The Corner

Israel’s Fragile Existence

I get this sort of thing a lot every time Israel comes into the news:

Jonah,

A common statement of the Israel Hawks is that Israel’s existence is

fragile, like you said earlier today. However, they have air

superiority, the best weapons, the most disciplined troops and the bomb.

Yet, you make it sound like they’ll collapse the second they don’t

respond in an overheated way. They beat 3 bigger Arab countries once and

they still have a significant military and economic advantage over

everyone else. So why the lie about their fragile existence?

Me: First, I really can’t stand the way people assume that if someone has a different perspective they must be lying. This is particularly common on the left these days.  Why not just say I’m “wrong,” or “msguided,” etc? 

Anyway, I can’t speak for other people but here’s how I’ve always thought about the question.  Whenever it’s necessary to use force to stay alive your position is precarious.  And if you have to use it constantly just to live, that’s a sign your “existence” is under serious threat (the humans in the “Living Dead” movies are always well-armed, none of them feel their existence isn’t fragile). 

In other words, the point  is that Isreal  must maintain a very high level of military preparedness and vigilence merely in order to survive. If they didn’t have that capability they’d be gone in a week. If they let down their guard for a moment, we’ve seen what happens. That’s a pretty thin line if you ask me. Most countries don’t have the ability to fight off all of their neighbors simultaneously but that’s because  they don’t feel the need. According to the Israel-is-strong view, Belgium’s existence is more fragile than Israel’s because Israel is better armed. Who in the world thinks that’s the case? I can assure you that most Israelis would rather have the “fragility” of Belgium’s plight than the “stability” of theirs.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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