AFTAU Teleconference: Israel Succeeding in a "War of No Choice" Wednesday, January 14, 2009
TAU policy expert Asher Susser says conflict has crushed Hamas and reestablished Israel's deterrence
Prof. Asher Susser
On January 13, the 18th day of the War in Gaza, American Friends across the country got an electrifying update from the front by internationally renowned Mideast policy analyst Professor Asher Susser. Participants in the national teleconference were heartened to hear him predict a quick end to the conflict — barring unforeseen developments, perhaps with a ceasefire in a matter of days.
Prof. Susser is the Director for External Affairs of Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, one of the world's leading public policy think tanks. He characterized Israel's two primary conditions for a ceasefire — that it be permanent, with no end date, and that it allow for effective control of the Egypt-Gaza border — as within reach.
“The war in Gaza is about more than rockets," he told listeners, "it’s about Israel’s long-term security and sustainability.” Asserting that Hamas is seeking to end the war as soon as possible despite the militancy of some leaders in Syria, he foresees a weaker Hamas, "cut down to size and less pompous" after hostilities end.
Shifting International Ties
Prof. Susser said the war is dealing Iran and its radical proxies in the region "a serious setback” and predicted that a successful ceasefire will encourage moderates throughout the Arab world. Hamas, he concludes, has effectively "been crushed.” It will remain a political entity, albeit lacking the same military and political influence it enjoyed before the war.
He assessed the subtly shifting alliances taking place among nations, noting the gap between public demonstrations in foreign capitals and the "cold shoulder" European governments are quietly giving Hamas, relieved to see its grip loosened. He predicted that Israel's success will now give Egypt greater leverage to act against Hamas, and said that even in the Palestinian community, there are widespread whispers that "Hamas brought this on itself."
In America, Prof. Susser said, Israel's success against Hamas reaffirms its status as a strong, powerful and effective U.S. ally, erasing any disappointment caused by the war in Lebanon in 2006.
The State of the State of Israel
Noting that the war has created a tremendous expression of national solidarity and unity among Israelis, Prof. Susser told his American listeners that "Israel doesn't want to stay until every last rocket is destroyed. Rather, we want to destroy Hamas' desire to fire them" by making it too costly to do so.
“The war in Gaza was a war of no choice,” Susser said. “It was imposed on us” by the terrorist activity originating from Gaza. The Israeli air and ground action, meticulously planned over a long period of restraint, means Israel "has turned a significant corner in its long struggle" — perhaps even carrying the psychological equivalence of the Six Day War.
During the stimulating question-and-answer session following Prof. Susser's briefing, questions from American Friends ranged from the war's expected effect on upcoming Israeli elections to changes the Obama adminstration might bring to U.S.-Israel relations, to lessons learned from the war in Lebanon, to the rebuilding of Gaza.
The engrossing teleconference was one of AFTAU's popular series featuring some of Israel’s most significant policy analysts and influencers.