Itay Blank
An IAF veteran, Engineer and Academic

Israel is NOT Ukraine – it can win

Image by on Freepik
Image by on Freepik

As opposed to the horrible, costly and bloody stalemate in Ukraine, which threatens to become a defeat in the near future, Israel can effectively fight and win against the barbarians in Gaza. American Jews should insist on promulgating the truth: that Israel is not a helpless victim but a free nation retaliating – successfully – against imperialist Jihadi savages who tried to conquer parts of it and have massacred as many innocents as they could find. Israeli victory could actually encourage closer ties between Israel  (and the west in general) and the Arab nations, a de-escalation of violence and uncertainty in the region and a much, much needed boost to US credibility. Therefore it is not only just but advantageous to allow it to carry out its objectives which is the elimination of Hamas as a fighting force and the retrieval of as many of the hostages as possible.

The Arab kingdoms are mortal enemies with the revolutionary Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is partly why Saudi Arabia helped fund Sisi after he seized power in Egypt and why it, Bahrain and the UAE have gone so far as to sever ties with Qatar for funding Hamas and entertaining relations with Shiite-led Iran, which is all to happy to help widen the rift in the Sunni world. For these regimes, Israel could not be aggressive enough in Gaza because they need it to be the case that the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood is synonymous with disaster.

The Palestinian ethos is basically one of negation of Israel. West Bank Palestinians overwhelmingly support Hamas. West Bank schools are typically named after suicide-attacker “martyrs” and preach hatred and struggle against Jews. Throughout its existence, while Israel has been busy in (self) nation-building even at the expense of its military strength (David Ben Gurion cut defense spending drastically during the early 50’s, to which Yigal Yadin objected and was replaced) Palestinians have neglected building a society that centers around anything other than the negation of Zionism. In the same manner, Hamas which has ruled over the Gaza strip since 2006 has prioritized what now proves to be a massive network of underground fortifications over developing the welfare of its citizens, using Qatari-Iranian funds.

In fact, Egypt would be justified in demanding reparations from Qatar for having financed a hostile terrorist organization right across its border for years. Perhaps it could demand such reparations in the form of subsidies for any refugees from the strip should it be willing to accept any. Turkey could also have plausibly contributed to helping the people of Gaza exit the war zone but no one expects such nobility from Erdogan.

The late Henry Kissinger wasn’t what I would call ‘a good Friend of Israel’ and in fact, as described in this biography by Thomas Schwartz, may not even have been as good a statesman as the myths surrounding him suggest. But the man knew history and had clear vision. He once quipped:

To be an enemy of the US is dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.

The war in Ukraine could plausibly be said to be very strong supporting evidence of this notion. In fact Kissinger himself warned that NATO expansion towards Ukraine is a path towards the process we’ve seen unfold. To be fair, he also more recently said that after the war started, he changed his mind about Ukraine joining NATO, but only after peace is secured and mainly to protect Europe from an armed, dissatisfied Ukraine’s unpredictable national ambitions rather than to protect Ukraine. US policy faces catastrophic collapse in Ukraine, which may be why some of the rhetoric is being redirected from unwavering support towards a compromise and ceasefire, lowering expectations for US backing. Ukraine is vastly outnumbered and vastly outgunned. It is quite unlikely it could drive Russia back and never was. Meanwhile, the country’s society and infrastructure is being decimated. Along with those, prospects for an independent functioning Ukraine after the war have been similarly decreasing as the conflict has gone on. A defeat in Ukraine threatens to be a major blow to American credibility and influence.

Israel, on the other hand, is a totally different matter. As of December 24th, Israeli estimates of Hamas casualties was roughly 8000 (out of roughly 25,000) and Palestinian total casualty estimate 21,000 yielding a civilian to combatant ratio of roughly 8:5, if these estimates are true. Certainly, this figure would have been lower if Hamas did not design its strategy as relying on Human shields by building their entrenchment under civilian population. Other densely populated war-zones have seen very high casualty rates, with some estimates (Kurdish Intelligence) of the civilian deaths in the 2017 razing Mosul going as high as 40,000 (the city had a total of roughly 10,000 combatants present). Israel can and is doing the work required to clear Gaza of Hamas. The US would be wise to not pressure it into stopping. The further along it goes, the better the prospects are for regional peace, Israelis resettling their homes and US honor and credibility to be sustained.

Israel has benefited from the presence of the presence of the Gerald Ford and Eisenhower carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean as what appears to have been an effective deterrent to Hezbollah and direct intense action by Iran. However when Iran-backed militias all over the Middle East are striking American assets largely unanswered, the credibility of the threat is greatly reduced. Although speculative, it could be argued that a successful campaign in Gaza is the best deterrent to a Hezbollah considering their next move. After October 7th, the danger of thousands of armed murderous enemy combatants right across the border is painfully clear. It is very much unclear how citizens of the northern parts of Israel are expected to return to their homes without some action or imposition to drive Hezbollah forces further north, away from the border. That should be the primary strategic goal in the north. A decimated Hamas in Gaza is the best way to minimize the required bloodshed in order to achieve that goal.

Iran-backed Houthi aggression threatens the interests of all civilized nations. All of them, China included, suffer from global Jihad and Iranian interventions that could spell all-out regional war. China in particular should wish to minimize prospects for such a conflict to ensure its supply of resources and future joint development with regional actors.

US policy is now shifting on Ukraine from support for “as long as it takes” to “as long as we can”. As opposed to Ukraine, however, Israel can actually deliver what it takes. The US might be forced to cut losses on Ukraine and deal with the blow it represents. Israel, in contrast, can be one bet that pays off very well. Instead of insisting on a need to plan the day after, which is meaningless right now and can change as the situation develops, the US should encourage Israel to keep up the fight for as long as it takes. Israel should do its best to make sure no independent functioning hostile sovereign force can establish in the Gaza Strip after this war. Ideally, compassion for their fellow Arabs civilians could persuade the Arab nations, led by Egypt, to allow refugees to leave the warzone.

About the Author
Itay Blank is an engineer in Israel's defense industry pursuing an M.A. in Cyber, Politics and Government and an MSc. in physics.
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