No nation on Earth has endured the constant and outrageous attacks on its sovereignty, territory and citizenry which Israel has borne. In just the last two decades alone 22,000 rockets and mortars have been launched on the Jewish state. Israelis ducking for cover from explosive projectiles overhead also have had to contend with suicide bombers that infiltrate themselves among the public. From 1990 to 2016 there were 171 suicide bomber attacks which killed over 800 people and injured another thousand.
There is no historical precedent for countries to permit such an intolerable state of affairs to persist for long; it stretches credulity that the authorities in Israel have allowed it to continue ceaselessly for decades. The Franco-Prussian war was touched off in 1870 by nothing more than a supposed slight lack of courtesy between the French ambassador and Wilhelm I—a breach of politeness which in fact never even occurred in any event. The Football War was fought between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969 owing to tensions caused by something as superficial and trivial as a soccer match. Yet in Israel a “Knife Intifada” can be unleashed with little consequences, during which over a seven month period between 2015 and 2016, 350 brutal knife-wielding attacks were perpetrated on random Israelis going about their business.
Sovereign nations cannot exist in such circumstances, and no high-minded policy of supposed restraint can presume to prevail where common sense and the science and art of statecraft have long since been extinguished. The primary and age-old reason collective groups of humans have surrendered their individuality, their personal freedom, their private liberty, is for the overwhelming benefit of unqualified group defense against foreign and domestic enemies. When that advantage is no more, the nation itself is likewise no more.
Now that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have taken great and unprecedented steps to normalize their relationship with Israel, and many other neighboring Arab states are seemingly on the brink of following suit and doing likewise, Israel should take advantage of the historic opportunity by making it clear to all parties—the 195 sovereign nations on Earth, the 121 autonomous regions within forty of those countries, friends and foes and adversaries and allies—that the day of indiscriminately slaughtering Israeli citizens has come to an end.
The city of Danzig was once a great German city. It fell to the Soviets in 1945 during the Second World War and is Polish now, along with its name, Gdansk. Texas was formerly the territory of the Comanche and other tribes, then the Spanish, and later the Mexicans. It is now the second largest state in the United States notwithstanding what any Comanche, Spaniard, Mexican or anyone else thinks or believes. And Jerusalem is the capital of Israel no matter who likes that or doesn’t.
After all the sane and mutually beneficial alternatives to warfare have been exhausted, the only real and substantial manner in which the nations of the world come to be and remain are through force or threat of force. China is China not just because the Chinese have convinced themselves of that supposed fact; it’s China because it’s a grave and seriously dangerous error on anyone’s part to step foot across her borders laboring under the delusion that it isn’t.
Russia’s Peter the Great was willing to opt for peace often enough when it presented itself, but when faced with an intractable adversary, at loggerheads with those reluctant to compromise, had a ready answer for disputes that simply couldn’t be settled amicably: “Let the cannon decide then.”
Israel—and every other national entity—has no choice but to heed that sage dictum, and to make certain that potential opponents are convinced of the steadfastness of the national will to protect its citizens at all costs, and to succeed in doing so. The utterly obliterated cities of Europe and Asia at the end of the last world war, of both Allied and Axis powers, left depopulated and in ruins, are a testament to what failure means, summed up in another far more ancient adage: woe to the vanquished.