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The October War of 1973 was the last Arab-Israeli war, regardless of the truth or falsehood that lies in that phrase. After that, there were no more Arab-Israeli wars for half a century ago. Instead, there was an atmosphere of coexistence and normalization. We have witnessed that all of the wars waged by Israel after that war targeted non-state military forces. That includes the PLO, then Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who are already under occupation.
Despite the end of state wars, and even with the peace treaty with Egypt and the collapse of the Mashriq, Israel lives in chronic existential anxiety. This state uses that anxiety to create new and indirect sources of threat.
The demographic danger comes atop the list of these sources. The demographic overbalance in the entire land of historic Palestine, between Jews and Palestinians, favours the Palestinians. Such a thing threatens the Jewish plurality of Israel and its democratic system. Israel’s problem here is not being able to do anything about this danger. What can its missiles, tanks, and fighter jets do in this regard? That threat weighs more when we know that the waves of Jewish immigration to Israel subsided compared to the 1990s. At that time, Israel received about a million immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union. Moreover, it has become impossible to deport or displace the Palestinians.
Israel started talking recently about the new danger of delegitimization. It does not deliberately distinguish between attempts to delegitimize it as a state or an occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Such an approach is an attempt to entice the West to sympathize with it. It is also a way to impose its dictates in the settlement process on the Palestinians.
Moreover, a new factor of pressure on Israel has recently emerged. That factor is the emergence of international civil society networks, which are now controlling public opinion. Thanks to technological developments in the media and IT, the governments and monopolies’ control over the media sphere has diminished.
Prompted by these developments, solidarity movements with the Palestinians expanded. The reality of Israel as a colonial, racist and religious state became more exposed to the world. We have witnessed that impact on Israel, with the effects of the Goldstone report about Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. We saw that also in the resolution of the ICJ in The Hague in 2004 regarding the illegality of the separation wall, in addition to the world’s sympathy with the Palestinians of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem recently, and solidarity with our people in Jerusalem in rejecting Israel’s violation of their rights and condemning everything related to Israel’s colonial, settler and oppressive practices against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Israel is very concerned with this path. It has made its way vigorously since the first popular intifada (1987-1993), which stirred the global conscience, presented the just Palestinian narrative as it was, and led to exposing the colonial and racist Israel for what it is. All in all, this peaceful uprising stripped Israel’s victim image, the image that Israel loves. Israel even considered this a strategic threat, especially as it feared that it would lead to the same fate as the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Israel’s dilemma is that it cannot do anything about this challenge. Here, there is no army, military operations, nor governments. There is no specific geographical region nor distinct enemy. Only human groups spread out in all societies all over the world. There are no pressures on them, interests to be threatened by, nor restrictions on them. They operate through the media, and only the moral conscience moves them.
These groups are distinct by their awareness of their role. They work for the supremacy of the values of freedom, justice, and peace, through social media networks.
Finally, with the stormy winds of the Arab revolutions, another challenge arose before Israel. Those revolutions, which sought freedom, dignity, and justice, restored the self-esteem of Arab societies after they had been absent, marginalized, or in a dead state for the past six decades. That did not suit Israel, which insists on presenting itself to the West as the only democratic oasis in the Middle Eastern desert. That explains its fear of the paths of the Arab Spring and its discontent with it. Also, it illustrates why Israel considers the Assad regime (which it knows well) better or more harmless than any other regime, which also explains the reluctance of the United States or its indecisiveness towards the Syrian conflict.
Of course, apart from all of that, Israel faces challenges from within and due to its nature. Including the contradiction between religious and secular, eastern and western, poor and rich, Arabs and Jews, ultra-nationalists and advocates of compromise, and between its Jews and the Jewish communities in the world.
To sum it up, with or without wars, Israel has many problems in a region full of turmoil and changes.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our bloggers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.