How can it be? Israel, the most powerful and prosperous nation in the Middle East, finds itself at a loss. Year after year, families throughout the country must run to bomb shelters as Arab terrorists in Gaza launch rockets at our towns and cities.
Just last week, after hearing the dreaded siren indicating a bomb was about to fall in our area, I ran with my family to our bomb shelter room. Thankfully, the bomb landed in a nearby field, but not before my daughter experienced a full fledged panic attack. She still refuses to sleep in her own bed.
At the same time, we have become so accustomed to terrorist incidents on our roads and highways that we simply accept it as an inescapable part of life – as if it’s somehow acceptable for average Israelis to be afraid to drive in many parts of their own country.
Last month, on the second day of Passover, Arab terrorists brutally murdered our neighbors, Rina (15), Maia (20) and Lucy (48) Dee in a drive-by shooting while they were vacationing in the Jordan Valley. Though Israelis were heartbroken, they were not shocked. Tragically, this passes for “normal” in Israel in 2023.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is the most powerful and technologically advanced army in the Middle East, yet the Israeli government repeatedly refuses to take the forceful steps necessary to uproot and destroy the terrorist organizations responsible for the murder of innocent men, women and children.
What is holding Israel back?
Undoubtedly, it is pressure from the United States. The Biden Administration consistently leans on the Israeli government to show “restraint” in the face of terror attacks Americans would never tolerate in their own backyard.
The question, however, remains. Why does Israel consistently bow to pressure from the United States and compromise its citizens’ safety?
In 1948, as people of Israel prepared to declare its independence, the U.S. Department of State led an international campaign to postpone any declaration of Israel’s independence until a UN-sponsored truce could pacify the situation in Palestine. The State Department, staffed largely by antisemites and anti-Zionists, did everything in its power to prevent Jewish statehood.
Israel’s leaders, however, were not intimidated. They declared statehood despite heavy pressure from the United States. The Zionist leaders’ resolve is particularly impressive given the young nation’s military vulnerability. Israel was surrounded by enemy nations that planned to immediately invade and “throw all the Jews into the sea.”
Seventy five years later, Israel is many times more powerful than it was in 1948. Yet even as it grows stronger, its resolve grows weaker.
“The thing that has been is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This is hardly the first crisis of will in Israel’s history. The Books of Joshua and Judges, which describe the nation’s first few centuries in the holy land, offer telling parallels to our present situation.
The Book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s initial entry into the land of Israel. In that early phase, the nation conquered much of the land, but they were unable to conquer it all. “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; the Canaanites were resolved to dwell in that land” (Joshua 17:12).
A very similar verse is found in the Book of Judges, describing the next generation of Israelites: “And Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its towns, nor of Taanach and its towns…” (Judges 1:27).
Superficially, these verses seem to be saying the same thing, but there is a critical difference between them.
When the people of Israel first entered the land of Israel, during the time of Joshua, the verse tells us that they “could not” drive out all of their enemies. But in the Book of Judges, the verse uses slightly different phrasing: they “did not” drive out their enemies.
This subtle word change reflects a significant change in the people of Israel’s psyche.
During the time of Joshua, the Israelites were motivated to conquer the entire land, but they lacked the military strength necessary to defeat their enemies. Some years later, during the time of Judges, the situation was reversed. They possessed the military strength that was necessary, but they no longer possessed the will and resolve necessary to drive out their enemies from the land.
What changed? As the people grew more comfortable in the land, they began to mingle with the pagan nations still living there. The people of Israel settled down, content to farm their fertile plots, raise their families and flocks, and left the process of possession incomplete. The Canaanites continued to dwell among them, their pagan religious and moral systems intact, which gradually corrupted the Israelites.
As time went by, the people of Israel lost the will and ability to fight.
Today, most of Israel’s “tribes” are not interested in fully conquering and settling the land. Many have forgotten their unique identity as Jews and their holy mission outlined in the Bible. They yearn to be a regular nation like any other; their aspirations are not Biblical but rather Western. This shift in mindset comes at a cost, for when the Jewish people forget their unique identity and mission, they lose the resolve needed to defeat their enemies.
Ultimately, the problem lies within ourselves, not with the Arab terrorists. It is not their strength that overpowers us, but our lack of will. In 1948, Israel had the necessary resolve but lacked the military strength to defeat its enemies. Today, the situation is the opposite. We have the necessary strength, but we’ve lost our will to use it.
To regain the resolve we need to ignore American pressure and protect our people, there is only one way forward. We must educate the people of Israel about their chosenness and holy mission. We must teach them that God gave us this land – and that we have nothing to apologize for! The Bible, thousands of years of history and fairness and justice demand that Israel claim its rightful inheritance.
We must inspire our people with faith. They must learn that the people of Israel are not meant to follow the normal rules of nations. We are the people of miracles, the people who not long ago defied all logic during the miraculous Six-Day War. God’s people must follow God’s will – even if it defies conventional wisdom or international pressure.
We are the problem. But with renewed faith, we will also be the solution. May that day soon come.