Israel’s Existential Anxiety & Quest for Peace


In the tumultuous landscape of the Middle East, the state of Israel stands as a fortress founded upon a bedrock of fear. This fear has not only shaped the nation’s identity, but also its approach to security, which pushes the Israeli leadership to take stringent and extreme measures against perceived, potential and real threats.

Israel, despite its formidable military might and technological prowess, remains haunted by the ever-present specter of an existential threat from the day one of its creation.

This paralyzing fear has prevented Israel from capitalizing on crucial historical junctures that could have paved the way for lasting peace and tranquility in the region. Throughout its history, Israel has grappled with the shadow of its own vulnerability — a burden that continues to weigh down its potential for progress.

When, at long last, some Arab nations began to acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy through the Oslo Accords and subsequent diplomatic developments, the opportunity to chart a new course appeared. Yet, Israel faltered in grasping this chance to ensure the safety and well-being of its own people. Instead, it clung to the belief that the Arab world remained militarily inferior, even as Israel solidified its status as a nuclear power. This proved to be a grave miscalculation.

Israel’s reliance on brute force, its consistent perpetration of war crimes, the suppression of the Palestinians, and its ceaseless expansion into new territories have sown the seeds of animosity, revenge, anger, and rebellion. It has triggered a cycle of violence that offers no real security for the Jewish state and threatens to undermine its moral standing on the world stage.

Despite its 75-year existence, Israel’s life appears to be akin to that of an infant in the grand scheme of history. The Hamas attack of October 7, 2023, exposed the vulnerability that Israel continues to grapple with. The death toll has risen steadily, with over 1300 Israelis falling victim to this tragic event, and it underscores the pressing need for a re-evaluation of Israel’s strategic approach.

Israel’s response, characterized by indiscriminate use of force against the population of Gaza, has raised uncomfortable questions about its true strength. It is evident that the fear of extinction from the face of the Earth drives these actions, further unveiling an underlying fragility that cannot be masked by displays of brute force.

However, the lens through which we view Israel’s actions is key. While some may perceive its aggressive use of force as a demonstration of power, an alternate perspective reveals it as an indication of deep-seated weakness. When looking ahead 50 years, numerous variables come into play. Will Arab nations maintain their current disposition? Will the United States, Israel’s staunchest ally, retain its status as the preeminent global power? The geopolitical landscape is shifting, and technological advancements could drastically reshape the dynamics of power.

Israel’s heavy reliance on military might alone is a precarious strategy in a future where alliances and international dynamics are in flux. Recognizing that a few Arab states have offered recognition, this alone cannot address the fundamental issue of the Palestinian Homeland. Israel’s suppression of the Palestinian people poses a significant barrier to forging lasting peace with its Arab neighbours.

Looking ahead, we must consider the potential for change within Arab nations. Rulers entrenched in family dynasties may give way to new leaders shaped by the demands of their societies. As the Middle East undergoes transformation, the array of military capabilities across the region will evolve, posing potential threats to Israel’s existence.

In truth, Israel’s leadership has the capacity to secure lasting peace for the Jewish people. Yet, it will not be through the perpetuation of violence and suffering but by acknowledging the Palestinians’ right to a homeland. Historically, the Jewish claim to the region is weaker in comparison to the continuous Muslim presence over the centuries.

If Israel can muster the courage to accept the demand for a Palestinian Homeland based on pre-1967 borders, it would not be a defeat but a lasting victory. Such a decision would herald peace for the Jewish people, who rightly deserve to live in harmony in Israel. Refusing this path may cast doubt on Israel’s place on the world stage in 2123.

In conclusion, Israel’s future hinges on its willingness to replace fear with the courage to embrace a comprehensive, sustainable peace that respects the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Such a transformation would mark a true triumph, securing Israel’s place in history as a beacon of coexistence and unity rather than a fortress of fear.

Abdullah Khan
Abdullah Khan
The writer is Managing Director at an Islamabad-based think tank, Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).

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