Israeli leaders, both political and military, are notorious for publicly musing about whether or not the enemies of Israel are deterred from attacking. In so doing, they betray the faulty cognition situating their focus on the wrong side of the divide.
The Israeli leadership should not give a fig about whether Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Syrians are deterred from assaulting the Jewish State; instead, the leaders should concentrate solely on whether or not they themselves are determined to defend their people, land, faith, and way of life.
Those who do not practice self-restraint only see it as weakness in others. In the Middle East, restraint is an invitation the State of Israel cannot afford to extend. When it does, soldiers and civilians alike pay a high price in blood. If there is determination inside Israel’s borders, there will be deterrence outside its borders.
Is the IDF prepared to methodically eliminate Hezbollah from Lebanon once and for all? Is it committed to uprooting Hamas from the Gaza Strip, irrespective of the inevitable UN resolutions and timetables? Are the IAF and elite commandos ready, willing, and able to put an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, regardless of the mood in faraway Washington?
In recent memory alone, neither has Iran been deterred from pursuing nuclear bombs, nor Hezbollah from amassing Katyusha missiles and drones and launching both at whim into the Galilee and beyond, nor Hamas and Islamic Jihad from firing Kassam and Grad rockets into the Negev, nor the Muslim Brotherhood from threatening to annul the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, nor Syria from spilling their civil war into the Golan Heights. Why should any of them be deterred when their routine trespasses are met with impunity?
Israel loves peace, it just doesn’t love peace enough. If it did, it would have long ago put an end to the terrorist armies perched on its borders, acting with decisiveness and finality to do the job right and to get the job done. It would respect itself, and thereby command the respect of others. Only then would peace prevail among mortal foes.
If there has been no deterrence, it is because there has been no determination: these are two sides of the same shekel. An armed force is utterly useless if it remains idle in the face of ongoing dangers. The strongest military in the region must fulfill its duties and exercise its capabilities. Ultimately, it will be Israel – and only Israel – that decides whether or not the Jewish State survives.
Brandon Marlon is a Canadian-Israeli playwright and poet, and author of Inspirations of Israel: Poetry for a Land and People, and Judean Dreams.