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Ariel Beery
Dedicated to solving problems facing humanity with sustainable and scalable solutions

War by other means

In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets President Joe Biden, with a fist bump after his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, July 15, 2022. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets US President Joe Biden, with a fist bump after his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Why the support of the international community is so crucial to Israel’s defense, and what we need to do to keep it

The intense period of the war following Hamas’s brutal attack on October 7th is over, yet Israel is no closer to achieving its stated war aims or providing Israelis with a sense of security. “It just feels like we’re losing,” shares a friend battling anxiety. “Every time I think that we finally hit them hard enough for them to stop attacking us they shoot more rockets! It’s as if nothing we are doing actually does anything.”

With tensions boiling on Israel’s northern border with Hezbollah, with the Houthi blockade in the far south simmering, and with rising antisemitic attacks scalding Jews around the world, one could even argue that we are currently the most vulnerable we’ve been in decades. More than 100 days have passed since our beloved were slaughtered, kidnapped, and dragged into the tunnels of Gaza and most of us are still deeply embedded in the trauma. The twisted irony of the Genocide proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice is only deepening our sense of isolation.

For years, the Israeli sense of security came from faith in the strength of our security services. We celebrated our storied heroes, the strong modern Israeli youth able to hammer our enemies into submission if they dared cross us. We were not wrong: our security services are indeed strong. They can, indeed, hammer. It just turns out that a hammer is not the right tool for every situation. We find ourselves living through a moment where our hammer has proven to be only slightly effective, at best.

For me, this war has underscored that the threats growing in today’s global world cannot be defeated by conventional military forces. Especially not from within the borders of a single country such as ours. The fluidity with which the genocidal leadership of Hamas were able to skip out to Lebanon, Qatar, Turkey; The ease with which they sent their commandos for training in Iran; the sheer quantity of people and material they shifted across the globe underscore that our defense must mainly happen in deep international coordination with others who share with us a desire for peace and who are willing to take actions to keep it.

Yes, maintaining a strong military to defend our lands is crucial to deter state-bound actors from adventurism and to secure our borders. Despite peace agreements with our more populous neighbors we cannot put down our shield. Yet what we are seeing in Gaza is that even the most seasoned commandos are not effective at ending the threat from messianic Islamist forces controlling neighboring states who are just as content to be killed than to kill, just as content to have their fellow citizens killed to put us on the bench at the Hague. A strong military, therefore, can only be the beginning of our defensive paradigm.

In the case of these messianic actors, the best battle is the one we fight to prevent them from starting. Given their willingness to sacrifice everything just to cause us pain, our only effective defense is sustained offense. We need to be initiating regular preemptive actions to undercut those organizations and institutions arraying forces against us. Actions that use psychological, social, and economic tools as much as if not more than military ones. Actions that severely curtail their ability to recruit willing martyrs to their ranks. Actions that limit their capacity to violence.

This means that the battle over the textbook content in Gaza is as important as the number of troops we set up to guard against future attacks. The effort to get Egypt to secure their side of the border is as important as the readiness of our anti-missile system. The use of international courtrooms is as important as fielding an additional infantry unit. In other words, if war is just diplomacy by other means, then preemptive public diplomacy, information warfare, and targeted legal and economic tools must be prioritized in this next phase of the war.

Just as it is inconceivable that the military could be so profoundly surprised by the attacks on October 7, it should be equally inconceivable that our ministry of foreign affairs, our ministry of strategic affairs, our ministry of diaspora affairs could be so deeply beaten in their battlefields by our enemies. We need to get as good as fighting these preemptive non-military battles as we got in fielding a conventional army. That means holding our ministers and ministries to a higher standard, expecting more from them than we have until now. It means allocating to them the budgets they need to achieve clear objectives, and holding them to those objectives.

We also need to recognize that the only way to have the international support we need to mount a preemptive array is if we Israelis agree to the creation of an autonomous State of Palestine. Not because the Palestinians deserve it, but because without one we will lose the critical support of international actors who can make preemption possible. Not because it will be enough to convince messianists to put down their weapons, but because it is the membership fee we need to pay to join the club of moderate, life-loving nations. Because we have learned from our attempt to go it alone and now understand our limitations. Because even our enemies know that if we do not make a strategic shift in international positioning from Fortress Nation to a United Front, we will not have access to the tonnes of ammunition we need to defend ourselves the next time the jihadis come calling.

We Jews have a history of losing our kingdoms as we waited for the Eternal to fight our battles for us. We picked fights with the Assyrians, and lost our first Temple. Romans, and lost our second. Romans again under Bar Kochva, and were crucified and exiled from our land. Let’s not make the same mistake again. We need to convince our own messianists that now is not the time to make our last stand. We may indeed earn a Greater Israel, we just need to be patient. Despite all emotion seeking to convince us to the contrary, it is now in the best interest of Israel to agree to International demands to relinquish military control of Palestinian populations and turn over political control to the Palestinians under the auspices of the international community in the majority of the territories we occupied after the 1967 war.

About the Author
A global expert on mission-driven innovation and social entrepreneurship, Ariel is a serial founder and institution builder with ventures on every side of the innovation ecosystem. His geopolitical writings - with deeper dives into the topics addressed in singular columns - can be found on his substack, A Lighthouse.
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