IDF reserve soldiers drill 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Reading the Israeli newspapers and online news sites these past few weeks, one
might fall under the impression that our country is located somewhere in
northern Europe, rather than in the extremely volatile Middle East. The front
pages have been so full of stories about real estate and cleaning expenses that
the latest geopolitical developments have often been relegated to the inner
pages of the newspapers.
It is apparent that our political rivals do not
have any real criticism to level against this government’s diplomatic and
defense policies, and therefore have resorted to cheap gossip as a tool to try
to lessen our political standing.
Simply put, this will not work.
Israelis are a way too savvy and politically aware breed to fall for such
Let us take moment to review some of the real issues that
the Defense Ministry, the prime minister and the whole government are spending
countless hours on.
Up north, the Assad regime in Syria has continued to
slowly dissolve, leaving many dangerous unknowns before us. It is clear that few
of the rebel groups fighting there can be counted on to become Israeli allies at
any point. Next door in Lebanon Hezbollah continues to gain strength and the
real possibility exists it will acquire “game changing” weaponry either from
Assad himself or as a result of the chaos in Syria.
In Gaza, Hamas is
busy rearming after the blow they received in Operation Pillar of Defense, and
is of course not softening its stance negating the right of the State of Israel
to even exist.
Further south, we are cautiously watching the latest
developments in Egypt. While Egypt remains one of our most important allies in
the Middle East, monitoring the results of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in
Egypt is something that demands our constant attention.
Finally, in the
east, we of course cannot rest for a minute as we closely watch Iran’s race
toward a nuclear arsenal.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have made it abundantly clear in every possible
forum that Israel cannot allow a situation where our citizens are threatened by
ayatollahs armed with a nuclear bomb.
At the same time, as we are dealing
with these most sensitive security matters, we are also in the process of
passing a complicated and at points even painful budget. We are painstakingly
working to ensure that both the fiscal and social needs of our citizens are met
while at the same time ensuring our armed forces retain the qualitative edge
that is vital for the defense of our country.
The good news is that the
responsible and prudent measures taken every day by our ministry and the
government are yielding important results.
Our northern borders remain
safe and secure. Life in our southern communities has returned to normal –
something that seemed almost impossible when rockets were raining down on a
On the international scene our policies are also bearing
some fruit. Our American and European allies are on the same page as us when it
comes to the situation in Syria and we hope this remains true when it comes to
Regarding the Palestinians, the world community now understands
that the impediment to negotiations is not the settlements, but rather a basic
unwillingness on the part of the other side to simply sit down and discuss with
us practical ways to improve the lives of ordinary Israelis and
Most importantly, life in Israel is going on as normal
despite the regional upheaval.
The reason for this short review is not to
claim victory or give ourselves a virtual pat on the back. Rather, I hope to
remind our political rivals and the media elites of the unique nature of the
threats and challenges my colleagues and I face every day. Yes, it is true that
during a time when we are asking all Israelis to make painful economic
sacrifices it would behoove those of us in public service to conduct ourselves
in a modest manner as well.
But at the same time it is important that we
not lose focus on the issues that are truly important to all of us.
Defense Ministry and the prime minister, together with all our brave men and
women in the IDF and security services, are doing all we can to keep the people
of Israel safe. Constructive criticism is legitimate – and even vital – in a
vibrant democracy like ours, but let’s make sure to keep our priorities straight
as we work together for the betterment of the State of Israel.
Knesset Danny Danon is the deputy defense minister and author of Israel: The
Will to Prevail.