As we near the end of a tense election campaign, one rife with exchange of accusations, we see that it has dealt with everything except what really matters to Israelis: How can we end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and when will we live here in peace?
The prevailing assumption in many circles in Israel for nearly 30 years has been that it can be resolved only through negotiations, diplomacy, compromises and painful concessions made by Israel alone. This presumption has failed utterly and completely.
It is rather surprising how this country, which prides itself as being smart—calling itself the “startup” and “innovation” nation—can remain stuck in a political realm of thought that has failed us time and time again.
Israel is called upon to constantly give in to Arab demands and tolerate Palestinian violence because as we are told ad nauseam, “peace is made with enemies.”
The Middle East Forum offers a completely different approach. Professor Daniel Pipes, the president of the organization, defined it as such: “Peace is not made with enemies; peace is made with former enemies.” Throughout human history, wars have ended only when it was clear that one side was defeated, gave up and surrendered. The world—and to a large extent Israel—refuse to internalize this simple fact.
The end of the conflict will only come with an Israeli victory. This will be achieved only when the Palestinians stop their terrorist acts and stop their campaigns of delegitimization for an extended period of time. They should show that they no longer automatically reject Israel, the Jews and Zionism. For this to happen, a drastic change in direction must occur.
Israel needs to show absolute determination and conviction. It has to exact a price that, with regards to Gaza for example, will convince Hamas, and the citizens of Gaza in particular, that their riots are useless. That the war is over. That there is no “right of return.” It must be made clear to them that they have lost the war.
Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords, 13 years after the disengagement from Gaza and eight years since the beginning of the failed Arab Spring, the time has come to sober up. It is time to learn lessons from the past. It is time to recognize the failure of the discourse of reconciliation and unilateral disengagement. It is time to learn from history.
We must prove to our enemies that there is no point in continuing their struggle against us. Now that the State of Israel is gaining unprecedented status in the international arena and cooperating with the Arab states, we must stand up for ourselves and defeat our enemies once and for all. Only an unequivocal victory will bring a real change in the Middle East.
The basis for any and all future negotiations must therefore be based on the Palestinian’s recognition of the fact that the Jewish state in its homeland has won, and only after they recognize their defeat will there be a possibility for true peace.
The Middle East Forum is working to make this concept of victory into a central and inseparable part of the political discourse in Israel. During the past two years, the forum met with senior members of the Trump administration, senators and American congressmen, as well as with Israeli government ministers and Knesset members, to promote the ideas of the “Israeli Victory Project.” It will continue doing so to influence the new government in Israel.
The “Israeli Victory Project” is solution agnostic. Its focus is on how to resolve the conflict and not on what form the preferred peace plan will take, believing that it is impossible to achieve a resolution of a one-state solution, two-states solution or any other proposed solution as long as the parties do not agree that the conflict itself has ended.
The goal of the policy is to put an end to the cruel mechanism of the conflict: through zero tolerance for incitement against Jews and Israelis, recognition of the historic connection of the Jews to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, normalization of relations with Israel, and most importantly, the end to the Palestinian sanctification of violence and culture of the martyrdom.
The time has come for Israelis to understand and internalize that a strong and uncompromising Israel that insists on its rights—an Israel that understands that it is winning, and that it will be the one to bring an end to the conflict and achieve the peace we all hope for.
Daniel Seaman is the Director of the Middle East Forum-Israel. You can find more in-depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il.