Category Archives: Israel & Jewish Affairs

Illusions: Desperate Students

Peace in the Holy Land and a Balanced Budget,

This essay appeared in a substantially abridged form in The American Thinker.
It will appear shortly in The Land of the Free in the form here.

Too frequently, in my role as a University Professor, I encounter the following situation. Three quarters of the way through a semester, a student in a class that I am teaching shows up at my office. The student has done almost no work in the class and is failing badly. Yet the prospect of a failing grade in the course is so repellent to the student (e.g., because it will cause the loss of scholarship money, or expulsion from a degree program, or even just because Dad will be furious) that he (or she) absolutely cannot accept it as a possible outcome. The student fantasizes that it cannot and will not occur. However, he recognizes that perhaps some special effort must be made to ensure that, however slim the chance (in his mind), it does not happen. So he assures me that he really knows the material, that he will study hard, that he will submit the assignments that he has failed to complete and that he will get an excellent grade on the final exam. As he tells me this, I know that there is absolutely no chance that any of it will come to pass. But as he says it, he believes it. It is really very sad. I know, with 99.9% certainty, that I will be entering a failing grade for him at the end of the semester. He knows with equal certainty that I will not. He deludes himself because reality is too painful to confront and so he continues on in his deluded state until reality smacks him in the face.

Something similar is going on in the minds of effete, leftist, foreign policy “experts.” They claim that they want to see peace in the Holy Land. They acknowledge that the land to which the phrase applies is the home of two distinct and belligerent people who have not been able to agree on a formula for sharing the land. They also believe that the warring factions both have legitimate claims to residence in the disputed territory. Furthermore, they are convinced that an agreement to share the land can be achieved – just as soon as both parties to the conflict (albeit, especially the Israelis) finally recognize the futility of trying to exclude the other from his patrimony. And finally, they are certain that the agreement can be brought into existence by the right combination of outside pressure and internal reconciliation, and the correct mix of these ingredients will be concocted in the relatively near future.

These experts are absolutely and unmistakably WRONG! There is no peaceful reconciliation around the corner. There is no correlation of forces, spirit of cooperation or clever formula that will yield a settlement. The Arab/Muslim world is unalterably opposed to the existence of a sovereign Jewish State – indeed of any non-Muslim entity – in the heart of the Umma. Nothing is going to change that. The best that can happen is that Israel will be able to fend off the onslaught – through hot wars punctuated by cold interregnums – for the next 50-100 years. There is no need to outline the worst that can happen. Nevertheless, “objective” (actually, left-leaning) diplomats, statesmen and media-types are convinced – despite all evidence to the contrary – that a peace formula, which will defuse the stalemate, is right around the corner, soon to be uncovered.

In fact, they all pay lip service to the formula that has already been discovered: two states for two peoples. The mantra is repeated endlessly and accepted unquestioningly when they address the problem. It is absurd. The Palestinians in particular and the Arab/Muslim world in general have no interest in implementing the formula. First, they have no great desire to create yet another (23rd) Arab state – one that is rent with internecine hostility (Fatah vs. Hamas) before it is even constituted. But even more important, the mantra is inconsistent with the overarching goal of the Muslim Middle East: to bring about the destruction of Israel – if not physically, then at least as a Jewish State. The latter goal is painfully evident to any with open eyes, but myopic leftist internationalists do not see it. They continue to formulate programs and policies to implement the mantra in the face of its manifest impossibility.

Here is a third instance of this kind of frustratingly contradictory situation – in which an individual or group believes in a forthcoming scenario that has no chance of occurring. This one, like the second above, amounts to self-deception on a massive scale. It is the United States’ budget – specifically, the deficit and debt. Too many, but especially naïve (and sometimes duplicitous) liberals believe, or profess to believe that the unconscionable deficits the USA has run for most of the last 80 years, and the ensuing unsustainable debt that has accumulated – together pose a grave, even an existential danger to the republic. These twin problems must be dealt with, and they will be dealt with when the country elects the right people to implement the right policies to achieve the goal of eliminating the deficit and paying down the debt.

But it is patent nonsense. The history of the last century and especially of the last dozen years teaches that virtually all of the American people (not just liberals) have neither the will nor the desire to practice federal fiscal responsibility. Moreover, we pretend it is not so. We behave as if it is just a matter of time until we install the right political configuration of leaders that will get control of our fiscal delinquency. But in fact, we are racing inexorably toward the day of reckoning wherein a financial/political/cultural crisis of epic proportions will bring about a cataclysmic fiscal, and likely social, collapse.

How can people be so blind? So misled? So oblivious to the obvious? How did we reach the current status in the two latter situations – i.e., dealing with the US deficit and debt, and peace between Israel and the Arabs? In both cases, as with our delusional student, reality is just too painful to contemplate. If the US does not get control of its financial affairs, then eventually some major fiscal disaster awaits us. The debt is projected to grow to $20 trillion, then $30 trillion, then… As in a household or as in a business, unsustainable debt for a nation MUST lead to financial ruin. Will the result be widespread poverty? Political repression? Social chaos? The loss of freedom? Whatever occurs, it is certain to spell the doom of the American experiment and is therefore too horrible to contemplate. So we continue on in our reverie that we will manage our deficits and debt – soon, just as soon as we get the right players and right formulas in place.

The Middle East scenario is similar. If we accept that the Arab/Muslim world is inexorably opposed to the existence of Israel and determined to kill it, then it is rational to believe that sooner or later the correlation of forces will realign to the point that Israel will no longer be able to defend itself. What then: mass slaughter? Total expulsion oft he Jews? A Jihadist orgy of unimaginable proportions? Once again, too horrible to contemplate and therefore not acceptable as a legitimate vision. Instead theworld prances around in the self-delusion that the dispute can and will be settled as soon as the right players and policies are in place. It is an illusion.

Is Israel Turning Inward?

Two recent, significant events in Israel highlight a major change in the Israeli people’s attitude toward their nation’s role in Middle Eastern affairs. These events were the January elections for a new Knesset (Parliament) and the just-concluded state visit of President Obama. The outcome of the elections befuddled virtually all of the international political prognosticators. Moreover, the impact of Obama’s visit – with the possible exception of a tentative rapprochement with Turkey – will be essentially nil. These surprising developments reflect a sea change in the Israeli public’s perception of the major issues confronting their nation and, more importantly, how their tiny country should deal with these issues – both those that were formerly anointed as the most pressing as well as those now recognized by the people as truly the most urgent.

From the moment of its birth, Israel has been under attack. The assault has been broad (emanating from its Arab neighbors, the Muslim world, the Communist nations, the UN and even from Europe), sustained (65 years with no respite), vicious (the attackers employ terrorism, bigotry-motivated  boycotts, bloodthirsty calumny and of course conventional war) and existential. Regarding the latter, while Israel’s foes have sought its destruction from the beginning, their former discretion about expressing their true intentions has given way to blatant and transparent statements of their desire to obliterate the Jewish nation and its people.

Not surprisingly, in response to the ongoing dire threat, Israel’s main objective for the last two-thirds of a century has been to confront and repel the threat; but equally importantly, to pursue policies that – they mistakenly believed – might at least ameliorate, but more hopefully terminate the constant assault. Israel’s governments have considered their primary responsibility to be: the protection of the homeland through a perpetual vigilance against and preparation for the never-ending belligerence of her enemies – which, as indicated, comprised Arabs, and more generally, Muslims, aided and abetted by hostile forces throughout the world. The primary focus, therefore, of the government, and of the people in general, was on foreign affairs, military preparedness and homeland security. It is true that during her existence, Israel has also managed to create a robust democracy, a vibrant economy, a fair amount of social cohesion and arguably the most successful ethnic nation-state on Earth. But the efforts of the people to create these successful societal components  always had to take second place to the more urgent need to defend the nation. The latter was on the mind of almost every Israeli almost all of the time.

Well, the threat has not vanished. One could even argue that, in light of: the “Arab spring” – in particular, its manifestations in Egypt and Syria; the ominous machinations of the Iranian regime; the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe; and the perceived diminution of American power and will, the threat is actually greater than ever. Nevertheless, signs abound that the Israeli people are turning their attention inward. Those signs include:

·        The recent election in which the results made clear that the people are far more interested in: internal economic disparities; the role of the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) community; the role of Israel’s internal Arab population; the nature of the government’s structure; and the social composition of society than they are in Arab “democrats,” Iranian fanatics, European BDSers or J-Street morons in America.

·        The tepid response to Barack Obama. Many worried that Obama’s barely concealed disdain for Israel and its government would spark demonstrations or other manifestations of displeasure during his visit. Not only did that not occur, but much of the Israeli public simply ignored him.(One should not be confused by the enthusiastic response of the hand-picked leftist audience at his Jerusalem “student” speech.)

·        Israel’s perfunctory intervention in Gaza last fall. Rather than a massive ground incursion, Israel satisfied itself with the minimum effort required to stop Hamas’ rockets – temporarily, of course.

·        Israel’s failure to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities. Apparently Israel has calculated that either: it does not possess the requisite firepower and/or the resultant Hezbollah/Hamas retaliation would be too painful and/or maybe the Americans will take care of the problem after all and/or even with nukes the Iranians won’t be suicidal enough to attack Israel and/or Israel just doesn’t have the moxie. Whatever the reason, despite the continued tough rhetoric from Netanyahu, it is increasingly clear that no Israeli attack is forthcoming.

·        The intense focus on the economy, technological development, energy exploration and trade. These pursuits absorb and energize the public and the government far more than does the “peace process.”

·        Indeed, the near total lack of interest in the so-called Israel-Palestinian peace process is striking. It is a topic that garners less attention than at any time since the Six Day War.

A combination of fatigue, boredom and reality has set in. Regarding Israel’s’ relationship with the Arab/Muslim world, there is nothing new to say or do. The Palestinians in particular and the Arab/Muslim world in general are irreconcilably opposed to the existence of a sovereign Jewish nation in the heart of the Umma. It has been so for more than a hundred years and will likely remain so for at least another hundred years. No Israeli attitude, policy or action will change that. So why bother?

Israel is a formidable military power. It has defended itself successfully since the War of Independence and indications are that it will continue to be able to do so for the foreseeable future. Why obsess about it? There are no “peace plans” to be concocted that will add anything to the equation. Just keep the guns oiled, the intelligence flowing and morale high. Bullets mayfly again – as they have so often in the past. When they cease to whistle, nothing will have changed.

Look around! Western Civilization is in decline. In addition, the Muslim world remains mired in bigotry, medievalism, tribalism,political barbarity and economic ignorance. China, India and other rising powers are a long way from dominance. In the short term at least, there is no conceivable correlation of forces that is going to alter Israel’s status in the Middle East.

Finally, there are pressing domestic issues that Israel has ignored for far too long because of its laser focus on external affairs. It’s time to turn attention to the home front.

Israel has had relatively brief periods in which it has been similarly inclined – in the early/mid 1960s, in the mid/late 1970s, in the mid1980s. But events always intervened to draw the focus back to the incessant conflict. Regarding the three periods mentioned, the signal events marking their close were, respectively, the Six Day War, Sadat’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the First Intifada – followed of course by Oslo. Time will tell if this new, conceivably more intense, internal focus proves to be more enduring.


This essay also appeared in The Intellectual Conservative at:

The Future of Israel and Western Civilization

Offering a prognosis for the future of Israel and Western Civilization, while reviewing two books and a Commentary magazine essay on them addressed to the same topic

The West is in retreat. The European Union is beset by seemingly insolvable economic problems, a burgeoning, indigestible Muslim population and a near total loss of confidence in its Christian foundation. The English-speaking countries (the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) are also plagued by pending fiscal calamities, bloated governments that sap individual liberty, moral decay and declining confidence in the merits of their traditional ‘English way of life.’ Latin America never really signed on to the program; the nations of the East – although some flirted with Western style societies – move increasingly to authoritarianism, and the Middle East and Africa are awash in a radical Islamism that abhors Western Civilization.

However, the principle subject of this essay is the future of the tiny outpost of Western Civilization known as Israel. Receiving increasingly tepid support from its allies in the West; ignored if not disdained by disinterested parties in Arica, Latin America and the East; reviled and marked for death by the Muslim world; the beleaguered state of Israel faces a daunting task in trying to preserve its independence, prosperity, indeed its life. Thus it is legitimate to ask: What is its prognosis?

Purported answers are offered in two timely books, Israel: The Will to Prevail, by Danny Danon and The Promise of Israel: Why Its Seemingly Greatest Weakness Is Actually Its Greatest Strength, by Daniel Gordis. In addition, an extremely keen analysis of both books may be found in the December 2012 issue of Commentary Magazine, namely, Israel, the Will and {Promise, by Stephen Daisley. In these three venues, the prognosis for Israel is unrealistically optimistic in the two books and essentially avoided in the review. I will take a stab at a more realistic appraisal here.

As Daisley explains, Danon expresses a strong opinion on three major points: (i) the so-called Arab Spring does not represent the dawn of democracy in the Arab world, but rather the ‘eclipse of the forces of liberalism’ and the ascendance of Islamism; (ii) Israel is too subservient to American paternalism and must take a more independent, nationalistic stance; and (iii) the notion of a Palestinian state is anathema to Israel – the solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem must be found in a pre-1967 configuration, i.e., Gaza back to Egypt and the Arab peoples of the West Bank, but not the land, back to Jordan. So according to Danon:

‘In terms of dealing with Arab nations, many Israelis today have gone back to the warrior mentality of Ben-Gurion. We’re sick of hollow accords and grand ceremonies done for the camera’s sake. More of us are awakening every day to the fact that it takes more than a lovely ritual at the White House, with the accompanying smiles and handshakes and photo ops, to get anything real accomplished. Ben-Gurion was willing to pay a price for the security of Israel in international opprobrium, and so it is with a new generation of Israeli leaders. We also understand the necessity of shaping our fate by our own hands. If we have to pay a price with the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, so be it…What I am proposing here is a three-state solution. This would entail a regional agreement with Jordan, Egypt, and Israel that would give Palestinians land and other rights across these three areas — not land to form a distinct Palestinian state but land within the borders of these states as they exist now…A strong sense of Israeli nationalism must prevail if the state is to successfully overcome the current chaotic situation—even if that means contravening the wishes of U.S. administrations. Israel needs a new vision and direction; we need to take control of our own destiny and dictate our own history.’

Daisley assays Danon’s three opinions thus: he essentially agrees with (i); views (ii) as shortsighted and self-defeating; and (iii) as naïve and unrealistic. Turning to Gordis, Daisley correctly points out the vast difference in the nature of the two authors. While Danon is a politician and his book reads like that of one laying out a position paper in anticipation of the next election, Gordis is a philosopher and theologian who writes with penetrating insight, originality and eloquence. His book is elegantly crafted and cogently argued.

Gordis’ breathtakingly original idea is as follows: Inspired by the carnage that they inflicted upon themselves throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and reinforced by the omnipresent, menacing threat to safety posed by the Cold War, the Europeans (with the English-speaking nations eventually coming along) decided that the cause of the strife was to be found in the divisiveness inherent in the nation state structure of the continent. The separate entities, grounded in ethnic identification, religious particularism and capitalistic frenzy were inevitably in fierce competition with each other leading to conflict and war. The nation state concept had outlived its usefulness and a more comprehensive form of government (a more universal world order) needed to be established. Thus the European Union to start.

Alas, the Jews, based on their perceived self-impotence in the face of the Holocaust, decided exactly the opposite. They needed their own state in order to be able to live in safety and to pursue their own destiny. As time has progressed since the creation of Israel, the West has grown more fervent in its belief that the ethnic nation state must be superseded and tiny Israel flies in the face of that goal. It becomes an affront to the West and hence loses its support. But Gordis goes further – namely, the West is wrong and Israel is right. That is, without the ethnic nation state as the basis for organizing the world’s population, the world will lose its humanity, its people will lose their freedoms and human empathy and solidarity will evaporate in a haze of sameness. Thus, according to Gordis:

‘This book makes an audacious and seemingly odd claim. It suggests that what now divides Israel and the international community is an idea: the ethnic nation-state—a country created around a shared cultural heritage. This is what has the West so put out with Israel. Israel has lost its once-charmed status in the international arena, I argue, because of a “conflict over this very idea.

What is at stake in the current battle over Israel’s legitimacy is not merely the idea on which Israel is based, but, quite possibly, human freedom as we know it. The idea that human freedom might be at risk in today’s battles over Israel might seem far-fetched or hyperbolic. This book will argue that it is not, and that human beings everywhere thus have a great stake in what the world ultimately does with the Jewish state.”

Today’s infatuation with the notion that human difference ought to be papered over is not the first time that the world has embraced a dangerous and dead-end philosophical fad. In the past century alone, humanity has lived through infatuations with unfettered socialism, then with communism, and even with the belief in the nobility of imperialism. But Israel is a reminder to the world that there are moments when someone—be it a prophet in biblical times or a nation-state in today’s international community—has to speak truth to power and insist on what is right and true, regardless of how unpopular the idea is. Israel represents the argument that the nation-state is not a fad, but rather an ancient and still compelling vision for humanity.

Rather than pretend that all human beings were essentially the same, the Jews, thanks to their new country, would celebrate their differentness. In defiance of the world’s insistence on the denial of difference, Israelis chose … their own heritage over some imagined universal culture. Israel was a choice of difference over the ideal of sameness, a preference for the particular over the global, and for the Jews’ own story over some anemic panhuman narrative. But in making that choice to be different, the Jews—even though they could not then have fully anticipated how this might come back to haunt them and their young state—were embarking on a path that was destined to put them at odds with the prevailing ethos of Europe and much of the rest of the world.

In the inimitable words of Rabbi Sacks, ‘There is no road to human solidarity that does not begin with moral particularity—by coming to know what it means to be a child, a parent, a neighbor, a friend. We learn to love humanity by loving specific human beings. There is no short-cut. Identity and particularism are not obstacles to caring about others; they are the road to empathy, and from there they are the path to partnerships that labor for freedom.’

Daisley neither endorses nor rejects Gordis’ thesis. He is obviously impressed with the originality, scope and potential impact of what Gordis suggests. Daisley opines: ‘Gordis’ work is a small book with a big idea, and he should be commended for that. The public discourse is wanting for big ideas, particularly on Israel…Thus [according to Gordis] Zionism becomes not just a movement for Jewish national rights but a rear-guard action against cultural relativism and the self-immolation of the West.’ But while heaping praise on Gordis for his originality and depth of thought, Daisley offers no evaluation of the chance of success of implementing Gordis’ scheme, much less an opinion on its intrinsic merits. He just seems to be pleasantly surprised that anyone could have an original thought on the overworked ‘Israel problem.’

Western Civilization is in a battle for survival – a contest in which it doesn’t seem even to recognize that it is a combatant. Only Israel is aware of the contest – because its very survival is constantly and manifestly at stake. What has been its strategy to survive? What should it be? What is the prognosis?

Israel played offense from the end of the Second World War until the Six Day War in 1967. It girded itself to bring the State into existence, no matter the odds or the cost, then defended it vigorously in the aftermath and unabashedly expanded it when presented with the opportunity. But then it rested on its laurels and its game plan became more defense than offense. It announced to the world that in light of its historic victory, it should be clear – especially to the Arabs – that Israel was here to stay, that it would succeed and prosper, and that the Arabs, the Muslims, indeed the world should accept it as a permanent member of the community of nations. The Arabs/Muslims did no such thing – and the rest of the world (especially the West, for reasons explained by Gordis) is increasingly rejecting Israel’s assertion as well. Maybe it’s time to go back on offense.

And that is exactly what Danon and Gordis prescribe, although – as we have seen – with different strategies in mind. Now, Daisley obviously has no faith in Danon’s plans; and he takes a pass on the merit of Gordis’ strategy. Actually, there is an unmistakable undercurrent of disbelief, in Daisley’s essay, that anything worthwhile could come of Gordis’ ideas. Indeed, Daisley is correct. Both strategies – that of Danon and of Gordis – are unrealistic. Danon is correct that Israel’s acquiescence to a 23rd Arab State on the West Bank would be tantamount to suicide. It is totally obvious that the main objective of the Arabs who reside in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (and elsewhere) is the destruction of Israel and the murder or expulsion of its Jewish inhabitants. After that, whether those Arabs become an independent state or merge into a union with Jordan and/or Lebanon and/or Syria is of no consequence. The West does not care; it expects Israel to agree to the creation of such an entity. Even if this were not so, Danon’s plan requires the cooperation of Egypt and Jordan – and that is absolutely not forthcoming.

Gordis’ plan is even more ludicrous. It requires tiny Israel to convince the Western World that the ethnic nation state is a force for good in the world at exactly the moment that the West has reached precisely the opposite conclusion. This is beyond wishful thinking; it is hallucinatory. Talk about spitting into the wind. Were Israel to embark on a PR campaign along the lines suggested by Gordis, its standing among the western nations would plummet even further than it already has.

So what is Israel to do? If neither of the offensive strategies of Danon or Gordis is viable, should it continue to play defense? Well, one plays defense either to protect a lead – which is clearly not the case for Israel – or to bide one’s time until conditions change allowing one to go on offense. Israel has been and apparently remains committed to continue to wait for two things – only one of which it articulates to itself: (i) the Muslim world will accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East; (ii) the Western World will regain its footing and resume its leadership of the civilized world. Regarding (i), Vladimir and Estragon had a better chance of Godot showing up. There is absolutely no indication that such an occurrence could be expected in any remotely near time frame. As for (ii), it may be premature to write the final obituary for Western Civilization, but the trends of the last two generations have not been encouraging.

So Israel should perhaps jettison its defensive strategy and go on offense. How exactly? I wish I knew! Certainly if it believes that the West is not doomed, then Israel needs to work aggressively to convince the US and Europe that it is foolhardy and against their better interests not to back Israel 100%. Surely the West must come to the recognition that Israel is a kindred spirit, a bulkhead of freedom and a vital security asset. (As Alexander Haig once famously said: ‘Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.’) Israel should receive the West’s total backing against the reactionary, fundamentalist, anti-democratic and bigoted forces abreast in the Arab/Muslim world. Moreover, as the day draws near when the West will no longer rely on Middle Eastern oil, the incentive not to recognize Israel’s value decreases. Israel needs to be much more proactive in making its case along these lines. But if the West cannot see the validity of that reasoning, then it is a sign that Western Civilization is indeed doomed and Israel needs a Plan B.

If the West is in fact doomed, then what shall unfold in the world in the not too distant future is one of: (i) a new dark ages marked by anarchy, chaos, violence and poverty; or (ii) a balance of power between a small number of contending forces, like China, Islam, perhaps Russia or India or Brazil, and maybe the US – leading to some world stability, albeit without liberty or widespread prosperity; or (iii) Islamic domination of the planet; or (iv) something else.

Now how in the world can Israel plan for that? It would probably continue to play defense. But I suspect that to survive in any of these four unappetizing scenarios, some offense will be required. Its form at this moment is highly undetermined. But continuing to ‘lay back’ and expect the world to accommodate the most starkly ethnic nation state on Earth is perhaps the most unrealistic plan of all. So let us pray for America and the West to regain their footing. Israel can play a positive role in such a renaissance.

This essay/review also appeared in The Intellectual Conservative at:
and in The Land of the Free at:
and finally in Think Israel at:

Netanyahu’s Existential Decision

On Netanyahu’s fateful choice, and the monumental consequences — whichever way he decides.

For the fourth time in Israel’s relatively brief existence, its Prime Minister is faced with an existential choice. Anyone who is paying attention recognizes that Benjamin Netanyahu is confronted with the agonizing decision whether to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The threats to Israel, to Iran, indeed to virtually the entire world posed by the consequences of his decision are staggering. Depending upon the outcome of an Israeli strike – should it occur – the consequences could include:

  • Tens of thousands of missiles (launched by Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran itself) raining down upon all of Israel, resulting in calamitous destruction and death.
  • The closing of the Straits of Hormuz and a confrontation between Iran and the US that could easily escalate into a broader war engaging many nations.
  • Widespread acts of terror against unknown Western targets, conceivably involving weapons of mass destruction.
  • The destabilization of the Iranian regime leading to revolution and foment all over the Middle East.
  • An abrogation by the Obama administration of the historic alliance between Israel and the US, resulting in the total isolation of Israel – which might tempt its numerous enemies to contemplate a massive frontal assault that Israel could repel only by the use of its nuclear arsenal.
  • Or something worse.

However, should Israel choose not to attack, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran might have equally cataclysmic consequences:

  • A nuclear attack by Iran on Israel, either by ballistic missiles or via a dirty bomb, terror approach.
  • The initiation of a massive nuclear arms race all over the Middle East.
  • Iran achieves a hegemonic domination of the region based on its nuclear prowess.
  • Iran routinely applies nuclear threats and intimidation to destabilize or overthrow any region in the region that it finds offensive.
  • Israel, horrified at one or more of the above, decides to preemptively attack Iran – even though the consequences of the bombing of “online” facilities could lead to a nuclear holocaust.

But perhaps, this outlook is too Cassandra-like; an Israeli strike could be a phenomenal success: Iran’s nuclear capabilities are utterly destroyed, civilian casualties are minimal, the regime falls, a democratic government takes its place and a better day dawns for all of the Middle East. Once again, the tiny state of Israel miraculously defies all odds and a decade of peace is ensured. It’s happened before. In fact, this is the fourth installment of this saga. The previous three were:

  1. David Ben Gurion’s decision in May, 1948 whether to declare independence.
  2. Levi Eshkol’s decision in June 1967 whether to initiate hostilities to forestall Nasser’s (and his allies’) boldly stated intention to invade Israel and drive its inhabitants into the sea.
  3. Golda Meir’s decision in October 1973 whether – having been apprised of Sadat’s (and his allies’) intention to strike Israel on Yom Kippur – to preempt by opening hostilities first.

In every case, Israel’s fate hung in the balance. In the first two instances, the Prime Minister and the Israeli Cabinet chose the bold, aggressive, exceedingly risky course of action. In the third, Ms. Meir did not. History records that – although the first two decisions brought forth a great deal of pain and sacrifice (especially in 1948) – Ben Gurion and Eshkol made the right decision, whereas Meir did not. Had either of the two gentlemen not made his decision as he did, it is likely that Israel would not exist today. And because of Meir’s decision, Israel almost did not survive.

As grave as those pivotal points were, one could argue that Netanyahu’s choice is potentially even more consequential:

  • In the previous crises, weapons of mass destruction were not on the table.
  • The world-wide ramifications of an Israel-Iran conflict are greater than they were for the Israel-Egypt conflicts of the past.
  • Even with a “victory,” the potential for civilian casualties and infrastructure destruction in Israel is much greater in this round.
  • Israel might be more isolated internationally than heretofore.
  • The probability of Israeli success is arguably less this time.
  • There is no chance for secrecy or to launch a truly surprise attack.

Yet, there are incontrovertible facts that Netanyahu cannot ignore. The maniacal leaders of a bloodthirsty, irrational, hate-filled regime have announced flagrantly and repeatedly their intention to destroy his nation. The world dismisses the threat as mere words. Alas, Netanyahu is watching the replay of a bad movie. The original was featured just 70 years ago. The scenario is sickeningly similar. And the monsters who made the threats in the original carried them out – with horrific, existential consequences. World-wide conquest by Herr Hitler was not beyond the realm of possibility. Had he succeeded, it is possible that he could have brought about the extinction of the Jewish people. I have no doubt that the evil Mullahs would be pleased to complete Herr Hitler’s unfinished task. They cannot be permitted to try.

But they have not squeezed the trigger yet. Can Netanyahu be certain that they will? Even if not, can he take the chance? Oh, the uncertainty! The perilous consequences! The bloodshed! Isn’t there another way?

Can you imagine what it is to be in Netanyahu’s shoes? The survival of the Jewish people and the fate of the world arguably rest in his hands. What an awesome responsibility! The consequences are monumental – no matter which way he decides. God grant him the wisdom the make the right choice.
This article appeared in The American Thinker at:
and also in The Intellectual Conservative at:

Israel as the West’s Isaac

David Mamet makes an amazing accusation in an article in the September 13 issue of the Wall Street Journal. He speculates as to why the West seems to be so willing, even anxious, to throw Israel under the Muslim bus. He is aghast that, faced with Iran’s blatant assertion that it intends to destroy Israel and its equally transparent quest to obtain the nuclear arsenal to do so, the US and Europe have made painfully clear that they have no intention of preventing the planned genocide. Mamet identifies the cause of this craven and cowardly behavior.

The Liberal West has, for decades, indulged itself in an orgy of self-flagellation. We have enjoyed comfort and security, but these, in the absence of gratitude and patriotism, cause insecurity, This attempted cure for insecurity can be seen in protestations of our worthlessness, and the indictment of private property…How may they still the resulting anxiety? The Left’s answer is the oldest in the world: by appeal to the Gods. But how may the Gods be appeased? The immemorial answer is: By human sacrifice…The essence of the Torah is the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. The God of Hosts spoke to Abraham, as the various desert gods had spoken to the nomads for thousands of years: “If you wish to relieve your anxiety, give me the most precious thing you have.”…In abandonment of the state of Israel, the West reverts to pagan sacrifice, once again, making a burnt offering not of that which one possesses, but of that which is another’s. As Realpolitik, the liberal West’s anti-Semitism can be understood like Chamberlain’s offering of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, a sop thrown to terrorism.

It is an astounding and horrific accusation. That is, by eagerly abandoning Israel, and thereby placing it in mortal peril, the West seeks to ease its guilty conscience over its supposed transgressions against the Muslim world and over its disproportionate share of the Earth’s wealth. Craven and cowardly do not do justice as descriptors of this heinous behavior. Treacherous, morally bankrupt – indeed, evil seem more appropriate labels.

God stilled Abraham’s hand before he could complete the abominable deed of sacrificing his son Isaac. But the Europeans no longer pray to the God of Abraham. Many Americans still do, although apparently in smaller percentages than at the time of Israel’s birth. Of course, Muslims pray to the same God. All of us, Muslims, Christians and Jews hear different responses. According to Mamet, the Jews should understand that we are now cast as Isaac in a new modern Akedah drama. Our liberal American and European “protectors” are cast as Abraham – albeit, an Abraham who is under the coaching of Ishmael rather than God. And therefore the story is intended to have a different ending. The people of Israel do not intend to follow the script. Too many American Jews do not understand the script. I pray that enough Americans do – and are so appalled by it that they will join with the Israelis in thwarting it.
This post also appeared in The American Thinker at: