Israel’s war is an important wake-up call.
This war is about recognizing that we are fighting an everlasting enemy in a conflict with no acceptable outcome other than that enemy’s defeat.
We must finally recognize, however despairing and painful it feels, that we have been at war without calling it a war. It has been a war since the beginning. A war with an enemy that will never give up fighting until it achieves its goal of destroying us. This enemy is legion and quite open about its intentions.
To speak of revenge, however, is a mistake. This is not about revenge. It must not be about revenge, however sweet revenge might feel. Let’s not allow the world to call our response revenge. Revenge is contrary to who we are. Many of us have even forgiven the nation that committed the Holocaust.
This is self-defense, and that defense must go all the way. This is about existential survival. This is a war with an enemy with whom no peace can be made. Thus, only total success, the total eradication of the enemy, will do.
This war is not caused by a conflict over land. It is over our enemies’ deeply embedded belief that we, the Jews, and the State of Israel are a primordial enemy that threatens our enemies’ religious identity and dogma. The religious identity of radical Islamists.
This hatred is faith-based, and for good or ill, faith is powerful. It is as deeply ingrained as Nazi ideology once was, and now we see that it is just as vicious and evil in its quest for annihilation.
Perhaps now we can accept that we are at war for real because we are not alone anymore. Others have suffered and will keep suffering from this radical Islamism, from Europe and Asia to Africa and Muslim countries. They may side with us not because they love us—though some really do, God bless them—but because it is in their interests for us to win.
I believe it must be the Muslim world that will finally have the courage to contain these forces of evil. It would help greatly if the Western world finally understood that Zionism is not apartheid, colonialism, or anti-Palestinianism, and accepted that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Most especially, it would be a major step forward if the Palestinians understood that they are being used as pawns against their own well-being.
Facing an implacable and relentless enemy is frightening, but for the Jews, it can also be liberating. We can now stop blaming ourselves and attacking each other. We can stop believing reassuring fallacies: “If we could just do a bit better, give more, show more understanding, be less selfish, be less messianic, we would have peace.”
Let’s not waste time squabbling over what the media calls them: militants or terrorists. Suffice it to say, they are an enemy intent on eradicating us.
We must win in our usual moral way, but not at the expense of our youth. We must do it with creativity and exactitude, and by reaching out to those in the Muslim world who are against terror. Not all Gazans or Muslims are radical fundamentalists focused on eliminating Israel. The Abraham Accords and their possible expansion have shown that change is possible.
We can never again allow ourselves to telegraph our divisions and disunity as we recently have. We permitted ourselves to imagine that we lived in a secure bubble, in which we could throw self-righteous spite at each other. We were oblivious to the fact that we inhabit a glass house that can be easily shattered. We forgot that we are a miracle. We took this miracle for granted. Our success made us arrogant and self-righteous.
The war has come to wake us up from our drunken trance, from the blind hatred towards each other in which we indulged. The wake-up call arrived to help us reunite, to be a cohesive people again. The unification is not total, but we have a long way ahead of us, and thus time to complete the work. The quicker we answer the call, the less trauma we will suffer.