The Israel Victory Project is a new Forum initiative to steer U.S. policy toward backing an Israel victory over the Palestinians to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. This new paradigm seeks to convince Palestinians that the Jewish state will endure.
Since its launch in Fall 2016, the Israel Victory Project has met with 51 members of Congress or their staff, laying the groundwork for a congressional Israel Victory Caucus. More recently, the Project has advised key officials of the Trump administration on the concept of Israel victory and its requisite policies.
Specifically, we explain (1) why the "peace process" failed; (2) the necessity of victory to end wars; (3) how Israel can win; and (4) how U.S. policy can support Israel victory.
The "Peace Process" That Failed
When Palestinians still lived under direct Israeli control before the 1993 Oslo accords, acceptance of Israel had increased over time even as political violence diminished. Residents of the West Bank and Gaza could travel locally without checkpoints and access work sites within Israel. They benefited from the rule of law and a growing economy not dependent on foreign aid. Functioning schools and hospitals emerged, as did several universities.
Oslo then brought Palestinians not peace and prosperity; but tyranny, failed institutions, poverty, corruption, a death cult, suicide factories, and Islamist radicalization. Oslo gave traction to the hitherto recessive Palestinian hope to eliminate Israel so that it became dominant by 2000. Venomous speech and violent actions soared.
As Palestinian rage spiraled upward, more Israelis were murdered in the five years post-Oslo than in the fifteen years preceding it. Further, Israel lost standing internationally as its legitimacy declined, especially on the Left, spawning the U.N. World Conference against Racism in Durban hate fest and the BDS movement.
For Israel, forty-five years (1948-93) of successful deterrence were substantially undone by seven years of Oslo appeasement (1993-2000) and seven years (2000-07) of unilateral withdrawals.
The False Hope of Finessing Victory
Israeli concessions have inflamed Palestinian hostility. The Israeli effort to "make peace" was received as a sign of demoralization and weakness. "Painful concessions" reduced the Palestinian awe of Israel, made the Jewish state appear vulnerable, and incited irredentist dreams of annihilation.
Wars generally end when one side in a conflict gives up hope, when its will to fight has been exhausted through defeat. In other words, wars end not through goodwill but in victory. Victory consists of imposing one's will on the enemy, compelling him to give up his war ambitions.
Defeat can result either from a military thrashing or from an accretion of economic and political pressures; it does not require total military loss or economic destruction, much less the annihilation of a population.
Thinkers and warriors through the ages concur on the importance of victory as the correct goal of warfare. For example, Aristotle wrote: "Victory is the end of generalship"; and Dwight D. Eisenhower said: "In war, there is no substitute for victory." Technological advancement has not altered this enduring human truth.
The Hard Work of Winning
Palestinians and Israelis have pursued static and opposing goals since 1948: Palestinians tried to eliminate Israel; Israelis worked to win acceptance. They are so contrary that no compromise can resolve the conflict; either the Jewish state disappears or its neighbors accept it.
To win, to be accepted, Israel must return to its pre-1993 policy of deterrence, establishing that Israel is strong, tough, and permanent. That is achieved through the tedious task of deterrence, convincing Palestinians and others that the Jewish state will endure and that dreams of its elimination must collapse.
This process may be seen through a simple prism. Any development that encourages Palestinians to think they can eliminate Israel is negative, any that encourages them to give up that goal is positive. The goal here is not Palestinian love of Zion, but closing down the apparatus of war: shuttering suicide factories, ending the demonization of Jews and Israel, recognizing Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and "normalizing" relations with Israelis.
Palestinian acceptance of Israel will be achieved when, over a protracted period and with complete consistency, the violence ends, replaced by sharply worded démarches and letters to the editor. Symbolically, the conflict will be over when Jews living in Hebron (in the West Bank) have no more need for security than Palestinians living in Nazareth (in Israel).
Israel victory, ironically, is good news for Palestinians. Compelling them to give up their irredentist delusion liberates them to focus on developing their own polity, economy, society, and culture. Palestinians need to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat to become a normal people whose parents stop celebrating their children becoming suicide terrorists and which prefers to help itself rather than harm Jews.
U.S. Policy – The Need for American Support
Like all outsiders to the conflict, Washington faces a stark choice: either endorse the Palestinian goal of eliminating Israel or support Israel's goal of winning its neighbors' acceptance. To state this choice makes clear there is no choice – the first is barbaric, the second civilized.
To support acceptance of Israel, Washington must not drag the parties back to more negotiations, but robustly supporting Israel's path to victory. That translates into not just backing episodic Israeli shows of force, but a sustained and systematic international effort of working with Israel, select Arab states, and others to convince the Palestinians of the futility of their rejectionism: Israel is there, it's permanent, and it enjoys wide backing.
That means supporting tough Israeli policies, from capital punishment for murderers to shuttering the Palestinian Authority. It means diplomatic support for Israel, such as undoing the "Palestine refugee" farce and rejecting the claim of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. It also entails ending benefits to the Palestinians unless they work toward the full and permanent acceptance of Israel: no diplomacy, no recognition as a state, no financial aid, and certainly no weapons, much less militia training.
The central issues of the Oslo Accords (borders, water, armaments, sanctities, Jewish communities in the West Bank, "Palestine refugees") cannot be usefully discussed so long as one party still rejects the other.
Negotiations can re-open and take up anew the Oslo issues upon the joyful moment of Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state.