In Defense of Israel
The fundamental reason for supporting Israel is a simple one. All great peoples deserve to have their own nation-state. One of the most extraordinary stories in world history is the Jewish people’s story. The impact of Jews in human history is, quite literally, incalculable. As the historian Paul Johnson noted in his History of the Jews, the distinct brilliance of the Jewish people lies in being the first to articulate profound concepts, such as the notions of legal equality, the sanctity of life, individual conscience, and the pursuit of peace.
As the Catholic novelist Louis de Wohl wrote, “All the same if they didn’t exist, something would be lacking. Something very important, I think. Maybe the world could do without the Syrians— or without the Sarmatians — or without the Ethiopians —I don’t know. It would be difficult without the Greeks, I suppose. But it would be impossible without the Jews.” As such, the absence of Jewish influence would have left a notable vacuum in the story of Salvation and Civilization. Standing before such a long history, at a minimum, one would have to respect the Jewish people and, in my view, favor the existence and well-being of a Jewish state.
Regardless, throughout their long history, they have been persecuted and attacked. Antisemitism is one of the oldest evils recorded. As the writer Douglas Murray has explained,
“Anti-Semitism can never be fully explained for the same reason it cannot ever be fully defeated. Because it is a shape-shifter. It is a virus that endlessly mutates, taking advantage of the environment, locale, host, events, and more. To survey the number of its ostensible causes is to survey accusations that themselves encompass everything. At times in their history, Jews have been hated for their religion. In other periods, they have been hated for their race. In our own time, they are most acceptably attacked for their state.”
As such, there will always be a tendency for large portions of the world to hate the Jews, from the times of the Pharaohs to the treasonous intellectuals and foolish protestors of today who support Jihadist movements for unintelligible reasons. It is a never-ending virus because its root is sin and fallen human nature.
Nevertheless, as Murray notes above, in modern times, the evil of antisemitism has organized itself around hatred toward the state of Israel. Proof of the matter is the history, including immediately after the establishment of the Jewish state, of Arab nations and terrorist groups seeking to destroy Israel to this day. Israel has, since its founding, lived in a state of perpetual insecurity and constant wars or threats of war. It is essential also to note that Israel has always sought and aspired to peace with its neighbors. For instance, those were the cases of peace with Egypt, Jordan, and the Abraham Accords.
In other words, the historical record demonstrates that the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Islamic world has always been on the side of Islam and not on Israel. The most strident and shocking example is when the Arab League declared its infamous three no’s, “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.” Mercifully, eventually, peace managed to prevail, slowly, between Israel and many Arab nations.
One should ask, why so much hostility in the Islamic world towards Israel? The reason is that there is a history in the Islamic world of Jihad. This history must be studied and understood so one can understand, in part, the hostility of Jihadists against the West and Israel. The historian Raymond Ibrahim has demonstrated in detail that Jihad is the ideology that calls Islam to holy war against that which is outside the tribe (i.e., not Islamic). As Ibrahim shows, there is a long history of Jihad against Western Civilization. For his part, the historian Hilaire Belloc made an essential point about Jihadist Islam a century ago, “it very nearly destroyed us. It kept up the battle against Christendom actively for a thousand years, and the story is by no means over; the power of Islam may at any moment re-arise.”
Islam, then, has a Jihadist tradition that for millennia has dreamt of destroying Western Civilization. This Jihadist impulse is kept in check by secular rulers in the Islamic world, which is one reason to be very wary of regime change in that region. Occasionally, Jihadism rears its evil head, such as in 9/11, and most recently, the October 7 massacres against Israelis. As Ibrahim has shown, this Jihadist view has a zeal for conquering. In its ideology, it believes that lands that once belonged to Islam (such as Spain or the Holy Land) must be retaken for Islam. For that reason, Jihadists wage constant, unceasing war against the West. It is no coincidence that Outremer, the Crusader States, were re-conquered by Islam after two centuries, and then the Turks proceeded to conquer Byzantium.
Additionally, the historian Robert Spencer has shown that this Jihadist ideology remains alive and well amongst many Islamic movements, even amongst Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which misgovern the Arab-Palestinian territories. Understanding the psychology of Jihad goes a long way in explaining the psychology of why all attempts at negotiation and peace with Arab-Palestinians have consistently failed.
Now, history has clearly demonstrated that the Jewish people need a state of their own so that they can have security and a place of refuge when needed. Israel, for example, was sorely needed to prevent greater tragedies for Jews during the pogroms and the Holocaust. It is simply entirely unacceptable that so many young Americans do not know enough history (especially about the Holocaust) to understand why Israel is needed and why it is a good and decent nation. History has also shown the fact that Jihadism is violent, aggressive, and expansionist. In international relations, as a rule, only strength preserves peace amongst nations and maintains security. In a region as volatile and unstable as the Middle East—especially with Jihadist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and the remnants of ISIS, among many others—deterrence and overwhelming military strength is the only way for Israel to remain secure and at peace.
Jihadism will, if allowed, continue to wage aggressive war against the state of Israel until it is vanquished and destroyed. As has been noted so often before, those chants of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are only a thinly veiled call for a new genocide against the Jewish people. In addition, Israel is, after all, a Western nation. For that reason, it will be despised and hated by Jihadism and all the rest of the West’s enemies. It is no coincidence that Hamas, following its Jihadist logic, continued attacking Israel until eventually launching the October 7 attacks. The central fact about the Israel-Hamas War that must be remembered, which Leftists and progressives try to eliminate from the debate, is that it was Hamas that began the war (per its Jihadist ideology).
The military historian Victor Davis Hanson has illustrated in his works that wars sometimes have specific psychological underpinnings that lead to constant conflict as long as they remain unresolved. Hanson uses France and Germany until the Second World War as examples of Spart and Thebes. When one side prevails in such an absolute manner over the other so that the losing side deeply understands their psychology, they are beaten when that state of conflict ends. As such, Israel cannot afford to show weakness. It must wage war against Hamas in such a fashion that it achieves the unconditional surrender of Hamas.
In any event, Israel must proceed with caution after the war so as not to make the mistakes other powers make when fighting similar wars (such as the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan). Richard Goldberg, over at Commentary Magazine, lists five things that must not happen so that Israel’s victory is complete and it is secure once again. As Goldberg notes, “Hamas should not be present in any form. Israel should not withdraw its forces. Qatar and Turkey should not be involved. The PA should not be in charge. UNRWA and other Hamas-enabling agencies should not play a role.” Hopefully, the war ends soon with absolute Israeli victory, and ideally, from the ruins of Hamas, an enduring peace can be built. In short, as always, I stand with Israel.