June 14, 2009
In Eitan Haber’s recent Ynet article World War III has started, he states that North Korea’s recent nuclear test was the opening shot in World War III. This act, together with its ongoing blatant disregard of American warnings, has pitted the “crazy” states of North Korea, Iran, etc., against the “moderate” states led by the United States.
Whether he is in fact right, or whether the war started with the September 11th attacks, is irrelevant. What is important, however, is his conclusion. Since he believes, as most do, that North Korea’s actions are related to Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons, he argues that Israel must do all that it can not to jeopardize Washington’s desire and ability to gather the support of other “moderate” states (which he lists as Egypt, the Gulf states, and Saudi Arabia ) in fighting the “crazy” states.
How then can tiny Israel jeopardize Washington’s position? What is the key? According to Haber, the determining factor is Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria. He states “The world is changing before our eyes, yet here we see Knesset members earnestly explaining that the Americans will agree that we stay in Judea and Samaria if we only evacuate some tin shacks.” Then towards the end of the article he sums up by saying that “whether or not someone is a supporter or rival of the settlement enterprise in the territories ……. we need to be familiar with the Americans to realize that three tin huts removed from the Maoz Ester outpost are not good enough.”
The conclusion of Haber is not the source of the problem but rather the outward manifestation of a certain mindset. That is the real problem. Such a mindset apparently fails to understand, in depth, the real role of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Therefore, and quite understandably, there is an overemphasis on pleasing the Americans at nearly all costs since the Americans are considered our true friend and defender. The problem with this approach, however, is that it avoids the fact that America, like any sovereign nation, simply does what is best for America. If supporting Israel is good for America, then America will pursue such a policy. However, if the opposite is true, then America will pursue a different policy. The point is that nothing is permanent, nothing is written in stone. While presently America demands the dismantling of illegal outposts, tomorrow it might request that the natural growth of settlements be halted, in one month it may insist that all Jews be removed from Judea and Samaria, or in a year it might urge Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their home cities of Haifa and Jaffa. Of course from America’s perspective all of this would be perfectly legitimate since it supposedly would be helping them to achieve their goal of building a broad coalition with other Middle Eastern “moderate” states for the big battle against the “crazy” states.
Moreover, this is not a criticism of America but rather a truth. In fact America should be praised for constantly trying to do what is in its best interests since this is the responsibility of any sovereign state. However, this does not imply that Israel must agree to the demands of America, however important they may be for American interests, if they are damaging to Israel’s well-being. To suggest otherwise is insane.
In stark contrast to the conciliatory approach, there are many Jews that are convinced that Israel should not cave in to the demands of anyone, be it the Americans or the Europeans. For many of them, and not just for those who have been labeled “religious”, this is based upon their belief that there is a higher purpose for the collective Jewish nation living in the Land of Israel. For them, the nationalistic aspect of the State of Israel is vastly different from other nationalistic endeavors. While other nationalistic undertakings, including the American version, are primarily for the betterment of the state itself, Israel’s nationalistic aspect is to be different. For Israel, the building of the country is not an end-goal in and of itself but rather it is to serve as a platform for bringing a positive and loving message to the world. Moreover, this can only be achieved by Israel establishing complete Israeli sovereignty in the Land of Israel. There is no other way. Of course this is not for the sake of sovereignty itself but rather to build a socially just society according to the ideals and morality of Judaism. Finally, this whole undertaking only gains real meaning if it ultimately is used as a vehicle for helping to improve the world.
This vision, which is summed up in the poetic language of the prophets as being a “light unto nations”, is for many a reality to strive for and not just a dream. Moreover, in such a reality, pleasing the Americans at all costs is not a priority.