As we celebrate the 75th Birthday of the State of Israel, we must acknowledge that something very important is missing: an unwavering belief in the righteousness of our cause. Awareness, education and actions are needed to change this, if we want to continue to prosper in our ancestral homeland.
The State of Israel is something of a wonder. In 75 years we have become a regional power, a thriving democracy, our economy is booming, we export the best technological developments, and our military, the Israel Defense Forces, is one of the strongest in the world. There is no historical precedent for such a miracle where a nation rises from the ashes of its deepest nadir and rebuilds itself.
Astonishingly, this reality is inversely proportional to our feelings and self-perception as a nation. Thus, for example, in the latest IDSF Index survey, which polled a representative sample of Israeli society, 65% of the public fears the fate of the state and only 43% of the Jewish public feels personally safe living in it. This inconceivable contradiction becomes more understandable when considering Israel’s national security strategy, and especially what is missing from it.
The road to victory begins with the Declaration of Independence
Israel is by most estimates the most threatened country in the world. At any given moment, a wide arsenal of deadly weapons is aimed at it, waiting for the time to strike. The human tendency to repress is not the kind of luxury we can afford. The Jewish past – and also the present – is rife with persecutions and threats, some of which can fester into a real catastrophe. However, the Israeli discussion about our security is conducted in a superficial way, almost on the margins of our daily life and without devoting substantive thinking power to the topic of the future existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish People in its ancestral homeland.
Our current security strategy is limited to military jargon of deterrence, advance warning and decisive abilities. It ignores the foundation of all of these capabilities – which is the very belief in the righteousness of our cause. This firm belief in the justness of our cause is critical to ensuring our survival, because without understanding why we are here, we cannot win. The flawed understanding of the basis of our existence here is evident in the way the state acts on issues of governance, war on terror and dealing with various enemies – and the public can sense it: we are strong on paper, but in reality something is not working as it should.
If ignorance is the challenge, what is the key to the solution? The key is the Declaration of Independence. This 75 year-old text has been dragged into the current political turmoil, but the most important words in the scroll, the ones that open it, are not political at all: “Eretz Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish People.” This sentence basically sums up our story. It has nothing to do with right or left. It is related to our self-perception: to the belief in the justness of our cause, to the belief and understanding that the Land of Israel is the only home of the Jewish people, and only in it can we ensure our existence. If all of us cannot say the opening statement of the Declaration of Independence with full conviction, we will not be able to face the perils around us – and we have no choice but to face them.
“We will not turn back”: the belief in the righteousness of the cause
We must face reality. The various vectors, which I exposed and detailed a year ago, are converging towards a dangerous and inevitable meeting. The Iranian vector is no longer only Iranian: Russia and China have joined its ranks. The internal Arab vector, which seeks to rally Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and the terrorist organizations in Gaza to undermine our very existence and ownership of the land, is gaining strength. The vectors are converging, and we must prepare for them so that Israel can continue to exist safely.
In order to face the convergence of the vectors, we need not only to identify and recognize them; we must also strengthen our will to win, and this will not happen without strengthening the values of Zionism and our national consciousness. The State of Israel is our only country. This is where the Jewish people was born and rose to independence.
The Israel Defense and Security Forum under my leadership works to achieve these two goals: identifying the threats, and building a national security strategy that will allow us to face them and win. The issue of the convergence of the vectors and the preparation for them will be at the center of the Israeli Security Conference that we are hosting, which will be held in the capacity of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and other senior officials of the security establishment on the 9th of May in Jerusalem.
At this conference we will also launch the book I have been writing during the last months, and we will outline our vision on how to ensure Israel’s security for future generations. Inspired by Natan Alterman’s iconic poem, the book is called “We shall not turn back”, which embodies the spirit of our message to the Jewish People and the State of Israel. “We shall not turn back, and there is no other way”. This is the required spirit, to relentlessly advance without even thinking about standing still or falling back.