A Note of Optimism for Israel’s Future

Yossi Melman for the Jerusalem Post (May 26):

  • To Israel’s north on the Lebanese border, which will soon mark the tenth anniversary of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah is deterred. True, it has accumulated a huge arsenal of rockets capable of hitting almost any strategic and military site in Israel. Hizbullah also has gained impressive battlefield experience in Syria, but it is bogged down in the killing fields there.
  • In the Golan Heights, al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists on the Syrian side of the border have learned to live in co-existence with their Israeli neighbors. The terrorists have not changed their ideology or softened their hatred toward Jews and Israelis. But, like Hizbullah, they are preoccupied fighting other enemies more important to them and are deterred knowing that Israel would harshly retaliate.
  • To the east, Israeli-Jordanian relations have never been better, with improved security ties and intelligence cooperation.
  • In the south, the same is true of Egyptian-Israeli relations. The intelligence communities and militaries of the two countries cooperate in the war against the terrorists in Sinai who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Cairo and Jerusalem also see eye-to-eye with regard to how to deal with Hamas in Gaza.
  • Unlike in the past, Israel doesn’t face any threat or danger from Arab armies because of the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and because the armies of Iraq and Syria have disintegrated.
  • While Iran has a strong military force and missiles capable of reaching Israel, Iran’s Sunni Arab enemies have turned to Israel, which is reaching out with secret military and intelligence deals to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The writer was a senior correspondent for 27 years on national security, intelligence and strategic issues at the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

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The Meaning of True Independence

By Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, for Israel Hayom (May 13):

Israel nice flag

  • For 68 years Israelis have fought again and again to defend their independence against enemies who would subjugate their country. No other nation has struggled so long and so hard, surrounded by such unyielding hostility.
  • Israel’s right to exist is not to be sanctioned by the peoples of the Middle East or by the leaders of the Western world. It is to be determined only by the Jewish people who, down the millennia, have fought, suffered and died for that inalienable right.
  • It means that Israel is not to have its borders imposed by international bodies or by foreign states, no matter how powerful they might be. It means that Israelis are not to be dictated to about where they can and cannot settle in their land.
  • It means that Israel is not to be told how it may or may not defend the lives of its people under the sovereign independence of the law. It means that Israel is not to be lectured or scolded about human rights by those that have no glimmer of understanding of what human rights truly are.
  • The civilized world has an obligation to respect this independence just as it respects the independence of other free, democratic nations.
  • Israel has shown mankind how a besieged nation – against all odds – can survive and flourish, decide its own destiny and unwaveringly retain its honor, its decency, its dignity, its integrity and its compassion.

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Thoughts on Israel’s 68th Independence Day

Happy 68th birthday Israel!

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As Israel today celebrates its 68th Independence Day, I cannot help but think of its miraculous transformation from a third world desert on the brink of destruction to a diverse, modern, and prosperous high-tech society.

Israel has the greatest number of startups per capita in the world, and is second only to China in the number of foreign companies listed on NASDAQ.

The Israeli society is the true face of diversity in a region where little diversity exists. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has increased over the past 50 years. 80% of Israeli Arabs do not want to live in any other country and Israel’s LGBT community is the 7th happiest in the world. Today there are more women who serve in Israel’s Parliament than in more than half of the Parliaments in Europe.

Besides overcoming unprecedented internal and external challenges, Israel has shown a longtime eagerness to help other countries by providing technological know-how and disaster relief.

If people would challenge themselves to look beyond the biased media and immoral politicians they would discover Israel for what she really is: a beacon of hope demonstrating that freedom and democracy cannot only survive but flourish in the most hostile environments.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Why Israel Should Keep the Golan Heights

By Steve Postal for the American Thinker (May 6):

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Main arguments discussed in the article:

  • Israel has a Stronger Claim to the Golan than Syria
  • The Great Strategic Value of the Golan…
  • …Has Only Appreciated Given Current Threats
  • Water Remains a Vital Concern
  • The Golan is now an Integral Part of the Israeli Economy
  • Israel is the Protector of the Golan’s Rich Archaeological Sites
  • To Whom Would Israel Give the Golan Back?

Summary of the article:

On April 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights, stating that the “time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” He spoke these words from Ma’aleh Gamla, next to the ruins of historic Gamla, a Jewish city to which the Romans laid siege in 67 CE during the Great Revolt. His statement followed reports that the U.S. and Russia were working on a draft resolution to the Syrian civil war that would label the entire Golan Heights as Syrian territory.

Israel has a stronger claim to the Golan than Syria does, the Golan is of essential strategic value to Israel, and given the increased threats, that value has only appreciated. Syria gained independence in 1945. Before that, the Golan was part of the French Empire (1923-1945), and before that for approximately 400 years, part of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire. So, Syria had control of the Israeli-administered part of the Golan for 22 years (1945-1967), while Israel has had it for 49 years.

Moreover, giving up the Golan would most likely result in it being controlled by forces hostile to Israel and the West. The Islamic State and other jihadist groups, in addition to forces aligned with the Syrian government (including Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards), are all vying for territory adjacent to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. On April 22, the Islamic State captured the Salam al Jawlan Dam, 17 miles from Gamla. This victory puts the Islamic State closer to Israel than Tijuana, Mexico, is to San Diego, California.

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The Arab Implosion Continues

By Walter Russel Mead for the American Interest (May 6):

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  • Last weekend, protesters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad’s government seat and occupied the Iraqi parliament. At the other end of the Arab world, more than 80 migrants are feared to have drowned close to the Libyan coast. These are just two of many stories pointing to the implosion of the Arab republics and the comprehensive failure of postcolonial political development in the “modernizing” Arab states.
  • There are many consequences to this implosion: a power vacuum that leaves the Arab world open to intervention, most recently by Russia and Iran; cultural and social crises that made fanatical jihadimovements possible; economic crisis and vast migration; the accelerating collapse of order and security; and the inability of governments to control much of their territory and the rise of quasi-independent separatist militias.
  • The U.S. has tried its hand at nation-building repeatedly. We have met with no real success, and we have no real idea what to try next. So it looks as if for the foreseeable future, the rest of the world is going to have to deal with the consequences of Arab failure without being able to do much about the underlying conditions.
  • Among the likely consequences of this reality: There will be less attention paid to the Palestinian issue as larger and more immediate problems capture the world’s attention.
  • The Israeli argument that the Palestinians do not have, and cannot soon build, a functioning state structure capable of either making peace or of keeping radicals from attacking Israel after peace is signed will likely gain force within and beyond Israel.

    The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.

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