Two events--one at the highest level and one at the lowest--portray the range of security issues that seem likely to be with Israel at least into the near future.

At the upper level were a series of decisions involving the head of the IDF, the Prime Minister and Defense Minister to intercept an Iranian drone a minute after it entered Israeli airspace, and then in a complex series of events hard to sort out, to destroy the Iranian base from which the drone came, and a substantial portion of Syrian air defenses.

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By one report, Israeli intelligence and operations were sophisticated enough to destroy Iranian and Syrian facilities at one base, while leaving alone Russian facilities at the same base.

At the lower level were two soldiers, trained as office workers rather than fighters, who took a wrong turn into a Palestinian city, were set upon by what might have developed as a lynch mob, and were rescued by Palestinian security personnel.

One of the good things the US has contributed to Palestine is the financing of training--done by Jordanians--of security personnel.

They have not all operated well. Several have appeared among those acting against Israelis. However, enough may realize that allowing a lynching could provoke an escalation that would turn neighborhoods into rubble and produce a great many funerals.

It also helps that Israeli officials allow 100,000 Palestinians to enter Israeli daily for work, and overlook other thousands who walk through gaps in the borders.

Some of those go bad and try to kill Israelis, but the vast majority seem more concerned with their family welfare.

All told, it's about as good as can be expected on the borders of the First and Third Worlds, where there is distrust on both sides, and religious extremists contribute to the tensions.

Nothing is certain, but Israel's democracy appears as stable as any.

There's corruption at the top. More or less dangerous than nuttiness at the top of the US government and too many guns in the bottom of American society, British waffling about staying in Europe, or indications in France and Germany of tensions with Muslim migrants and right wing extremism?

Security is a complex issue. It deals not only with physical security, as in protection against the violence of individuals or mass attack, but also with assurance of  decent social services and economy.

None of this is assured for a small country in Israel's region, its history, and Israel-bashing as part of what's politically correct.

Among Israel's advantages are its people's history of several millennia, and lessons about coping with hostility and exploiting opportunities. Its social services are a decent mixture of public and private, more like those of western Europe than the United States. It's economy has had its rocky moments, but has been stable with growth and modest or no inflation for the better part of three decades. Its police are as professional as those of western Europe, and its level of domestic security--from crime and traffic accidents--is likewise in the European range and superior to what Americans experience. Actions against political and other white collar crime take long enough to tax patience, but reflect what may be an excessive Judaic concern for justice over dispatch.

It's a noisy society. Some would say noisome. Jews have tolerated dispute since they put together a Bible showing competing norms and tensions between kings and prophets. There's no better explanation for the country's democracy than the people's' culture, given that few of the founders came from a democracy.

Israelis quarrel about the quality of school teachers, the size of classes, and how their primary and high school students perform in tests compared internationally. However, the country's collection of universities compares well with those of other countries, and a growth of colleges has produced a situation where a high percentage of young people have some higher education. This also shows itself in high quality medicine with a workable mixture of public and private insurance, credible professional cadres in the security services and the more prestigious of government departments. The Ministry of Finance is arguably the most distinguished, and recruits quality graduates who keep other ministries from ruining things.

The judiciary is honest and concerned for a balance of human rights. The State Comptroller is one of the more assertive such bodies in uncovering sloppiness and other kinds of irresponsible administration.

There are several macro indicators that define Israel as one of the better countries. On lists of more than 200 countries it scores 8th on life expectancy, and 3rd in the incidence of college graduates. It's in the top 15 percent of countries for the size of its economy per capita, and one of the four best in terms of low inflation. Its murder rate is less than half the European average, and even lower when compared to that of the US.

And Israel is not a place where a troubled youth--or anyone else outside of security personnel--can acquire an assault rifle.

Comments welcome
 
 
-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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