I emigrated to Israel in 2004, just in time to get caught up in the national debate over disengagement from Gush Katif, the Israeli communities in the Gaza strip. In the past eight years, I have witnessed the utter failure the “land for peace” policy that handed over flourishing Jewish communities to our sworn enemies. The idea at the time was to “disengage” ourselves from the “Palestinians[i],” and give them the whole Gaza strip so that they could practice jihad in peace. These peace loving Palestinians soon voted Hamas into power and began a reign of terror over themselves and everyone within Kassam and Grad rocket range that continues until today.
More than 12,000 rockets and mortar shells later, we are again posting daily rocket counts. Most reasonable people would take this as ample evidence that the policy of disengagement, also called land for peace, is not working.
So, I have a modest proposal: if land for peace doesn’t work, how about trying “land for war?”
Here’s how it would work. Every time someone fires a rocket, mortar, or artillery shell from the Gaza strip at Israel, we take back a certain amount of land. That is, if they
make war, we take away land, instead of giving it away. The more war, the more land.
I propose drawing an imaginary line from the northwestern most point of the seacoast of the Gaza strip to the southwestern most point on the coast. We are very good at drawing imaginary lines in Israel: Green Lines, Red lines, I don’t care what color we call this line, it is the next imaginary line that counts. At a right angle to this north-to-south imaginary line, we draw a line perpendicular to it that runs east to west and starts at the northern most tip of the Gaza Strip. Perhaps we can call this line the “Black Line.” That sounds ominous and final enough.
Now, what I propose is to move this imaginary black line south one meter for each rocket or mortar shell that falls on Israel. Once a year we move the border south the appropriate number of meters. I suggest making this annual adjustment on “Nabka Day” since it is already a day of rage and mourning in certain quarters of Israel. Only instead of mourning losing the war they started in 1948, Gazans can mourn the past year’s failings of their leadership to take any reasonable steps towards peace. They can mourn all the lost opportunities to make peace with the State of Israel that gave them all of Gaza in 2005, and offered them 97 percent of the so-called West Bank as recently as the Olmert government in 2009.
So, each Nabka day, anti-Israel activists can film the bulldozers doing their grim work, moving the border X meters south and soldiers stringing new barbed wire. After all, if we build a fence in attempt to keep peace with our neighbors, it is world news and an international crime. They can vilify us all they want – but it will be a direct consequence of making war instead of peace.
Think a moment about the tremendous opportunity that was lost in 2005. The 1.5 million residents of Gaza were handed full control of 30 plus kilometers of prime Mediterranean beachfront property. And the nations of the world lined up to pledge more than a billion dollars to help them develop it. If you gave 1.5 million Jews a billion dollars and tens of thousands of acres of beachfront property, the result would be another Miami Beach, or a second Tel Aviv within a decade.
What did the Gazans do? First they burned the empty synagogues. All of them. Then they smashed a lot of the 10,000 greenhouses, just for fun, never mind that Bill Gates and friends paid for keeping them standing. OK, they did make an attempt to recover a fraction of the flourishing hydroponic vegetable and flower business that the entrepreneurs of Gush Katif had built from scratch in the desert sands along this dry coast. Nobody is very impressed.
I had the privilege of joining a work crew in Gush Katif AFTER the official withdrawal. Several kibbutzim got permission to dismantle a handful of greenhouses over the course of one week, and move them by truck to a new location in central Israel. On taking a few of these apart, I came to appreciate the ingenuity and marvelous economy of these seemingly fragile structures. But I digress.
Let’s take a look at how this would have played out had the policy been in force over the past decade. Here is the raw data, as of this morning (Nov 18, 2012) from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Suppose we started our rocket count in 2001, when Hamas launched its first rockets at Israel. Before that, it was some other terrorist group. According to the MFA: “On April 16, 2001 the then Saudi Arabian-backed Hamas terrorist organization launched its first rocket into Israel. To date, more than 12,700 rockets and mortars, an average of 3 attacks every single day, have landed in Israel.” [ii]
Let’s see what the Google Earth map of Gaza would look like if we had implemented the one meter per rocket rule at various points in recent history. If, instead of our unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, we had implemented the “land for war” plan, Gaza City would now be a garden by the sea instead of a nest of dysfunctional terrorists and those too poor to leave.
But, let’s bend over backwards and be really fair. Rather than hold Hamas responsible for the damage it did before it was the duly-elected ruling party of the Gaza strip. What if we started our bombs for land policy upon leaving Gaza in 2005, since Hamas is now the elected government of Gaza, perhaps we can hold them responsible. We could even give them a few month grace period and start the rocket clock ticking at the start of 2006. Our newly elected Hamas government would have mourned the loss of a mere 1.123 kilometers of territory at the end of 2006. Sorry, I don’t have the daily data to compute where the line would have been draw for Nabka Day.
However, if that failed to change their terrorist ways, and they continued with 2,427 rockets in 2007 and 3,272 meters taken away in 2008 – perhaps the Cast Lead operation would not have been necessary. Certainly it would have been easier to carry out with the Black Line cutting through the northern quarter Gaza City. And the line would have moved even father south at the end of 2011. [iii]
But, what about the poor homeowners whose houses would be razed in my draconian plan? After all, it probably wasn’t their individual faults that Hamas gained ascendancy over all of Gaza. What about them?
Well, what do you say we give them a few choices? They can choose to become Israeli citizens, with the same full rights and privileges accorded our 1.5 million current Arab citizens – or they can choose to stay in Gaza. In either case we could afford to offer fair compensation for their property and allow them ample opportunity and assistance to move their personal property. Really. It would be cheaper than invading every four years to keep the peace.
How long would it take Hamas to crumble and Gaza to decide to live in peace? Good question. At the present rate, Gaza as we know it would be gone in another 20 some years. Perhaps at some point they would vote to become part of Egypt – but it doesn’t look like the Egyptians want them at this point. Not my problem.
Anyway, for what it’s worth. That’s my modest proposal. Think about it each time you check the daily rocket count.
[i] I put “Palestinian” in quotes because it is debatable if there really is a Palestinian people, rather than a collection of immigrant Arabs from around the Middle East who happened to be living in Israel in 1948, when Palestinian stopped meaning Jews and everyone else living here in the British Palestine Mandate. Yes, there are some “Palestinian” families who have probably lived here continuously since being converted to the new religion of Islam in the first Arabian conquest in about 600 CE. But there has also been a continuous occupation of Jews in this land since the times of Joshua, despite massacres and expulsions too numerous to name.