OpinionJewish & Israeli Holidays

Israel’s unfinished fight for true independence

The struggle continues 76 years on.

Crowds of Israelis wave flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 18, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Crowds of Israelis wave flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 18, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Gedaliah Blum
Gedaliah Blum
Gedaliah Blum is the co-founder of the Heartland Initiative, a platform enhancing global engagement with Israel, and Dapei Katom, which supports family-run businesses in Israel's heartland.

As Israel marks its 76th anniversary, it celebrates its achievements while reflecting on the ongoing challenges it faces. Despite significant progress, Israel must still defend its right to exist and work to secure its future against persistent threats. This duality of celebration and vigilance highlights the ongoing narrative of a nation striving for stability and peace.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been embroiled in conflicts that have shaped its national security policies and deeply influenced its international relations. Initially, these conflicts involved neighboring states and non-state actors directly opposed to its existence. Over time, the scope of these conflicts has expanded, affecting Israel’s relationships with its closest allies, including the United States.

Historically, the U.S. has been one of Israel’s most steadfast allies, providing substantial military aid and diplomatic support. However, recent political and social shifts within the U.S. have led to a more polarized view of Israel, sparking debates over the future of this longstanding partnership. The shift culminated in President Joe Biden’s potential withholding of certain weapons systems intended for Israel, a decision he delayed until his speech commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. This decision has introduced a new level of uncertainty about future support.

These developments necessitate a re-evaluation of Israel’s diplomatic strategies and a focus on strengthening Israel’s independent capabilities. The journey towards lasting peace and security involves not only external enemies but also complex and challenging relationships with traditional allies.

Iran continues to pose a formidable threat to Israel, not only through direct confrontation but also via a network of proxies in strategic locations like Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. These proxies engage in terrorist actions against Israel and play a crucial role in Iran’s strategy to project power in the Middle East. The presence of these groups perpetuates a state of alert and necessitates an unwavering commitment to national defense.

The ideological battle waged by Iran seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state on the global stage. This strategy is evident in various international forums in which Iran’s narrative finds a receptive audience among those predisposed to anti-Israel sentiments.

The relationship between Israel and the United States has become increasingly complex due to political changes within the States, especially concerning military aid and diplomatic support. A vocal minority in America has influenced foreign-policy debates, advocating for a reassessment of the bilateral ties based on criticisms of Israeli policies towards Palestinians and other regional issues.

Despite these challenges, the broader American populace remains supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself and maintain its sovereignty. However, the discrepancy between public sentiment and official policy highlights the vulnerabilities arising from Israel’s reliance on external security assistance.

This underscores the need for Israel to enhance its self-reliance and diversify its strategic partnerships. Strengthening diplomatic engagement and public diplomacy is crucial to navigating these shifting dynamics and prepare for potential fluctuations in U.S. support.

As Israel continues to commemorate its milestones, it does so with the understanding that its fight for independence is far from over. The nation remains steadfast in its commitment to the principles it stands for, despite facing threats that also challenge broader Western liberal values. Israel’s struggle for self-determination and independence is emblematic of a global fight against ideologies that seek to undermine those values.

Supporting Israel in its quest for independence and security is crucial, not only as an act of solidarity but as a strategic imperative for all who value democracy and peace. Israel’s struggle underlines the importance of a collective effort to protect and preserve the foundational values of all free societies.

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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