Giulio Meotti
Giulio Meottiצילום: עצמי
The Islamic State once announced that "Israel's forty years of peace will end in 2022". “By 2022, Israel will be destroyed,” declaimed Hassan Azghadi of the Iranian Supreme Council for the Revolution, Ali Khamenei's right-hand man. Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said the Palestinian Arabs would "liberate" all of Palestine "by 2022".

It's 2023 and Israel has never been healthier despite its internal conflicts. This small piece of land slightly larger than Lombardy is the only state whose existence is openly questioned, in the south it has Hamas, in the north Hezbollah and in the middle the Palestinian Arabs, increasingly eager to stab and shoot the Zionists. On the left the only peaceful border: the Mediterranean, where many since 1948 would like to roll over all the Jews. Yet, Israel, in the aftermath of a new wave of terrorism and protests never seen in its history, looks blissful. Israel no longer has existential enemies. Tsahal is the most powerful army in an arc that goes from Marrakesh to Bangladesh.

Israeli society is satisfied, with almost Bulgarian percentages, even when it fills the streets to protest against the justice reform (which paid anarchists turned into a no holds barred circus. A Pew Center poll revealed that 59 percent of Israelis are happy with their country, versus, for example, 33 percent of Americans (not to mention depressed Europeans).

If you compare the fertility and suicide rates of Israel with those of all other industrialized countries, the Jewish State ranks first in the list of life-loving countries. Israel's Jewish fertility rate is higher than that of all Muslim countries except Iraq and sub-Saharan countries. The number of births to Israeli Jews in 2022 (137,566) was 71 percent higher than in 1995 (80,400). Each year, Israel adds 140,000 new citizens, two percent of the total population. Aliyah, Jewish immigration to the country is experiencing record numbers. Once isolated and besieged in the region, today Israel also has diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, all former members of the "rejection front", and maintains unofficial but increasingly solid relations also with Saudi Arabia, which could be the next to enter into the “Abrahamic Accords”.

The country has abandoned the "land for peace" slogan that has done so much damage to deterrence, from the post-Oslo suicide bombings (1,500 Israeli dead) to the capture of Gaza by Hamas after the withdrawal of the Jews and the expulsion of the Palestinian Authority. Gaza continues to be a thorn in the side with the cyclical launch of missiles (the wars of 2009, 2012, 2014 and so on), but between the Iron Dome shield and Jewish resilience (no kibbutz or moshav on the border has ever asked to pack), Hamas is unable to pose an existential threat. The two historic heads of the organization - Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh - are enjoying life in the dunes of Doha, Qatar, while the leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, has to hide underground.

Iran is grappling with an unprecedented internal rebellion, a frightening demographic, civil and social crisis. The then Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, announced in the Knesset on January 26, 1993: "Iran is a strategic danger to the state of Israel." Israel has worked to ensure that the ayatollahs never get to the "Allah bomb", like Pakistan. Hezbollah has an arsenal of 120 thousand missiles, but appears to be in crisis between the economic and social self-destruction of Lebanon and the shortness of breath of its leaders in Tehran. In the future, Israel will perhaps be forced to return to Bint Jbeil, the village that was the scene of one of the toughest battles between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

Having overcome the danger of an Islamic revolution by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is today a solid ally of Israel. Jordan occasionally raises a loud voice about the status quo and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but it's a kind of western protectorate and Israel has weaponized it. Syria, a country that tried to destroy Israel in 1967 and 1973, no longer exists as a functioning state.

Israel has always had the misfortune of being one of the few Middle Eastern countries without oil and gas wells. Now, Israel's natural gas production is up 22 percent in the first half of the year as the government plans to ramp up exports to Europe, which is experiencing the worst energy crisis in decades.

The country, which is more than half desert, forever stricken by drought and plagued by water shortages, has become a nation that now produces 20 percent more water than it needs. Israeli organizations such as Mashav and Arava are sharing Israel's experience, technologies and political strategies with communities near and far suffering from endemic water crises. Suffice it to say that from 1964 to 2013, the Israeli population quadrupled, but water consumption remained unchanged. Today, Israel is a world leader in water treatment and an exporter of sophisticated water management systems.

The boycott and divestment movement still does some damage to Israel's reputation, especially on American campuses, some Irish or Norwegian city councils, and Western newspaper editorial offices, but it's essentially small. There are some instances of corporate and government action, such as the decision by the foundation that runs Ben & Jerry's ice cream to no longer sell its products in Judea and Samaria. And the European Union requires that products made in Israeli settlements be labeled as products of the “West Bank”, not Israel. But other than that, Israel's normalization in the world is complete.

Of the world's two hundred countries, over 160 have full relations with Israel, including six members of the Arab League. Of the two dozen that don't have them, half are Arab countries, but even among those there are gray areas. In 2021, Qatar and Israel signed an agreement allowing Israeli diamond traders to operate in Doha, and Qatari diplomats are the main interlocutors with Israelis in Gaza. Saudi Arabia is a virtual party to the Abraham Accords. Otherwise, it would be impossible to fly with the Israeli airline El Al from Dubai to Tel Aviv in three hours and an Israel Defense Forces representative would not be sent to the Bahraini capital, Manama. And in 2018, then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would not visit Oman in a not-so-secret trip.

Those countries that have not come to terms with Israel include Iran, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. Israel will survive even without them.

Sure, Israel faces endless criticism at the United Nations, but since when does the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council or UNESCO have an impact on the conduct of global affairs? Never.

Israelis will survive even without seeing Roger Waters perform in Tel Aviv. Israel ranks twenty-sixth on the Index of Economic Freedom, just below Japan, South Korea and Austria, and just above the Czech Republic, Norway and Germany. By comparison, its neighbors rank much lower: Jordan 69, Egypt 130, Lebanon 154; and Syria, unclassified. The country ranked fourth as the OECD best-performing economy in 2022.

But complacency is a luxury the country cannot afford. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. During the holiest Jewish day, while Israeli families sat in the synagogue or at home, fasting and praying, the Jewish State was attacked from north and south and barely managed to free itself from the guillottine. A deep trauma. For hours, in total chaos, the reserves were not mobilized, the Islamic front moved forward without obstacles, Abba Eban evoked a "new Pearl Harbor". Three thousand Israeli dead. War and Atonement.

No one had taken the Arab states' troop movements on the channel and the Golan seriously. After the victory out of desperation, the people looked more mature, as after an illness. Since then, the possibility of disappearing, of packing up, has always been in a corner of every Israeli's conscience. Meanwhile, if you live thre you act as if you were in a normal country. And as Saul Bellow wrote, "in their concern for the decay of civilization and in their pride, Israelis have something to teach the world."

In recent days the news that Israel has risen to fourth place in the list of the happiest countries in the world. Israel has taught the West that life is beautiful even at the foot of a volcano.

So why do some much needed judicial reforms drive tens of thousands to the streets in protest?

...