The Daily Star (Editorial)
December 28, 2007 - 3:52pm

Israel's accusation that Egypt is not doing enough to control its border with Gaza and stem the flow of weapons into the Hamas-controlled territory is nothing short of absurd. The suggestion that Egypt is secretly colluding with Hamas in Gaza is laughable, not least of all because of the long-standing animosity between the Egyptian regime and Islamists. Moreover, the Israelis themselves were unable to stem the flow of weapons into Gaza when they had full control over the borders of the territory from 1967 to 2005, when the smuggling of weapons was carried out under their very noses.

Far from being a two-timing ally, Egypt has been one of Israel's most reliable friends in the region. Since signing a peace deal with Israel, Cairo has worked both behind the scenes and in public to promote a broader regional arrangement that would greater enhance security and stability, often acting as a mediator with other Arab states such as Syria. The row between the two states is not a result of Egypt's bad behavior, but rather, is symptomatic of a bigger problem in this region: delusions about how goals can be reached.

For decades, the Israelis have been carrying out assassinations, demolishing homes, waging military campaigns and building concrete and razor-wire walls around their heavily fortified communities - all with the goal of securing their state. Israel will soon start constructing a new "Iron Dome," which will in theory intercept incoming rockets, but will in all likelihood be as ineffective as the countless security schemes that have preceded it.

For years, the Israeli people have supported these expensive schemes because they have been fed a daily diet of lies from their leaders, who continually claim that Israel's "ultimate victory" over the militants is just around the corner, only a minor - or a major - military operation away. But none of Israel's military operations have succeeded in curbing the violence, and the long-pursued horizon of "security" continues to elude the Israeli people. In fact, many of Israel's military operations, which have claimed the lives of scores of civilian bystanders, have had the unintended effect of stoking anti-Israel anger and thereby swelling the ranks of new recruits to militant organizations.

Likewise, Hamas' rockets have come nowhere near destroying the Jewish state. Although these attacks do manage to disrupt diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement, they do not constitute a serious threat to the existence of Israel, nor do they successfully advance the Palestinian national cause of independent statehood. However, negotiated truces and vibrant peace process  - not guns and missiles - have successfully achieved periods of relative security and wellbeing for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Israeli leaders ought to conduct an honest re-assessment of their country's decades-long struggle for security. If their real goal is to achieve security - and not, as the conspiracy theorists would say, to annihilate the Palestinian people and steal more Arab land - then they ought to come up with new policies that will actually help them achieve their goal. Israelis do not need to look to military technology - or to Egypt - for security. They need look no further than the Palestinians, with whom they have no choice but to form a genuine and inclusive partnership for peace.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017