do that. But then again, it really doesn't take very much to get Muslims agitiated (can you say, "Danish cartoons").
Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hizbullah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognising this fact because it separates "us" from "them" and denies that our actions may shape their behaviour.
After years of frustration and negotiation failures, generous offers and irrational responses, Israel withdraws from Lebanon and Gaza unilaterally and this is a mistake?! If they stay, it’s occupation. If they leave unilaterally, making no demands except that the Lebanese and Gazans manage their own affairs and don’t attack, they’re somehow making a mistake? This contention is absolutely ridiculous.
A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish between Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaida or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations are different and require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hizbullah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because they have deep roots in their societies; yet profound differences exist between them.
They all do have one thing in common. They want to kill us (and the Israelis). Wait, they have another thing in common -- they all sponsor suicide bombers and blow up innocents. Maybe Mr. Soros might opine that they “should have taken greater care” when their suicide bombers blow themselves up in buses and in crowds of civilians. The fact that “they have deep roots in their societies” says a lot more about their societies than it does about our need to negotiate with them.
Looking back it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team.
It did. But there’s a small matter of Hamas undermining his every action. I guess Mr. Soros forgot.
When Israel withdrew from Gaza the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt, and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented.
This contributed to Hamas's electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to hold elections, then backed Israel's refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect has been to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.
I seem to recall that the Palis looted and destroyed the greenhouses, but, oh, never mind. And how about those open borders? What a great idea. I’ll bet they would have worked even better than the open borders between Lebanbon and Syria. Lots of missles and other things that go boom would have crossed with impunity.
By the way, why is it that the Left always put the onus on Israel to "deal with a Hamas government" but never puts the onus on Hamas to give up its "death to Israel" charter. Just asking?
Finally, after further discussion of Israel’s failure to properly appreciate the subtlty of negotiations with Hamas and Hezballan, Soros notes:
The time has come to realise that today's policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. Israelis must realise that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.
Seems reasonable on it face, and since it's the only thing that is acceptable to the Left, it’s not surprising that Soros recommends it. The problem, of course, is that negotiation is like the movie Ground Hog Day. Israel keeps trying it and the Arabs keep rejecting their offers. Not to mention that one of the negotiating partners holds positions (little things like the destruction of the “Zionist entity”) that they absolutely refuse to modify.
I suspect that the vast majority of those on the Left would agree with George Soros and adopt his comments with little reservation. But after all, nothing is more important than ending the “cycle of violence.” A simple sit down is all we need and Islamofascists will see the light. I suspect that the probability of that happening is about the same as [George Soros' net worth in dollars] to 1.