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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Israel’s Only Alternative is a Good One

Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge, even if it comes at the cost of international criticism.
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Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90

And what’s important is to do that which is necessary to preserve Israel’s national security and to ignore to the greatest possible extent anything that subverts it.

What has experience taught us? Very simply this: The Palestinian leadership’s priority is not on getting a state of their own–they have missed many opportunities to do so–but to gain total victory. No matter how much you might think it is rational for them to seek to have a country living peacefully alongside Israel forever as it develops its economy and culture and resettles refugees out of the camps they do not think so. And that’s all that’s important.

Taking a state of that kind is only acceptable to the PA, and even more to the Hamas, leadership if it serves to promote that goal. Even if moderation provides material rewards they prefer militancy. But after all, suffering–even if self-inflicted–brings massive political gains for them.

What has the world’s behavior taught us? Very simply this: Nothing we can do will suffice. If Israel were to accept unconditionally a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority would then demand that all Palestinians who so wished and had an ancestor living there before 1948 must be admitted to Israel with full voting and all other rights. And then what would the UN do?

What has diplomacy taught us? That the other side will not keep commitments and those guaranteeing those commitments will not keep their word to do so. And then they will complain that Israel doesn’t take more risks, give more concessions, and defend itself too vigorously.

Well, that’s the way things are and in some ways they’ve been like that for decades; from a Jewish standpoint, for centuries. So what else is new?

Of course, all the proper statements will be made and the diplomatic options pursued by Israel. They will not make any difference on the rhetorical dynamics but their point is to limit the material effects.

That is not a pessimistic assessment at all. Basically, this process has now been going on for about 40 years. It will continue to go on, partly because the West has been and will continue to be content with purely symbolic anti-Israel measures so it can reap some public relations’ benefits without any costs. The quality of existence is more important than the quality of the ability to justify one’s existence.

By coincidence, several surveys have just been published which pertain to Israel’s achievements in the face of such obstacles as small size, lack of resources, international hostility, and war waged against it by neighbors.

In its November 21, 2012 issue, The Economist Intelligence Unit, a respected research group which is part of The Economist (which has been bitterly anti-Israel in recent years) published a study—“The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013”– of the best places for a baby to be born in 2013 and subsequently live its life. Israel was rated at number 20, just behind the United States (16, incidentally down from being number 1 in the 1980s!) and ahead of Italy (21), France (26), and Britain (27).

In the World Happiness Report, Israel rated 14th and in health it was in the 6th position, ahead of the United States, Germany, Britain, and France.

Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge. Meanwhile, Israel’s neighbors don’t get criticized by the UN—many of them get elected to the Human Rights Council despite their records—but are sinking into violence, disaster, and new dictatorships.

So which fate is preferable? To win the wars forced on you, to develop high living standards, to enjoy real democratic life, or to writhe under the torture of dictators, terrorists, and totalitarian ideologies?

Israel’s fate includes to be slandered, its actions and society so often distorted by those responsible for conveying accurate information to their own societies. And that also means to be attacked violently by its neighbors, though it can minimize the effectiveness of that violence. Like our ancestors we have to deal with this bizarre situation, this mistreatment that others don’t even understand still exists.

But we cannot let this nonsensical excuse for reality drive us mad or make us mad.

Barry Rubin

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


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