Politics & Policy

Israel@60

Looking ahead.

To mark the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding this week, National Review Online asked a group of experts: Where is Israel going to?

Caroline B. Glick

At 60, many claim that the best of Israel is behind it. They look nostalgically at the past and claim that back then, things were better than they are now. But this is not true.

By almost every measure, Israel today is better off than it ever was at any time in its past and its prospects for the next 60 years are encouraging. Israel’s economy is strong and growing.

Militarily, Israel has the means and the will to defend itself and emerge victorious against both conventional and non-conventional threats simultaneously and without significant foreign assistance.

Demographically, Israel continues to confound expectations by maintaining its solid Jewish majority. Its fertility rates are the highest in the Western world. With rising immigration rates, it is clear that Israel does not need to worry about losing its identity as a Jewish democratic state in the foreseeable future.

Diplomatically, Israel’s great challenge in the near term is to recognize that its task is not to seek approval from other countries for the actions it takes to defend itself, but to demand recognition from other nations that the steps it takes to defend itself advance global security. For Israel is the frontline state in the global jihad.

Politically, Israel’s great challenge is to quickly replace its current leaders who have failed to recognize Israel’s great strengths or meet Israel’s security and diplomatic challenges, with better ones.

Many argue that Israel was established by the United Nations. But this is false. Israel was established by the Jewish people who transformed swampland and desert into farmland and forests, and naked fields into modern metropolises. The U.N. merely acknowledged a well-founded reality.

So too, Israel’s future survival, strength, and prosperity will be guaranteed not by international good will but by the ingenuity, strength, creativity, and courage of the Jewish people.

Given Israel’s extraordinary accomplishments in its first 60 years, once it solves its leadership crisis, there will be little reason to look to its next 60 years with anything but optimism and anticipation.

– Caroline B. Glick is the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and senior Middle East fellow for the Center for Security Policy. Her book Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad was released in the U.S. this month.

Anne Bayefsky

Civilization, as we know it, depends on the survival and well-being of the state of Israel. It is a nexus which many, if not most, would deny; this mistake is one of the central tragedies of our age, for we may learn too late that the welfare of the Jewish homeland is a litmus test for the welfare of freedom and justice wherever they may be.

The effort to demonize and destroy the Jewish state – the embodiment of the self-determination of the Jewish people — is the face of modern anti-Semitism.

The corrosive effect of this anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on the central tenets of international law and order is clearest at the United Nations — the organization founded on the ashes of the Jewish people.

The U.N. Charter declares the equality of all nations large and small; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, also celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, insists upon the equality of all races and religions. And yet, responsibility for the globalization of anti-Semitism lies with the U.N. itself. Through the U.N., the enemies of Israel have corrupted the system of the international protection of human rights, the principles of combating racism and xenophobia, and the elementary laws of self-defense.

Let us hope that we recognize in time that those who aim first to justify Israel’s annihilation, aim second at the remainder of the free world.

Anne Bayefsky is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. She also serves as the director of the Touro Institute for Human Rights and the Holocaust and as the editor of EYEontheUN.org.

Tom Gross

Even before Israel’s 60th-birthday celebrations began this week, there were those who once again were predicting doom and gloom for the Jewish state — and not just in Europe. In America, the cover of this month’s Atlantic magazine has a Star of David in Palestinian colors with the headline: “Is Israel finished?” In Canada, the cover of Maclean’s magazine has a montage of three Israeli soldiers unable to raise the national flag. The headline: “Why Israel Can’t Survive.”

This is all nonsense. Israel is flourishing. Indeed among the guests arriving in coming days are not only President Bush and political chieftains from 27 countries, but such front-rank business leaders as Rupert Murdoch, Google founder Sergey Brin, and Yahoo founder Terry Semel. Even Al Gore is turning up the week after.

These business visionaries know when to back a winner, and in Israel they see a winner. There is not a single major hi-tech company (IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Google) that hasn’t now established an R & D center in Israel.

But there is one enormous problem: Iran. It is not only the Islamic regime’s nuclear threat but its support for the deadly militia Israel faces to its north (Hezbollah) and south (Hamas). Were the Iranian regime to crumble, Palestinian pragmatists might gain the upper hand, a responsible Palestinian state could be formed, and Israel’s future would indeed be rosy.

Tom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

Daniel Pipes

Israel has achieved much — an open political culture, dynamic economy, cutting-edge high-tech sector, lively culture, and impressive social cohesion — but for all its successes, the Jewish state remains under a curse: the threat of elimination.

It faces a multi-pronged peril that includes nearly every strategy imaginable: weapons of mass destruction, conventional military attack, terrorism, internal subversion, economic blockade, demographic assault, and ideological undermining. No other contemporary state faces such an array of threats; indeed, probably none in history ever has.

The enemies of Israel divide into two main camps: the Left and the Muslims, with the far Right a minor third element. The Left includes a rabid edge (International ANSWER, Noam Chomsky) and a more polite center (United Nations General Assembly, left-liberal political parties, the mainstream media, mainline churches, school textbooks).

But the Left serves ultimately as an auxiliary to the primary anti-Zionists, the Muslim population. This latter, in turn, can be divided into three groupings: foreign states, external Palestinians (those living outside Israel), and the Muslim citizens of Israel.

That Israel has survived for the past six decades, and has done so with honor, offers a reason for its population to celebrate — but only briefly, as it’s needed to defend against the next threat.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Meyrav Wurmser

Israelis can take pride in their survival and accomplishment. But Israel at 60 still faces a constant need to defend its existence — physically and morally. At 60, Israel is threatened by a crisis of legitimacy spreading beyond its traditional enemies to the West.

In Europe, Israel is disproportionately criticized on issues from human rights to basic self-defense. The Palestinian issue has become a means through which Israel’s existence is questioned and even anti-Semitism tolerated. While former or current Palestinian terrorists travel freely, Israeli officials worry about arrest as war criminals upon entering various European capitals.

But the problem transcends Europe. Even in the U.S., former and current American officials are seduced into moral equivalence between this unquestionably free and democratic country and those — all of whom to various degrees reject and seek to undermine basic Western values — who cannot reconcile themselves to Israel’s existence. Former President Carter has compared Israel to the racist system of South Africa in the past. Even Secretary of State Rice has been reported to compare the plight of the Palestinians to the struggle of the African Americans in the south. By such analyses, Israel is not the embodiment of the West but its antithesis: an agent of oppression. All this as the Jewish state appears left alone to fend for itself as Iran’s threat to destroy another six million Jews is wed to weaponry, despite constant Western promises of “never again.”

Israel is the only regional example of a newly created thriving and democratic Western nation, which is why it is besieged by its autocratic or totalitarian neighbors who have little to show for their half-century plus of independence. As the front line of the West’s defense, we abandon ourselves by deserting Israel. We signal that we have so forgotten who we are that we can no longer differentiate properly and morally between Israel’s – and by extension, our own — quest for survival and the efforts of those who seek to destroy it. No wonder our enemies seem so confident, despite their lack of real power.

Meyrav Wurmser, the director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

Victor Davis Hanson

At 60, Israel has never been more threatened. Let us count the ways that the world wishes to destroy it.

(1) Iran has not only promised to do just that, but is brazenly going about the business of matching rhetoric with nuclear capability.

(2) After beginning an envisioned long border fence that in mediis rebus has already cut down suicide bombing, and after beating its neighbors badly enough over the last 50 years to have achieved state-to-state deterrence, and after surviving the Soviet nuclear patronage of its enemies, the Israelis now face a new simultaneous missile threat from Hezbollah, Syria, and Gaza, designed to make walls irrelevant and to provide deniability of culpability to the hosts who allow the rocketeers to use their soil.

(3) The world liberal community now talks openly of the “one-state” solution of a “multicultural” nation from the Mediterranean to the Jordanian border under “democracy”, in which within 20 years an Arab-Muslim majority would take over the government of this “Palestine” and end Israel as we’ve known it.

(4) The Western world — in fear of oil prices, terrorists, 400 million Arab Muslims, and out of its own anti-Semitism — is beginning to believe that Israel poses more problems than it is worth, and is sending messages (and money and weapons) to its enemies that the Jewish state’s existence is a regional matter, and should be left to the U.N. and “concerned” neighbors.

(5) The oil stampede has made Israel’s enemies rich and necessary, its former friends in the West mortgaging their principles and independence for oil, and once neutrals like Turkey, India, and China increasingly guided by the realities of their own oil hunger.

(6) There is a growing and influential minority within the U.S. (cf. Jimmy Carter et al.) that sees Israel’s terrorist enemies, such as Hamas, as moral equivalents, and wishes to achieve more “balance” by changing the historical relationship between America, its only patron and reliable friend, and Israel.

Never has Israel’s survival depended more on the skill, audacity, and imagination of a new generation of Israelis. It is imperative that when Israel is next attacked, it win quickly and decisively, that the world gets off Middle-Eastern oil dependency, and that the friends of Israel take nothing for granted in these dangerous times.

– Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is victorhanson.com.

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