We didn't want this war, but we absolutely need it.
As much as the current Israel-Hamas war is one of the highest prices ever paid by the Jewish state, we in Israel — and Jews across the world — unquestionably need it.
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In recent years, more and more Israelis are growing soft, forgetful, irrational, illiterate, ignorant, disillusioned, narrow-minded, idiotic, self-loathing, racist, and self-centered.
Many Israelis are growing soft because there are increasingly more of them championing an “anti-war at all costs” attitude, even though Israel’s historic attitude towards war has predominantly been one of defense, not one of imperialism. (Let’s not confuse expansion for the sake of imperialism versus expansion for the sake of security and deterrence.)
Many Israelis are growing forgetful because our Western-ish world insulation in a corner of the Middle East has disillusioned us into disregarding that we still live in this largely fanatical, ideological, crazed, dangerous, and volatile anti-West region.
Many Israelis are growing irrational because we’ve literally tried every possible avenue, every possible tactic, to achieve peace with the Palestinians — including 10 different two-state solution proposals, starting in the 1930s and most recently in 2019 — yet nothing seems to have worked. What’s that saying about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Many Israelis are growing illiterate because they somehow believe that “most Palestinians are peaceful just like us” even though a 2022 survey by an esteemed Palestinian pollster clearly stated that more than 70-percent of Palestinians think Hamas is not enacting enough terrorism against Israel, and they would support more armed resistance (i.e. terrorist groups) to fight the Jewish state.
Many Israelis are growing ignorant because we somehow convinced ourselves that our enemies are the social and political opposites of us (the Israeli right if you’re a leftist, the Israeli left if you’re a right-winger, the Israeli secular if you’re religious, the Israeli religious if you’re secular, the Israeli settlers if you live in mainland Israel, the Israeli middle and upper classes if you live in the Israeli settlements, and so on).
Many Israelis are growing disillusioned because they resent that Judaism is the very character of our country, while failing to realize that a formidable Jewish state is the sole reason why, since 1948, Jews in Israel and across the world (no matter how religious or secular, conservative or liberal they are) have enjoyed one of the least-hostile (and therefore greatest) episodes in our 4,000-plus years of civilization.
Many Israelis are growing narrow-minded because they perceive Benjamin Netanyahu as the only capable politician to lead our country, even though the man who’s served as prime minster for 18 years (a quarter of the state’s existence) has heavily damaged relationships with some of our greatest allies, while working tirelessly to dismantle democracy in the Jewish state, against the backdrop of potential criminality.
Many Israelis are growing idiotic because they refuse to comprehend that a government which incentives families to have more children who, in turn, neither contribute to the country’s greater social fabric (i.e. by serving in the army) nor contribute to its economy (i.e. working a job and paying taxes) will ultimately lead to a country doomed to decay.
Many Israelis are growing self-loathing because they don’t really see themselves as Jewish, just Israeli, even though being Jewish has always been defined by our enemies, regardless of how we define ourselves. To them, whether a Jew is Israeli or otherwise, lives a secular or religious life, votes conservative or liberal — it doesn’t really matter. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.
Many Israelis are growing racist because they don’t push for more of the Arab Israeli population to integrate into the country’s greater society, which makes these Arabs increasingly resentful of the Jewish state and its Jewish majority.
Eventually, this drives more Arab Israelis into the hands of our actual enemies, which is a double-negative: It weakens our domestic society, and it emboldens our enemies who seek to destroy us.
And, finally, many Israelis are growing self-centered because career opportunities, consumerism, individualism, and celebrity culture have become the new tokens of social currency. These trends erode the values that have historically made Israel such an impressive society: family, community, togetherness, sacrifice, history, education, and tradition.
This is why, as much as the current Israel-Hamas war is one of the highest prices ever paid by the Jewish state, and as much as this war could very well turn into a regional armed conflict that could seriously jeopardize Israel’s existence as we know it, we in Israel unquestionably need this war. Heck, I would even extend the argument to include Jews worldwide, who very much need it too.
First, we need it because we need to unmistakably remember who our actual enemies are. And they’re not our enemies because we, Israelis and Jews, say as much. They are our enemies because they’ve been loud and clear about Israel and the Jews being their enemies since “day one.”
Many Israelis and Jews across the world have convinced themselves, despite no real evidence, that the Islamic-inspired Arabs have given up their ambitions to destroy Israel, the Jewish state. Or that they have no chance of successfully acting upon these ambitions.
As evidenced by the October 7th Palestinian massacre and kidnappings, and as evidenced by the Iranian proxies which have perfectly encircled Israel during the last decade, these Arabs’ ambitions to destroy the Jewish state is a general and historical ambition that has not stopped or weakened.
Even Fatah, the faction that runs the Palestinian Authority, which many Israelis thought to be “more moderate” than Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, still has not condemned the October 7th attacks.
If these Arabs had the military might that Israel boasts, or if it “fell” into their hands, they would destroy us and kill us to the last Jew. Golda Meir, the former Israeli prime minister, and a left-leaning politician, was very clear about this when she so aptly said:
“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”
I have no doubt about this, and there is no reasonable room for speculation.
Heck, it is further evidenced by all these so-called “international” organizations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the International Red Cross, each of which was very well aware of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad using civilian infrastructure to shelter their militants and military infrastructure as they plan and attempt to carry out barbaric attacks mostly against Israeli citizens (i.e. children, women, and the elderly).
These organizations and others don’t just oppose Israel. They’ve been funded formally and under the table by an Iranian regime, of which its supreme leader has called the Jewish state a “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region” whose leaders “look like beasts and cannot be called human.”1
Additionally, this is evidenced by the decades-long outbreaks of Palestinian terrorism (which go back to the 1800s, well before the founding of Israel in 1948) and the crowning of terrorist leaders with the title of national heroes.
This is evidenced by the education of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim children who declare their ambition to destroy the Jewish state, who at “summer camps” are taught how to fire automatic weapons and kidnap Israelis, and who are instructed with math problems in school, like:
The number of martyrs in the First Intifada was 2,026 martyrs. And the number of martyrs in the Al-Aqsa Intifada was 5,050 martyrs. The number of martyrs in the two intifadas is how many martyrs?
This is evidenced by an investigation into Palestinian teaching materials, which found antisemitic incitement in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. What’s more, many of the teachers employed there also make openly antisemitic statements, glorify Hitler, and cheer the murder of Jews.2
And, if you think institutionalized antisemitism is just a Palestinian problem, think again. Even in Egypt (which has peace with Israel), antisemitism is officially promoted. According to the al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon, 80-percent of the country’s population supported the Palestinian attack. And Saudi Arabia only recently started removing antisemitic and anti-Israel material from textbooks as it considered the process of normalizing relations with the Jewish state.
“Here the facts speak in a language that is not ambiguous,” famed Israeli historian Benzion Netanyahu said. “But if the Jews choose to ignore the facts, to belittle them, there is no possibility of influencing them under any reasoning whatsoever.”3
“In the reality that surrounds us, the idea of true peace is an illusion,” he added. “It is an imaginary assumption that has no basis in reality. It is true that partial peace is possible, peace mixed with terrorism, which will exist provided we have sufficient deterrent power. But the assumption that real peace is possible here, peace like the one between Switzerland to Italy or between France and Belgium, is an assumption that has nothing to rely on.”
“It is a kind of superstition that we cultivate in order to deceive ourselves and to make it easier for the hostile world to mislead us,” Benzion continued. “For the objective enemy will always be present. And the enemy will always wait for us. It will always look for the our weak points, it will wait for revelations of weakness on our part, and then attack.”
Even when we don’t feel it on a day-to-day basis in Israel, even when we convince ourselves that peace has a serious chance here, we serve as an easy target for their attacks which are always in the making.
In the distant past, we Jews were a people who had a strong instinct for survival. Otherwise, we would not have been able to maintain here 400 years of monarchy during the days of the First Temple (between 970 and 586 BCE), plus a hundred years of independence during the Hasmonean period.
However, since the Arabization and Islamization of the Levant (the Eastern Mediterranean region of West Asia where Israel is located), we gradually became an exiled people who admittedly dreamed the dream of returning to our indigenous homeland, but over the years we accepted and contributed to the phenomenon of every Israeli for themselves.
When the concern for the individual prevails over everything else, the mechanisms that protect the common existence and preserve it have become exponentially distorted. The organizational frameworks are missing, and the mental structures that allow normal, healthy people to preserve themselves have been disappearing.
And these realities are exposed today in a much more serious way than they were in other periods of Jewish history. In Israel, they are expressed in factionalism, selfishness, and internal hatred. They are personified by material values and private achievements, at a time when we must deal, first of all, with the problem of our national existence.
The prevailing assumption in Israel is that, since we managed to overcome several wars in the past, we believe that we will overcome them now and in the future as well — but there is no security in this hubris. If anything, it leads to complacency, which leads to decay and failure.
“That is why I sometimes give my opinion to the possibility of defeat,” Benzion Netanyahu said. “If, in situations of danger, a nation does not have enough recognition of its righteousness, enough willingness to sacrifice itself, and enough understanding of the importance of the struggle, it may lose its battle.”
During the last several years, unfortunately, it seems to me that we do not have these qualities to the same extent that were among Israelis in the past. During the last several years, I do not see in the country the same spirit that prevailed among Israelis during previous time periods.
Many Jews in the Diaspora have also become accustomed to Israel triumphantly rebounding time and again — without really understanding or keeping up with the incredibly dynamic geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. Others point to our allies with countries like the United States, which has been a great ally to Israel, but which has also proven to be an utter disaster in Middle East geopolitics.
Still, other Jews in the Diaspora have completely given up on Israel, even though the Jewish state is the only country in North Africa and the Middle East that aligns with many of their liberal values.
And, finally, many Jews in the Diaspora have become overly comfortable with being a Jew in the Diaspora, either because they’ve heavily integrated into foreign societies (at the expense of their Jewishness), or because they’ve bought into the same false sense of security that got German and other European Jews annihilated just a few decades ago.
Every Jew in Israel and around the world must, now more than ever, buy into the concept Zionism, which is fundamentally a Western movement. It is a movement that lives on the border of the East, but always faces the West; in a well-known sense, Zionism has always been a forward position of the West in the East. And so it is today: Israel stands against the natural tendencies of the Middle East to penetrate the West and enslave it.
For this reason, the Arabs see us as a foreign creature. And they fear our existence as the only Western country in the Middle East. They feel that we are endangering their culture, their religion, and the structure of their society and regimes. This is why they mark us as a target and spew ridiculous propaganda about Israel and Israelis, much of which ends up getting regurgitated by Jews in the Diaspora.
We must understand that between us and the Arabs, there are deep cultural and historical contrasts. Both the West and the East have attempted to impose their cultures on each other, but for the Jews, we were always in favor of a two-state solution in the Levant, dating back to the 1930s, at least a decade before the State of Israel declared its independence.
The Jews’ situation in Israel was, from the beginning, extremely difficult in several respects. Because Zionism is actually an attempt to impose a very great task, a task the likes of which has not been imposed on any nation, on a people that in many ways is an extremely weak people.
The national enterprise of the “return of Zion” took an apolitical people and suddenly put them into the framework of political life. It took a people who were mostly immersed in the affairs of metropolitan citizens — study and professions — and effectively forced them to cultivate barren, malaria-infested lands with their own hands.
It took a people who were historically barred from owning landing by different regimes and governments across the world, and it effectively forced us to acquire land and be landowners for the proverbial very first time. And it took a people who were mostly non-combatants and engulfed them in the conditions of a prolonged war.
As we became very different types of people in our indigenous homeland, it is completely clear to me that in one area we have failed in Israel: education. We have people here who are inherently good people, who are suitable for doing good business and innovating, but who are not suitable for the historical task and geopolitical situation we are in.
The people of the left are certainly not suitable for this politically, but many of the people on the right also do not properly understand the situation, the problems we are facing, and therefore they cannot properly distinguish between solutions and illusions, between the pragmatic and the impractical.
Before this current war, I feared that more than nearly two centuries of Zionism might go down the drain because a large swath of the current generations is not suitable for the historical, geopolitical, and defense roles assigned to us.
I believe this started with those who signed the Oslo Accords, who were deprived of any ability to make a realistic judgment in political matters. They followed a strange imagination that was the result of a baseless belief in the willingness of our most extreme enemies to make true peace with us.
We became a nation that does not know where we are geographically located, does not have a vision for where we are going, and does not know what awaits us. No other nation would have agreed to enter such a trap in such a ridiculous manner. Not the Germans, not the Swedes, not the English. These nations would have seen that they were surrounded by enemies who wanted to destroy them, and they would be tremendously careful about helping their enemies.
“Political infantilism was discovered in our country,” Benzion Netanyahu said. “And without thinking, without looking at reality, they rushed to bring tens of thousands of terrorists into the country and provide them with the basis and means that will make it easier for them to achieve their goal. They behaved like that fool who puts his neck in the noose with his own hands.”
The Oslo agreement was a trap that the Arabs and our enemies among the Europeans set for us on purpose, but I have no complaints against them. I have complaints against those who entered the trap. After all, the blame lies with the mouse, not the trap. And the Israelis entered completely blindly and were trapped.
I have no doubt that Golda Meir, for example, would not have done such a thing. She would not have handed over the heart of the land as a base to those seeking our lives. She would not have given Yasser Arafat such an instrument of destruction, which without any doubt would be used against us, just like Israel’s withdrawal and demilitarization of Gaza has been used against us.
Golda would not have behaved with such delusions and led the entire country into such a fatal error, as if wonderful neighborly relations and a heavenly Middle East were anything but hallucinations.
If you tell a people like ours, whose entire history is rooted in peacefulness, that peace is “the ‘no-choice’ option”4 as former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres said, or if you tell a people like ours that “geography has no value,”5 then you are actually destroying the very foundations of Zionism, which is rooted not in imperialism or colonization, but in a true safe haven across our indigenous homeland, after centuries of Jews lacking one and being murdered and tormented because of it.
That’s why I believe, with all the sadness and devastation already involved, and with all the obscure enigma in Israel and for Jews across the world, we absolutely need this war with the Palestinians — and, by extension, the Iranian regime.
What’s more, we need it to last for much longer, with multiple fronts including against the Iranian regime’s “baby” Hezbollah, because we need to feel the immense amounts pain and suffering that will not so quickly evaporate in the war’s inevitable aftermath.
We need this, not so much for the West, but for ourselves: for Israelis, for our country, and for the Jewish People. When I look at the United States (where I was born and raised) today, I see that it is no longer the founding fathers’ America, or even the same America as the one which emerged as a global power following the first and second world wars.
It is becoming more and more mass, while drowning in its own superficiality and materialism. It is also becoming flooded with new populations, some of which have no interest in the values of Western culture.
At the same time, Americanization continues to penetrate Europe and other parts of the West (including Israel), eroding classical cultures and disrupting the balance of values.
Even England today is not the same England; France is not the same France; and so on and so forth. It is not the same culture, not the same type of human. We find everywhere today a decrease in the weight of humane values , moral values, and the humanities. After all the achievements of the 19th and 20th centuries, a great disintegration has taken place in the 21st century, and a much poorer human figure has been created.
This is why, for Israel, an imperfect peace in the Middle East is possible only if it is not brokered by the West, and only if it is based on a lethal deterrence. Such deterrence must involve the excellent protection of our strategic assets, including some in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank) and the continued, nonstop strengthening of our overall national prowess.
As long as there are possibilities of conflagration in the world, every nation must be prepared for war. Humanity is still far from solving the problem of war, and it is far from a norm where nations will beat their swords into plowshares.
Therefore, the fundamental structure of political existence as it is, requires every nation to keep its sword and be ready to use it. All the more so for the Jewish state, living in the region that we do.
The only realistic solution in this situation is to be unshakably strong, not just in words, but in politics, socioeconomics, security, and defense — forever and always, certainly during times of war, and just as much in periods of presumed peace.
In recent years, both the State of Israel and Jews across the world have ignorantly and arrogantly weakened ourselves.
We know this to be true when, for example, the Israeli prime minister, earlier this year, reportedly received and ignored two stark warnings from the head of research at the Military Intelligence Directorate, that the societal divisions sparked by his government’s effort to radically overhaul the judiciary, were emboldening Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran to take actions against the Jewish state.
It’s easy to point the finger at Benjamin Netanyahu, and we definitely should, but we should also, with great immediacy, look internally at our Jewish selves, at our communities, at our relationships to Judaism and Zionism, at our connections to the greater Jewish People, at our knowledge of Jewish and Israeli history.
If we don’t proactively take on this most urgent work, and if this war ends with us reverting to our ignorant and arrogant ways, we will only provoke more Jewish bloodshed, more antisemitism, and more erosion of all-things Jewish.
What a shame that would be.
Brooks, David. “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.” The New York Times. March 24, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/opinion/david-brooks-how-to-fight-anti-semitism.html.
“BILD on UNRWA: ‘Germany pays for hatred of Jews in Palestinian schools.’” UN Watch. https://unwatch.org/bild-on-unrwa-antisemitism-in-palestinian-schools-germany-continues-to-pay-for-hatred-of-jews.
“Ben-Zion Netanyahu in an interview in 1998.” Haaretz. https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/2012-04-30/ty-article/0000017f-dba2-df9c-a17f-ffbaff610000.
“Shimon Peres Nobel Lecture.” The Nobel Peace Prize. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1994/peres/lecture.
“Ben-Zion Netanyahu in an interview in 1998.” Haaretz. https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/2012-04-30/ty-article/0000017f-dba2-df9c-a17f-ffbaff610000.