Thursday, August 14, 2008

How Three Years of Kadima Misrule Have Weakened Israel

The Hebrew graffiti on a bomb shelter in Northern Israel, pictured above, says it all. It reads, "Wake up, Sharon! Olmert is in a coma."

Evelyn Gordon reviews the sorry record of three years of Kadima misrule in The Jerusalem Post. She argues that the most damaging aspect of Kadima's record is how it has shredded Israel's deterrence. Ms. Gordon cites Yuval Diskin, chief of Israel's security agency Shin Bet, who identifies three major blows to the nation's deterrence: first, the Gaza disengagement; then, the Hamas' subsequent takeover of Gaza; and third, the Second Lebanon War. The Kadima Party was formed to carry out the first blunder, and presided over the second and third.

Contrary to what the graffiti might suggest, Ariel Sharon, as well as Ehud Olmert, must share the blame for the weakening of Israel in the eyes of her enemies. Although Olmert was the original public advocate of Gaza disengagement, the disastrous policy became a reality only when Sharon embraced it. Moreover, it was Sharon who orchestrated the legal parliamentary coup d'etat that made him the first Kadima Party Prime Minister. Following Sharon's election as a Likud Prime Minister, on a Likud platform opposed to territorial concessions to the Palestinians, he and his followers abandoned Likud when the party refused to back his disengagement idea, and formed a new ruling coalition under the banner of Kadima, without ever resorting to new elections.

Ms. Gordon augments Mr. Diskin's list by noting how Olmert has since further damaged Israeli credibility by refusing to respond to Hamas' continuing rocket and artillery attacks on the south of Israel, strengthening the Arab perception that Israel's armed forces are afraid to militarily confront the far weaker and smaller Hamas forces. Culminating this parade of errors was the Kadima government's agreement to a ceasefire that Diskin has characterized as a "lifesaver" for Hamas. Israel erased all of its previous redlines in agreeing to the ceasefire. It gave up its demand for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. While Hamas is not firing rockets at Israel currently, it allows other Palestinian terrorist groups to do so, and Israel has not responded to those violations of the ceasefire. Most dangerously, Gordon writes:

Hamas has exploited the truce to prepare for future conflict. It is training troops and smuggling in masses of arms (i.e. four tons of explosives). It is stockpiling nonmilitary essentials such as food and fuel, since the truce, with its reopened border crossings, more than tripled the volume of cargo entering Gaza. And it is building bunkers with cement supplied courtesy of the lull. All this will increase IDF casualties in any future Gaza operation, making governments even more reluctant to approve one.

She concludes that under Kadima's "leadership," instead of Israel deterring Hamas, Hamas is deterring Israel.

Moreover, a similarly sorry picture prevails in the north, where Hezbollah has replenished its pre-war arsenal three-fold, to some 40,000 rockets, and has upgraded its rocket weaponry to the point where nearly all of Israel's cities are within its firing range. Moreover this rearmament allowed Hezbollah to effectively take over control of the government of Lebanon as well.

If Ms. Gordon's column is inadequate to thoroughly depress the pro-Israel reader, one may resort to Caroline Glick's earlier column in the Jerusalem Post, entitled, "Ignoring Failure in Gaza." She discusses, on the third anniversary of the Gaza withdrawal, why the Israeli public has never called Kadima to account politically for the discredited policy of the Gaza disengagement, the failure of which became obvious within hours of its completion.

There is hope, however, if in upcoming elections Israeli voters first repudiate Tzipi Livni, the third architect (along with Sharon and Olmert) of Kadima and the withdrawal from Gaza, and then return a Likud-led nationalist government to power, probably under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu.


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