Now that the Sukkot holiday is over, we are back to dealing with the storm outside. And stormy it is.
Just last week, Putin’s puppet “Parliament” – authorized the deployment of Russian troops outside Russia’s borders, “strictly to preserve Russia’s vital interests and not to implement foreign policy”. Or as they would have us believe, Russia is acting out of self defense and not out of an expansionist policy. Russia’s military action is Syria, however, has everything to do with expansionism.
This is completely expected. There is no vacuum in geopolitical reality. The Middle East cannot be emptied of its old order without drawing in different forces. When France sends bombers to aid the refugees in Syria, its actions don’t stem from boundless mercy. France (like all the other countries involved) is simply taking advantage of the humanitarian claim in order to say to the world, ‘I am not just a state being dragged along; I have military might, which I am using (for humanitarian reasons, of course). When the pie is being cut up once again, be sure to take me into account…
There are, of course, isolationist states. First and foremost among them today is the US, which boasts the largest army in the world. But history teaches us that an isolationist ideology does not stave off an historic tsunami. The pre World War I Wilson was no less isolationist than Obama. It was not Roosevelt who declared war on Hiter, but just the opposite. In both cases, the US was sucked into the war. Ultimately, we will also find the battle-enthusiasts together with the isolationists spinning in the Middle Eastern whirlpool. Not only Russia, China and Europe, but the US (and who knows who else?) as well.
As opposed to Putin and the non-isolationist countries that are already involved in the war in Syria – Israel really does have an existential interest in what is taking place literally on its border. On the surface, we should have been the first country to get involved in Syria. First off all, to defend ourselves, thereby preventing the slaughter of innocents. Israel, though, truly does not have any expansionist aspirations.
In the face of the collapse of the Arab sovereign frameworks together with their armies, in the face of the chaos and horrors crying out for the intervention of cultured forces – literally in the midst of the pandemonium – is an enlightened, progressive country – economically sound and boasting the strongest army in the Middle East (at least on paper). Why then, can France bomb in Syria and no one blinks an eye, while we do not even consider Israeli intervention on our own border? Why, for example, did no one propose the establishment of a safe haven for refugees inside Syria under the protection of Israel’s air force and artillery? Why can’t Israeli elite forces take control of strategic junctions in Syria and prevent weapons supplies to ISIS, Hizbollah or the other ‘bad guys’ there? (You know, the forces that shoot at us from time to time.) In short, why haven’t even the most extreme rightists in Israel thought of doing what other countries do and try to take advantage of the changing strategic reality to improve Israel’s position?
The answer, of course, is that the last thing that we want is to endanger our soldiers in a war that is not ours. And that is a very real consideration. But last week, when the IDF responded to another ‘errant’ shell that landed in Israeli territory, Putin sent a sharp rebuke and essentially began to cement the consciousness of the new Middle East. “Now you are dealing with me!” said Putin. An array of Israeli politicians, from the Prime Minister and Defense Minister down to more minor ministers hurried to make it clear that Israel would respond without taking Putin into account. Their reaction was more a reflection of the hysteria in Israel’s defense apparatus than any ability to deal with the new reality.
We will now be dealing with an entire lineup of states on our border, an entire array of ‘errant missiles’ that will intensify – with no return address and with a lot of addresses that will know how to send us the same messages that Putin has just sent. So when do we endanger our soldiers more? When we take responsibility and create a sphere of influence now? Or when we leave a vacuum that will draw all the ‘Israel lovers’ to our borders?
Despite the clear answer, the question is purely theoretical. Israel is not emotionally or mentally built for any strategic initiative that is not directly and immediately of a defensive nature – even if it is the most logical, ethical and obvious initiative from every possible standpoint.
Israel is not France, Turkey or Russia. We are not a state that has already consolidated its identity. We are a state that flees its identity, a state that flees its own message to the world.
Our flight from our identity has led us to a mental state in which we constantly apologize for our very national existence in this expanse. Since we recognized the ownership of another ‘nation’ over our Land and its beating heart, Jerusalem – our collective subconscious has adopted the mentality of guests in our own Land. As if we are just temporarily here. The bedrock of existence in this Land belongs to those who bear a solid identity; in other words, to the Arabs, the ‘dignified wild men’ who grew up here in the desert. We have no identity and thus no history. We are the colonialists, the new Crusaders. And so, we are living here on borrowed time and we must constantly pay to maintain the sin of the occupation of Ashdod and Haifa – Jerusalem and Hebron.
Ever widening circles in the enlightened world negate the legitimacy of our national existence with increasing venom. The only claim that we manage to muster against them is the security claim. In other words, self defense. The Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, has become our holy Temple. We have hinged all the justification for our existence upon it. But after 70 years, it doesn’t work anymore. The grandchildren in Germany do not feel guilty. For them, we are the new Nazis.
The defensive mentality to which the loss of our identity has led us cannot fathom the initiation of strategic measures beyond Israel’s borders. Not only that, it does not even allow us to defend our internal borders – particularly in the heart of our capital.
So take a long, deep breath. Now that the holidays are over, we will be needing a lot of oxygen to deal with the challenges that are waiting for us right around the corner.