Photo Credit:
The ink drawn national flag of Israel flying at Um Rashrash (Eilat), Mrch 10, 1949.

Since the beginning of the modern movement for the return of Jewish sovereignty in its ancestral and indigenous homeland, Zionist and then-Israeli leaders have long looked to the West for support and encouragement.  

In many ways, Israel sees itself as Western and it is those values that have guided much of the foundations of Israeli politics, structure, and governance. 

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There is of course much to be said in support of this stance, and I am in no way calling for this attitude to change because it has allowed us to build a robust liberal democracy that has coupled with our Jewish heritage to become, despite the lies and distortions of our detractors, a beacon of light and freedom in our region. 

However, recent events have demonstrated that while there is so much good that comes from the West, there are other areas we should seek to emulate less. 

One of those areas is the way the West treats an enemy or opponent. 

At the moment, the West faces two great challenges.  

The first is the growing threat in Eastern Europe from Russia. We have seen in recent years that Russia has gobbled up territory that was part of the former Soviet Union. 

Firstly, when it invaded Georgia in 2008. Despite only 12 days of outright fighting and limited casualties, the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are still considered occupied by Russia or its proxies, most recently, by the European Court of Human Rights. 

In 2014, seeing the weak response of the West in general and NATO in particular, Russia invaded Crimea and parts of the Dombas. Five years after the invasion, the Ukrainian government has claimed that 7% of its territory remains occupied. 

Seemingly, this is not enough and in recent weeks 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to be deployed to locations in Belarus, western Russia and the Crimean Peninsula. The U.S. has recently estimated that these troops constitute around 70% of what Russia will need for a full invasion of Ukraine and the fall of Kyiv. 

As in previous invasions, the West has issued threats and diplomatic communiques but has shown little stomach for anything else. Some minor troops have been deployed far from the front in Poland and Romania, but with the caveat by President Biden that they will not be involved in any combat. This reaction has seemingly not shaken the Russian appetite whatsoever. 

Coupled with this is the insistence, made most recently by French President Emanual Macron, that there is only a diplomatic solution to this crisis, should not allay any Ukrainian fears. 

While this is being played out, the talks by the P5+1 and Iran are continuing in Vienna in order to return to the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. 

For over a year, talks have restarted, although they are punctuated by Iranian gamesmanship and long delays while the centrifuges continue to spin, with most experts claiming that Iran is only a mere matter of months away from enough uranium for nuclear weapons. 

The talks have continued despite the constant attacks on American and other western troops in Iraq and the Iranian proxies in Yemen attacking western allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

Rather than taking a tougher stance, the U.S. has decided to go in the opposite direction, recently signing several sanctions waivers related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities.  

The United States deputy special envoy for Iran has even stepped down from the American negotiations team in Vienna, reportedly frustrated with the soft stance being taken against Iran in the talks aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear accord. 

These are just two examples of how the West is allowing itself to hurtle towards defeat. 

Russia and the other global western foe China are now forging a strengthened relationship, sensing the West’s weakness. 

Its opponents have recognized that the West has simply forgotten how to win.  

In war, during negotiations, and in diplomatic standoffs. 

Non-western powers have seen the U.S. and its European allies blink first in every single recent global event.  

It is not simply a matter of not winning, they are demonstrating to their opponents that have no interest or stomach to fight. Their opponents now know that even minimal saber-rattling will bring the west in indecent haste to capitulation and concession. Whole swathes of nations have been occupied while the West sits on its hands, and its interests are harmed in our region, yet it keeps on giving. 

It is about time that Israel learns these lessons and remembers how to deal with its enemies and opponents. Unfortunately, since the Oslo Process, Israel has been a party to the Western thinking of capitulation and defeat, even, as in the example of the Disengagement, relying on Western promises of support.  

Israel does not have the luxury of defeat.  

It could not afford it in 1948 when many western powers pressed Zionist leaders into not fighting, nor in 1967, when the west refused to aid the Jewish State, and not in 2022. 

Israel needs to send very strong messages, through action and deed, and not mere threats, that it will not countenance defeat, and will instead return to a victory mentality. 

Perhaps, as well as preserving its own future, an Israel victory will also serve as an example to its Western allies that defeating its opponents can better contribute towards the cause of peace and stability than accepting the diktats of its enemies. 

 

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The writer is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers.