Whatever side you are, or aren’t, on, and whether you never think about these
issues or are an impassioned activist, there are three fundamental issues about
Israel, its enemies, and the Middle East that tie the narrative into
1. Israel’s existence is jeopardized.
Each of these ideas, of course, has a strong basis in fact. Yet no
matter how counter-intuitive you find the following points questioning the
conventional wisdom, they are nonetheless accurate. You can’t understand events
without grasping them.
is no question that Israel’s existence is challenged or threatened by various
forces, but what’s essential is that these forces cannot succeed. Every day,
after 65 years of failure, they are further from that goal. Israel becomes
stronger on all levels. The economic and strategic gaps are getting wider, not
narrower, for reasons much related to points two and three below.
important is the country’s internal social and strategic strength, not what’s
written about it in the Western media or said on Western campuses, for
Arab armies have repeatedly been defeated; terrorists repeatedly
This should not lead to complacency – a mistake most clearly
seen in the 1973 war and to some extent in 2006 – but to calm
This does exist in Israel but not so much in sectors of the
Diaspora Jewish communities, which themselves face higher threats to their
existence either physically or due to assimilation, the attraction of leftist
political ideology, and loss of direction.
Despite the sound and fury,
much of the criticism and threats remain toothless. For instance, while the UN,
European countries and the European Union have wasted a lot of their time
spouting nonsense about Israel, it has amounted to little in material terms. The
same is true of others.
Another key concept is that the extent of
anti-Israel obsession in the public sphere is misleading.
countries, causes and groups are vilified all the time, yet of them all none
compares to Israel and its supporters in their ability to respond. It is the
strength of the resistance that often increases the apparent volume of
Finally, the use of the Israel issue to fuel hysteria by
dictatorships, radical Arab nationalists and Islamists actually undermines the
Arabic-speaking world, making it weaker and thus, ironically, less able to
Iran’s drive for deliverable nuclear weapons – which it
doesn’t yet have – is worthy of discussion but this threat is quite manageable
by Israel, both through offensive and defensive measures as well as given the
fact that Iran’s eagerness to nuke Israel and commit suicide has been greatly
exaggerated.2. The concerted international campaign by various groups in
the West against Israel damages it and helps the Palestinians.
this should be obviously true but it is quite the opposite. To date, despite all
the noise, Israeli interests – including businesses – have suffered little damage.
On the contrary, the attacks encourage support, including increased buying of
Israeli products and energetic loyalty by Israel’s supporters abroad.
all of these endless demonstrations, teach-ins, books, articles, documentaries,
boycott, disinvestment and sanction labors do absolutely zero to help the
On one level, they do nothing politically to advance their
cause in a real sense. On another level, they contribute nothing to their
Moreover, by convincing the Palestinian leadership that they can
eliminate Israel completely, that Western support is swinging toward them, and
that they don’t need to change their own policies or strategies, all of this
behavior leads them charging down a dead-end street. The end result is the
battering of their heads against a stone wall.
Imagine – as the activists
in these movements have never done once! – that all of this energy went into
buying Palestinian products, donating to improve Palestinian schools and
hospitals, resettling refugees and providing them with productive jobs and
housing. That would be truly pro-Palestinian. And even if the intention was to
use this progress as a base for destroying Israel some day it would be more
effective than what they are doing now.
Of course, since most of the
Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been engaged in
stealing aid money and funneling it into their private bank accounts, admittedly
these activists don’t have a very good role model to follow. And since the
leadership’s goal is to keep its people poor and living in refugee camps in
order to use them as revolutionary fodder and an object of sympathy these
activists don’t have much incentive to do real good.3. Israel is the
main cause of instability in the Middle East.
On one level, of course,
the Arab-Israeli conflict has been a basis for instability that has often been
exaggerated. People ignorant of all the other issues in the region have only
heard of that one controversy.
Beyond that, though, consider what would
be different if Israel didn’t exist.
Implicitly, this is thought by most
Arabs and Muslims to be the basis for a united utopian society stretching from
Morocco through Afghanistan. But that’s precisely the point. What kind of
society would that be? Who – what leader, country and ideology, would lead it?
Who gets to be the caliph? In other words, if Israel didn’t exist, the level of
internal conflict and bloodshed would be even higher. There would be nothing –
including the territorial separation that Israel provides – to stop these
leaders, movements, countries and ideologies from being at each other’s throats.
Tremendous wars between countries would spill oceans of blood. Decades-long
Sunni-Shia conflicts would engulf the lands. Endless internal strife would bring
civil wars that would dwarf what we’ve seen in Lebanon, Syria and
Even with Israel, instability of this kind is bad enough, though it
is far less noticed than it would be otherwise. The same applies, by the way, to
the Arab-Israeli conflict, whose end – which will not come anytime soon – would
have the same effect.
One final point: because much of the thought and
political action on the Middle East is in the wrong direction, running against
the realities, the main effect is to confuse those watching and engaging in
them. Yet, disregarding all of this noise, what actually exists marches forward.
Or to use an Arab proverb, the dogs bark; the caravan moves on.