BY AMBASSADOR (ret.) YORAM ETTINGER, ISRAEL HAYOM—
World opinion should not deter Israel from enhancing Jewish roots and national security, expanding the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights and pre-empting Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism.
Adverse world opinion and Global pressure have always been an integral part of the Jewish People and the Jewish State. The aim of this global campaign has been to eliminate the unique national, religious, cultural and territorial features of the Jewish People, including Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel.
The bolstering of Jewish sovereignty, while deflecting world opinion, generates negative world opinion (except in the USA and a few other countries), but enhances respect towards a conviction-driven Jewish State. On the other hand, retreating Jewish sovereignty, while submitting to world opinion reflects weakness, never satisfy world opinion, and therefore fuels global pressure, eroding respect towards the Jewish State.
Thus, world opinion towards the Jewish State was not upgraded by Israel’s 1957 and 1982 mega-retreats from the Sinai Peninsula (almost three times as large as Israel!), the transfer of 100% of Gaza and 45% of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority, and the 1993 Israeli importation of PLO terrorists to the door steps of their intended victims.
However, walking against the grain has been a prerequisite for game-changing human endeavors in general and Jewish initiatives in particular.
Walking against the grain has been a Jewish trait since the introduction of Abraham’s monotheism. Moreover, a defiant Jewish People has preserved and advanced the Jewish vision and strategic Jewish goals – while contributing uniquely to humanity – in the face of devastation, decimation, exiles, pogroms, expulsions, public burning, discrimination, forceful conversion and the Holocaust. Intimidation by world opinion would have doomed the Jewish People to oblivion.
Theodore Herzl, the father of modern day political Zionism, was considered a messianic wishful-thinker at the end of the 19th century. He was initially resented by most Jews, ridiculed by demographers and dismissed by world opinion.
Prime Minister Ben Gurion’s 1948 decision to declare the independence of the Jewish State was opposed by most of his party-members, as well as by the US Secretary of State, General George Marshall who was then the most charismatic US leader; the Department of State bureaucracy; James Forestall the US Secretary of Defense; the CIA and the New York Times. Israel’s Founding Father had to overcome a US military embargo, while the British supplied arms to the Arabs. Following the War of Independence, he ignored global bullying, did not consider a return to the pre-war lines and the internationalization of Jerusalem, declared the Israel-controlled parts of Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State and did not end “occupation of the Negev.”
Prime Minister Eshkol preempted Egypt and Syria, in 1967, in spite of adverse world opinion and specific warnings by the US Administration. Eshkol also defied Washington and the world by reuniting Jerusalem and launching construction projects in Jerusalem, across the 1949 ceasefire (Green) line.
Prime Minister Golda Meir dared world opinion, laying the foundations for four major neighborhoods in Jerusalem across the Green Line, housing today some 150,000 residents.
Prime Ministers Begin and Shamir were criticized and condemned by world opinion for their claim that Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and the whole of Jerusalem were inalienable parts of the Jewish State. However, their slackened global popularity was matched by deep respect for their principle-driven policies, which made them worthy allies in the face of mutual threats, triggering a significant enhancement of US-Israel strategic cooperation. Prime Minister Begin’s 1981 destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor – which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991 – was carried out despite US-led global condemnation, depicting Israel as a lawless entity.
Contemporary Israeli leaders benefit from dramatically improved circumstances, compared with the meager resources at the disposal of their predecessors, demographically (over six million Jews live in Israel), economically (the best ever economic indicators), technologically (the site of 400 high tech global giants), industrially (unprecedented trade relations) militarily (expanded cooperation with Western military forces) and scientifically (a leading space power). Moreover, the world is increasingly exposed to the anti-Western explosive Arab and Palestinian Street, the deeply and violently fragmented Arab World, the rising threat of Islamic terrorism in the USA, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, the intensifying demographic Islamic threat in Europe and Iran’s nuclearization. Recent polls document bolstered support of Israel in the US (71% favorability according to Gallup, compared with 19% support of the Palestinians), while 63%:18% of Americans believe in a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West (according to Rasmussen).
History and current global reality reaffirm that Israel is facing a unique window of opportunity to enhance its strategic posture. Israeli leaders should not sacrifice such an opportunity on the altar of world opinion. Leaders who fluctuate policy in order to appease world opinion, exercise followership and not leadership, jeopardizing the survival of their own people.
You are absolutely correct; it is only when the Jewish people, either as an individual or as nation have stood their ground or walked against the flow of world opinion, has the Jew earned any respect.
Every time Israel has surrendered territory for peace, either in the distant past or in modern times, it has cost Jewish lives; in many instances, thousands upon thousands of lives. Israel must stand her ground; the world, especially the Arab world, might hate Israel, but at least she will be respected.
Ambassador Ettinger’s article was, as usual, well written and well-stated. Unfortunately it refuses to acknowledge the responsibility of so-called American statesmen, beginning with flaming internationalists George Marshall and ending with like-minded George W. Bush, who believed that as long as Israel was willing to sacrifice it’s Divine-given land for peace, all would be well. Case in point: giving up Gaza in 2005. Current American leadership is no different. Read between the lines, fellow Israelis, identify the perpetrators of those who oppose Israel’s existence and do not judge by their flowery pro-Israel speech, but rather judge by their actions and their outcomes. Good day.