In the secular world, New Year’s Day bears striking similarities to Rosh Hashanah in that both are times of new resolutions, of a determination to make beneficial changes in our lives.
In that spirit, let me offer a much-needed resolution for us as a society: we need to rediscover, reconnect, and newly embrace the resolve that has enabled us to survive, grow and thrive.
I worry that we have lost the thread. The thread is that of our conviction in the justness, rightness and humanness of the Zionist dream and enterprise, and the willingness to act in accordance with that conviction.
Nowadays, we have adopted an accommodative mindset at every turn that smacks of appeasement and fear. In classic diaspora fashion, we worry what the Americans will think and what the Europeans will do.
We have forgotten our history and have replaced that awareness with a craven attitude towards the Palestinians and their benefactors that is rationalized as avoiding violence. We make concessions with no hope of reciprocity, other than the possibly of keeping a lid on things. Even worse, we have rationalized a dual set of laws and values for our own citizens, turning a blind eye to lawlessness whether it involves construction, extortion, or good old-fashioned rioting.
We reached a low point this past June when a desire by young people to honor Jerusalem as the unified capital of the Jewish people in their land by staging a parade of our flag was widely condemned as provocative.
Instead of recognizing that a show of love, determination and resolve would resonate with and impact positively on our own citizens while simultaneously sending a clear message to those who would delegitimize us that we stand strong in our willingness to assert our values and pride, we were asked to stand down so as not to rile Hamas, the PA or maybe the EU?
Why should we have stopped at a flag parade? Why not stop singing our national anthem Hatikvah at public ceremonies, as is being done at some university faculties out of fear of alienating those who see Hatikvah, and a Jewish and democratic Israel as an affront?
There is an enormous and crucial difference between empathy and appeasement. One of the bright spots on the horizon of recapturing resolve is the effort of right-wing Zionist Jews to find common ground with Arab community leaders in order to promote Arab integration into society and their affirmative acceptance of a Jewish state. With that recognition by Arabs – the product of Jewish resolve – we can and should strive for more complete and equitable integration of Arabs into Jewish society.
SADLY, THE clouds continue to cover the occasional rays of sunshine. When Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a meeting in his home with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and ended up providing concessions in the interests of preventing violence, we should be worried. These were unilateral concessions without trade-offs. For example, demanding that the Palestinians purge their school texts of antisemitism would be an important and viable step that would show our resolve to face down the grassroots hatred in Palestinian territories that is clearly being fomented by their leadership. As well, providing unreciprocated concessions is just an invitation for greater hatred and violence that can only be abated with more concessions.
Haven’t we been living in this neighborhood long enough to understand the schoolyard rules?
I see us as the giant who is allowing the elves to tie him down and eviscerate him, rather than assert himself. I believe that such an assertion would be a blessing, not for ourselves, but for those who are seeking to eviscerate us.
One need only take a cursory glance at the larger region we live in to see how humane we are. On our worst days we are far better to our adversaries and others who condemn us than any of our neighbors.
In 2022, we need to shake off the incipient aspects of the Stockholm Syndrome: the assimilation and adoption of the perspective of our enemies. We need to reclaim our full-throated acceptance of the justness of our endeavors.
One of the most exciting initiatives that my organization, Im Tirtzu, has been engaged in for the past few years is the Israel Victory Project. The project is the creation of the Middle East Forum and is based on the simple and compelling conviction that peace with the Palestinians (and by logical extension internal Arab irredentists) will only come when Israel is victorious over the schemes, strategies and agendas of those who oppose it.
Only after defeat will their come the willingness to make an enduring peace. Until then, every concession is tactical, a way station in the larger struggle.
This is the mindset we need to reclaim in 2022. We need to recognize that our victory, produced by our own resolve and determination will be a counter-intuitive victory for our adversaries because the result of peace will be to their great advantage.
The only possible way of securing such a desirable state of affairs is for us to reassert ourselves, to elevate our values to the level that we will not casually cast them aside in the name of an illusory quiet.
Quiet periods in the Middle East accrue interest as future unrest. True quiet will only come with our victory and that victory will only come with the assertion of our resolve.
The writer is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu, a grassroots Zionist organization, and director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org