The article is especially troubling since it is penned by such high-profile media personality as Rosen – and reflects a disturbing and unflattering picture of the mindset of many Israeli opinion makers - in terms of both their perception of morality and their grasp of reality.
Rosen totally misrepresents past events, stating that "prime ministers gained political calm when they did nothing (Shamir) but were ousted (Barak) or killed (Rabin) when they gambled on doing something." Is Rosen seriously suggesting that the crescendo of suicide bombings that characterized the Rabin era, or the Palestinian violence that erupted during Barak's term should serve as model to be emulated by Olmert?
But aside from the distasteful deception that Rosen urges in his blatantly undemocratic recommendation that Olmert use (or rather abuse) his lack of public endorsement to undertake a measure that too has no public endorsement, his proposal is dangerously detached from reality – particularly after the recent exposure of the Syrian regime's nuclear aspirations. Indeed rather than "bold" and "courageous" as Rosen would have us believe, the notion of relinquishing the Golan could be more aptly described as "rash", "irresponsible" and "shortsighted". After all, the severe hazards to Israel's vital security interests implicit in Rosen's suggestion are – or at least should be – starkly obvious to any one with even minimal regard for the nation's well being.
Even if Assad was totally sincere in his recent proclamations, who can be sure how long his minority-led regime of tyranny will endure? Indeed, the very agreement with the "Zionist entity" may hasten his overthrow by more radical opponents. How would Israel react if an extremist successor regime were to abrogate the agreement –especially those clauses which relate to demilitarization of border areas? What if Assad himself did not honor the terms of the agreement; did not dissociate himself from Iran or did not terminate his support for the Hizbullah?
Rosen implies that "most members of the defense establishment" back the idea of handing over the Golan to Assad.” This is a claim that is totally bewildering if it is true - and totally scandalous if it is not. One hardly requires the military acumen of Clausewitz to appreciate the huge military value of the Golan that gives Israel command over the approaches to Damascus and precludes Syrian command over the entire northern portion of Israel. This provides Israel with unequivocal deterrence, which has ensured that the Syrian frontier has been the most peaceful for over third of century – without Israel yielding a centimeter of territory. Only the moronic or the malicious could suggest that Israel would be better off militarily without the Golan. If widespread support for withdrawal does indeed prevail among Israel's generals, then it is based on a political assessment of the potential benefits should the Syrians honor their commitments and not a military appraisal of consequences that would surely arise should they not. And when it comes to the appraisal of political risk (as to whether Arab commitments will be honored or not), the military has no special professional proficiency or inherent advantage over any other informed citizen – whose evaluations are not clouded by career considerations that dictate deference to political masters.
Apart from the clear operational advantage that the Golan's topography provides the IDF, the intelligence gathering value of the area - particularly the ridge of hills on its eastern fringes and from atop Mt. Hermon (aptly dubbed "the eyes of the country") is indispensable. There is wide agreement among experts that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find adequate substitute to compensate for the loss of the intelligence installations stationed there.
Moreover, the estimated direct cost of evacuation of the Golan runs in to the tens of billion of dollars with some estimates exceeding one hundred billion. It is unlikely that a US administration – manifestly unenthusiastic about any dealings with the regime in Damascus – will contribute generously to defray these expenditures. Moreover, Israel will have to undertake huge investments in security and dramatically increase the defense budget to compensate for the relinquishing of the strategic advantages its presence in Golan provided. One wonders where Rosen would suggest Israel find the resources to cover these gargantuan costs and what sacrifices he proposed should be made for them.
Also, the Golan constitutes a vital portion of the drainage basin for the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), and crucially affects both the quantity and the quality of its waters. Experts have warned consistently of the catastrophic consequences for the national water supply if the Syrians prevent the waters of the Golan from reaching the Kinneret, or if they pollute them before they do.
Finally, the detrimental social effects of the prospect of a withdrawal from the Golan would manifest themselves in three distinctly separate groups:
The evacuation of the Golan – a region far more part of the national consensus than Gaza – would be far more divisive than the Disengagement. It would cause exacerbated polarization, deepening despair and disillusionment in significant segments of the Jewish population and growing sense of alienation and disillusionment with the Israeli state and its leadership. The inevitable result of this would be an accelerated unraveling of the social fabric and disintegration of social cohesiveness, gravely undermining the country's ability to contend with the daunting challenges it would still have to face after such a withdrawal…or because of such a withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the looming prospect of the return of Syrian rule will be a powerful inducement for the local Druze population to show their loyalty and allegiance to their new masters, and to endeavor to dispel any hint of suspicion of collaboration with the Zionist foe. It needs little imagination to realize that such a desire is easily likely to translate in acts of hostility against Israel and Israelis in order to prove their bona fide to their future rulers.
The withdrawal of the IDF from the Golan will compel it to redeploy in northern Israel, and particularly in the Galilee. Clearly this will require the expropriation of large tracts of land to accommodate new bases, installations and training areas. Inevitably much of this land will be in rural areas populated by the large Arab community. One hardly needs great powers of prediction to foresee the consequences of seizure by the IDF of land which the Arabs see as their own and which they depend on for their livelihood.
The foregoing list of the crucial advantages the Golan provides Israel, and the perilous dangers that relinquishing it would expose it to, is in no way exhaustive, nor adequately detailed. It should however suffice to demonstrate decisively that any initiative to withdraw from it would not be "bold" but "barmy", not "courageous statesmanship" but "craven capitulation."