How to survive in a sea of rejection?

Perhaps by joining NATO along with willing Arab neighbors.

rubenstein 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
rubenstein 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Sixty years have passed since those crucial days of 1948, but in many aspects we are still back there - facing existential dangers to the very existence of a Jewish state in an Arab-Moslem Middle-East. The same questions pervade the two Israels - one, a poor fledgling state of 600,000 Jews, menaced by the invasion of five well-armed Arab states - and the older, six-million-Jew strong, prosperous, well-armed Israel of today. The chances of the fledgling state to survive the Arab onslaught were very slim, and Ben Gurion had to convince his colleagues in the provisional government to disregard dire warnings from friends overseas, declare the establishment of Israel - and face the invasion. Israel went on to win the war, albeit at tremendous human cost. Indeed, had there been insurance policies dealing with the viability of states, the emerging Israel would not have been able to find an insurer. Its eventual success defied all odds and testifies to the extraordinary readiness of Israelis to fight for their independence as well as to the amazing degree of Jewish solidarity, which have characterized these past 60 years. Things are different now - for better and worse: better - as Israel is not as helpless as it was in 1948 and it has an unwritten, informal but powerful pact, with the US; better - as it is richer and more populous; better - as it has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. But things are also worse. In 1948, the new state enjoyed the universal support of progressive public opinion in the West. Now, bash-Israel is the obligatory fashion of the European Left, soon to be paraded in the Durban circus, aided and abetted by the post-Zionist Israeli clowns. Worst of all is the dimming of hope that there will be an end to the ongoing war and suffering. In 1948, many Israelis believed that a decisive victory would convince Arab leaders and rulers to accept the idea of a predominantly Jewish state in their midst. Nowadays, with the Islamization of the conflict, only a handful still cling to this belief. As years go by, the hatred of Israel - even in Egypt, ostensibly at peace with the Jewish state after regaining all its previously occupied lands - grows exponentially. There is no modern equivalent to the hate-Israel propaganda barrage, and the closest thing to its venom is found in the anti-Jewish Nazi incitement-to-murder of the 1930's. JOINING THE two Israels - yesteryear's and today's - is the big question: can Israel survive as a minuscule island - not much more then a sliver of Mediterranean coast - in an Arab-Moslem ocean of rejection and hatred? Since 1948, Israel has managed to ward off war, terror, boycott and siege. This is a unique achievement, and sometimes it seems that this very success exacerbates the hatred against it (including the home-grown one). In recent years, Israel's position has been weakened by two factors: First, the growing Islamist influence over the conflict has both widened the scope of enmity - uniting Arab states with powerful non-Arab Moslem states in an anti-Israeli axis - and deepened it. It is much more difficult to reach a compromise with a fundamentalist God-ordained movement than with a nationalist one. Secondly, the Middle East is on the verge of going nuclear. If Iran gets its nuclear capacity, so will the Sunni states. Even if this process is delayed by international pressure or military action, it may eventually take place. The Arab world is richer than ever and the international community is seemingly helpless to prevent it from getting nuclear armaments. The emergence of Iran, a regional superpower, demonstrates both factors. Its brazen threats to wipe Israel off the map are no mere verbiage - just as Hitler's threat before the War to annihilate European Jewry was not. WHAT CAN Israel do? Can it recreate the 1948 miracle in this lethal environment? Can it rely upon its own deterrent? It is this writer's belief that Israel's strategic aim should be to do its utmost so as not to be left alone against this widening front of Islamist enmity. It should strive to be incorporated, together with willing Arab states, in defense pacts with the US, preferably within NATO. This is the best - admittedly not the perfect - deterrent to the new menace. It is within this context that the Palestinian issue should be seen. Its solution, if feasible without giving in to the suicidal "right of return," is required, among other things, to facilitate such a defense pact. In its 60 years, Israel can boast of unprecedented achievements. In comparison with the Jewish Yishuv of Palestine, it is a giant and its record is much better than that of other democracies at war - including those who deliver daily homilies to the Jewish state. But all these achievements now face the dangers of obliteration by the mighty force of a powerful, rich and brutal Islamist front. Israel cannot face this front alone. It must find its place, together with non-fundamentalist Arab states, under the ambit of a defense pact. The fact that Turkey and Greece are both NATO members has had a beneficial and calming effect on their relations. One may hope that a similar process will be ushered in by extending NATO membership to Israel and at least some of its neighbors. At any rate, at 60, we must never walk alone. The writer is a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, a former minister of education and MK as well as the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Law.