Israel must act its age

The Jewish state no longer suffers the acute vulnerability of its early years, but has not yet adapted its foreign relations accordingly.

Contact Editor
Gil Weinreich,

The reborn State of Israel is officially 69 afer celebrating that birthday in its characteristic manic-depressive style, via two days of ceremonies across the length and width of the country. The jubilation of Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Independence Day) is preceded by the dolorous solemnity of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) where the lives of Israel’s fallen soldiers are remembered.

At the event I attended at Jerusalem’s Cinematheque, organizers recounted many such stories, each one leaving the 700 or so attendees pained in the awareness of our loss.

Most of us already knew the story of Givati Brigade 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, kidnapped by Hamas rats in their terror tunnels during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, hours after a negotiated cease fire. The Gaza death cultists still hold his corpse in violation of the Geneva Conventions, though more to the point, in violation of basic human decency. But attendees got a glimpse into his noble character through a letter he had written to his parents on a high school visit to Poland’s death camps, where he envisaged himself as rising out of the martyrdom of his people to build and defend his country. 

"I am going to get off the train now, like so many other Jews before me. They walked their last journey, and died sanctifying G-d's name, or survived, sanctifying life. I am walking in the path they showed me, and I will grow from their ashes,” the youngster wrote. 

When we remember Israel’s fallen, it is important to remember all of the relevant circumstances in order to strengthen our determination to advance the cause for which they sacrificed their lives.

We must remember not just the terrorists who killed him, but the international theater of hate known as the United Nations, which provides Israel’s enemies cover in their terror wars, and whose primary contribution to the world is its daily libeling of the Jewish state. The Hall of Shame also includes the Red Cross for its silence on recovering the bodies of Israel’s slain; groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that apply standards to Israel they apply to no other country, and have nothing to say about Muslim killers who use their own children and hospitals as shields; the international media, for habitual prejudicial reporting and staged agitprop battles; the European Union for its boycott and subversion efforts.

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the role of former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of Hate John Kerry who worked assiduously to block Israel from finishing the job of destroying Hamas terror tunnels, and who capped their shame-filled tenure with a coordinated de-legitimation campaign against Israel in their last weeks in office.

At the Cinematheque ceremony, attendees stood in respect as the Memorial Day siren wailed. The featured event was a showing of the documentary version of Yehuda Avner’s extraordinary first-hand account (“The Prime Ministers”) of Israel’s early leaders, whom he served as a speechwriter and advisor. The book is a true classic of modern history, and a presentation by his daughter added new insight to the early days of the Jewish state. 

What struck me most in Avner’s account of Israel’s early days was just how vulnerable the state was. We see how it was the timely intervention of President Harry Truman’s old business partner Eddie Jacobson that convinced Truman, against his advisors’ recommendations, to meet with Zionist leader Chaim Weitzman and give America’s blessing to Israel’s founding.

Similarly, after Israel’s miraculous Six-Day War victory, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol had to go hat in hand to beg President Lyndon Johnson for fighter jets. The Russians were rapidly resupplying their Arab allies, whereas Israel had used up its armaments. It was truly a matter of life and death for the nation, yet Johnson was playing hardball.

And after the Yom Kippur War, Israel again lacked weaponry and pleaded for a resupply. President Nixon jumped to resupply Israel with the most advanced fighter crafts – on a massive scale and quickly – despite obstacles.

Those obstacles included the refusal of every single European ally to allow U.S. aircraft to refuel in its territory, despite their NATO alliance. (In the end, the refueling was conducted at a U.S. airbase in the Azores islands in the North Atlantic Ocean.) 

It is truly heartening that Israel has friends in the world, but the lesson of history is that the Jewish state cannot depend on the kindness of strangers. Just imagine if Obama had been president during the ’67 or ’73 wars. 

And that brings us to the question of Israel and its foreign relations today. The Jewish state, now beginning the 70th year of its third commonwealth since its rule was first established in Biblical times, is militarily, economically and culturally strong, and growing stronger. Israel no longer need to go begging for help. To the contrary, Israel needs to draw sharper lines of distinction between friend and foe – to extend the benefits of friendship to those who seek it, and to impose a price on those who wish us harm as a means of deterring such behavior in the future.

In trade relations, Israel has done just that, by pivoting toward Asian markets, lessening its reliance on Eurotrash boycotters.

In its foreign relations, Israel has generally done a poor job by playing along with the Western world’s trope about creating another Arab terror state, despite everything that is known about the nature of terrorist leaders like Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Mashal and their class of billionaire embezzlers of the destitute Arab masses. Perhaps Donald Trump's reaction to Mahmoud Abbas' support of terror will change that.

Practical statesmen may say it’s not so easy to pivot away from the West. It is true, for example, that Israel was dependent on resupplies of U.S. armaments at the time the Obama administration was pressuring Israel to relieve Gaza’s “humanitarian crisis” in the 2014 war. What that implies then is that Israel’s leaders have a responsibility to extricate the country from vulnerability to blackmail from the likes of Obama. Yet the Netanyahu government did the opposite through the U.S.-Israel military cooperation agreement, which actually increased Israel’s dependence on U.S. arms while undermining Israel’s domestic arms industry.

There are signs of hope. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent dispatch of Herr Sigmar Hartmut Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, for his audacious insistence on meeting with European-funded group Breaking the Silence, which among other things collects classified intelligence information about the Israeli military to convey to Israel’s enemies, was a good start.

One hopes that he will act in similarly measured fashion in any instance where a foreign government actively engages in hostile acts meant to weaken Israel’s capacity to defend itself. Unfortunately, this applies to just about every Western government, including the United States which actually advises and trains the Palestinian Authority’s terror army, with Israel’s consent. Israel thus must withdraw its consent from agreements that tie it down but do not obligate the Palestinians as far as the rest of the world is concerned. 

The day will come when those guns will be used against Israel (they already have), but massively. How many more martyrs to war and terror must we endure to retain the good will of the nations of the world?

We’ll never gain all the good that Hadar Goldin had to offer his country, and we must no longer tolerate the shameful dependence on foreigners with ill intentions.

Israel will soon be turning 70. It’s time to grow up.

Gil Weinreich is author of “Superpower,” published by Targum Press. The book examines Israel’s rising power, and the vital spiritual dimension underlying this shift.