Fifty Years Ago, Israel Saved Western Civilization In The Middle East

Fifty Years Ago, Israel Saved Western Civilization In The Middle East

If we think that region is chaotic now, imagine if there were not a state like Israel to mitigate the barbarism that repeatedly emanates from it.
Paul Bonicelli
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This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, when the state of Israel defeated three Arab armies determined to destroy the Jewish state in a second Holocaust. Notwithstanding all the might the Arabs could muster (supplied by the Soviet Union), Israel saved itself from annihilation and liberated the holy city of Jerusalem from Jordan’s oppressive rule of Judaism’s holiest sites.

But more than that, we should reflect on the fact that in preserving itself Israel also preserved Western Civilization in the Middle East. If we think that region is chaotic now, causing constant suffering for the people who live there and increasing the risk of regional or global war, imagine what it would be like if there were not a state like Israel with the might, economy, and political culture to mitigate the horrors of barbarism that repeatedly emanate from it.

It is no small thing that during the Cold War Soviet arms were left in burning heaps on the battlefield, a blow to Communism’s prestige that foreshadowed its doom. You don’t have to believe in miracles or Providence to grasp how important it is for civilization that the state of Israel persists to this day.

Israel Is a Singular Bright Light

Israel is a constitutional democracy; it regularly holds elections for office-holders who make the laws and execute them. Jews, Arabs, Druze, and others sit in its parliament and hold other offices. Israeli law is adjudicated by impartial judges who try and sometimes convict Israeli Jews for human rights abuses against Arabs when warranted. Free speech and protest are protected. The economy has moved from a socialist model to a market economy that is thriving and employs all stripes of Israeli citizens as well as non-citizen Arabs. This all while enduring intifadas, terrorism, hostility in international fora, and until recently the threat of renewed war from its neighbors.

Israel is not perfect; no nation-state is. But it is far closer to perfect than what surrounds it. What surrounds it are failed states, oppressive dictatorships, terror states, terror-exporting states, and rigid oriental despotisms. These all contribute to instability in the region and the world while Israel contributes stability, economic growth, and most importantly restraint by quietly working with the United States and regional governments to combat terrorism and Iran’s expansionist moves.

The persistence has not been without a heavy price for Israelis. Defeating the Arab armies in 1967 and reuniting Jerusalem, restoring religious freedom for all faiths, are great goods to be celebrated. Nevertheless, because the Palestinian Arabs will not accept the existence of Israel and neither will all but two of the Arab nation-states surrounding it, Israel must play the role of occupier of territories filled with an Arab population, the majority of which want to destroy it.

Nevertheless, She Persists

The euphoria that swept Israel after its victory in 1967 gradually turned to ambivalence over what they achieved. Barbaric states glory in subjugating others—witness the way minorities are treated in the region. But free societies chafe at the burden of overlording others; free societies are not made for this work.

That is why Israel has always, even before the final battle was over in each of its wars with the Arabs, been planning for peace by preparing to withdraw from territory it rightly won in battle against aggressors. In the last two decades it has twice proposed withdrawing from 97 percent of the territory it occupies in exchange simply for recognition of its right to exist and security guarantees. But its offers have been rejected as often as they have been made. In fact, the position of its enemies has never changed since 1948: Israel must be wiped from the map and all Jews driven into the sea.

So here is a nation-state that has repeatedly proved magnanimous in victory, with the patience of Job, but in return it gets only hostility and existential threat. Because of its political culture, economic might, and wise statecraft, it has all it needs to win the next war, yet it does not want a next war. It wants only peace and harmony with its neighbors so it can share with them the fruits of its culture—born of Western Civilization—and all the prosperity and human flourishing that flow from it.

So she does persist, because the only other option is national suicide were it to accede to its enemies’ demands (and acceding to United Nations’ demands would simply slow-walk its enemies’ demands). It is in the interests of the United States and all civilized nations to support her, help her find a way to peace, and above all stop attacking the only thing in the Middle East that can improve life there.

Paul Bonicelli serves as director of programs at the Acton Institute. His career includes a presidential appointment with Senate confirmation as assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development; as a professional staff member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives; and as an official delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

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