Wednesday is Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers. More than 23,000 military personnel have died in Israel’s wars (including military actions before the founding of the state), and about 4,000 civilians have been killed as a result of war and terrorism.
This is the real, concrete cost of maintaining a Jewish state. Proportionate to population, it is about the same as the number of Americans who died in all of America’s wars since 1775, including the Civil War and the two World Wars.
These Israelis died for one reason: the Arab/Muslim rejection of Jewish sovereignty.
Not ‘the occupation’. Not the settlements. Not the checkpoints or the security barrier. The simple fact that they do not accept that any of this land can be governed by Jews. They didn’t accept it in 1920 when it only was a possibility, they didn’t accept it in 1947 when the UN proposed it, and they didn’t accept it in 1948 when the Jews declared it. They do not accept it today, and there is no reason to think they will accept it in the foreseeable future. And their expression of this rejection has always been violent.
Those who struggle to find a ‘solution’ that includes the continued existence of a Jewish state will not find a partner on the Arab side. Some of the Arabs will agree to accept partial victories as steps toward a final, total victory and some won’t. But none will agree to end the conflict while there is still a Jewish state standing.
Just ask a ‘Palestinian’. There have been numerous polls that have done just that, and overwhelming majorities say that the Jewish state is illegitimate and support ‘resistance’, which means terrorism against Jewish soldiers and civilians. In a poll taken in December 2015, “67% support and 31% oppose use of knives in the current confrontations with Israel. But about three quarters (73%) oppose the participation of young school girls in the stabbing attacks and a quarter supports it.”
In other words, most Palestinians think it’s fine to stab Jews in the street, but ‘only’ one in four thinks that schoolgirls should be encouraged to do so!
Israel has responded to attacks with military force. There’s no other way to respond to rocket barrages and terror tunnels, but Israel has been sharply criticized. Israel has responded to terror attacks by killing terrorists before, during and after they succeed in killing our citizens. There is no other way, but Israel is criticized. Israel built a security barrier, a fence like ones that have been constructed by countless nations, to keep murderous terrorists out, and of course Israel is criticized.
It turns out that anything we do to protect ourselves is too much. In 2014, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay argued that even our Iron Dome missile defense system is too much – because we have it and Hamas does not!
After the more or less 100 years that the Arabs have been trying to prevent and destroy Jewish sovereignty, and most of the time the rest of the world has been at best indifferent, a kind of cultural weariness has set in. It manifests itself on the Left as a desire – expressed so nicely by Ehud Olmert – to stop winning and, I presume, lose a little for a change. On the Right the attitude is “we won’t take it anymore,” and a terrorist that tries to stab Jews should not survive the attempt, even if he is already ‘neutralized’.
The latter impulse motivated a young soldier, Elor Azaria, now on trial for manslaughter, to put a bullet into the head of a wounded terrorist who had just stabbed his friend. I suspect that it was the former that caused Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Deputy Chief of Staff, to suggest that incidents such as that of Azaria and the terrorist remind him of Nazi Germany.
A comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is so beyond inappropriate that just because of this it is used as a ‘big lie’ by anti-Israel propagandists. Ironically, Azaria’s act did no damage to the State of Israel and maybe even added to its deterrent against terrorism, while Golan’s exceptionally stupid remark played directly into the international campaign to delegitimize Israel and hamstring her ability to defend herself.
Despite the fact that Azaria probably disobeyed orders and should not have shot the terrorist, the majority of Israelis support him and do not wish to see him punished. Most Israelis, with the exception of the baying-at-the-moon-extreme leftists who write for Ha’aretz, were horrified by Golan’s statement (made on Holocaust Memorial Day, of all days).
After 100 years, some things should be clear:
- Peace can only come from strength and deterrence, not from concessions which are seen as weakness and only open the door to more demands.
- Your enemies want to kill you and force is the only way to stop them.
- Nobody will do your fighting for you; and,
- You can’t even count on their support when you are attacked.
- You can’t reason with people whose bread is buttered by commerce with your enemies.
- Even a good general can be a political imbecile.
- Give ordinary soldiers a break; you might need them someday.
On Wednesday we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, most of them ordinary soldiers. The day after that we celebrate our independence. The connection should be obvious.