Why have the Arab world’s repeated efforts to defeat Israel failed so miserably? The answer to this question is complex, but an underlying reason is the Arab narrative and the way it perceives Israel. By forming a twisted image of the Jewish State’s essence, its foes guarantee their failure.
The Arab narrative, and certainly its Palestinian strand, is based on a deeply flawed interpretation. According to this story, there is no significant connection between Israel and Jewish history. In turn, the Jewish State is viewed as a colonialist project imposed on the region by a guilt-ridden world after the Holocaust.
This perception of Israel also dictates the grand strategy employed against it. If Israeli Jews are pressed hard enough through war, economic hardship and terror, they will ultimately break and “go back to where they came from,” the theory goes.
And so, the Arab world initially attempted to eliminate Israel through conventional wars and economic boycotts. When this failed, the efforts focused on different tactics, ranging from rockets to suicide bombings. The latest trend is to surround Israel with missiles in the hopes of eventually overwhelming it.
Many Jews Hail From Mideast
Predictably, all of these attempts did not succeed. This is because the fundamental thinking behind them is flawed. It should come as no surprise that misconceptions and delusions are often a recipe for disaster.
To state the obvious, the Jews have a well-documented historical connection to Israel. Denying this is tantamount to denying basic history. Moreover, the Arab narrative tends to conveniently ignore the fact that about half of Israeli Jews are of Middle Eastern descent.
Their families came to Israel from places like Iraq and Egypt, and are deeply rooted in the Middle East. They are certainly not “foreigners” who recently arrived in the region from the shores of Europe.
Yet beyond the historical link, there are more immediate roots that strongly tie Israelis to their country. Israel’s enemies mostly ignore or fail to grasp these meaningful and powerful connections.
Shaky Connection to Europe
For one thing, Israel has existed for more than 70 years now. Notably, most Israeli Jews were born there, and many have parents or grandparents who were born there. Hence, the attachment to Israel is not just about an elusive past, but just as much about a very tangible present.
Many Israelis feel connected to Israel simply because it is the only home they have ever known. This is where their family and friends live, where their beloved soccer team plays, and where they can head to their favorite beach. They have no desire to move elsewhere and are willing to fight to defend their country.
Moreover, the Arab narrative fails to appreciate the shaky nature of the connection between Israelis and their European “homelands.” Indeed, it should be obvious that most Israelis of European descent have little desire to return, under any circumstances.
Just because one moved to Israel from Russia in the 1930s, for example, does not mean that their grandchild is eager to go back. This is particularly true as most Jews left their birth countries under unpleasant circumstances. Given the history of the 20Th Century, the idea of encouraging a massive return of Jews to Europe is completely detached from reality.
The Folly of BDS
The BDS campaign against Israel is also bound to fail, for partly similar reasons. Israelis will not be getting up and leaving their country because of European pressure or boycotts, just as they did not leave because of Arab aggression.
In fact, BDS is counterproductive, as it ultimately makes Israel stronger. For one thing, the boycott movement and attitudes that enable it make the West less hospitable for Jews. As a result, emigration to Israel from countries like France has gone up. Boosting immigration to the Jewish State hardly seems like a good way to defeat it.
On a deeper level, the BDS campaign reinforces the basic Israeli notion that “the world is against us.” Perceiving the world as an increasingly unfriendly place for Jews will not weaken Israelis’ resolve. On the contrary, it will make them cling to their country even more forcefully.
To sum up, the Arab world tends to think of Israel in a way that is far removed from reality. As a result, the strategies adopted to defeat it are largely ineffective. Happily, more Arabs today are developing a better grasp of Israel and of the benefits of working with it. This outlook will ultimately improve the chances of mitigating the conflict, and help to promote peace.