Jews in the Diaspora, I wish to share something with you. It’s important, so please pay attention. I know you might have heard this before; I know it might contradict your beliefs. Nevertheless, for the love of Israel and for our eternal Jewish bond and shared destiny, try to understand.
Israel lives in the midst of the brutal chaos of the Middle East, in a very chaotic time. This environment is extremely unpredictable, most regimes are unstable, and danger is around the corner at all times. When Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president of Egypt in 2013, the Israeli intelligence community was arguing whether the peace treaty would be canceled in 24 or 72 hours. This was also the talk in Israeli newspapers. Syria is not a country anymore, at least not by the Western definition. Jordan has been shaking and trembling for years, with 70% Palestinians and 2 million Syrian refugees. Our neighbors are changing, falling, collapsing, killing and destroying. Enormous forces are tearing the Middle East into pieces, and the future direction is unknown. We essentially went back to 1920, to what would have happened if the French and the British wouldn’t have arrived here. We’re still surrounded by countries, but the tribes with flags are also strong and motivated. Terrorist groups that are equipped with modern technology, are making their way in a bloodbath belonging to the 7th century.
Your national agenda is driven by economics, social issues, lifestyle and sometimes foreign policy and security. Our agenda is still driven primarily by the last. It’s not our choice, and it doesn’t represent our lives entirely; Israel, from the forces of circumstance, is both Sparta and Athens at the same time. But when it comes to national security, Sparta prevails; otherwise, we would have neither of them.
Just as Benjamin Netanyahu said to the US congress in 2015, this is the real Game of Thrones, but this time for the caliphate. The dark clouds from North East could come at any moment. It’s a dangerous game that we have played since 1948, and we cannot afford a single loss here. Everything is temporary, nothing is certain, and the only rule is that you cannot rely on anyone but yourself. Territorial compromises are perceived as a sign of weakness. Just imagine the lives of people in the Galilee area if we’d done that; the pastoral scenario of Assad tanks, ISIS monsters and Syrian rebels swimming in the sea of Galilee, driving boats with machine guns to Tiberias. As a result, the only thing we can rely on is that we cannot rely on anything but a strong military presence and strong relations with other countries around us. This is realpolitik at its best.
Moreover, and most importantly: we pay the price of our mistakes. Whether we made the decision, or were forced by international pressure, Israeli civilians are the ones who are left to handle the consequences. That’s how it always was. We’re experienced with pain and agony here. It’s hard to find a single family here that hasn’t sacrificed. The scars and memories of the last intifada are still fresh; I can still see the sooty buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in my mind when I remember my childhood. Most grown Israelis could also.
In this reality, Israelis want to be sure that anything we give up, any piece of land, any security guarantee, any holy grave – would be for a real, honest, reliable and safe peace. Anything less than that is simply out of the question. After saying all that, I will suggest for you, my brothers and sisters in the diaspora: perhaps it’s time for reevaluation. Reevaluation of the current policy led by J-Street and their counterparts. Rethinking the objectives some of you promote in the international arena. Perhaps your advice and solutions are not always relevant or good for us. Not because we disregard you, but rather because some things are not comprehensible from a distant place, or because the context may be blurry from afar. As former prime minister Ariel Sharon once said, regarding to the disengagement plan: what you see from here, you can’t see from there.
Sharon Zaks is a lover of travel and adventure, and after doing a tour of the world, finally finished a degree in Business and International Relations from Hebrew University, and is working on his master’s in International Diplomacy and Conflict at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzilya. Through his travels, he realized the importance of defending Israel, and became passionate about dedicating his life to doing so.