Dan Schueftan, Director of the National Security Studies Program at Haifa University, spoke at Netanya AACI on the subject “How strong is Israel?” It was a most entertaining and enlightening presentation. This is my feeble attempt to reproduce the thread of his argument. He started out by saying that he refuses to allow his students to use the term “solution,” all really significant problems have no clear solutions.
In essence, he answered the question posed in the title by saying at the outset that Israel is both extremely strong and at the same time extremely weak or more appropriately vulnerable. Israel is the only country that is accused of being both a Nazi State and that has failed in nearly 150 years of conflict with the Arabs to kill a significant number of its enemies. The conclusion would be that the Jews are incompetent Nazis. After all the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in 5 years, but the Jews have been unable to kill 4 million Palestinians in 150 years. In fact the Jews are not incompetent, but it is this failure that typifies Israel’s inner strength, we are a truly open society that cannot act as our enemies act.
Scheuftan gave examples that typify Israeli strength. When he was on the Suez Canal during the War of Attrition, instead of building thick conrete bunkers for the troops, they built bunkers with rocks and wire. Concrete bunkers look stronger, but after thousands of rounds of shells hitting them they would eventually collapse, while the rock and wire bunkers gave way, but did not collapse, and afterwards you could simply rearrange the rocks and the wire and they would withstand another battering. Israeli society is like that, strong and adaptable and able to withstand the attacks. From a purely military point of view Israel is extremely strong and capable. Yet we cannot stop our people being stabbed and rammed by cars, because we refuse to do what most other states would do in the circumstances.
There is no chance that the Arabs will in the foreseeable future make peace with Israel. Anyone who thinks the opposite is deluding himself. You have only to look at the butchery with which they treat each other. After the Six Day War of 1967 a majority of Israelis believed that peace with the Arabs was inevitable, after all hadn’t Israel shown them that they could defeat, and worse, humiliate them. But, no, they turned the defeat into a victory and then refused to make peace. The strength of Israeli society is that Israelis have gradually turned away from this delusion and have accepted that the conflict with the Arabs is a permanent feature of living in the Middle East. He gave the example that after the victory of the Six Day War Israelis hoped that their sons would not have to serve in the military, but today Israelis have accepted that their sons and grandsons will have to serve.
Some will claim that Egypt made peace with Israel, but that is not really true. Pres. Mubarak and his military elite made peace with Israel, but the vast majority of his countrymen did not do so. This is borne out by the extreme hostility shown during the brief period of true democracy when Pres. Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected by a large majority of Egyptians. Only the military-supported Government of Pres. al Sisi can keep the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty. Incidentally this was one of the worst failures of the Obama Administration, that has shown a level of incompetence never before seen in the USA, that he supported Morsi against al Sisi.
Europe is a lost cause, the European intellectual elite is deeply self-destructive, having turned human rights on its head and now accept the narrative and “suffering” of the violent enemies of Western civilization, the Muslims. Political correctness is the greatest enemy of democracy. That does not mean that all European Governments are anti-Israel, on the contrary, the British Govt. of David Cameron is very pro-Israel. But, during the last Gaza War he had to throw a sop to the elite by declaring an arms embargo against selling weapons to Israel, although these were insignificant, while at the same time very sophisticated weapons were still being imported by the UK from Israel. The problem with Obama is that he thinks like the European elite and as such is a great danger to the future of the West. For example, while Russia was invading Ukraine, US Secty. of State Kerry made 33 trips to solve the Israel-Palestine dispute.
Instead of focusing on National Security and external threats, Schueftan said that Israel is strong enough to defeat Daesh (IS) and Iran if necessary, but what would be the greatest threat to Israel would be a breakdown in the cohesion of Israeli society. One of Israel’s greatest accomplishments is that we have made a strong vibrant and innovative society out of the dregs of Jewish humanity that came from Eastern Europe, the Holocaust and the the Arab countries. We have melded together into a unique, non-conformist Jewish society that is our greatest strength. As long as this remains true we can survive the constant external battering.