ZioNation - Progressive Zionism and Israel Web Log

ZioNation home Archives Site map Policy Definitions FAQ timeline history documents Links Photos Contact

Articles and Reference

History of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
History of Anti-Semitism
History of Anti-Zionism
Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Six Day War
War of Independence
Bible  Quotes
1948 Israel War of Independence Timeline Christian Zionism
Christian Zionism History
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Learn Hebrew
Israel Boycott?
Boycott Israel?
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Jew Hate
International Zionism
Commentary in Russian
Middle East
The Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini
Albert Einstein
Palestine: Ethnic Cleansing
History Arab-Israeli Conflict
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by groups.yahoo.com

Ralph Seliger put his finger on an important part of the Israeli dilemma:

Both Israel and its critics need to see Israel for what it is Ė a small country, forced into an unnatural situation of being the regionís most potent military power. The Jewish people have tried it the other way, with the defacto passivism of living as a defenseless minority.

Israeli military performance in the past generated high expectations. When those are not met, some argue, it is not "fair" to chastise Israel and voice disappointment, because Israel is a small country after all. Unfortunately, the world is not a fair place at all. Fair has nothing to do with it. If the Israeli Army does not work right, one time, or if our leaders make the wrong choices, just once, Israel may cease to exist.

Ralph explains:

The Israeli habit of perhaps over-relying upon force is a reaction to those long centuries of oppression and humiliation.

It is alas too easy to slip into cliched thinking that refers to the "Masada complex" or "Jewish paranoia." In this case, it is certainly not relevant. If we begin our history in 1982, then perhaps the Lebanon mess began because of Israeli over-reliance on force. If we begin in 2000, then we would reach the opposite conclusion: the Lebanon mess did not begin because of Israeli over-reliance on force. It began because Israel relied on the UN and international law, withdrew from Lebanon unilaterally in 2000, reduced its defense budget during a period of increasing military challenges, and hoped for the best. IDF did not fail to meet its mission because of Israeli over-reliance on force, but rather, in part, because of a combination of wrong priorities, penny-pinching Bibinomics, and a roseate view of the Middle East and of Israel. Nobody can beat us, because we are strong, so we can afford to let down our guard. Lack of preparedness for known threats and military budget cuts are not characteristics of a country that relies on force too much.

Didn't we sit through this movie in 1973? Not exactly. In 1973 there was a potential peace partner in Anwar Sadat. Israeli leadership did not see the signs and did not take his peace overtures seriously. Hassan Nasrallah is not a peace partner, and his master in Tehran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, is an existential threat. Sooner or later there would have been a confrontation. Israel did not prepare itself properly for that confrontation, and apparently the Israeli government and IDF did not make the right decisions in the war.

Seliger notes:

Anti-Israel critics like to minimize Israelís urgent security needs by referring to it, rather abstractly and without real analysis, as the fourth greatest military power in the world. Iím guessing that the three countries thought of as more powerful are the United States, China and Russia. Does this mean that Britain, France and Germany (to name but the most obvious) are less powerful than Israel? Each have eight to ten times the population, comparable technological knowhow, greater economic capacity, as large or larger standing armed forces and with great military traditions that go back centuries.

Our enemies will be critical no matter what. If we are strong, they will say we are too strong. If we are weak, they will say we are weak and therefore not important. Both messages were evident in Mearsheimer and Walt's Zionist Lobby diatribe. Nonetheless it is true that Israel's military capabilities far exceed those of states with comparable objective potential in terms of population, geographical size or industrial capabilities. If we heed common sense, as well as the analysis of Paul Kennedy, who wrote "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," this is not a situation that can normally be continued indefinitely.

Seliger's prescription is a wise one:

...Israel has limited military capacities. It must attempt innovative means Ė including diplomacy and international assistance Ė to augment its odds for security.

This is quite true. However, diplomacy and international assistance have very limited utility if the country in question has nothing to offer. In the classic 1959 cinema farce, "The Mouse that Roared," a tiny country with no resources loses a war against the United States and parlays its loss into a great victory. The real world doesn't work like that. If we lose a war against Iran, we cannot count on the benevolence of Mahmud Ahmadinejad to rebuild our country. If we don't defend ourselves, Israel will be the mouse that squeaked. It will be viewed by the world as an annoying and unnecessary rodent.

As Seliger also notes:

The enhanced UN international force is beginning to look stillborn Ė with France effectively wimping out and both Lebanon and the UN still uncommitted to a real effort to curtail Hezbollah as an armed threat.

What a surprise! Applicable texts may include: "Nobody knows you when you're down and out," but also, from Jewish tradition, "If I am not for myself, then who is?" (Im eyn ani li, mi li?). The diplomatic maneuverings and requests for international assistance will only work when they are backed by a perception of military might. It is really naive to base policy or hopes for survival on a belief in the righteousness and good will of countries like France or even the United States. According to Shabtai Shavit, former Israel intelligence chief, France may have reneged on its commitment to the international force in Lebanon because Iran threatened to cut ties with the Renault automobile company, which has extensive interests in his country. The man who loses his fortune cannot count on the love of ladies of the night any longer.

Seliger gives us a hint of what sort of policy we might follow if we do not have an army, recalling the aftermath of the failed Jewish revolt against Roman power:

It was the path of Yohanon Ben-Zakai, convincing the Romans to allow him to set up his yeshiva, that saved the Jewish people at that time.

That is not policy, but expediency born of desperation. Vae victis - woe to the vanquished.

Unlike our neighbors, Israel can offer neither oil, nor a large market, nor the support of many voting hands in the UN. No reasonable Israeli policy can hope to succeed if we do not have a credible military No country, including the US, is going to send soldiers to protect Israel, and no country is going to take account of Israeli needs if we do not have the force required to back our positions.

Without a strong army, it is doubtful that Israel would exist for a year. This point should never have been at issue, and should not divide right and left in Israel. Therefore debate about the current crisis should not be based on left-right divisions. Many of the mistakes that were made, which led to a weakened posture, were made by both Likud and Labor governments. They were made when Ehud Barak was Prime Minister, and exacerbated when Bibi Netanyahu was Finance Minister. Changing the political complexion of the government will not solve the problem. Those who are trying to make political capital out of the current crisis should think again.

However, military strength is not an end, but a means. When it becomes an end, a society degenerates into the militarism of pre WW I or WW II Germany. The army is used to conquer more territory, and then it has to be strengthened to guard the territory, and then it has to conquer more territory in a never-ending cycle that cannot be sustained by the limited economic means, and which arouses the increasing opposition and alarm of neighboring states. The question at issue between the Zionist right and the Zionist left was never whether or not the IDF must be strong. The question was always what policy to follow, and what national goals we wish to achieve. Ultimately it is the most important question, but that division should be irrelevant to current debate about the performance of the government and the IDF in Lebanon.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000216.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

Click to Reddit! Facebook Share

add to del.icio.us

Add to digg - digg it

Replies: 1 Comment

Ami, you should send an article like these to the Israeli hebrew papers.

Micha, Friday, August 25th

Constructive comments, including corrections, are welcome. Do not use this space for spam, publishing articles, self promotion, racism, anti-Zionist propaganda or character defamation. Inappropriate comments will be deleted. See our Comment policy for details. By posting here, you agree to the Comment policy.


Please take our reader survey!

Our Sites

Zionism News Net
Zionism-Israel Pages
Brave Zionism
IsraŽl-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Our Blogs
Israel News
IMO Blog - IsraŽl & Midden-Oosten (NL)
Israel Like this, as if
Zionism News Net
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog
IsraŽl in de Media

Blog Roll:
Adam Holland
Blue Truth
CIF Watch
Contentious Centrist
Dutchblog Israel (NL/EN)
Harry's Place
Ignoble Experiment
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Jewish Issues Watchdog Meretz USA Weblog
Meryl Yourish
Middle East Analysis
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log
Modernity Blog
Pro Israel Bay Bloggers
Point of no return
Simply Jews
Something Something
Tempting Topical Topics
The Augean Stables
Unplugged Mike
Oy Bay! San Francisco Bay Area Jews
Vital Perspective
Israel Mon Amour
Liberty & Justice
On the Contrary
Magdeburger Chossid
Tulip - Israeli-Palestinian Trade Union Assoc.
Southern Wolf
Sharona's Week
Sanda & Israel
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Liberal for Israel

A Jew with a view
Realistic Dove
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
SEO for Everyone
Vision to Reality: The Reut Blog
Calev's Blog
Candidly speaking from Jerusalem
Dvar Dea
Ray Cook
Shimshon 9

Mark Halawa

This link space is 4 your blog - contact us!

Other Web sites and pages:

PeaceWatch Middle East Commentary Christians Standing With Israel
Zionism On the Web
Guide to Middle East, Zionism
Z-Word blog
Labor Zionism
Le Grand Mufti Husseini
The Grand Mufti Hajj Amin El Husseini
ZNN - Zionism News Network Middle East
Euston Manifesto
Jewish Blogging
Peace With Realism
Israel Facts (NL)
Space Shuttle Blog
Love Poems
At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum


Judaica: Jewish Gifts:

RSS V 1.0

RSS V 2.0

Help us improve - Please click here to take our reader survey

All entries copyright by the authors and or Zionism-Israel Information Center. Please forward materials by e-mail with URLS. Other uses by permission only.