At the time of writing my June editorial, the 2021 Israel-Gaza conflict had recently concluded amidst a world-wide surge in antisemitism described by a number of commentators as “unprecedented”.
Of course, for many, the conflict of May 2021 is now very much a thing of the past, with world attention on issues such as Covid, the cultural revolution unfolding in USA, disrupted supply chains and worsening economic conditions.
The open sore that is the Gaza problem will no doubt flare up again. But for those charged with Israel’s security, it is likely the existential threat developing in Iran that demands most attention. The need for a response to the Iranian nuclear programme has only grown in its urgency. As has the sense that Israel must be willing to stand – and act – alone.
2021 has seen a significant change in the USA-Israel dynamic. Gone is the Netanyahu-Trump era that yielded Israel a remarkably friendly White House, the Abraham Accords, and an embassy in Jerusalem. Instead, Israel’s military planners must reckon with a semi-conscious USA commander-in-chief and a regime apparently inclined to restoring the Obama-era approach to the Iranian nuclear programme.
A government may be strongest when its constituents have been brought together by the principles for which they stand, rather than merely political expediencies. Unfortunately, by that measure, it may be difficult to view the present Israeli government as strong. Members of the Bennett-Lapid government appear to have been united primarily by what they were against – Netanyahu. Indeed, the government has brought together remarkably disparate political actors, from nationalist right-wingers to anti-Zionist Arab MKs. Only time will tell how well it can function – and how well its leaders will respond as the window to act against Iran begins to close.
If it is true that Israel has exhausted other options and must act militarily as Iran approaches nuclear arms capability, then it may also be true that in the wake of such action, the term “unprecedented” will once again be used to describe the surge in antisemitism as the world reacts. Israel’s defensive actions, no matter how justified, are frequently portrayed as naked aggression by much of mainstream media, thus stoking the fires of ancient Jew hatred.
I can only hope my analysis will be proven to be wrong.