One of the unique characteristics of our national security policy is the limitations Israel assumed upon itself with regards to the use of force and its decision to adhere to a restrained line in its response to threats of extermination.
It is clear that the threats hurled at us frequently by Iran’s leaders and their emissaries (Hamas, Hizbullah, etc.) are no less than a call – or pledge – for genocide. Some of them deny the Holocaust, yet at the same time justify their war against us by claiming that Israel was forced upon the region by those who perpetrated the Holocaust – and this entire twisted argument is meant to pave the way for the holocaust that would befall Israel.
The world hears the voices and sees the deeds, yet aside from a few (but important) friends it watches idly and adopts a complacent attitude. In fact, predictions regarding Israel’s possible demise are becoming increasingly fashionable among some elements worldwide: Within governments, at university campuses, and in intellectual magazines. Apocalyptic terms have gained a foothold even in Israel.
Those who address Israel’s prospects of survivability from the outside include some who wish to see Israel disappear and work to bring this about, and those who would rejoice at our downfall. There is a reason why the BBC’s latest global survey revealed that Israel is almost the most hated country in the world.
Against this backdrop of risks and solitude, Israel’s quiet policy is prominent. When Shimon Peres responded, about two years ago, to Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map by saying, in a rather incidental manner, that Iran too can be ruined, senior defense officials were quick to distance themselves from the words. When Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Iran, about two weeks ago, that if it attacks us it will bring ruin upon itself, senior political officials were quick to distance themselves from his statement.
In the face of the threats, which are as blatant and violent as can possibly be, Israel has adopted a quiet and restrain declarative line according to any criteria. Anyone who deviates from this line is immediately called to order.
Israel more restrained than any democracy
Yet this policy goes unnoticed by foreigners. Professor George Steiner, for example, slammed Israel several years ago for betraying Judaism’s universal values, while claiming that Jews in the Diaspora are able to maintain their moral values. Steiner’s baseless claim was refuted on the spot: He was reminded of Fritz Haber, who in World War I worked in Germany to advance the development and use of chemical weapons, Chaim Weizmann in Britain, who contributed to upgrading the arms of his host country, and Robert Oppenheimer in World War II America, who was among those who promoted the development and utilization of nuclear weapons. How can they be compared to the “thuggery” at the roadblocks that so bothered the Jewish intellectual?
Steiner and those like him miss the tragic element regarding the state of the Jews. Israel is the only country in the world that sees other countries calling, either bluntly or meekly, for wiping it off the map. Not only do he and his colleagues fail to recognize this, they also fail to note that Israel is actually the one that adopts limitations and restraint on using its defensive force, and even on addressing it, more than any other defensive democracy. Perhaps it does so precisely because of its moral heritage and Jewish values.
However, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we are permitted to – and in fact, obligated to – make it clear to others that there will be no situation whereby the State of Israel will be harmed without those who perpetrate this, including their collaborators, paying the full price for it. The decree “Never Again” does not only mean that no longer will we be defenseless, but also that those who harm us will not be spared.
Peres and Ben-Eliezer made it clear - and they were telling the truth. Recognizing this would ensure the realization of the “Never Again” decree’s original meaning – there will no longer be anyone who will dare rise against us.