Many are saying that this year will be momentous. They say that this will be the year when the decision whether to attack Iran will be made, that this will be a decisive year in the political arena, and that this year will be an unforgettable one – engraved in history.
I am not at all sure if these predictions will come about. The upheavals waiting to happen are not about military or political moves. They are part of a much broader strategic structure.
I do not believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will order the army to carry out an open attack on Iran. I think that the time to have done so was when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared his intention to destroy Israel and began practical preparations to achieve his goal. From the moment that Israel chose the strategy of passing the buck to the world’s nations, the legitimacy of Israeli action against Iran was lost. Both the world and the Israeli Left agree on that. Israel’s repeated attempts to force the world to act are like trying to close the stable doors after the horses have escaped. And if the U.S. defines a “red line” for Iran, will it be worth more than President Eisenhower’s guarantee?
When Israel retreated from Sinai after the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the Americans agreed in writing that they would not allow Egypt to blockade the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. When Egyptian President Nasser invaded the Sinai and blocked the straits, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol called President Lyndon Johnson and reminded him of the U.S. guarantee – the unambiguous, signed “red line” that the Americans provided in exchange for Israel’s retreat. “I can’t find my copy,” LBJ stonewalled over the phone. Now, Israel is pressuring President Obama to give us another guarantee that will conveniently get “lost” when it is needed most.
I will be more than happy if my evaluation is wrong, as I do not want to go to war. But more than fearing war, I fear that Israel will slowly disintegrate, making war extraneous. I cannot see how Israel, in the long term, can exist and flourish in a nuclear Middle East under Iranian hegemony. More than fearing war, I fear that our enemies will not need it to achieve their goals.
Will 5773 be an election year in Israel? While uncertain, the Likud is currently gearing up for elections. But events over the past few months have shown that elections do not necessarily take place even when the date is set. I am much less confident about my take on this issue than I am on the Iranian matter. But I would not be surprised if by Rosh Hashanah of next year, the elections will still not have taken place.
Reality will shape the Jewish state’s society in 5773 more than we will shape it. Culturally, we are living in extremely unstable times. These cultural changes, symbolized by the birthrate of only one child per family, are currently expressed in an economic crisis that will make Western economies collapse. The rise of radical Islam will rear its head and the Middle East will return to its natural, pre-World War I state. The mask of modern nation-states will disintegrate and the expanse will once more be tribal. A country that is not Arab will claim hegemony: That nation will be either Turkey or Iran – if the latter achieves nuclear capabilities.
This is not prophecy. It is simply an educated evaluation based on the processes that are unfolding before our eyes. Events can play out in any number of ways, but we must prepare for any eventuality.
The questions that Israel must ask itself are much broader than the question of a nuclear Iran. Are we preparing the next generation for the new world or are we still committed to the old order? Are we equipping the next generation with a clear answer to the questions of identity and destiny? Are we building a culture of liberty that can overcome the enslavement that is engulfing the world?
On Rosh Hashanah, we crowned the King of the world. We blew the shofar and declared that we accept His dominion – His dominion, and no other.