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Running Out of Time? Israel’s Getting Stronger, Not Weaker

Doomsayers about the State of Israel never run out of material. Since the day it was born and even before that, skeptics about the Jewish state’s viability and long-term survival have been numerous and loud. They have plenty of material. The many grave threats to its security as well as many profound domestic problems shouldn’t be minimized. But amid the continuous chorus of those predicting its demise and saying it is running out of time, there is abundant evidence bolstering the opposite conclusion. Today’s news of the conclusion of a $15 billion natural gas deal between Israel and Jordan is just one such story that undermines the dire narrative that many on the left take as a given.

It can be argued that there is nothing terribly new about close cooperation between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom. Even long before the peace treaty between the two nations in 1994, Israel and Jordan closely cooperated on security issues. In fact, Israel leaped to Jordan’s defense in 1970 when its actions thwarted a Syrian invasion seeking to help a Palestinian uprising against King Hussein. Since then, the Jordanian government has remained tight with the Israelis as it sought to defend itself against radicals. Good relations with Amman are impacted by the widespread hatred for the Jewish state in a country where the majority are Palestinian Arabs rather than King Abdullah’s Bedouin kinsmen. But even though the monarchy must publicly keep its distance from Israel, in practice it remains closely allied to it. So it’s little surprise that with the conclusion of this gas deal, the Jewish state has become Jordan’s chief supplier.

This illustrates some important short-term trends as well as another larger truth about Israel’s future.

The first is that Israel’s energy production has the capability to transform its economy and its relations with at least some of its neighbors. Whereas Jews used to joke about Moses being led to the one spot in the Middle East that had no oil, in recent years the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas and shale oil have rendered that jest obsolete. Israel is not only on its way to energy independence but may soon become a major exporter of fossil fuels.

That means Israel isn’t just the Start-Up Nation commemorated in Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s book about the country’s unique ability to adapt to the high-tech age. The exploitation of its considerable brainpower and culture of innovation as well as its not inconsiderable national resources make it a formidable economy in a world where both are at a premium. While the rest of the Middle East languishes in Third World poverty or merely exploits oil wealth without building a more diverse economy, Israel has become a First World nation in every sense of the word.

Will these developments transform its diplomatic dilemmas?

Not entirely. So long as many people are convinced that Israel has no right to exist or to defend itself, one shouldn’t expect the siege of the Jewish state to end or for its enemies in Europe to pipe down. But only a fool would think that much of Israel’s diplomatic problems are not related to the influence of Arab oil wealth. An Israel that is forced to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism will never be popular in Europe or accepted in the Muslim world. But growing Israeli economic power can ameliorate some of that hostility. The BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) campaign is gaining support especially in Europe. But as is the case with oil exporters, boycotts of natural gas aren’t as easy or cost-free to promote as those of Israeli academics or fruit and vegetables.

That economic ties with Jordan should be growing at the same time as Israel finds itself in a strange bedfellows alliance with Egypt and Saudi Arabia against Hamas and Iran is no surprise. Pragmatic Arab nations know that Israel won’t be destroyed and that Islamist terrorists are as much if not a greater threat to themselves than to the Jews.

The larger point here is that rather than getting weaker as its opponents and critics have consistently predicted, Israel is getting stronger, both economically and militarily. Anyone who thinks the two factors are not linked should remember the decisive role technology in the form of the Iron Dome missile defense system played in determining the outcome of the fighting with Hamas.

This doesn’t entirely cancel out the disadvantage that Israel faces from the ongoing campaign against Israel from pro-Palestinian activists and outright anti-Semites. But when you hear both American officials and left-wing pundits talk about an “unsustainable” status quo that will drag Israel down if it does not make more dangerous concessions to Palestinians who still seek its destruction, remember that this is a line that has been parroted for decades even as the Jewish state became stronger, not weaker. Just as the assumptions about a demographic crisis in which Arabs will outnumber Jews haven’t panned out, conjectures about Israel’s isolation may also prove to be unfounded.

Rather than running out of time to make a peace that will save it, Israel actually has both the strength and the time to wait until a sea change in Palestinian and Arab political culture will make peace possible. While the doomsayers will never be silenced, the belief that time is not on its side is being given the lie by a growing economy and breakthroughs to the Arab world that can’t be negated by Jew hatred.


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5 Responses to “Running Out of Time? Israel’s Getting Stronger, Not Weaker”

  1. STEPHEN PARKER says:

    Tobin, how can you write this without once mentioning the Iranian threat to Israel’s continued existence? How does that happen? How? Are you dismissive of the threat that Iran poses? or merely forgetful? Like forgetting where to get a bialy? I’ll make this as simple as possible for you: Iran already has an arsenal of sophisticated ICBM’s
    Once Iran is allowed to develop a nuclear warhead for its missiles, Israel’s destruction is all but assured. Assured, not because Iran intends to launch nuclear missiles at Israel, but because Iran’s acquisition of deliverable nuclear weapons puts MAD (mutual assured destruction) into play. MAD will deprive Israel of the use of its weapon of last resort, tactically and strategically; each side will know that launching its nuclear missiles will trigger an immediate nuclear counterstrike, obliterating both countries. Israel will then have to defend itself using conventional weapons. The Arab states sworn to Israel’s destruction will be free to assemble massive, well equipped ground armies and huge arsenals of sophisticated missiles. It is not at all clear that Israel’s splendid soldiers, tanks, and air superiority, and its Patriot, David’s Sling and Iron Dome defenses, can withstand ground assaults by hundreds of thousands of Arab troops, and massive, continuous, prolonged missile attacks. Should that happen Israel, more likely than not, will be over run. That is why Israel must, virtually at any cost, must find a way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear warheads. Meanwhile Israel is fortunate that you are not in charge of its defenses.

    • JAMES BILEZIKIAN says:

      Iran will take out Mecca and Medina before it attacks anything else. Why? Israel is not a threat to Iran, Sunni Islam is. The holiest places for the Sunni are Mecca and medina. The Wahhabi control the direction of the Sunni faith and are ensconced in Saudi Arabia and fueled by Saudi oil wealth. Taking out Saudi Arabia accomplishes one more necessity, Oran’s need for a higher oil price, and forcing the lifting of sanctions because of the desperate need the world will be in for energy. This also serves russi’s purpose, iran’s patron, as it drives the price up of the only commodity she can sell in bulk on the world market. Because most of the funding for jihad originates from Saudi Arabia, Russia will gain peace on her southern flanks because radical Islam will be bankrupted. The sunni’s confidence will collapse, and the slaughter of the Shia in Iraq would halt.

      • JAMES BILEZIKIAN says:

        In addition, the Palestinian issue has never been an Iranian issue. It seems that all this bellicose talk by Iran directed toward Israel is a veil behind which they hide their true purposes, the destruction of their hated foe, the Sunni faith, and therefore the heart and muscle of the Sunni faith., Saudi Arabia. The Iranians are the smartest and traditionally the best educated of the Middle East countries. They recognize that Europe’s support of Israel, since its creation has been first out of guilt, and second to appease the Americans. Both have exhausted themselves, which frees Europe to be increasingly ever more pro Palestinian. Iran plays that knowing it is the animus that will give them a free pass to develop their nuclear war fighting ability. They will never attack Israel because of MAD. America has become the largest energy producer in the world and can become the largest energy exporter, as well. Therefore a higher oil price suits her, as well.

  2. EMILE TUBIANA says:

    Dear Mr. Parker,
    I read your comment. The difference between your position and Mr. Tobin’s is simple: Mr. Tobin is an excellent journalist and writer with a great vision. This article expresses a very positive point of view, and gives strength to the Jewish people. Your position is rather negative.

    In this world we need people who think like Mr. Tobin. The writer of these lines was an officer in the army. During WWII several bombs fell around him and he was not touched. Things always happen in a different way than the smartest ones think and keeping a positive attitude can only help.

  3. EMILE TUBIANA says:

    In reference to my previous comment, I would like to add that despite all the advances of Iran, Israel has, besides its great Iron Dome defense system, the capability to destroy any army that would come to challenge it, without using nuclear weapons. If I were an Israeli, I would not worry. We should not forget that Israel actually trained the Iranian army and air force and had several generals in Iran during the time of the Shah.




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