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Long term vs. short term goals (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Uzi Baram 06/06/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2012 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
I recently attended an event at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv commemorating the 35th anniversary of the 1977 political upheaval (when the Likud rose to power, ending a nearly 50-year hegemony by the Left). Most of the people in attendance were senior Likud members ó former and current ministers. I was there to represent the opposing viewpoint.

We did not debate the importance of the 1977 revolution, with respect to its value in teaching the nation about democracy, which is based on changing governments among other things. But then their praises of the revolution and its achievement began to go overboard. I told them that from their perspective there may be room for self- congratulations, but from my perspective, it looked like Israel´s governments were systematically "selling out" the long-term goals in order to achieve the short-term goals.

Obviously there was no agreement over the definition of long-term goals or whether short-term goals really reflected shortsightedness, but after that specific event I tried to discuss the issue further in other forums.

My basic assumption is that we are a small, magnificently accomplished Jewish country, located in the heart of an Arab, and mostly hostile, Middle East. In order to establish our existence and enhance our chances of survival, we have to derive most of our actions from this point of view. Reconciliation with the Palestinians is not a process that we are coerced by the U.S. and Europe to undertake. We must view this process as having existential value because it guarantees our future despite the unbearable geostrategic circumstances.

Representatives of the Right can claim that this is the classic debate between the Right and the Left and that their perspective is different. If this is the case, however, then the Right must present its long-term alternative, something which it has never done.

I believe that the leaders of the Right have pondered the long term issues and have come up with a laconic answer. "Israel wants peace but the Arab world refuses." This is a commentary, not an answer based on leadership. It ignores the fact that intrinsically there is no symmetry between Israel and the Arab world.

This is Kafkaesque policy. It is inflexible and lacks vision. A direct result of this policy is the fact that the most burning issue on our agenda right now is the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El. The prime minister knows he is dealing with a powder keg, and he is trying to defuse the situation.

It is a mistake in public discourse to try to indoctrinate the entire public in such a way that that will only bring us endless struggles for survival, while there are no guarantees that the geostrategic circumstances will ever change in our favor.

Obviously I believe that the settlement enterprise runs contrary to Israel´s strategic interests in the long term, but it is an existing fact that is impossible to ignore. Even our power of deterrence, which Israel´s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion cultivated and sanctified, elevating it to the status of a national value, has weakened over the years and cannot be relied upon exclusively as a means of existential protection. Building up a stronger army is an important objective, and it is an absolutely necessary condition for the achievement of long-term goals.

The goal I have presented here is not just part of the Left-Right debate. Aside from the extreme fringe, Israeli public opinion, including that of the more responsible Likud leadership, is influenced by Israel´s main objective - peace. We mustn´t avoid the truth regarding our dire situation. Our main objective is to change our situation. Anyone who thinks that achieving short-term goals will change the target in the long run is delusional, and this delusion will very soon explode in our faces.

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