Israel needs to loved and feared

April 19, 2024 by Ron Weiser
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To paraphrase Micah Goodman, the bind that Israel is in, is that to ensure its long-term existence, Israel needs to be loved by the West and yet simultaneously, feared by her enemies in the Middle East.

Ron Weiser

Both are required.

When Israel is attacked, sympathy is with her.

We may have forgotten already, but in the immediate aftermath of 7 October the entire free world was with Israel, the Abraham Accords held and Arab leaders aimed more of their criticisms at Hamas, than Israel.

The issues began when Israel took action to defend itself and set out to defeat Hamas, an enemy that observes no rules of war.

Interestingly and importantly, the greater problem during the past six months has been increasingly with achieving Western understanding, rather than Arab.

Remarkably, what occurred before and during the direct Iranian attack on Israel on the weekend, was absolutely unprecedented.

The combination of heavenly and earthly miracles.

The United States gathered together a coalition never previously seen, that included the USA, UK, France, Jordan, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Counterintuitively, they came together on Saturday in a war room in the US base in Qatar.

These countries all participated to one extent or other, in a joint air defence operation to protect the Jewish State from Iranian attack.

Again, simply unprecedented.

Amir Bar Shalom wrote: “Iran, which officially continues to hail the success of its strikes, knows very well that it may have shot itself in the foot. Rather than build upon the international isolation Israel is experiencing over the war in Gaza and thwarting a regional anti-Iran alliance backed by the West, Tehran managed to force the alliance into the open and give it a showcase for how effective US-led cooperation can be.”

Just as the also unprecedented support from President Biden in the immediate aftermath of 7 October and for some months since, this latest coalition, also comes with a bear hug.

Once more, Israel is okay in the eyes of the world when under attack, but when she defends herself, a whole new set of parameters are brought to play.

When there was enough evidence to conclude Iran was planning a large attack, Biden instructed his aides: “to defend Israel to the maximum extent possible and defeat the attack.”

And the defence was truly stunning.

As I wrote in October about Iron Dome and now also to include the array of defensive measures employed this time, thank G-d for them, but their success creates numerous problems as well.

Defensive capabilities can be a two-edged sword as it were.

Prime amongst them is a perception that Israel ‘can afford’ to suffer attack as she can be protected and that therefore offensive powers are either not so needed, or do not need to be utilised.

Lazar Berman explained in the Times of Israel back in October, that Israel’s strategy used to be based on 3 principles – deterrence, early warning, and decisive battlefield victory (hachra’a).

Not building defensive shields. But rather, offensive powers to deter the enemy.

Which brings us to the bear hug of today. Asking/demanding that Israel not increase its deterrence by other than limited offensive means, and rather trying to sell the notion that the defensive coalition of the countries involved, will be a sufficient deterrent and that offensive measures may weaken the coalition itself.

Again, it is important to understand just how differently that message will be heard by Israel’s Western allies on the one hand and the Arab world on the other.

Amid all this, Israel has only partially achieved its war goals of returning all the hostages abducted on 7 October and successfully routing Hamas from Gaza.

Going into Rafah may be the trade-off negotiated, instead of responding directly on Iran itself.

As I wrote earlier this year and repeat again, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, understood the transformation in the Jewish condition from being a minority in the diaspora to being a majority in the only Jewish State, when he said: “It does not matter what the world thinks, but only what Jews do.”

Which also brings us to the other non-homogenous sub grouping that is directly affected by all of these events and by Western perception of Israeli action/inaction, World Jewry. Particularly, US Jewry.

Here too, at each end of the spectrum, but far far more on the so called Jewish ‘liberal left,’ support and/or frustration is fraying and/or growing, or has been fractured, whilst for those in the core and between, they have a relationship with Israel that has never been deeper, or stronger.

On the Zionist liberal left, one United States Jewish leader, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, a prominent American Reform Rabbi who has a lifelong reputation for being an outstanding Israel advocate, beautifully expressed his own community’s relationship with Israel, as he works hard to bring his congregants and others, along with him.

Rabbi Hirsch said: “Our synagogue and American Jewry support Israel unconditionally, not uncritically, there never was such a Jew who was an uncritical Jew. But we support Israel unconditionally

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