Opinion | Israel and her neighbors

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Map
A map of the region with Israel in blue, members of the Arab League in dark green and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in light green (Courtesy of William Z. Fox)

By William Z. Fox

William Z. Fox
William Z. Fox (Shlomo Cohen, courtesy of FIDF)

What were the odds of Israel’s survival, living in a hostile neighborhood, when she accepted the United Nations partition plan in 1947? What did those odds go up to when she was immediately attacked on all sides by the well-equipped armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon — along with the tacit support of numerous others? And what were the odds of her winning that war? But as we all know, against all the odds Israel not only survived but won the war and her independence.


We are the most blessed generation of Jews in Jewish history. Why? Since God chose us to bring the concept of ethical monotheism to humanity over 4,000 years ago, every 75 to 100 years there has been an organized attempt to exterminate us, eradicate us, to wipe us off the face of the map, the most recent being the Nazis roughly 85 years ago. And today, the black clouds of antisemitism and hate are gathering again all over the world, fueled by our current nemesis, radical Islam. (Note that I’m saying radical Islam, not all Islam.)

So why are we the most blessed Jewish generation? Because we have been privileged to witness three momentous developments:


First, the rebirth of the Jewish nation in our biblical homeland after thousands of years of dispersion throughout the world. I can clearly remember the day in 1947 when my father burst into the house and, with his booming auctioneer voice, called out to my mother, “Anne, Anne, the U.N. has voted to approve the partition plan!”

Second, we all have watched Israel grow from nothing more than a patch of sand in the Middle Eastern desert into one of the most successful, powerful, respected, free, democratic nations in the entire world. We have fulfilled the biblical prophecy that, “you shall become a light unto the nations.” For the almost 73 years of modern Israel’s existence, humanity has benefited in countless ways through Israeli inventions and advances in medicine, technology, innovation, science, farming and more. Israel has won more Nobel prizes per capita than any other country in the world. And all of this has happened before our very eyes. We, our generation, have been blessed to witness it.

Unbelievably, however, through all her growth and accomplishments, Israel has had to defend herself on a daily basis. Whether it has been formal wars, limited campaigns, local skirmishes or never-ending, blood-thirsty terrorism, slaughtered Israelis have been the rule, not the exception. But the world needs to know this: Every single armed conflict that has occurred has been initiated by Israel’s enemies, with Israel then defending herself and retaliating.

And the third momentous development? Today we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Arab/Muslim rejectionism of Israel. Today, some of Israel’s neighbors are finally waking up to the reality that Israel is not going away and is really a friend, not a foe. They said this would never happen, they said it could never happen, but it is happening. The snowball has begun rolling downhill, and I believe it is now impossible to stop.

Why do I believe this? The recent Abraham Accords have added four Arab/Muslim countries — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco — to Egypt and Jordan, making six countries that have effectively made peace with Israel, and more are on the horizon. My wife Myra and I recently returned from a 15-day trip to Israel, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While in Dubai, we spent the better part of a day at the Expo 2021 World’s Fair, where over 150 nations have individual pavilions celebrating their countries. What a thrill it was for us to be in an Arab/Muslim country walking into the main entrance of their Expo and seeing the flag of Israel flying proudly among those of the other nations of the world. And when we experienced the show in the Israeli pavilion, I was so overcome with emotion that, when it was over, I ran to the front of the theater and sang the Shehecheyanu blessing. Some people thought I was crazy (and by the way, that included Myra) and maybe I was, but it was just me being me. Others came up to me, shook my hand and thanked me.

The challenge is that Palestinian radicals, Hamas and other radical Islamic terror groups, and countries like Syria and Iran that fund them, are still bent on killing Jews and driving the Israelis into the sea. Indeed, we’re now hearing the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” not only there but in demonstrations on college campuses and major cities across America. This means from the Jordan River, which is the border between Israel and Jordan, to the Mediterranean; in other words, the entire country of Israel.

For many years, this conflict has been characterized as being very complicated. In reality, however, it is very uncomplicated. Simply put, many radical Arabs and Muslims have not wanted a Jewish state to exist in their midst, living on what they consider to be their land. And they have done everything in their power to change the on-the-ground facts of Israel’s reality. However, due to political considerations and other factors, in the broader Arab/Muslim world that mindset is now changing. But still today Israel must continue to defend herself against the radicals who are very much alive and continue to work for her destruction.

William Z. Fox is on the national board of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. This op-ed was adapted from a speech he gave at the recent FIDF gala in Baltimore.

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