Israel has been a crazy project from the beginning. Given their history, I understand the desire of Jews to have a place where they can protect themselves. However, if this was the main objective, it is difficult to understand why the Zionists picked the middle east of all places for their state.
The middle east has been inhabited since time immemorial. Jews have been a tiny minority there since the rise of Christianity and Islam. The particular area in which Israel was founded has many places that are holy to the big three theist religions. From all the places on the planet to chose to create a safe homeland, this was probably one of the least suitable. The reason why the Zionists picked it anyway was not primarily security, but religious mythology. That makes their claim to this land highly questionable for any non-Jew.
Despite the odds, however, the Zionist movement succeeded in establishing a Jewish dominated state in the middle east. It was not easy. It took a loot of killing and ethnic cleansing to achieve it. Bloody, nasty, unforgivable crimes were committed on the local population, but that is what it takes to create some Lebensraum.
Be that as it may, similarly nasty stuff happened frequently in pretty much every history of every state. That is the reason why countries turned from little tribal societies to large nations. Violence was always involved. Should we all now try to undo history and bring everything back to some kind of imagined perfectly fair point in time in the past?
Certainly not! It could not possibly be done and it would cause huge new suffering to even try. Once a peaceful situation has been reached, the past needs to be put to rest. Everyone needs to move forward. If this is true then why should Israel be held to any other standard?
Even though the Zionists succeeded to establish a Jewish state, their timing was unfortunate. While the Holocaust create a powerful argument to support the existence of Israel, the Nazis also produced the argument against what Israel was trying to do.
After the horrible crimes of the Hitler regime, humanity had decided that ethnically cleansing areas of land to create Lebensraum simply was not going to be seen as acceptable in the future. Israel was established just at the time when this new moral consensus was reached. Any state that wanted to be part of the free democratic enlightened world was being held to this moral standard. That is how Israel got an image problem from the beginning.
The bigger problem, however, is not that there is some stain on the history of Israel. As already mentioned, all states have such stains. The biggest problem is that Israel never managed to reach a status quo in which both sides of the original conflict could comfortably move forward.
Ever since the Nakba, the catastrophe as the Palestinians call their ethnic cleansing during the Israeli war of independence, they have never reached a state where they could take their destiny into their own hands. They were forced to live under different kinds of occupation.
This is not entirely the fault of Israel. Despite their lip service to support the Palestinian cause, the neighbouring rulers never had a real interest to help them either. They could have easily integrated them into their societies, but refuse to do so. Ultimately, having an enemy like Israel can be a very advantageous tool in politics. Still, the Zionists were the ones who created this whole mess, so they are ultimately the ones responsibly for it.
If this conflict is supposed to end, the Palestinians need to ultimately be able to have their own autonomous political entity. As libertarians, we can go into the argument that states are not really a good thing. That is certainly true, however, not all states are equal. There are different shades of evil. The Palestinians would certainly be better off in a state that is not controlled by their enemies. At the very least, this would likely put them into the mental condition to move on.
However, despite all the talking that they have always rejected such a solution, the reality is that Israel was never really serious in giving the Palestinians their state. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that such a state would pose a security risk to their Jewish state project. It is easy to see that this objection has some merits, although, it is not so clear why this new state would be any more hostile than the other surrounding Arab states.
The second reason, however, is the same reason why the Zionists picked Palestine for their state in the first place. There are some religious fanatics, who simply believe that the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean was promised to them by god. These are the Jewish settlers who are building settlements in the West Bank despite them clearly violating international law. As I already mentioned, it is difficult to take their point of view seriously for anyone who is not Jewish.
How to solve the problem of all those Palestinians who have not found peace since the foundation of Israel? As I wrote years ago, I don’t see that the state of Israel has a solution for it. The government simply seems to hope that the problem will either eventually go away somehow, or that the status quo can be maintained indefinitely.
Indeed, they are very open about the fact that their strategy is to remain the toughest bully in town. As long as Israel can maintain military superiority, they think they can maintain the unpleasant status quo indefinitely.
That, however, is a catastrophically dumb strategy. It is also totally immoral of course, but more importantly it is strategically dumb. History always goes in circles. The strong from today are the fallen from tomorrow. Even the biggest, most powerful, empires eventually fall, it is just a question of time.
There will come a point in time in which Israel will not be the toughest bully any more. It will decline and the power of the surrounding states will rise. At that point, Israel’s survival will depend on the good will of those neighbours. Therefore, if Israel wants to survive in the long run, it will simply have no choice but to try everything possible to be loved and respected by its neighbours.
The current tough guy strategy is certain suicide in the long run. However, it might be too late to change horses. That is because Israel has already stopped to be the biggest military power in the region. Its society has become very western in valuing individualism. It therefore cannot tolerate large casualties any more, a clear weakness.
The real source of Israel’s power has long been the fact that the US was backing her cause. Not only did Israel get billions of dollars of military aid every year from the US, she could also count on the US to come to her rescue if she got into any trouble. This has made the Israeli government very confident that there was no need to compromise with the Palestinians.
A very short sided strategy as it now turns out. Despite its gigantic military budget, the US is no longer able to fight and win wars in any meaningful way abroad. There are multiple reasons for this.
Firstly, the US is basically bankrupt. It has suffocated its once enormously productive capitalist machine, with an avalanche of taxes and regulations. It cannot produce and finance enough ammunition to sustain a longer war with a serious adversary, and it has other priorities at home.
In addition to that, the US also does not have enough soldiers. There is no draft in the US. The military therefore relies on volunteers, of which there are not enough to fight a bigger war against a serious enemy. Just like Israel, the US society has no capacity to sustain large amounts of casualties. As if that was not enough, the US military has also not been immune from woke ideology, which results in unsuitable recruits entering into service.
Finally, technology has advances. Many weapons that were considered super expensive high tech in the past, are now available even for small players. War has become a much more level playing field. Precision guided cruise missiles, for example, are now used by armies like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Some countries like Russia, China and Iran have even developed hypersonic missiles, for which there is no defence, and which the US itself does not have.
This advance in technology makes one of the most powerful tools the US has – aircraft carriers – essentially useless. In any direct conflict between the US and one of the named countries, ships from the US navy that come too close to the enemy, will find themselves immediately at the bottom of the sea. The only reason that has not happened yet is, because no one wanted to escalate a conflict with the US to that level yet.
The reality is that the US cannot win a war abroad against a serious adversary any longer. Hell, it could not even win a war against goatherders in Afghanistan. And outside the US there is not much of an army left in other western countries.
This is bad news for Israel, as no one will come to her rescue in a serious war against her increasingly strong neighbours. One can see the government there panic in real time as that new reality sinks in.
But it has not fully sunk in yet. Unfortunately, the Israeli government does not fully seem to comprehend the new realities in the middle east, as it currently continues to try to escalate in the conflict with Hamas in the clear hope of winning back what it calls its “deterrence capacity”. This will not end well.
The way I see it, Israel has now a last chance of giving the Palestinians their state. It has to become tough on its fanatical settlers and withdraw behind the 67 borders. It seems that these borders would widely be accepted even in the Arab world. Given the enormous international build up of pressure on Israel at the moment, I think this outcome is actually not unlikely.
To all those who suggest that giving the Palestinians a full state would be too dangerous, I would suggests that Israel simply does not have a choice. If it wants to survive in the long run, it will have to risk it. If it does not work, then I am sorry to say, the Jewish state in the Middle East was simply never going to last.
Let’s hope it does not come to that. Millions of Israelis, who had nothing to do with the Nakba and who simply want to live their lives in peace would not deserve being driven out of their homes. Two wrongs do not make one right, and where would they go anyway.
The only chance of avoiding a catastrophe, however, is for Israel to make peace their first, second and third priority. Everything else, including some nationalist dream of the Jewish character of Israel needs to come last. The Palestinians need to get their state, no ifs, no buts, no compromises or games. Then, we will see if peace has a chance, or if Palestinians are really the unforgiving anti-Semitic savages that the Zionist make them out to be. Let’s hope Israel makes the right choice to de-escalate. Escalation is just what Hamas wanted when they committed their disgusting atrocities on October 7th.
In order to make it easy for Israel to make the right choice, the rest of us should stay out of this conflict. Actively supporting either side, will just encourage that side to not compromise. That was what let to the disaster in Ukraine and many other places. If the west had not supported Ukraine, the regime in Kiev would have made a deal with Putin within a month into the conflict. A lot of destruction and death could have been prevented and Ukraine would have even lost less territory. I fear, Israel will have a similar fade if we support her. So let us not make that mistake again.
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