When difficult situations present themselves, do Israel’s supporters head for the hills or hide away on the sidelines, or do they work to comprehend Israel’s predicaments and double down on their goal to articulate perspectives that lead people to better understand the Jewish state?
One hopes that people who identify with the grand goals of the modern State of Israel know in their bones that Israelis are sincere in their desire for peace and democracy, and recognize that Israeli leaders have the toughest job in the world in often-unprecedented situations of moral dilemma, and thus will give Israel the benefit of the doubt.
When Israel is under attack, such people become more determined to speak up for the Jewish state. An old adage is appropriate: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
In a world more and more dominated by fake news, distortive and inflammatory social media Woke prisms, and extreme anti-Western and anti-Israel discourse, to stand up and stand out for Israel is more essential than ever.
It is worth keeping in mind that Israel finds itself, once again, in a unique situation—a strategic and political situation of great promise but also some peril.
On the one hand, Israel’s strategic situation has never been better. It stands at the helm of a new regional strategic alliance for peace and against radical Islamic actors. This is an unprecedented coalition that includes key Sunni states like Egypt, the UAE and (tacitly) the Saudis.
But because of Israel’s successes and because the US seems to be backing away from its traditional allies in the Mideast, bad actors are in rearguard revolt.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is on a hegemonic march to dominate the Middle East. The recalcitrant, rejectionist Palestinian Authority has decided not to board the Abraham Accords peace train and instead allows itself to fade further into the armed-enemy-of-Israel camp. The PA and Hamas celebrate every terrorist murder of Israelis and call for more.
This has spurred a wave of terrorist violence against Israel from among Israeli Arabs, which ranges from extreme vandalism to cutthroat protection rackets to murderous riots to shooting and stabbing attacks.
So yes, Israeli troops and police have escalated their counter-terrorist operations. Sometimes video footage of these operations doesn’t go over well on TV screens in comfortable North American or European salons. And sometimes the security forces go overboard with cringe-worthy violence against Arab non-combatants.
When it comes to the choice between the terrorist threat and the “hasbara” threat—i.e., to suffer Western criticism and lose the support of some observers from afar because Israeli force is unpalatable to these observers—Israeli leaders have no choice but to give priority to the war against the terrorist threat.
Obviously, it would be wonderful to fashion a policy that manages both challenges effectively, but that is easier said than done. So, I say that when Israeli security forces sometimes mismanage the delicate balancing act, they ought to be cut a little slack.
I do not bury my head in the sand or belittle the discomfort that good pro-Israel activists abroad sometimes feel when they watch Israel in action. But it is important for them to know this: Few Israelis will apologize for so-called “heavy-handed” Israeli troop and police tactics.
Not when Israelis are under attack and dozens of horrendous terrorist attacks have been thwarted by Israeli police and IDF troops over the past month. And not when the world automatically blames Israel no matter what.
The death of Shereen Abu Akleh amid a firefight between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli counter-terror forces is a classic case in point. It was labeled “cold-blooded assassination by Israel” before you could blink. As if Israel was a priori the criminal party—facts and situational assessment be damned.
Against such twisted, iniquitous, ugly degradation of Israel, we must fight with conviction in the essential justice of the Zionist cause and the resplendence of Israel.
David M. Weinberg is a senior fellow at The Kohelet Forum and in the research department of Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. The views expressed here are his own. His diplomatic, defense, political, and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at davidmweinberg.com.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.