The problem with Israel in a nutshell is that the generation that wanted to live (i.e. survive) has been replaced by a generation that wants to be loved. I made this comment some time ago on DebbieSchlussel.com in response to a column she wrote about yet another concession (of sorts) that the Israeli government was on the brink of making. It wasn't a particularly huge concession and it won't make headlines anywhere. Suffice it to say that this was a good enough example to compel me to offer the thesis.
The problem with this desire to be loved is that 2000 years of history says it isn't going to happen. Moreover, outside of the United States (where we admire freedom loving people struggling to survive in a totalitarian region) there are few cultures that have any affinity for the Jewish people (or anyone for that matter) struggling for freedom. This includes Christian cultures (i.e. Europe).
In 1948, when Israel was born, there was little doubt what awaited the Zionists if they were defeated on the battlefield. Israel was small. It's armaments were few and they had to scrap for everything needed to ward off the invading armies of 5 Arab nations. Survival came first! It came first throughout Israel's history right up to the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
This is not the case today. Today, Israel is militarily secure from most threats. Even those threats (such as an Iranian nuclear weapon) that could destroy Israel carry a retaliatory counter-threat that leaves Israel confidently secure against rational enemies. (Naturally, there's concern for whether or not Israel's enemies are rational. That's a different subject for a different column.)
Moreover, today's Israel is rather prosperous. The influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union brought about a talent bank the likes of which Israel's founders could only dream. Today, Israel is one of the strongest magnets of foreign investment capital in the Middle East; more so when looked at on a per capita basis. Now, with the discovery of significant sums of natural gas, Israel now has enough portable fossil fuel energy to meet it's needs for decades to come.
Therein lies the problem. Few people recognize the threat to Israel's existence and therefore there is no sense that Israel is "struggling to survive in a totalitarian region". Israel is definitely surviving in a totalitarian region against some very serious threats, but Israelis appear affluent and comfortable.
In recent years, we've seen Israel making concessions to the Arabs; most notably the PLO with no reciprocity. Whatever reciprocity is gained from the PLO has been temporary. Terrorism subsides for a while and begins anew complete with more calls for concessions. In an effort to be loved by Europe and America, Israel has yielded to these calls more often than not because the threat of conventional military attack is not clearly seen.
In this vacuum of conventional military threat, a growing chorus of hatred now permeates the free-press societies of the west. The anti-Semites of yesteryear (whether Christian, Communist or Muslim) now seethe with jealous hatred for Israel's success as never before. No stone is left unturned; no libel is withheld. Israel's national sins, real or imagined (mostly imagined) must be punished by permanent national destruction. Never mind that this is a unique punishment that even the Germans and Japanese were not subjected. We're talking about the Jews and "the Jewish State must be destroyed".
Israel just wants to be loved and it ain't gonna happen. I know there's a lot of Evangelical Christians who love Israel. Gd bless 'em! Yet, standing on the moon and looking back at planet earth, that's not a lot of people. Today, the act of a Jew merely building a house in Jerusalem becomes an international frakus. How does Israel build a Jewish homeland if it can't build homes.
I don't know what it's going to take for Israelis to get a whiff of what's slowly happening to them. Today's assault on Israel isn't military YET. Today's assault on Israel is a movement to make the world safe for anti-Semitic terrorism. It seeks to give HAMAS, Hezbollah et al the right to attack Israel with impunity. During the 2nd intifada when a Palestinian "Minister" quoted Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!" he wasn't talking about the liberty to elect Arab leaders. He was not talking about the liberty of a Jew to build a home in Ramallah. He was talking about the liberty to attack Israel with impunity. We know this because most American-style liberties are virtually absent in the Arab League nations.
If Israelis don't get wise to this, the generation that wants to be loved will give way to another generation that merely wants to survive. If that happens, there might not be a whole lot of Jews left.
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