Israel’s Tumultuous Two Years

And how it has emerged stronger than ever.

Israel has had a tumultuous two years, with many crises, and has managed to emerge stronger than before. This story is here: “Don’t overlook Israel’s success,” by Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom, July 6, 2021:

For the past two years, Israel has withstood crisis upon crisis and exhibited admirable resilience. This, despite the intellectuals who have been writing the country off, refusing to look at the big picture and focusing on the minor detail that was bothering them at each given moment.

Since 2019, Israel has had to grapple with medical, economic, security, diplomatic and political crises….

In terms of diplomacy, Jerusalem has had to come to terms with the fact that the Biden administration is determined to return to a nuclear deal with Iran. And last but not least, the political system has been in limbo for several years.

Any democracy would struggle to see a bright future under such circumstances, let alone come up with a solution to this spate of crises….

Until world peace sets in, our challenge is to avoid the delusion of peace and brotherly love among nations and to focus on guaranteeing that Israel will continue to be a free and thriving country despite its threatening environment while working on small, modest, but consistent achievements that would somehow blunt the impact of the conflict.

This means no delusions of a permanent peace with the Palestinians, but instead, keeping to the strategy of deterrence that has kept Israel secure; that means – though Schueftan doesn’t spell it out – holding onto, at a minimum, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem. Truces — hudnas — are the best Israel can hope for in its dealings with the Palestinians.

As for Iran, the Islamic Republic will only cease being an existential threat to Israel and the entire region if the regime and its violent practices are defeated. But Jerusalem does not have the power to do so, and it must, therefore, create a regional alliance with Iran’s adversaries to counter its pursuit of hegemony. This will at the very least slow down the development of its nuclear and conventional capabilities….

Israel has done very well in establishing unofficial security alliances with the Gulf Arab states – the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain – that are most threatened by Iran. They share intelligence on the Islamic Republic. And Israel’s Mossad has been conducting a relentless campaign of sabotage and assassination to slow down Iran’s nuclear project. The Stuxnet computer worm in 2010 that caused more than 1,000 of Iran’s centrifuges to self-destruct, the assassination of four of Iran’s nuclear scientists between 2010 and 2012, the theft of Iran’s entire nuclear archive by Mossad agents in 2018, the attack on Iran’s centrifuge plant at Natanz in 2020, and another devastating attack, in 2021, on a centrifuge plant that had been built 50 meters underground at Natanz to replace the one destroyed in 2020, and finally, the killing of Iran’s most important nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in late 2020 – all these acts of Israeli derring-do have won the admiration of Israel’s Arab allies.

Israel has managed to emerge from the pandemic with relative success compared to other Western democracies – despite the issues that came up with the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities – boasting a much lower death rate and a relatively quick economic rebound.

In fact, Israel has emerged not just “with relative success” from the pandemic, but has done better than any other country, in its rate of vaccination and in its success in treating the infected.

And on top of that, Israeli society has shown resilience during the recent flare-up with Hamas, Israel was not dragged into a war in the north and in Judea and Samaria, and the Israeli-Arab coalition in the region has been strengthened….

Hezbollah remained quiet during the Hamas-Israel war, unwilling to risk a crushing defeat by the Jewish state. In Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank), the PA also chose to remain on the sidelines, not in any rush to help its archenemy Hamas. The Arab states belonging to the Abraham Accords — especially the U.A.E. — issued the mildest of rebukes to Israel; the Accords held firm. And both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, neither a member of the Accords, continued their security cooperation with the Jewish state.

Israel’s democracy held firm as Netanyahu was peacefully replaced by Bennett, despite many warnings of political paralysis. Israel’s health care system coped with the pandemic better than that of any other country in the world. The Arab violence in Israel’s “mixed” cities was swiftly – within two weeks — brought under control, despite all the fears expressed of a “civil war.” The Gaza war led to a crushing defeat of Hamas, with the loss of only 12 Israeli lives. Hamas not only saw its store of rockets depleted by more than 4,300, but the tunnel network on which it had spent more than $1 billion to build, was pounded by the IDF, resulting in at least 62 miles of the tunnels being completely destroyed. Meanwhile, Israel’s Iron Dome batteries intercepted 90% of the rockets launched from Gaza into the Jewish state.

As for the disagreement with the U.S. over Iran, Israel has managed to forcefully and repeatedly state its objections to the Americans about a return to the 2015 Iran deal, and made clear it will act alone, if necessary, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. When Biden met with Israel’s outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin, Biden told him that “My commitment to Israel is … ironclad,” and assured him that “what I can say to you is that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”

With the peaceful transition of political power, the Gaza war won decisively, the Arab violence in mixed cities like Lod and Ramle quickly suppressed, with the pandemic nearly licked, with Israeli companies on Wall Street in just one month — June — reaching a combined valuation of more than $37 billion in IPOs, with the Abraham Accords still solid, and especially so between the Jewish state and the Emirates, leading to ever more deals in trade, technology, and tourism, it’s hard not to conclude, with Dan Shueftan, that Israel “has had to grapple with medical, economic, security, diplomatic and political crises” and managed quite well, thank you, with all of them.

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