Israeli defense authorities recently announced that in order to improve its image among the nations, Israel would place even more restrictions on the ability of its soldiers to fight Arab terrorists and rioters. Under the new rules of engagement, soldiers will not be allowed to open fire unless their own lives are in immediate danger. So for example, if an Arab stabs a Jewish civilian in the back in the sight of a soldier and then runs away, the soldier is not allowed to shoot him even in the legs. All he can do is shoot over his head, which is equivalent to doing nothing at all, or give chase on foot. Critics of the rules say that this is certain to result in an upsurge in Arab violence, as Arabs learn that the cost of attacking and harming Jews is even less than it was before.
What’s the reasoning behind this self-defeating policy? In recent weeks, as Arabs have grown bolder and less fearful of Israeli military forces, they’ve stepped up their attacks on Jews, and as a result, a few of those Arabs have been killed. The Israeli government is terrified of having Arab casualties, because it’s considered to be bad public relations that will lead to international condemnation. Better to have Jewish casualties instead. That way, the world may take pity on us and stand on our side.
But this reasoning is totally fallacious. The world admires strength, not weakness. Pulling your punches against an enemy who’s trying to murder you earns contempt, not respect. The world cares nothing about the Palestinian Arabs, except to the extent that they can be used as a weapon against Israel, and every concession, act of appeasement and display of weakness hurts Israel’s position rather than strengthening it.
So why do Israel’s leaders continue to follow this ruinous path? I believe it’s because of their lack of connection to their greatest source of strength. The Hebrew nation was founded almost 4000 years ago on two central ideas: the supremacy of God and the truth of His covenant. If God is with us, no nation can harm us, but for Him to be with us, we have to be with Him, by following the laws that He gave us, and not trying to place manmade philosophies or ideologies above Him. When we fear our enemies more than they fear us, it’s a sure sign that we’re on the wrong path.
Unfortunately, Israel’s current leaders have not internalized this truth. Since they refuse to fear God, they end up fearing their enemies instead. Since they refuse to bow to their Creator, they end up bowing to foreign nations, and placing their trust in countries that are sure to abandon them when things get tough.
Israel will continue to be cofounded by its enemies, and continue to retreat before them, until it returns to its origins and conducts itself according to the eternal truths is was founded upon, with boldness and confidence and no apologies to anyone.