The American Jewish community has responded in force to the unfolding crisis in Israel. Rallies have been organized, fundraisers held, and politicians petitioned to support Israel. President Biden has made many gestures of support and promised billions of dollars in aid. However, this is not enough.
Israel’s fundamental troubles are not linked to aid, armaments or political legitimacy. Even in Europe, where public opinion is divided, to say the least, over Israel’s policies in the West Bank, the question of Israel’s legitimacy is not at issue. No self-respecting institution anywhere in the West will publicly call for Israel’s annihilation, nor will any influential political party ever call into question the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign state. At the very most, some politicians and some political institutions in the West may question the practical benefits and morality of continuing to enable Zionist ideology, and some may point to inherent discrepancies apparent in the public discourse associated with mainstream Zionist interests (e.g. American evangelical involvement).
The modern state of Israel is the embodiment of years of struggle and pain endured in order to establish a secure haven for the Jews. Following the Holocaust, the importance of a Jewish state became more evident, owing to the failure of the Western establishment, the U.S. included, to intervene and save the Jews from Hitler and the Nazis. Israel’s founding charter, then, described itself as a Jewish state, a fitting response to the atrocities of the war.
In the years since the Holocaust, Israel has grown, developed, and strengthened, at times despite the West. Even now, after such a brutal, vicious attack perpetrated by Hamas, Israel is still the strongest army in the region. Nevertheless, Israel has failed to address the fundamental problem that led to the catastrophe of the Holocaust: latent, systemic antisemitism. Instead of leveraging our newfound power as a nation and projecting our interests outwards, tenaciously fighting antisemitism while employing the full gamut of our state’s deep resources to root out the evil that still lurks in the depths of the Western establishment, we have instead chosen the easy path, relegating ourselves to the status of an American protectorate, foregoing our independent diplomatic interests, putting too much trust in our Western friends and allies, and leaving the core issue unresolved.
Today’s antisemitism is multifaceted and deeply rooted. It is also well-concealed through kind gestures of goodwill and support. In today’s world, at least in the West, where the public sphere has less and less of a role to play in government, and the techno-bureaucratic forces behind the scenes grow steadily stronger, the polite, artificial discourse surrounding Israel belies a growing indifference to human suffering in general, and to Jewish suffering in particular. The West’s insistence on steadfast support runs counter to the harsh geopolitical reality that Israel finds itself in, an increasingly non-Western, pro-Chinese environment, and the unsubstantiated gestures and impossible promises made by American government officials can either be interpreted as wishful thinking, thoughts and prayers, or malevolent misinformation, deceptive propaganda consciously engineered to induce a false sense of complacency among us Jews while surreptitiously drawing Israel into a bloody proxy-war.
Israel must adapt to the changing geopolitical reality in the region and reassess its core values and ideologies. In my opinion, secular Zionism as an ideology has run its course and it’s time that Israel seek out other avenues of self-expression: through embracing a European-style Hebrew-language based cultural identity and by adopting Religious-Zionism as an alternative civil ideology. Over the past thirty years, Israel’s economic ties with the European Union have grown considerably, and, over the same period, Religious-Zionists have made significant inroads throughout Israel’s robust security establishment. Many in Israel’s aging political establishment, mostly secular Zionists, fear the encroaching influence of Religious-Zionism, seeing the gradual societal trend towards traditional beliefs as undercutting their secular, liberal values, and many nationalists still harbor much antagonism towards the Europeans on account of the Holocaust, but change is inevitable.
A new relationship with Europe must be forged, one based on our shared cultural values and joint strategic interests. For too long, we’ve piggy-backed on U.S. diplomatic channels in Europe, and, as a result, we’ve lost substantial ground to our enemies. Internal political discourse in Israel must begin to reflect the increasingly critical European attitudes towards American interests. Israeli politicians must prepare to engage with the powerful undercurrents in Europe that take issue with American cultural (i.e. “woke”), economic (i.e. crony capitalism) and political (i.e. NATO expansionism) hegemony. However, without addressing the underlying conflict with the Arabs, any progress is liable to be hindered by severe diplomatic and political obstacles.
Not all Palestinians are terrorists. Some Palestinians are even heroes. For years now, the PA Police have been collaborating with Israeli security in the West Bank, providing critical intel to the IDF and facilitating anti-terrorism activities that have generally succeeded in keeping Hamas and Islamic Jihad at bay. Recently, though, the terrorists have been getting stronger, making it more difficult for PA Police and Israeli security to maintain a hold on the situation. Years ago, President Trump closed the PLO offices in Washington, D.C. and cut off nearly all American funding to Palestinian institutions, including the PA Police. In 2021, President Biden restored the funding, but he kept the PA diplomatic offices shuttered, effectively dealing a victory to Hamas, who began to receive the aid without any diplomatic oversight from their political rivals.
American and Israeli politicians not only ignored the warning signs, they even exploited the PA as a convenient scapegoat for their own self-indulgent interests, further damaging the PA’s status in the West and threatening to destabilize the sensitive security relationship that the Israelis depend on. If we lose the ability to distinguish between good and bad, ally and foe, we shall surely lose our ability to collaborate effectively. We must empower peaceful, responsible Palestinian partners and create a joint front against the Islamist menace. We must save the PA.