Photo: AFP

The point of no return

The gravest threats we face have nothing to do with Iran, Hezbollah

A man wakes up on his 60th birthday and is overcome by anxiety. The papers are filled with horrific scenarios and threats, while the shadow of the Iranian mushroom cloud hovers above. “Should Iran possess nuclear weapons, Israel will be destroyed within seconds,” says


our ambassador to the US. “We’ll see a second Holocaust,” says our prime minister. Meanwhile, another headline aims to calm us: Anti-radiation medicine is already being developed.


And what about Hezbollah, which keeps on growing stronger in the north? And what about Hamas in the south? Do you already have a secured space that would protect you against the rockets about to fall here? The Syrian rockets, you know, are much heavier and much more dangerous than the ones that landed here so far.


And all of this is just in the security sphere. The skies are getting darker on the diplomatic front as well. Even if there is no rift vis-à-vis the Americans over the Palestinian question, how did we reach a situation where even Jerusalem is considered a “settlement”? And what about the economy? We are in the midst of a global crisis. Layoffs and unemployment are no longer vague fears. In short, as my children say, the situation is rather crappy.


Yet we can paint this picture using wholly different colors. Indeed, Iran is making progress towards a bomb, but it still doesn’t have the bomb, and even then it will not be able to destroy us. The world, headed by the Americans, is “making progress” in grasping the Iranian threat and is working to curb it.


The Sunni Arab world, headed by Egypt, is moving closer to us in a way that seemed inconceivable only years ago, in an effort to jointly counter the Iranian threat, even if this does not stem from love for us, but rather, from fear of Ahmadinejad. The new American president is also a party to this effort and sees an opportunity to end the conflict between Israel and its neighbors.


Hamas and Hezbollah are conducting themselves like two groups that sustained heavy blows. The Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead secured similar results on the deterrence front, and it does not seem that terrorist organizations wish to revert to their previous modus operandi. Even the economic crisis hit us “gently,” relative to the rest of the developed world.


Quiet threats

So what is it – is the situation bad or good? A sober assessment needs to be balanced. Strategic threats do not grow or shrink based on the noise they make. When I utilize my experience in the fields of security, intelligence, politics, and academia, I am convinced that the above-mentioned threats can be handled wisely, and that proper conduct will result in a solution for them.


The truly grave strategic threats are elsewhere. They are “quiet” threats. It’s harder to define them and contend with them, and they are much more dangerous. At the top of the list we find the public’s loss of faith in the political system, dwindling education system in general, and higher education in particular.


Our political establishment is in a constant decline and the number of good people willing to join its ranks keeps on shrinking. This is a snowball that feeds itself. None of the problems mentioned above will be resolved should the political establishment fail to elicit public support instead of public contempt.


On the other hand, all the solutions we found to this day to our security, diplomatic, and defense problems were premised on our advantage in human qualities; the fact we are a people with a tradition and culture of erudition, aspiration for excellence, and respect for knowledge. Yet all this is gradually disappearing.


Israel is the only state in the world where 100% of Jews do not have high school diplomas. The higher education system is facing a collapse that will soon pass the point of no return.


And so, a man wakes up on his 60th birthday and is overcome by anxiety, not because of the point of no return in Iran, but rather, because of the point of no return around here.


פרסום ראשון: 07.30.09, 23:55
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