Paikin on Israel's Strategic Imperative

Zach Paikin is running for National Policy Chair of the Liberal Party of Canada. He is intelligent, charming, multilingual, respectful, and well-spoken. In a recent disavowal that his politics could influence the Party, he wrote that the National Policy Chair "is powerless to affect the actual policy of the party." I decided to look further into his political writing and opinions.

“Israel needs to be prepared to enter West Bank cities if necessary, and must be able to create a territorial arrangement therein that suits its interests. Furthermore, ceasing all financial and diplomatic ties with the PA is sure to have major impact. Same goes for Gaza: Israel needs to be prepared to go beyond what it did in Operation Cast Lead and achieve something much more similar in scope and result as Operation Defensive Shield (2002).”

posted by zpaikin 07Sep2011/2312h

“ceasing all financial and diplomatic ties with the PA is sure to have a major impact.”
Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been roundly criticized from within and without Israel for its humanitarian impact, obstruction of the peace process, and damage to relationships with Israel’s allies. To extend a similar policy to the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority will further alienate Israel’s negotiating counterparts in the occupied territories and inflict suffering on non-combatants in the continuing conflict.

“Israel needs to be prepared to go beyond what it did in Operation Cast Lead.”
Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s invasion into Gaza in late 2008, killed 1,400 Palestinians at least half of whom were civilians. In the end, 13 Israelis were killed, three of whom were civilians. While the accusation that Israel deliberately targeted civilians (contained in the Goldstone report) has later been retracted by Goldstone himself, there is abundant evidence that homes, food production, schools, and healthcare facilities were destroyed, crippling Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. Israeli Defense Force veterans of the operation voiced their shame at the heavy-handed tactics employed in a report released by Breaking the Silence.

Paikin characterizes the Arab Awakening as a Sunni Awakening, a religious revolutionary counterpoint to the Shia Awakening that followed Iran’s 1979 revolution. Yet the January 25 Revolution in Egypt was accompanied by a set of demands that included the scrapping of Egypt’s existing constitution (whose second Article declares that Islam is the state religion of Egypt and that Islamic law is its principal source of legislation) in favour of one inspired by Western liberal democracies.

The promise of a plural society and liberal democracy in Egypt needs to be enabled by the West, particularly by those purporting to be liberals themselves, rather than drowning out this rallying cry with a narrative that focuses on Israel’s strategic implications. The region is watching how successfully Egypt navigates its constitutional reforms. Egypt will doubtless be a model for other nations in the region, for better or worse.

There is no question that Egypt’s emergence as a liberal democracy is threatened by a rampant military—with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces casting itself as the sentinel on guard against the Islamists—and surging popular support for the Muslim Brotherhood. At least the Salafist Al-Nour Party has a total of only 5 of the first 168 seats decided to date, a convincing renunciation of the party’s strict Islamist platform. The SCAF’s continued insistence on independence from oversight by the government could result in another Pakistan if the West throws its lot in with the SCAF and not the parliamentary assembly.

Paikin links the threat of political instability in the Middle East to Western nations by raising the spectre of a reprisal of the OPEC Oil Embargo of 1973. Rather than focusing on a policy of energy independence to remove this Sword of Damocles, Paikin instead advocates for a turning of the screw: pre-emptive strikes on Middle East states by Israel. He seems nostalgic for a time when compliant tyrants reigned everywhere in the Middle East. He juxtaposes this nostalgia for the devils we knew with his plug for
Israel as “the region’s only liberal democracy.” Does he truly aspire for Israel to enjoy some company in this category? Or for Israel to enjoy only hegemony, whatever the cost?

Columns by Zach Paikin:

The Good
- combine US and Canadian resources to fight terrorism and cyber-warfare
- sign a joint Canada-US carbon tax policy
- go beyond traditional free trade agreements to reduce barriers to mobility and investment
- make bilateral agreements with India and China a top priority
- make education, agriculture, and technology prime components of our aid strategy

The Bad
- proceed with the purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets
- negotiate a ballistic missile defense pact with US and Europe
- double the size of the Canadian military

The Ugly
- press the United States to keep Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay as long as possible
- designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization
- replace CIDA with "more effective, independent operating units"; i.e. eliminate CIDA


fred said...

Nice to know at least one Liberal has a favourable view of Israel and its need to protect its people.

igm said...

Thanks for recognizing that, Fred. Although that might not have come across in this post, you've doubtless seen previous posts in which I denounce Hamas for its "characteristic bloodthirsty rhetoric, defiance, and reckless endangerment of the citizens it is charged to protect."

The way forward in the region is an acknowledgment of the need for a Jewish national home and that Israel has the right to exist. Multilateral or a series of bilateral agreements with regional partners can help Israel secure that peace as with Egypt--a fragile peace I concede.

I am not convinced that Israel is a good faith negotiating partner on Palestinian independence. I'm not going out on a limb here.

I am also not convinced that on the Palestinian side there are good faith negotiating partners. And civilians in Israel and the Occupied Territories are at the mercy of leadership with unrealistic aspirations on both sides of this continuing conflict.

The dream, from my perspective, is the political, geographic, social and economic integration that a One State Solution could confer.

After speaking with Zack I've revisited my classification of his recommendation on the IRGC as 'Ugly.' I thought they were exclusively a domestic paramilitary organization but I now understand they have been active beyond their borders in acts of aggression reasonably categorized as terror.