Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Disengagement Deliberation

So much has been written by other, much more experienced Jewish bloggers about the impending Israeli retreat ("disengagement") from Gaza and Northern Samaria, that as a newbie, I have been hesitant to enter the fray. I am also fully aware that not being an Israeli citizen, I certainly do not merit the same say in this matter as those who live there and are directly impacted. Nevertheless, with the planned disengagement now less than a month away, I'd like to share a couple of thoughts that I've been mulling over for a while.

First, it is clear to me that like most other vehemently controversial subjects (e.g., abortion), both sides make at least some strong points with which it is hard for most rational people to disagree. On the one hand, barring a messianic event (may it be soon!) and also barring outright expulsion of ~2M Arabs, Israel will have to
retrench sooner or later in order to minimize the number of Arabs in its territory. And it is hard to see any area more logical for this retrenchment than Gaza. On the other hand, having to expel even a few thousand Jewish families from their homes cannot be anything but intensely heartbreaking and painful.

In addition, the conflict over the current disengagement plan is turning uglier by the day. I really worry that before this is over, we will have an Kent State-like shooting, or worse, in Israel.

So what practical/constructive suggestion do I have? I think the key aspect that has been missing is
Basic Negotiation Skills.

I have worked in telecom for 20 years and have been involved in negotiating many contracts with customers and vendors, for - obviously - infinitely more trivial matters than Israel's future borders. Yet even in that context I would have failed miserably if I did things the way that the post-Oslo Israeli governments have.

Rule #1 of negotiation is that every concession must be matched with a gain, so that at least some kind of a win-win outcome is achieved. E.g., if the customer wants a lower price, we reduce the feature content, or give the discount only in return for pre-payment. Or something! Yet repeatedly throughout Oslo, and now in the disengagement plan, Israel has given up land for nothing.

The fact that the current disengagement is being done unilaterally (to an extent) is irrelevant to this negotiating rule - in fact it makes it easier for Israel to set terms to their advantage.
(Just as, e.g., when I was the one to draft the initial contract, I would build in the tradeoffs to begin with that would likely have been negotiated.) So for example, in return for leaving Gaza, Israel should have a) formally annexed one of the "consensus areas" like Gush Etzion and/or b) created a new settlement in Judea/Samaria for all the expelled Gazan Jews to live in. Again, or something. Just to show that this is a give and take - with or without the PA formally at the negotiating table. We give away something, we get something.

This approach would make it abundantly clear to the PA that they did not achieve victory through terrorism, and would greatly soften the blow to the residents of the territories being given up.

And on
that note, the government has also utterly failed in another negotiation - its selling of the plan to the Israeli people. A referendum was suggested, and shot down for absolutely no good reason other than one man's political ego. Yes, it would delay implementation, but it would also significantly increase the level of consensus needed to implement a change of this import and magnitude. Arrogance and impatience are at the root of this problem. The proper time needs to be taken to build an overwhelming, rather than narrow, base of political and popular support for the plan. The government owes no less to its citizens.

I regret and fear the current plan more for its socio-political after-effects than for its more immediate impact on the Jews being expelled. Yes, there are optimistic ways to look at the government's motives. Biur Chametz suggests that the Gaza disengagement is being done so horribly on purpose, as a plot to make future withdrawals impossible. I'd like to believe that's what the government has in mind. Yet unfortunately, a precedent is being set. And once events are in motion, they tend to have a lot of inertia.


At 7/24/05, 11:33 AM, Blogger Zoe Strickman said...

Elie, the hard part is that while negotiation -has- broken down, we're dealing with a group that doesn't want to negotiate. Although slightly unrelated, I was talking to my Rabbi last night and he was telling me that the Lubavicher Rebbe said that he would technically be willing to give back ALL of Jerusalem for peace... the problem was that even if Israel did that, the Arabs would kill Jews more than ever. Defending Jerusalem and the other territories is not an issue of preserving control over holy sites... it's about security and protecting the lives of Jewish people.

In my opinion the disengagement is not the problem; the problem is the Jewish lives that are put at risk from the disengagement. We learned a long time ago that if you show them any hint of weakness, they will start killing Jews again. This is the problem. Security...

Anyway, thank you for posting on the subject, and I know my comment is off topic, but your post reminded me of the subject which I thought would be helpful to share. Also, I hope you don't mind me asking you this, but would you be willing to put a link to my site on yours? My site is seriously lacking in Jewish readership and I could use the increased traffic (and more importantly, the feedback) on topics that I am writing about on the blog, and I don't know how to attract more Jewish readers. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have, and I've enjoyed reading your site since I came onto the blog world in March. Thanks. -Zoe

At 7/24/05, 5:28 PM, Blogger Elie said...


Thanks for reading and for your well-spoken comments.

I don't disagree with you that there is nobody to talk to on the Arab side, and that disengagement may not accomplish its purported goal of increasing security. Both of these are flaws with the current plan, but I feel that poor negotiation skills and the resulting lack of balance, as I detailed, are at the root of several of the worst flaws, such as rewarding terrorism and betraying the settlement enterprise.

I'll be glad to add a link to your site although I doubt the few readers I have so far will make a big dent. It makes me think of the Rodney Dangerfield line "My fan club broke up. The guy died!"

At 7/25/05, 1:36 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

On a similar note, when Instapundit links to you it gives you a boost called an "Instalanche." I think if I link to you, you'd get a boost that would have to be called a "soccer kick." Not too impressive.


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