The PIE Syndrome of Israel's Leaders

The PIE Syndrome is rooted in the simplistic idea that Israel’s problems can be overcome by politics in general and by "Correct Political Analysis" in particular.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

OpEds Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg


Most commentators on Israel have been afflicted by a secular syndrome, a syndrome they share with every Israeli government, whether led by Labor Party or the Likud. 

For the lack of a better term I call it the PIE or Politics-Is-Everything Syndrome. The PIE Syndrome is rooted in the simplistic idea that Israel’s problems can be overcome by politics in general and by Correct Political Analysis in particular.  

Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, Israeli prime ministers are not devoid of Correct Political Analysis of their country’s most persistent problem—the implacable hostility of  the Arab Palestinians.  How could they possibly ignore or minimize this hostility when Israel’s own Arab citizens are exempt from military service precisely because of their enmity toward the Jewish State? Even President Shimon Peres knows this, despite his dovish facade.

Don’t be deceived by his “New Middle East” babble. More than thirty years ago Peres adopted the role of a “Machiavellian Dove”—the soubriquet of his mentor, the late Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi. With the best of intentions, these cynical politicians and professors play a game called the “politics of peace.”  It’s a mendacious game adapted to the mendacity of the Arab Middle East.   

It so happens, however, that those engaged in this cynical game to obtain power succumb to the notorious Arab habit of believing their own lies. Who would ever believe that Mr. Peres was once a Labor hawk! Or was so until his party lost May 1977 election and thereafter needed Arab votes to gain power.  (Yes, dear reader, that’s what the policy of “territory for peace” is really all about, as the present writer revealed many years ago.

But let’s not be too sophisticated. You didn’t have to read Professor Harkabi’s 500-page tome Arab Attitudes to Israel (1967) to know that Arab potentates are compulsive liars who exult in Jewish blood. It was enough to read journalistic accounts of PLO chief Yasser Arafat, the godfather of international terrorism.

This being the case, was it a lack of Correct Political Analysis that prompted Messrs. Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu to hobnob with Arafat or with his successor Mahmoud Abbas and, as a gesture of good will, to release and arm thousands of PLO jihadists—of course for the sake of peace and Israel’s security? Of course not! Only fools would do such a thing.

Israeli prime Ministers, however, are afflicted by the PIE Syndrome. This is why it’s futile to offer them Correct Political Analysis. On the other hand, perhaps there is something incorrect about what they call Correct Political Analysis! 

Consider the clever Mr. Netanyahu. Like his five predecessors, he released Arab terrorists as a “confidence-building measure” to diminish Arab terrorism! Like them, Mr. Netanyahu is suffering from the PIE Syndrome, which may also be called MIM: Metaphysically Induced Madness. This is the "madness" the Prophet Isaiah speaks of, the madness of Jews who remove G-d from the domain of statecraft, of Jews who believe in PIE, that politics is sufficient for Israel’s salvation.

Therein is the fallacy of what they term Correct Political Analysis. 

Let me not be misunderstood.  I am not opposed to Correct Political Analysis, even though my book Sadat’s Strategy (1978) was “politically incorrect,” since it revealed Anwar Sadat’s ulterior and deadly motives for making peace with Israel. Even before the book was written, its author was so “incorrect” as to warn Mr. Begin on the eve of his going to Camp David that Sadat was making “peace” to truncate Israel and thereby hasten her demise. When all is said and done, however, political analysis, whether correct or incorrect, is not enough!

Israel’s government has an abundance of evidence showing that Egypt remains committed to Israel’s destruction. But all this evidence is of no avail because Israeli governments suffer from the PIE Syndrome.  When Politics Is Everything, more precisely, when politics in the Land of Israel is not subordinated to the wisdom of the Torah, politics becomes a terminal disease.

Israel has been retreating from pillar to post despite the availability of Correct Political Analysis, whether provided by political scientists or political journalists. The Netanyahu government, in lock-step with its predecessors, has removed the G-d of Israel from the domain of Israeli statecraft.

It suffers from a self-destructive malady, the PIE Syndrome.