To be sure, it is time to call all things by their correct names. Just as Israel seeks to bring great beauty into the world, its sanguinary Islamist enemies thrive reciprocally upon violence and horror. Contrary to what is generally reported in the media, there is absolutely nothing basically political or purposeful about their fevered campaign of Jihadist war, cowardice and brutality. Their true objective is plain for all to see. It is for the sheer and ecstatic joy of bringing incommunicable pain and utter extermination to Jews. Significantly, for these murderers masquerading as “militants,” the means and ends of Jewish bloodletting are entirely indistinguishable.
Why is this so difficult to understand at BBC, CNN and other disingenuous purveyors of falsity and contrivance? In Iran, as in Gaza, undisguised threats to annihilate Israel are even a perverse balm for manipulated majorities. Were it not for that country’s determined capacity to inflict existential harms, these genocidal threats would not be all that serious. But Tehran’s ascent to full membership in the Nuclear Club is now less than two years away, and such membership will likely coincide with an Iranian leadership belief in the Shiite apocalypse. This suggests that Jerusalem may soon have to face not only Palestinian suicide-bombers, but also the suicide bomber in macrocosm.
The true goal of Israel’s myriad Islamist enemies, not only the goal expressed so openly by Iran, is always extermination. Even in a world that has now grown comfortable with every conceivable form of slaughter, Israel remains the object of glaringly new kinds of crimes against humanity. In the bitterest of ironies, an ancient nation that was ingathered to prevent another Holocaust has now become the dominant focus of yet another “final solution.” Even more ironic, the rest of the world is not merely indifferent to newly impending crimes against humanity directed at Jews, but – at least in large numbers – shamelessly sympathetic to the prospective exterminators.
So, what else is new? For us Jews, it must seem, yet again, that there is nothing new under the sun. Looked at more broadly, the goal of Israel’s enemies, especially Iran and the nascent Palestinian state, is to be left standing while Israel is made to disappear. For these irremediable enemies of a Jewish state, there can be no coexistence of any kind. Never. This is because their own enjoyment of the world, and also their own survival, presumably require Israel’s extinction.
Soon, the new president of the United States, Barack Obama, will soberly and seriously extol the virtues of the same old twisted cartography – that is, the so-called “Road Map” to peace in the Middle East. Yet, like the Oslo Agreements that preceded it, this stillborn plan is premised on Israel’s acceptance of land for nothing. Asymmetrical international agreements always miss an important point: International law is not a suicide pact.
Under the longstanding customary rule of “anticipatory self-defense,” Israel still has every right to strike first at developing Iranian nuclear infrastructures. Further, to undertake such a preemption could become more than a legal right. It could even become a distinct obligation, not only to the imperiled people of Israel, but also to the most elementary expectations of civilized international relations.
If anticipatory self-defense remains operationally possible (a problematic determination at this point), Jerusalem should not be inhibited by smug assurances of alternative protections from the “international community.” Here, for Israel to decline an operationally plausible preemption, could be nothing less than an implicit acknowledgment that international law may expressly defile international justice.
It must surely be a fatal mistake for Israel to believe that Reason and Justice govern the world. It must be an unforgivable error for Israel to project its own Western, rational and humane sentiments upon its most relentless and barbarous foes. As I have pointed out so often here in The Jewish Press, it would be a life risk for Israel to seek to remain standing by clinging foolishly to glaringly false promises and manifestly false hopes.
It is always an error for Israel to fashion policies upon deeply unwarranted assumptions. Whether in Gaza, West Bank (Judea/Samaria) or Tehran, Israel’s Jihadist enemies wish to kill Jews primarily because such murder is felt to be a deeply sacred obligation. For these enemies, killing Jews is an authentic expression of religious sacrifice, and one that will confer precious immunity from personal death.
Could there be any greater incentive to plan the next genocide of Jews? This idea of death as a zero-sum commodity – “I kill you; I therefore remain alive forever” – has been explained in some of the finest psychology literature. For example, it is captured perfectly in Ernest Becker’s paraphrase of Nobel Laureate Elias Canetti: “Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.”
Shouldn’t this idea be especially obvious to us, to the Jewish People? Isn’t it time that Israel finally understand what Otto Rank had revealed so courageously in Will Therapy and Truth and Reality: “The death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the Sacrifice, of the other; through the death of the other one buys oneself free from the penalty of dying, of being killed.”
Israel’s enemies, in order to remain standing – and to prevent Israel from standing up – seek tosacrifice the Jewish State on a bloodstained altar of war and terrorism. The idea ofsacrifice, therefore, is absolutely central to understanding what is now happening in the Middle East. The planned genocidal destruction of Israel is integrally part of a system of religious worship that is oriented toward the conquest of personal death.
Present-day Israel should not glibly ignore 4,000 years of Jewish history and world politics. The true source of global influence is always power, and the greatest expression of raw power is always the conquest of death. For the president of Iran, and for the proposed criminal government of executioners now battling each other for control in some future Palestinian state, killing Jews – indeed, killing Israel itself – offers an incomparable fusion of private ecstasy and personal survival. These sworn enemies of Israel are much more than dimly aware that in killing Jews and in killing Israel, theywill have killed their own death. For the Islamist “martyr,” whether as a terrorist individual or as a murderous individual writ large (i.e. the state of Iran), killing Jews and the constituted Jewish State is the optimal way of affirming life. For this hideous “lover of death,” nothing can be more important than overcoming personal mortality.
Only when Israel learns to acknowledge and appreciate this particular enemy perception will that country finally understand its overriding obligation to stay alive. To fulfill this sacred obligation, Israel should combine a determined willingness to preemptively destroy Iran’s now nearly complete engines of atomic annihilation (a willingness spawned in part by the persistent refusal of the United States to itself exercise this expression of anticipatory self-defense) with a clear and parallel determination to resist any further territorial withdrawals from Judea/Samaria. The People of Israel are entitled to live securely on this land without constant threats of intimidation and also of dispossession issued by their own leaders.
The intolerable security costs to Israel of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza “disengagement” are now visible for all to see. To the extent that Hamas in Gaza, continues to closely collaborate with al-Qaeda (a portentous collaboration that has been all but ignored during Israel’s ongoing Gaza operation), these costs will soon also have to be borne by citizens of the United States. Although still largely unreported, Hamas has already begun to allow al-Qaeda elements to fashion certain WMD terror weapons for strategic use in New York, London, Washington, and against other selected “crusader” targets in the West.
Israel can bring great and unparalleled beauty into the world, but only if the so-called “community of nations” can first understand the following: Israel is the canary in the mine; it is the civilized world’s first line of defense against the Jihadist flood of medieval barbarism and voluptuous carnage. To continue to believe that suicide bombers and suicide states somehow have a proper place in our world would only represent the last nail in our collective global coffin.
Copyright © The Jewish Press, February 6, 2009. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters. His work is well known in Israel’s political, military and intelligence communities, and to these same communities in the United States. Professor Beres was Chair of “Project Daniel,” and is the author of ten major books on international relations and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.