OpinionColumn

Israel’s unity is our secret weapon

We must not allow our political differences to hand our enemies the advantage.

"Faithful and not a [reserve service] refuser," the sign reads at a rally in Tel Aviv in support of the government's judicial reform program, July 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
"Faithful and not a [reserve service] refuser," the sign reads at a rally in Tel Aviv in support of the government's judicial reform program, July 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Karma Feinstein Cohen
Karma Feinstein Cohen
Karma Feinstein Cohen is the executive director of World Herut, a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and a member of the Israel Victory Project.

“Where there is unity, there is always victory,” the famed Latin writer Publilius Syrus wrote.

In much of the world, this statement would likely to be used by politicians or others to rally people around a certain ideology or policy.

In Israel, however, unity is a matter of life or death: Safety or destruction, victory or defeat.

Jewish sovereignty in its ancestral and indigenous homeland was reestablished in 1948 only because Jews—and some non-Jews—stood side-by-side to overcome unimaginable odds and defeat their enemies.

There are numerous stories of haredi rabbis on the battlefield with secular Jews, and Holocaust survivors alongside native-born Jews and those who walked to Israel from Yemen a generation before. Many Arabs and Druze also stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jews of every ideology and color.

This unity brought us victory in 1949, 1967 and 1973. Regardless of what other differences we had, Israelis came together at a time of need.

It has been argued, not without reason, that Israel is currently more divided than we have ever been.

While this may or may not be true, there is no doubt that, for the first time, we are allowing our differences to seep into areas of security and defense. Our enemies are rubbing their hands in glee and anticipation.

Our enemies in Tehran, Beirut, Jenin, Gaza and elsewhere are watching with satisfaction as they hear about IDF soldiers who will not serve and air force pilots who will not fly. They delight in the indications that fractures in Israeli society can and will have an impact on Israel’s basic need to defend itself.

The “impregnable” Israel is showing cracks and our enemies know that this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to exploit them. This could lead to the collapse of the “Iron Wall,” as Ze’ev Jabotinsky once called it.

Those who care deeply about Israel, its people and its future must sound the loudest and most urgent alarm.

The State of Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East, a light of freedom to our neighbors and beyond, a place where the right to demonstrate is rightly sacrosanct.

However, this right should not be taken lightly, because it can be removed entirely, along with the state that bequeaths it, if our enemies’ dreams are fulfilled.

That is why we must ensure that the right to protest does not come at the cost of the freedom and safety of almost 10 million Israeli citizens. We must draw a firm red line between legitimate protests and those that can harm our national security.

To those on the other side of the protest lines, we must say: We see you, we hear your pain, but we ask that you put the good of the country above all.

The majority of Israelis from across the political spectrum are crying out that security and the IDF must be left out of the debate over judicial reform, because if it is not, the country simply will not exist—not as a liberal democracy and not as anything else.

The debates should continue, but they should take place in the Knesset and the president’s residence, on the streets and around our dining room tables. They cannot take place in induction centers, on our bases or within the IDF.

We all know our history. We know how ancient Judea ended. It did not end because we were militarily weak. Only a few short years after the sack and destruction of Jerusalem, a Jewish army almost brought the greatest military force known to man—the Roman legions—to its knees.

Things might have been different if our ancestors had worked together and fought the Romans as one when they first entered our land.

This is not about right or wrong, or left and right. It is about our future and our children’s future. Even if our enemies seem weak, one victory on the battlefield could become the bridgehead to something greater. We have seen worse odds defied right here on our soil.

Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs: We have no place to go.”

Many Israelis are starting to think that with a European passport, the world is their oyster, and the grass is always greener abroad. But the reason it seems that way is that we have a strong Israel. Europe and much of the world was an oppressive and deadly place when the Jews had no place to call home.

If the State of Israel is seen as weak, the position of the Jewish people around the world will be the same.

A strong and victorious Israel is an absolute necessity for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. We cannot let anything stand in the way of this: not political differences or opposition to any particular government.

There will be other policies and other governments, but our unity is our secret weapon that has allowed us to survive and thrive for 75 years.

Brothers and sisters, this is not a slogan and it is non-negotiable.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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