A Matter of Survival

Would Romania countenance thousands of 'demonstrators' from Hungary attempting to re-Magyarize Transylvania?

There is nothing innocent about the mass assaults we have recently witnessed on Israel's frontiers. Even if the mobs who attacked the border fences, and the Israel Defense Forces soldiers guarding them, with stones and Molotov cocktails had instead been genuinely nonviolent, and had advanced on the border attired in black tie and to the civilized strains of a Vivaldi concerto - it would make no difference. In Clausewitzian terms, this invasion is war by other means, calculated to destroy the State of Israel, and must be resisted as such.

We are dealing here with people who have no intention of conquering the country that they seek to infiltrate; they merely want to establish residence there. No country can tolerate an attempt to trample its borders. If the refugees in France's Sangatte camp in Normandy would commandeer en masse the Channel Tunnel bound for Britain, or if instead of infiltrating the United States by tortuous trails millions of Mexicans were to demonstratively cross the Rio Grande into El Paso, they would also be stopped forcibly.

This applies a fortiori to countries with borders plagued by territorial disputes or irredentist demands. Would Romania countenance thousands of "demonstrators" from Hungary attempting to re-Magyarize Transylvania? How would the Czech Republic and Poland be expected to handle a sudden surge of Germans seeking to "return home" to the Sudetenland and East Prussia? Even though in post-Schengen Europe there are currently no physical borders to dismantle (although the illegal immigration from the Third World may bring about their reimposition ), the reception that the intruders would encounter would not be hospitable or gentle.

Israel should therefore rebuff such infiltration attempts firmly and professionally, while attempting to minimize loss of life. However, if push comes to shove, we should employ all the means at our disposal with no pangs of conscience. It is a matter of survival.

In a sense we should ironically be grateful to the "demonstrators." The Palestinians in Syria, some of whom were conspicuously housed in dwellings that previously belonged to Syrian Jews, are not seeking to "return" to Gamla and Nob, liberated from Syria in 1967, or to "reassert their ownership" over Golan wineries: They want to get to a Jaffa that they have never seen. The same applies to their counterparts in Palestinian-ruled Gaza who march on the Erez crossing. Their aim is Ashkelon.

In Qalandiyah, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, the rioters took up Yasser Arafat's battle cry, from the second intifada, that "a million shahids are on their way to Jerusalem." When Ehud Barak foolishly put Judea, Samaria and half of Jerusalem on the chopping block in return for what was supposed to be closure of the conflict, Arafat and his million wannabe martyrs rejected the deal. For them it is more important to destroy Israel than to establish Palestine.

The events of May 15 and June 5 reinforce another truth: President Barack Obama's address last month at the State Department - in which he prioritized the setting of borders above resolution of the issues posed by the population exchange between Jews and Arabs, and the price to be paid by Arab civilians due to the failed attempt to liquidate Israel in 1948 - should be rejected.

The footage from the Golan this week was not pleasant, but Israel would have been in far worse shape if the Nakba and Naksa demonstrations had been launched from areas adjacent to Israeli population centers rather than from the periphery. Imagine the demonstrators sallying forth from Qalqilyah, abutting Kfar Sava, from the environs of Jerusalem or from the "safe passage road" bisecting Israel and connecting Gaza to the eastern part of a Palestinian state. That would make for even more dramatic footage.

Consider also a situation where, upon the establishment of a Palestinian state, Syria and Lebanon, which have vigorously rejected for more than half a century any attempt to induce them to grant citizenship to a million Palestinians, promptly deported them to the new state. The nascent Palestinian state would be unable to absorb them, and their anger and frustration would only have the rump state of Israel as an outlet. Perhaps in such a situation the abused tsunami metaphor would finally prove appropriate.

The last thing we need to do is to broadcast defeatism and desperation. Everybody felicitates former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on his recovery from a life-threatening illness. However, judging by his appearance on Israel Radio's Reshet Bet this past Monday his recuperation may not be complete. Ben-Eliezer told the interviewer that Israel has no response to the border protests and an attempt to explain its actions is doomed. We must therefore beseech Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table without prior conditions.

Why should Abbas return to the negotiating table to save an Israel that has no response? It would make more sense to ramp up the tactics that confound Israel. If Israel has no preconditions, you can bet your dollar (which is reaching bottom ) that Abbas will have plenty of preconditions, and first and foremost the ability to continue with these tactics from far more advantageous borders.

Dr. Amiel Ungar, a political scientist, is a regular contributor to Haaretz English Edition.