Israel’s Key National Security Challenge in 2023
by Yoram Ettinger / JNS.org
JNS.org – Israel’s primary national security challenge in 2023 is reinforcing education regarding the 4,000-year-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, and bolstering of the Jewish/Zionist identity (self-determination), vision (the reestablishment of the Jewish state in its homeland) and destiny (the ingathering of exiles).
These core values are currently under threat by a cosmopolitan and post-Zionist worldview—in addition to the anti-Zionist worldview that is dedicated to Israel’s physical destruction—which aims to play down, misrepresent and replace Jewish and Zionist roots and values with multicultural and universal values and institutions.
Post-Zionism considers Jewish/Zionist identity, vision and destiny a major obstacle on the way of advancing its top goal: being embraced by the international community. This worldview also reflects battle fatigue. It refuses to accept the reality of Zionism as a multi-generational uphill marathon; deluding itself that Zionism is a sprint.
Post-Zionism is eager to abdicate the colossal responsibility of being the only Jewish state (e.g., securing physical and spiritual Jewish survival and combating antisemitism).
Moreover, post-Zionism wishes to escape the, supposedly, frustrating reality of an ongoing Jewish/Zionist struggle against clear and present lethal threats in the inherently unpredictable, violent, despotic, intolerant and anti-“infidel” Middle East. It wishes to replace the inconvenient Middle East reality with the convenient make-believe “New Middle East,” which professes cancel-culture, cancel-history and dramatic concessions of Israeli land, the cradle of Jewish history, culture and religion and critical to the country’s national security.
Jewish/Zionist identity, vision and destiny—which represent Judaism as a historic, cultural, linguistic, religious and territorial entity—are not merely intellectual issues. Rather, they are at the foundation of Israel’s national security and spiritual and physical steadfastness. The stronger the Jewish/Zionist identity, the stronger the resolve to defy the military, diplomatic and intellectual challenges facing the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
History-driven identity, vision and sense of destiny are fixed and durable components of national security. On the other hand, political accords are variable and tenuous components of national security in an environment of systematically changing regional and global leadership, policies and relations.
The stronger the resolve and steadfastness of Israel, the more compelling is its contribution—as a force and dollar multiplier—to the US economy and defense, and the more productive is the mutually-beneficial US-Israel two-way street. Bolstered U.S. interests are advanced by bolstered Jewish/Zionist identity, vision and destiny, which inspired the US Founding Fathers.
In the pursuit of bolstered Jewish/Zionist identity, vision and destiny, contemporary leaders of the Jewish state should adhere to the legacy of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father:
“Our commitment to our history is a prerequisite to Israel’s political and military steadfastness in the face of our continued military struggle…. It is impossible to comprehend Jewish history and struggles, if one is not aware of the unique Jewish vision…. Jewish/Hebrew education is the precondition for Jewish unity and attachment to the Land of Israel….
“The Jewish nation is not merely a national and political entity. Since its inception, it has possessed an historic vision [the Ingathering of Jews to their Homeland]…. The very small Jewish nation was able to defy major powers due to its determined spiritual and moral uniqueness…. While the ethnic, cultural and political environment of the Middle East has changed dramatically during the last 4,000 years—since the dawn of the Jewish people—the Jewish people has retained its language and culture, notwithstanding 2,000 years of exile….
“The retention of the unique Jewish national character has served as a magic vitamin, sustaining Jewish survival and independence and the power to withstand threats, challenges and temptations…. The establishment of the State of Israel has not ended the struggle for Jewish uniqueness and destiny…. The Ingathering is our central undertaking; it is a prerequisite to our independence….
“Jewish history did not start upon the 1948 establishment of Israel or the 1897 First Zionist Congress. Jewish history is a 4,000-year-old wealth of values, culture and heroic events, which are based on the Bible and the Land of Israel. It must be shared with the Jewish youth” — Ben Gurion, “Uniqueness and Destiny,” 1951.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.