Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST May. 26, 2008
Arguments against an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights are so
self-evident that they simply fly off your tongue. But that doesn’t mean
that it is unnecessary to make them. This is especially the case when
supposedly serious people like former IDF chief of general staff Lt. Gen.
(ret.) Dan Halutz – co-architect of the strategic disaster which was the
Second Lebanon War – advocate withdrawal in exchange for “peace.”
So here goes.
Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Golan Heights has been Israel’s quietest,
most stable border. This is largely the case because the Syrians know that
from the Golan Heights, the road to Damascus is wide open.
An Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights would destabilize the border by
removing Israel’s offensive deterrent capacity against Syria. Since nature
abhors a vacuum, Israel’s deterrent capacity would be transferred to the
hands of Syrian dictator and Iranian proxy Bashar Assad and his henchmen.
Additionally, in the wake of an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights on
the heels of Iran’s consolidation of its hold over Lebanon, Assad’s regime
will be triumphant. His decision to cast his country’s lot with Iran will be
perceived an act of brilliant statecraft.
While there is no certainty about how long it would take before Syria took
advantage of the new situation to initiate aggression against Israel, it is
clear that an Israeli withdrawal would raise tensions dramatically. And
those tensions would find the remainder of Israeli territory more vulnerable
to an Iranian-Syrian attack than ever before.
Today Syria already has the capacity to attack all of Israel with its Scud
and Nodong ballistic missiles. But while these missiles can terrorize and
kill Israeli civilians, their guidance systems are generally assessed as too
primitive to enable them to be successfully deployed against tactical and
strategic targets. Possession of the Golan Heights would enable Syria to use
more conventional armaments to precisely target IDF positions, arms depots
and attack formations throughout Northern Israel. So one of the consequences
of Israel’s handover of the Golan Heights would be a steep rise in the price
in blood that a post-Golan Heights-withdrawal-Israel would be forced to pay
to win any future military contest with Iranian proxies Hizbullah or Syria.
Indeed it would dwarf the heavy price that Israel paid for victory in 1967
And the cost of an Israeli relinquishment of the Golan would not be paid by
Israel alone. With Syria in control of the Golan, Damascus and its allies in
the Iranian axis would be even more willing to assert themselves in
battlegrounds like Iraq. Their renewed will to fight would limit still
further the possibility that the US could remove its forces from Iraq
without risking the prospect of Iraq being forced into the Iranian axis.
Moreover, with Israel’s strategic options massively curtailed as a result of
its surrender of the Golan Heights, the Iranians would have far less cause
to fear that Israel would launch a counter-attack in the event of an Iranian
nuclear attack on Israel or a preemptive attack against Iranian nuclear
IN HIS statement Saturday in support of Olmert’s announced intention to give
Assad the Golan Heights, Halutz said, “For real peace one must be willing to
pay a real price.” While this is no doubt a true statement, it is completely
irrelevant. Everyone knows that Israel won’t get a “real peace” from Assad.
Indeed it won’t even get a pretend peace from Assad.
To understand why Israel can expect to receive absolutely nothing from Syria
in exchange for the Golan Heights, one needs to look no further than Syria’s
last big peace treaty with a neighbor. In 1989, Syria agreed to withdraw all
its troops from Lebanon under the Taif Accord that ended Lebanon’s civil
war. Needless to say, Syrian troops continued their illegal occupation
Lebanon for the next 15 years and still today continue to block Lebanese
independence by arming Hizbullah.
Or consider Israel’s “successful” treaty with Egypt, under which Egypt
received the entire Sinai Peninsula in exchange for signing a peace treaty
with Israel. Due to Egypt’s willingness to sign the deal, Hosni Mubarak’s
dictatorship has been hailed as a moderate and friendly regime by the US and
Israel alike. And yet, short of going to war against Israel, since it signed
its peace treaty, Egypt has done just about everything in its power to
endanger Israel’s security.
At the cabinet meeting Sunday, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin warned the
Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government that Hamas has missiles with ranges
long enough to hit Ashdod and Kiryat Gat. Diskin added that with the border
between Gaza and Egypt breached, time is working in Hamas’s favor. With
every passing day of Israeli inaction, Hamas brings in more and more
Aside from Iran, which is the major source of Hamas’s weapons, Egypt has
done more than any other country to enable Hamas’s missile war against
southern Israel and its takeover of Gaza in general. As MK Yuval Steinitz
has noted repeatedly over the past several years, those missiles didn’t just
magically appear at the Egyptian-Gaza border. Those Iranian weapons are
transported in ships through Egyptian waters that dock at Egyptian ports.
The weapons are then offloaded onto trucks and travel overland across the
country before reaching Gaza.
Egyptian security forces could intercept these weapons at any point along
the way. But they pass through unmolested because Egypt wants Hamas to have
those weapons to attack Israel and to keep the border destabilized.
And if this is what Israel gets from our supposedly moderate Egyptian
friends, what can Israel expect to receive from our radical Syrian enemies?
Here it bears noting that Syria is still preventing the International Atomic
Energy Agency from sending inspectors to check out the site of the North
Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria that Israel destroyed last September
6. And again, if this is how Syria treats the UN, how will it treat Israel
after Israel relinquishes its ability to threaten the Syrian capital?
GIVEN ALL of these self-evident drawbacks of Olmert’s proposal to surrender
the Golan Heights to Syria, it is obvious that the plan is ridiculous.
Similarly, in light of the massive danger such a withdrawal would entail,
withdrawal advocates like Halutz are exposed as complete fools.
But the fact that this is true does not diminish the chance that Israel may
still give up the Golan Heights if those who advocate this policy remain in
power and continue to enjoy public respectability. Reality has counted for
little in Israel’s political and strategic discourse in recent years.
The lunacy of transferring control over south Lebanon to Hizbullah in 2000
and of giving Gaza to Fatah and Hamas in 2005 was just as obvious as the
lunacy of relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria in 2008. Moreover, the
lunacy of transferring control over Gaza and Judea and Samaria to the PLO
was obvious to anyone with eyes to see in the 1990s. And yet, even though
all the opponents of these strategic fiascos made these arguments until they
were blue in the face, Israel still withdrew.
All along and still today, standing against these voices of sane reality
were voices preaching utopian peace. Men and women like Yossi Beilin, Shimon
Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Shulamit Aloni, Tzipi Livni, Yuli Tamir, Sheli
Yachimovich, Amnon Shahak, Uri Saguy, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert
and their chorus of “peace” operatives in the media castigated all
proponents of reality-based policymaking as nothing more than fear-mongering
fanatics and enemies of peace almost indistinguishable from the likes of
Hizbullah, Hamas and all the rest.
And of course the voices of reason were correct every time and never thanked
for their wisdom. Indeed, they continue to this day to be condemned as
And in spite of the fact that the utopian peace junkies have been wrong
every single time, they are still the first to be put on television and the
radio to advocate Israel’s capitulation on every conceivable front. Even as
the cemeteries fill up with the charred corpses of Israelis killed because
of their utopian madness, they are still feted as experts and wise men and
The one hopeful sign of change is found in the Israeli public’s reaction to
the current malformed public debate about Olmert’s new plan to give Assad
the Golan Heights. In the past every time a government launched negotiations
or simply called for unilateral surrender of land opinion polls showed an
immediate jump of some 20 percent in public support for the initiative.
Today’s polls suggest that public support for a withdrawal from the Golan
Heights has decreased since Olmert announced he is negotiating their
If during past negotiations and planned withdrawals, politicians enjoyed the
support of 45 percent of Israelis for their moves, today Olmert has the
support of only 22 percent of Israelis for his plan to give up the Golan
The fact that Israelis are reacting negatively to people like Olmert and
Halutz and their advocated withdrawals for “peace,” may simply be a
consequence of the public’s contempt for these men specifically. That is, it
is possible that the public would be more supportive of capitulation to
Syria if more popular leaders like former prime minister Ariel Sharon were
But it is also possible that the public has finally had enough of these
utopian gasbags and their capitulation agenda. One can only hope that this
is the case. Because while Israel will not be destroyed if its leaders are
stupid enough to relinquish the Golan Heights, without the Golan Heights,
Israel’s chances of survival in the long term will be vastly diminished.