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Op-Ed: We Free Spirits

The conventional wisdom of Israeli politicians and their academic advisers is off the mark, says this writer.
Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013 6:24 AM


It has been said that Israel is too small a state to take the initiative in world affairs. This has been the conventional wisdom of Israeli politicians and their academic advisers.

We free spirits think otherwise. Indeed, the Six-Day War alone refutes this noisome assessment. This assessment, however, has prompted the dilatory and feeble behavior of Israeli prime ministers vis-à-vis the countless Muslim terror attacks against defenseless Jewish women, men, and children - and the threats from Iran.

Yes, Israel is a small state. Too often she behaves like one. Instead of taking the initiative, her leaders wait and procrastinate and react to events, despite Israel’s university-based strategic think tanks. One would think that serious strategic thinking, in contradistinction to academic thinking, would lead to a more profound assessment about small versus large states. Allow me to suggest the following.

Large states, more than small ones, can afford to wait or procrastinate or react to events, if only because they are less vulnerable and can therefore, in the long run, exert their will. But this procrastination of large states offers a small state some latitude in which to maneuver, provided her leaders have imagination, courage, and conviction.

Since the Yom Kippur War, however, defeatism has dominated Israeli policy decision makers.

This defeatism, at first glance, may be attributed to the decline of political Zionism. I see a deeper reason for this defeatism, namely, skepticism, more precisely, the lack of emphasis in Israeli higher education of Truth and Conviction—the spurs to moral action among youth and national leadership.

What is to be expected of a small nation like Israel, when its prime minister aspires to nothing loftier than “Security,” which Israel is to win by obtaining, with the boon of Arab recognition, “a place among the nations.” A modest goal for the Chosen People! But what of us, we free spirits?

We reject the Lilliputian ideas of men without chests. We free spirits scorn the demeaning notion that Israel is to be just another member of the community of nations. These nations are so decrepit as to grovel before Arab-Islamic regimes steeped in poverty, superstition, and despotism. Makes a man of taste want to vomit.

Open the windows! A breath of fresh air!