No Choice But to Fight

[International Herald Tribune] Yossi Klein Halevi - The Middle East conflict has been transformed from a nationalist struggle over the creation of a Palestinian state into an Islamist struggle against the existence of a Jewish state. Terror enclaves aligned with Iran - Hizbullah in the north, Hamas in the south - have formed on our borders. For the first time since the 1948 war, the Israeli home front has become the actual front. Meanwhile, an Iranian regime whose threats to destroy Israel have become so routine that they are scarcely reported anymore may be about to cross the nuclear threshold. And the notion that Israel's very existence is a moral affront is spreading, not only in Muslim countries but in the West. Most Israelis today want a two-state solution, but few believe it will end the conflict. Even many who oppose settlement-building no longer believe that settlements are the obstacle to peace. Instead, we've become convinced that the real obstacle remains the existence of a Jewish state in any borders. Since the collapse of the Oslo peace process, Israel has been caught in one ongoing war. Though the enemy repeatedly shifts, from Hamas to Hizbullah to Iran, the common aim is jihad, and its target is civilian Israel. The curse of Jewish history - the inability to take mere existence for granted - has returned to a country whose founding was intended to resolve that uncertainty. The fear of losing our ability to defend ourselves explains, in part, the motivation with which Israeli soldiers fought during the recent war in Gaza. Yet we know we have no choice but to fight this war we tried to avert. The writer, a fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is the author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for Hope with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.

2009-02-09 06:00:00

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