It is difficult to grasp. It is even difficult to accept. But it is no longer possible to deny the almost unthinkable truth.
Today the People of Israel and the State of Israel are facing a "clear and present danger" that is far more immediate – and arguably no less lethal – than any of the perils brewing in Tehran: The government of Israel.
There are doubtless those who would protest that such a harsh accusation is outrageously unreasonable. But they must confront the facts. They must not be allowed to ignore the undeniable:
It was the government of Israel that threw caution to the wind and – in spite of dire warning as to the consequences - initiated the Oslo process which brought carnage to the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa…
It was the government of Israel that – in spite of the dire warnings as to the consequences - foisted the disengagement plan on a misinformed, misled public and brought death and destruction to the civilian population in the South
It is the government of Israel that sits idly by while the forces of radical Islam in Gaza stockpile deadly ordnance, enhance the methods of their delivery, expand the ranks of their forces, and upgrade the level of their training - with the same indifferent impotence as it did with regard to the forces of radical Islam in the north.
And now, the government of Israel has, what can only be described as brazen impudence, to inform its citizens that it is planning to expose them to even more – and equally easily foreseeable - dangers by considering the transfer of the Golan to Syrian control.
Indeed, if even the upbeat assessments of the Israeli representatives at the renewed peace talks are accurate, the notion of withdrawing from the Golan is still unacceptably rash and wildly irresponsible. For Assad's current sincerity (or lack thereof) is entirely irrelevant in appraising the proposed evacuation.
What is vital is not whether he appears genuine in his intent to honor any agreement with Israel, but whether he will be able to do so over time in the future. As the Gaza experience shows, regime changes can no longer be dismissed as a mere figment of the right-wing's demented imagination, nor as nothing more than rejectionist scare tactics. They must be considered a tangible possibility and factored in the decision-making process by responsible government.
There is an array of crucial questions that have to be given convincing answers before the possibility of relinquishing any element of Israeli control in the Golan is even countenanced:
- What would be the Israeli response should Assad's minority regime be overthrown by radical successors who repudiate the agreement with Israel? In fact, the very agreement with the "Zionist entity" may be the catalyst for such a coup d'état -
especially if Assad was sincere in honoring it!
- Moreover, still under the assumption of "Assadian" sincerity, if the Syrian ruler did indeed repudiate his ties with Tehran and the Hizbullah as demanded by Israel, who would keep him safe from vengeful Shi'ite wrath? The fate of Rafik Hariri in Beirut and Imad Mugniyah in Damascus demonstrate that in the Middle East neither high public office nor clandestine lifestyle can protect an intended victim from a determined assassin.
- However, an actual overthrow of the current regime is not essential. If internal pressures, mounted from rejectionist elements, force Assad to retract all or some of his obligations, what is Israel's contingency plan? What would be Israel’s response to a gradual renewal of support for Hizbullah and ties with Iran?
- What if more clandestine Syrian "strategic" installations were uncovered? Could they be attacked - or only politely protested?
- What if "militants" established a presence in the demilitarized Golan – with or without the tacit collusion of Damascus - and rained rockets down on the north as happened in the south?
- How does Israel plan to operate the national water system should the Syrians expropriate the water resources of the Golan and prevent them from reaching the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee,) or pollute them before they do? Water experts have consistently warned that this would have catastrophic effects for the country's water supply.
- Media reports indicate that nearly all senior security officials - apart from the head of the Mossad - support the evacuation of the Golan, allegedly because otherwise the Syrians would be compelled to initiate hostilities. This leaves one to wonder why if the IDF cannot deter Syrian aggression with their capital Damascus in easy striking distance, how on earth will it do so when it is not?! Is there seriously any IDF general who believes that Israel's military position would be improved if the IDF deployed in the Galilee and the Hula valley rather than on Mt. Hermon and commanding ridges that control the approaches to Damascus?
- And then of course there's the cost: With Washington openly unenthusiastic about dealings with Damascus and burdened by huge military costs in Iraq and Afghanistan, where will Israel find the tens of billions of dollars that such a measure would require? For example, for evacuation of towns, villages, and farms; for the relocation, rehabilitation and compensation of their residents; for the evacuation of the military camps and installations etc.
- What sacrifices should be made to allow such huge allocations of resources? Social welfare cuts? Slashes in university budgets? Cancellation of infrastructure projects? Withdrawal of medical services? How would the huge diversion of funds be possible with out siphoning off resources needed to deal with the Iranian threat?
The Israeli public must insist on convincing answers to all these questions before any negotiations on the Golan are even contemplated; it must demand they be provided before even considering disturbing the status quo on the most tranquil border the country has had for three and a half decades.
In a democracy, the citizenry is ultimately responsible for its own fate - and the citizens of this country have learnt, by bitter experience, that they can no longer unconditionally entrust their security to their government's judgment. It has been found too faulty too often.