Israel does have friends …

May 7, 2009 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Guess who!   


No other country needs friends as badly as Israel – a country that has been constantly threatened with attack and destruction from the very day of its revival as an independent modern state. Facing the ongoing wrath of hundreds of millions of people around the globe who happen to possess most of the world’s oil reserves, Israel is the only nation threatened declaratively with nuclear annihilation.

Despite all this, Israel is condemned in United Nations and other international forums more often than all the other countries combined. Much of the world’s media adds to this condemnation. Also the staff and students at many universities as well as trade unions all over the world stridently call for sanctions agains Israel. Maliciously, the hostility is based largely on lies and hypocrisy.

Nevertheless, there are people of all nationalities and religions around the world who oppose the roguish ganging-up against Israel. There are also a few countries that sometimes risk the wrath of Israel’s many enemies, when they cast votes against proposals in the United Nations plenum or Security Council that are patently unjustifiable and tendentious.

But actually, apart from a few very tiny states, such as the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, there isn’t a country in the world that Israel can say without reservation: “These people are real friends.” Not even the USA, which on countless occasions has come to Israel’s aid, can be considered a constantly dependable and true friend. Throughout Israel’s modern history, the USA has frequently stopped Israel from winning a battle or a war decisively against her enemies. Also, the USA and most of the countries that are not overtly hostile to Israel, have usually studiously refrained from condemning Arab aggression against Israel.

And maybe it’s understandable. After all, friendship between nations cannot be like friendship between individuals. While many of the principles apply, international amity is far more complex. Nations must be careful not to jeopardize their own international commercial and political interests. So perhaps the USA is being as friendly as she can be towards Israel. After all, the USA does provide Israel with $4 billion dollars in aid every year. (It provides billions of dollars to other countries as well – including Israel’s enemies.) But the USA provides foreign aid because of its own national interests – in the context of global politics, international trade, oil supplies and defence strategy.


Jewish independence in the Land of Israel after almost 2000 years of exile and persecution might possibly conjure up a stirring and romantic image for people sympathetic to Jewish history. But actually life in Israel presents a harsher reality for the individual trying to contend with high taxation, mandatory military conscription and reserve duty and ongoing military threats. Also the population of over seven million is not the most polite or considerate in the world. Society is enormously heterogeneous, with people originating from a vast array of countries, with different backgrounds, cultures and mentalities. Religious observance and belief, together with political differences cause ever more fragmentation. And all this hubbub is concentrated in a tiny area, about the size of Wales or New Jersey, with scant natural resources, apart from some salt and potash.

One can be tempted to ask oneself: “Why on earth am I living in this crazy place.” After all the religious Jew can practise his faith in Brooklyn or Golders Green or any number of pleasant cities on three continents where vibrant synagogue and yeshiva activities exist together with kosher facilities. On the other hand, the Jew who has no interest in religious observance can readily find alternate domicile and with more of the benefits of modern life, but without the hassles one so often faces in Israel. So why should a Jew live in Israel with all its problems? Why shouldn’t he look for a place to spend his life in the most convenient way possible and offer his family the best chance for personal happiness and comfort, free from undue external threats?

In truth that’s precisely what half the Jews in the world are doing – including hundreds of thousands of people who were born in Israel. Nevertheless, Israel continues to grow and flourish in every way. For many people the bugbears don’t outweigh the gut-feeling that “This is my Land” or “this is where I belong,” and that “no one can call me a Dirty Jew here.” For others, living in the Land of Israel is actually a religious duty. Then there is the incredible realization that we are fulfilling a two-millennia dream of sovereignty in our ancient homeland, and that my grandparents wouldn’t have ended up in places like Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz if the State of Israel had existed in their time.

 These are the factors that generated the idealism that came to be called Zionism and that sustained a spirit which transformed deserts and malaria-infested swamps into lush farmland and bustling cities. It was this spirit that enabled the State of Israel to be established and fight against impossible odds. But this spirit began to wane about two generations ago. Nowadays many people have lost faith in themselves and in their leadership. There is an egocentrism that parallels the self-absorption found throughout the Western World, and actually weakens the resolve needed to face the challenges of life in Israel that include standing up against a large part of humanity that seeks our destruction or abets that quest.


And yet, there is still one factor that keeps pushing Israel to grow and develop, and that strengthens the resolve of its people. It is precisely that factor that seeks Israel’s destruction. Paradoxically it is Arab hostility that provides the vitamin enabling the Jews of Israel to stick together and put aside our differences. For about a hundred years the Arabs have tried to stymie our efforts to rebuild ourselves as a nation in our ancient homeland. From the outset Arabs were more prone to assert themselves physically, readily attacking Jews and waging fully-fledged pogroms that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Jews.

So naturally Jews began to organize defence groups. From being a traditionally docile – even cringing – people the Jews here were to go on to learn how to strengthen themselves as a society in a very effective manner. At every step that the Arabs opposed the Jews, it led to more Jewish growth, development and communal strength. In 1936 the Arabs organized a general strike that lasted three years. One of the things they did was to close down Jaffa Port. The Jews responded by building Tel Aviv Port. Meanwhile they organized themselves into effective fighting groups that would enable them to prevent annihilation in the future.

In 1947 the United Nations voted to partition what was left of Palestine. (77% of the region had already been lopped off 25 years earlier to create an Arab state in Palestine – the Kingdom of Jordan.) But the Partition Plan was met by categorical Arab rejection. Instead of sharing what was left of Palestine with the Jews (who were to be accorded with three tiny slivers of land), the Arabs launched a full scale war with the declared promise of killing or banishing all the Jews. But they failed and again the Jews benefited from Arab hostility. Instead of acquiring only 15,000 square kilometers of dismembered territory in accordance with the Partition Plan, the pan-Arab invasion paradoxically resulted in Israel getting 21,000 square kilometers of continuous territory that included Western Jerusalem. The region mooted for Arab independence that remained in Arab hands – Judea and Samaria, aka as the West Bank – was annexed by the Kingdom of Jordan.

Arab hostility continued, mainly in the form of state instigated terrorist attacks from Egypt and Jordan and intermittent artillery barrages on Israel’s northern farming communities by the Syrians. Therefore, Israel had to continue developing an effective defence system. In 1967 it was evident just how effective when all the neighboring countries, together with more remote countries prepared to launch yet another massive invasion on Israel with the stated aim of obliterating the Jewish State. But again Israel benefitted. Their victory in the Six Day War meant that no longer would Arab Legion tanks and infantrymen be able to position themselves a mere ten or fifteen miles from Tel Aviv and Netanya. And the eastern part of Jerusalem – that had had tough Arab Legionnaires perched on the Old City Walls, aiming their rifles at the Jews of western Jerusalem – now became part of Israel. So did many of the places most precious and holy to the Jewish people. Furthermore Israel’s entire territory expanded three-fold. The Sinai Peninsula was subsequently relinquished as part of the peace process with Egypt.

But the threats and attacks against Israel continue, now manifested mainly by Hizbollah, Hamas and Iran. Ultimately, this hostility benefits Israel because it helps blur internal differences among the Israelis themselves and acts as a powerful unifying influence. People from all parts of the population are brought together when they serve in the army. When Israeli citizens are hurt or killed in terror attacks, the whole country – irrespective of socio-economic status, or religious or political affiliation – shares the dismay.

 One must bear in mind, however, that the Israel-Arab conflict has nevertheless divided Israeli society politically. Since the British Mandate days, there has always been a heated polemic among the Jews on how to deal with Arab demands for Jewish capitulation and how to retaliate to their aggression. How far can one compromise? To what extent should Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria, if at all? When is retaliation justified and to what extent? What is the best way to achieve a secure, binding peace? The issues are as emotionally-charged and divisive as religious differences and generate bitter mutual acrimony.

But as always, whenever Arab aggression becomes untenable, like when the Hizbollah or Hamas terrorist armies continually bombard peaceful Israeli towns and villages with hundreds of rockets and mortars, the vast majority of level-headed Israelis, irrespective of religious or political conviction, stand together as one united nation.

For Israelis hit by these attacks, it is often a terrible personal tragedy. But for the nation, ironically, it is really a blessing because it is precisely Arab hostility that helps unite and build us up as a nation. Israel, with its deeply heterogeneous society, has needed a few generations to become an adequately unified, integrated nation. Without this hostility, it is likely that the many sharp differences within Israeli society would have rent it asunder.

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

See also:


Entry filed under: Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Real Jewish-Arab friendship The ultimate immorality

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