Peace, as most of the Western world sees it, is a state of non-war. But this is not real peace. It is a peace a country can have at any time by uttering two magic words: “We surrender.” This is the peace of defeat: the peace of servitude.
What is real peace? The root for the word shalom – shin-lamed-mem – is also the root for the word “shleimut” – completeness. A “complete” peace is more than merely an absence of war. Peace comes to a country when real or potential enemies are deterred by its military might, economic strength, social cohesion, and determination to remain independent and free, even at the risk of war.
This is the peace of victory, the peace of a free people.
This is a peace whereby the world respects your borders.
This is a peace whereby no country will dare force you to accept political and territorial demands that entail grave risks to national security.
This is a peace whereby economic, defense, and political relationships with other countries are based on mutual interests and not on extortion.
In the past generation, Israel too often chose the peace of defeat. Our leaders took incredible risks in hopes of attaining a permanent absence of war. We brought legions of terrorists out of a well-deserved foreign exile and gave them integral parts of Eretz Israel. We provided them with money, arms, and work.
In conjunction, we gave in to international pressure and treated the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip as second-class citizens. This discrimination was euphemistically called “means of implementing political decisions” or “peacebuilding measures.” The Arabs’ freedom of movement was given priority over the safety of the Jewish residents. Restrictions – often draconian – were placed on Jewish construction and agricultural activity. Administrative detention, imprisonment of minors, expulsion orders, and even torture were extralegal measures designed to discourage Jewish settlement in parts of Eretz Israel.
Tired of fighting in Lebanon, we fled from the security zone, allowing Iran’s proxy terrorist army to take up a permanent position on our northern boundary. We have given in to threats and diplomatic pressure to cede tens of billions of dollars of natural resources to this same Iranian proxy.
All this, because we wanted to be in a state of non-war, which we believed was real peace.
Contrary to the expectations of those who made and implemented these policies, the Arabs refused to be pacified. Even after they proved they had no interest in recognizing our right to exist or suppressing anti-Jewish terror, we continued to be absurdly generous in the hope that someday, they would show their gratitude and leave us alone.
The horrors of Simchat Torah 5784 – October 7, 2023 – should have finally shattered the illusions of the most diehard of believers.
In managing our geopolitical situation, we have, like Europe and America, weighed a number of factors: demographics; democratic values; international law; human rights; empathy for a people allegedly seeking national self-determination; and the sensitivities of those who claim to be our friends.
But these factors count for little or nothing in this part of the world. They will never convince our enemies to leave us in peace to sit under our vines and fig trees. In the Middle East, only two things matter: faith and force. Faith - in the religious and/or ideological beliefs that underpin a country’s existence. Force – the ability and the will to fight for these beliefs.
Israel exists to be the home of all of the Jewish people: a place where we can live as the Torah intends us to. It must be guided by its faith and use its power to deter its enemies and secure the future of the Jewish people. Only when we emerge victorious in this undertaking, can we enjoy real peace.
Zeev Golin made Aliyah from Wilmington, Delaware in 1980. He is a retired bank employee currently living in Rehovot