For Israel, Not Winning is Losing

by Nave Dromi, JEWISH PRESS

Israel’s unwillingness to defeat its enemies invites further aggression.

The late Senator John McCain once said: “When you’re not winning, you’re losing.”

Israel has won a lot of wars in its relatively brief history, but the last outright victory came almost half a century ago, in 1973 when it rebounded from early losses to defeat its Arab neighbors who, for the third time in 25 years, had tried to annihilate the Jewish State.

Arguably since that time, and especially in recent decades, Israel has shown little appetite for military battleground victories.

Thankfully, the recent conflagration on Israel’s northern border with the infiltration of Hezbollah fighters ended well for Israel because of the alertness and professionalism of the IDF soldiers who patrol the border. However, this brazen attack across our border, not far from our civilian communities, demonstrates that far from feeling defeated, many of Israel’s current enemies feel emboldened and undeterred.

Many of Israel’s current enemies feel emboldened and undeterred.

It should be remembered that Hezbollah is not just another terrorist organization, but a group involved in state capture. The Iran-backed Shiite organization is pretty much in full control of our neighbor, Lebanon, to our north.

It controls the leadership, the government and even the army.

Those who stand up against it, or even those who Hezbollah leaders deem threatening to their iron grip, are dealt with harshly, as recent demonstrators against the economic hardships in Lebanon could attest to.

Moreover, Hezbollah has an arsenal to rival most armies in the world. They reportedly have at a conservative estimate around 14,000 Zelzal-2 rockets, which have a range of up to 200 kilometers, and between 100,000 and 150,000 non-precision rockets. This is without the Fateh-110 and the Scud-B/C missiles which can pretty much cover every inch of territory in Israel, something that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has boasted openly about of late.

To put into perspective, Hamas has a stockpile of between 5,000 and 20,000 mostly short-range rockets.

However, our enemies to the north have seen how Israel deals with Hamas, an organization massively dwarfed in strategic threat to it. They see how Israel is unwilling or unable to defeat the Gaza-based terror group.

They pay close attention to how Hamas launches rocket after rocket, whenever it chooses, at Israel, with seeming immunity and impunity. They are witness to the fact that Israel rarely goes beyond bombing a few empty buildings in response, and then rushes with seemingly indecent haste to sue for a ceasefire.

Hezbollah officials are probably amused, or at the very least, astonished, when Israel allows another enemy, Qatar, to bring tens of millions of dollars in suitcases to replenish Hamas’ coffers whenever it pleases, with the acquiescence of the government.

All of this means one simple but salient fact: Israel has lost its deterrence. Not in some theoretical or academic way, but in a very real sense. Its unwillingness to defeat its enemies has become its greatest weakness, and in this part of the world weakness is pounced upon.

Israel is militarily strong, but unwilling to inflict severe losses on its enemies.

Hezbollah, and its paymasters in Tehran, see an Israel that is militarily strong with the heaviest weaponry in the region and beyond. They know that Israel has the capability and capacity to inflict severe losses on its enemies. The recent “mysterious” explosions in Iran, and the targeting of Iranian and Hezbollah installations and operatives in Syria, are partly a testament to that.

It used to be said that Israel required a strategic edge to survive in the Middle East, and that is why it invested in the greatest armory and technology. Nevertheless, none of this is the slightest bit relevant if there is never any will to use it.

To change the current paradigm, Israel must regain a semblance of deterrence.

To do this, it must start remembering how to win again. Of course, some will say, defeating terrorist organizations is not the same as defeating regular armies or other nations.

However, Hamas and Hezbollah are both essentially if not actually in charge of the territories they reside in. They have pressure points like all rulers and those who govern territory.

Moreover, the idea that terrorist organizations cannot be defeated is also outdated. Just ask the Islamic State in Iraq and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, both of whom were defeated and destroyed.

Israel cannot afford constant small-scale attacks from Lebanon like those we have witnessed with alarming regularity from Gaza all of these years. If the situation deteriorates, and more citizens have to live under the daily threat of attacks, with everything that means economically, socially and nationally, it could become the dreaded death of a thousand cuts.

Israel needs to change its mindset, or better still, return to its former approach, which saw it defeat its enemies so they could not raise their head again against it. We must be allowed to use our obvious military, economic and diplomatic strengths to secure a victory against those whose raison d’être is to destroy the State of Israel.

This of course might seem far-fetched to the average Israeli citizen, but the fact that it remains the goal of our enemies means that they are not being dissuaded or deterred from this dream, making them perpetually dangerous.

The situation will exponentially deteriorate the longer their dream lives on and Israel continues to display weakness. The only way to stop it is by returning to a victory mentality, because as Senator McCain said, if we are not winning, we are in fact, losing.

Nave Dromi is director of the Middle East Forum’s office in Israel and head of the Israel Victory Project.

July 30, 2020 | 2 Comments » | 663 views

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2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. Mr. Dromi is 100% correct. History shows that when a country does not win a war, it either loses it or has to refight it again and again. America has lost the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq because it did not win them. Britain lost the war for its American colonies because it could not win it, although in theory it could have kept fighting it. But the British parliament got tired of funding a war in which prospects for victory were poor. In much the same way, the U.S. could have kept fighting the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars indefinitely if the Congress and the American people were willing to support such wars. But they were and are not willing to support the indefinite continuation of these wars without clear prospects of victory in the forseeable future.

    The big difference in Israel’s case, however, is that Israel cannot withdraw from Israel. Israel’s deafeat in its long war with the Arab and Islamic states would lead to its destruction, and immense suffering for its six million plus Jewish inhabitants, most of whom would probably not survive.

    Britain, the U.S. , France and Russia could all concede defeat and withdraw their soldiers from remote colonies or “neo-colonies” without suffering much in the way of ill effects. It might even gain from such defeats, as Britain did when it withdrew from its former North American colonies and saw its trade with the new United States colonies boom, to the great enrichment of British merchants.

  2. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    “The big difference in Israel’s case, however, is that Israel cannot withdraw from Israel.”

    At the moment, Oregon’s despicable governor, Kate Brown, is demanding that the US withdraw from Portland. Israel, meanwhile, IS contemplating withdrawing from much of Judea and Samaria, having already withdrawn from Gaza. There’s no end to appeasement.

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