Israel is receiving much news coverage. Always has. Usually the focus was on Israel’s security as she faced wars and periodic acts of terrorism since her birth on May 14, 1948. The murder of three young Israeli teenagers is the latest cycle of violence between Israel and those determined to defeat the “Zionist enemy.”
As the Jewish community grew in the post-WWI period, a major theme was the importance of military strength and conviction. Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky (1880-1940), founded Revisionist Zionism representing the right wing of Zionism. Having impressive writing skills, he wrote two important articles in 1923 outlining “The Iron Wall” theory of Revisionism. The core of Jabotinsky’s policy was as follows:
We cannot promise any reward either to the Arabs of Palestine or to the Arabs outside of Palestine. A voluntary agreement is unattainable. And so those who regard an accord with the Arabs as an indispensable condition of Zionism must admit to themselves today that this condition cannot be attained and hence that we must give up Zionism. We must either suspend our settlement efforts or continue them without paying attention to the mood of the natives. Settlement can thus develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population, behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down.
Jabotinsky saw no chance of the Arabs agreeing to Jewish statehood, thus Jews had to rely on military force to secure Jewish settlement in Palestine. Critics viewed this as immoral, but Jabotinsky countered: “A sacred truth, whose realization requires the use of force, does not cease thereby to be a sacred truth. This is the basis of our stand toward Arab resistance; and we shall talk of settlement only when they are ready to discuss it.”
The concept of an “Iron Wall” was stark and troubling, but future Israeli leaders on both the political left and right acknowledged the need for a strong military. Immediately after May 14, 1948, an attacking Arab force of Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Iraqis added to the Palestinian Arab fighters engaged in the previous six months of “unofficial fighting” with the Jews. Although David Ben-Gurion unified the Jewish fighting forces to an approximate number of 50,000 soldiers, Jewish military leaders gave Israel a “fifty-fifty” chance of success.
Yitzhak Rabin, future prime minister, remembered the sense of dread among soldiers as they faced the perilous task of defending Israel: “We were frail corks, being used to stop up hundreds of holes in a leaky dam, that a flood of our enemies might be expected at any time to overwhelm and drown us.” The situation remained harrowing because “[t]here were never enough of us, and so many had already been killed. As fast as we stopped one leak, we would be withdrawn and rushed somewhere else to plug another.” But Israel did prevail in the War of Independence as it did in the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, and other conflicts to the present.
As is the case with any nation at war, Israel’s activity was not perfectly righteous and just. However, it is wrong for the mainstream media to apply a double standard to Israel. Commenting years ago on Israel’s alleged failure to meet Western standards in her conflict with Arab enemies, Charles Krauthammer wrote: “Critics simply assume it appropriate to compare Israel with a secure and peaceful America. They ignore the fact that there are two kinds of Western standards and that fairness dictates subjecting Israel to the standard of a Western country at war.”
With the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the BBC reports Hamas warning that “all Israelis are now targets.” As it has done in the past, Israel will proceed with hard decisions, one that will go beyond – in the words of one Israeli spokesman – “some sort of band-aid solution.”
For those dismayed by any possible hint of Jabotinsky-type thinking, the Israeli military response to Hamas will always be punitively excessive. But today’s media angling for a moral equivalence narrative might ponder the probable reaction of citizens and politicians of the United States, Britain, or any other Western nation if they were subjected to hundreds of rocket attacks.