Bennett: Era of Chaos May Last 50 Years

Video: Minister of Economics in lecture at Brookings Institution: "Real deterrence is when you hit back after one small push.”

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Gil Ronen and Ari Soffer,

Bennett at Brookings Institution
Bennett at Brookings Institution

Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) chairman, Minister of Economics Naftali Bennett described our times as “an era of chaos,” likening Israel to a stable lighthouse surrounded by a stormy sea, in a major speech he gave at week's end at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, DC.

Bennett began his speech by focusing on the 3,500 year-old Jewish presence in the land of Israel. Showcasing a 2000 year-old coin found just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, with the Hebrew words "the freedom of Zion" etched onto it, he said that despite the best efforts of Israel's enemies to deny the Jewish connection to the land, they would not succeed.

"The Jewish nation survives largely because we don't give up on our past," he reminded them, whilst emphasizing the way in which Israel has also focused on the future - building modern infrastructure and leading the way in technological advancements.

Turning to the regional chaos, and the threats Israel now faces from Lebanon, Sinai and Syria, Bennett warned that radical Islam was seeking to establish a regional hegemony in the Middle East.

Yet despite the variety of new threats, Bennett noted that there is some positive news.

"This is the first itme in Israeli history that we are not facing an immediate conventional threat'" he noted. "The Syrian military has eroded and peace with Egypt has survived its most challenging days in history.

He added that Israel's policy vis-a-vis regional instability is one of non-interference: "We do not interfere in chaos; we do not try to influence chaos in the region.”

To its north, Israel does not know if Bashar al-Assad's regime will be victorious against the rebel forces in Syria, he said – and added that it is not even clear what outcome is the “right” one for Israel. However, the Jewish state nevertheless offers medical assistance to Syrians injured in the civil war.

"Real deterrence is when you hit back after one small push instead of waiting for the next and harder push to come. This is very important,” he explained.

Regarding Iran, he said, the goal is not just to pause the process of producing a nuclear bomb, because Iran does not plan to produce a bomb at this moment anyway. Rather, it wants to reach the point where it has the ability to “break out” and produce a bomb in a period of six weeks at any given moment, when the West is otherwise occupied.