Nave Dromi, director of the Middle East Forum's office in Israel, spoke to participants in a December 24 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the achievements of the Israel Victory Project (IVP). Introduced by Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes in 2017, IVP advances a new paradigm for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict centered on defeating the Palestinians and convincing them to abandon their rejection of the Jewish state.
Dromi focused on IVP activities in Israel, where IVP partners with former high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commanders and other opinion leaders across the political spectrum to promote the Israel Victory (IV) paradigm and "bring [it] to the front of the Israeli discourse" through articles, media interviews, and events. Reflecting the success of these efforts, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gen. Aviv Kochavi has abandoned the tepid vocabulary used by his predecessors to describe the IDF's mission, which is now explicitly geared to "the need to defeat Israel's enemies."
IVP has also made progress on specific policy issues, such as the need to combat the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "pay to slay" practice of incentivizing terrorists to murder Israelis by paying them and their families a salary after they are imprisoned or killed for their crimes. The recent case of Esther Horgen, an Israeli mother of six murdered by a Palestinian terrorist as she was out jogging near her home, reminded Israelis that this practice still continues. Working in concert with Palestinian Media Watch, "we managed to put a spotlight on this issue, that for many years was very comfortable for Israeli politicians to ignore."
The necessity of imposing harsher consequences on the PA for its "pay for slay" practice was highlighted at Knesset Israel Victory Caucus event that focused on the 20-year anniversary of the October 12, 2000 mob lynching of two Israeli reservists who took a wrong turn into Ramallah. At the time, Israelis were aghast at images of Palestinians' "partying in the streets" over the bloody murders, yet the murderers who were caught are "still in ... Israeli prison, getting a lot of money for the[ir] crime."
Israelis watching live coverage of the event on Israel's Channel Seven were shocked to hear the brother of one the victims testify that "the government never really punished those terrorists."
It is important to "show the Palestinians that the way that they treat Jews and other non-Muslims ... won't last."
Following the event, IVP expanded the need for "victory" discussions to other areas, such as the Temple Mount. Currently the Temple Mount is managed by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which prohibits Jewish prayers at the site. Israeli authorities have for years accepted this for fear that violence will erupt if Jews are given the same "basic rights that other people have." But Dromi said it is important to "show the Palestinians that the way that they treat Jews and other non-Muslims ... won't last."
Although support for the Israel Victory paradigm is growing, the campaign faces stiff resistance from some Israelis. Last year, IVP erected billboards in Tel Aviv displaying images of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh on their knees in defeat, with the caption "Peace is made only with defeated enemies."
In response, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai ordered the billboards taken down, an act heavily criticized by the Israeli public. Dromi was interviewed about the controversy on Israeli radio, along with a Tel Aviv municipal spokesperson who shamefully compared the IVP billboard campaign to the atrocities of ISIS and the Nazis. The Middle East Forum took legal action to restore the billboards and prevailed in the Israeli Supreme Court shortly after Dromi's webinar.
The only way to achieve peace is to make it clear to the Palestinians that "they have no chance" of prevailing. But getting there will first require a shift in the national mindset toward achieving an unambiguous victory over Palestinian terror. Despite the fierce opposition of left-wing organizations and NGOs, that change in mindset is underway, said Dromi. She highlighted the recent case of an Israeli soldier on guard duty who did nothing to respond to a Palestinian who got out of his car, threw a Molotov cocktail at him, and drove away. The soldier was punished for his dereliction of duty, which is a consequence that would not have occurred a few years ago.
Palestinians still "hope to have our state." Israel Victory is about "mak[ing] them lose this hope."
Dromi rejects the argument that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state will bring about a resolution to the conflict. The Palestinians have "had many chances to have a state." The reason the Palestinians don't have state of their own is that they still "hope to have our state," said Dromi. Israel Victory "is about how you make them lose this hope."
Marilyn Stern is communications coordinator at the Middle East Forum.