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by James Lewis


Islam sees history playing out in centuries of bloody warfare until all infidels are converted. Modern cultures dream of a permanent peace among sensible peoples. Both dreams are fictitious, but jihadi Muslims are much readier to die and kill for their cause. Even innocent killings are justified, for "Allah will know his own." As for killer-martyrs, they are glorified on earth and in Paradise. What a terrific deal!

Israel is different. Like much of Christianity, Rabbinical Judaism is heir to a fervent search for peace. The social democrats who founded the State of Israel wanted a safe haven for the persecuted Jews of Europe, but always one that lived in permanent peace with its neighbors. Socialist utopianism still inspires the Labor Party, which is why Israel just pulled its punches in the Hezbollah War.

For many Israelis the Hezbo War was the last straw in shattering their dream of permanent safety and peace. Israelis who spent their lives hoping to be "normal" -- the way Europeans and Americans think of "normal" -- were forced to see that their lives and the lives of their loved ones would never be assured. Constant and exhausting warfare seems inevitable.

There is a current of despair running through Israel today, which is greatly overwrought. Israel has always been able to adapt to formidable challenges. Modern nations can achieve years of prosperity and peace, as long as they stay strong and ready to confront danger and sacrifice. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, after some black moments of near defeat. As for Syria, it talks tough but is not going to open hostilities. Thus Israel has in fact succeeded in pacifying three major enemies. Israel's economy is stronger than ever before, even with the severe cost of the war. What we are seeing therefore is low-level, dispiriting warfare from Hamas and Hezbollah, with the specter of Mullah Strangelove -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- hovering behind it all.

In fact, the dream of permanent peace is delusional in Europe and America as well. This is obvious when we look at social democratic Europe, living in denial of terrorist jihadis constantly increasing their numbers in London, Paris and Berlin. Europeans can't decide what to do, if anything, in a suicidal paralysis of will. Instead, apparently sane people see the perverse and corrupt United Nations as the one last hope of humanity. They can see no other choice.

But there is an obvious choice: It is for civilized nations to keep a strong military and cultural edge over their reactionary challengers, like Khomeinist Iran and Saudi Arabia. Civilized morality is very important, but not as important as sheer survival. Yet military strength seems more frightening than the dream of permanent peace. In a nuclear age, it means risking potential destruction to preserve an armed standoff. And yet nuclear weapons do keep the peace among rational nations.

There is in fact a clear way forward for Israel and the civilized world, but it will be difficult to achieve. It is to deal with the strategic challenge of the Khomeini cult in Iran, and thereby defang its surrogates, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the Hezbo War, Israel flinched from that challenge. The reasons are obvious. In terms of population, Iran's seventy million is far out of proportion to Israel's five million Jews. In terms of fanaticism and willingness to kill and die, the Khomeini cult has no equivalent in the civilized world at all. Yet Israel is technologically far ahead of Iran, for all its oil wealth. Its armed forces are formidable, even given its commitment to avoiding civilian casualties among its enemies. Its nuclear arsenal is said to amount to 200 bombs, mountable on missiles, jets and submarines.

The jihadi advantage is largely psychological so far; it all goes back to Israel's fervent wish for a permanent peace, an end to all the trouble, forever and ever, amen. Muslims dwell under no such illusion. Just as Britain cannot rid itself of 1200 known terrorists because they can claim legal asylum, Israel is unwilling to simply invade Gaza, the West Bank and southern Lebanon, and tell their populations to pack up and leave. That would be "ethnic cleansing," a loudly declared sin during the Clinton years.

Morally flexible as always, the Left has now decided that ethnic cleansing is a very good solution for the very existence of Israel. However, Israel will not agree.

It is not a pleasant thing to contemplate, but the time may come when Israel will feel compelled to move enemy populations out of the neighboring territories. That will not happen until a deep re-evaluation takes place. It will not happen until Europe and America are too scared and preoccupied by the jihadist threat to care. But for sane and rational leaders, it is a sensible long-term goal. Neutralizing jihadi populations will not lead to an everlasting peace, but it is a rational option for the future. It may purchase some safety and security for a period of years. That is all any nation can hope for.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor to the American Thinker. This appeared August 15, 2006 in The American Thinker


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