Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Can Israel Survive?

Traditional pillars of the tiny democracy’s security have begun to erode.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

20 Thoughts on “Can Israel Survive?

  1. David Park on January 29, 2015 at 9:21 am said:

    Part of the problem may be that the Jewish white Netanyahu got in the face of the Muslim sympathizing black face of Barak Obama. Benjamin concentrates on his country while Barak concentrates on his race or at least the black half of it.

    • DebbiePearl on January 29, 2015 at 11:26 am said:

      I don’t see O favoring his Kenyan background. O Care is bad for blacks as for everyone else. He favors demagogy, group power, destabilizing our strength as a nation, basic tactics of communism to win power. Islam could be his goal for this nation, but, rather, I think it’s a convenient excuse to divide and conquer.

    • mudnducs on January 30, 2015 at 6:59 am said:

      Well put!

  2. Craig S. Bell on January 29, 2015 at 10:31 am said:

    I prefer to look at it this way: This erosion serves to move Israel closer to the day when they must (and will) liberate Iran by disrupting their domestic (targeting Iranians) religious-police apparatus, and degrading their strategic war-making capability. They’ve spent decades building a force and developing HUMINT for just this mission.

    The U.S. administration secretly hopes that Israel will take the decisive military action that they find politically and ideologically unacceptable. They may yet get their wish. Even so, it is a deadly-dangerous gamble, and the cowards in charge have proven several times they are perfectly willing to gamble with the lives of others – even those whom they don’t openly reject.

    Current U.S. anti-leadership aside, Israel could really use our help. The will win anyways; but a return to alliance would save many lives.

  3. The Israelis have my support.

    I am thankful that Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but I’m thinking that the high level positions of pro-Arabs within this administration will work to neutralize his impact.

    I’m sure the sentiment is that if it weren’t for the Israelis, there would be no problems in the Middle East.

  4. Kenneth Duke Masters on January 29, 2015 at 10:50 am said:

    Ten or twenty years ago everyone (all who paid any attention to history and world affairs) knew about WW3. We knew (imagined) what it would be like and what the probable outcome would be. Today WW3 likely will start when Israel will have to nuke Iran’s nuke facilities. I hate to be so terribly negative but I’d put the odds at about 50/50 that it will happen. The only upside I can see is that it may not involve the rest of the worlds nuke powers, but once it starts who can tell?
    KDM

  5. John Lewis on January 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm said:

    It is yet another diplomatic disaster for your despot-in-chief. The New York Times is worth quoting in regard to the visit by the Israeli Prime Minister: “The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress on Iran without consulting the White House.

    “The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

    So B. Netanyahu has committed lèse-majesté against your God-Emperor. Every American should burn with a just outrage, and every Israeli should be apologetic and contrite.

    I hope not. In any event, some Israelis will side with the God-Emperor, too many perhaps. It is that internal weakness which is probably Israel’s most serious problem. That and trust in the US Administration. The trust has taken too long to dissipate. Israel should have bombed Iran three years ago, or two years ago, but allowed matters to drift,lest the God-Emperor be offended, while Iran developed nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

    Can Israel survive? God willing, and if they stop acting like simple trusting fools.

  6. S. Plankenberg on January 29, 2015 at 4:21 pm said:

    We had better be more concerned about the possibility that our commander – in – chief will issue orders to our Air Force and Navy to shoot down any Israeli ” fast movers” heading into Iranian airspace for possible pre – emptive strikes against nuclear targets using nuclear and conventional weapons. Don’t think for a minute he wouldn’t do just that . Valerie Jarrett has probably already seen to it that such a situation has been war – gamed out and contingency plans for interception and / or destruction of any Israeli aircraft mounting an attacks on Iran.

  7. Wolfgang Hebold on January 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm said:

    There is only one pillar of security for Israel: The IDF. And they never fought a total war, except in 1948. All the following wars were in a way civilized wars, otherwise there wouldn’t be any arabs at the westbank or on the sinai peninsula. At first glace that policy seems human, but the result is that endless conflict with the arabs and Hamas and Hisbollah thinking they are serious enemies. If the theocrats in Iran will strike conventionally against Israel or if Israel is seriously threatened by for example Turkey, that situation will change drastically. Gaza and Westbank will be cleared of all arabs there. And the result of an conventional war would be the same as before – but with an Israel not restrained by an US ally. Will Iran use nuclear weapons then? I dont think so, because one cornerstone of the IDF arsenal are the appx 250 nuclear warheads. So the IDF ensures that Israel will be there in 50 years. There will be no repetition of Auschwitz for the jews are not the unarmed civilians but really tough soldiers. I’m expecting a greater war, but in the end the borders of Israel will be the suez canal in the west and the jordan in the east and no arabs in between. Realistic politicians in Jerusalem would have done that job in 1967.

    So the drift of the US away from Israel will result in total desaster for the arabs similar to that in 1948.

  8. mudnducs on January 29, 2015 at 10:56 pm said:

    Israel will survive beyond America…sadly they stand witness to Americas suicide.

  9. Theophilus on January 30, 2015 at 4:32 am said:

    Israel is a miracle in the making, it stands in direct opposition to all who reasonably believe that one acorn can’t stand tall in the midst of millions of squirrels surrounding it, but yet there it is. All of the items outlined by Mr. Hanson are important factors that help Israel to continue it’s existence, however it still stands to reason that more is at work, since Israel continues to defy the odds.

    I believe Israel will survive but not because of the benevolence of the human race but because of the benevolence of a loving God.

  10. Is this not a war of worldviews? Whereas both the United States and Israel were founded by men who believed and instituted the “Tragic View”, America is now run by “Therapeutic View” girly men and women with shrunken brains at war with the few remaining Tragic View holdouts, wherever they may be located. That location is Israel.

    If the emasculated men and women of the Therapeutic View of America can overrun Israel, then both nations are finished being intelligent, good or worthy of existing, since the Therapeutic View consumes all power, money, time, family, prosperity and sanity. The Therapeutic View never fixes anything, never fixes itself, and it is always in the middle of anything bad happening, and worst of all… The Therapeutic View never dies.

    However, the Therapeutic View can be delivered a wooden stake into its vampire heart, so that it rests in carbonate-stasis, entombed in a coffin, and thereby doing as little harm as possible. Just mock it, never pay to support it, and let it consume itself in angst… as Tragic View people happily rebuild a more perfect world.

  11. Obama’s approach to Israel is indeed distressing. But left has selected him to hold the highest office in the land product of so much recalcitrance as a cultural marxist.

    the way in which entrenched ideologies remain entrenched is by staying invisible. And the primary way in which they stay invisible is by staying unnamed. “If we don’t name it, we can’t talk about it, and if we can’t talk about it, it will not come under significant review or be subject to question.” His approach to radical Islam which has been the number one threat to stability and peace in the middle east is to allow radical Islamism which lies at the heart of anti-semitism

  12. Paul Machado on January 30, 2015 at 7:16 pm said:

    Every day Israel delays its strike brings more peril to Israel and to the world. Iran is making bomb grade U-235, will soon be making plutionium, and no one knows how much they have already produced and hidden. Obama will never strike Iran under any circumstances, and Obama will do everything possible to prevent an Israeli strike against Iran. Obama has already threatened Israel with a shoot-down of the Israeli air force, through his foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Now Netanyahu is in a situation analogous to Churchill’s, after Churchill found out about the Nazi heavy water plant at Norsk Hydro in Telemark. Churchill grasped how high the stakes were and he orchestrated an immediate attack with the Norwegian underground. Unfortunately there is no underground in Iran capable of mounting any serious attack on the Ayatollah’s U-235 centrifuges, and the Ayatollah’s heavy water reactor. Israel has to act alone, before Iran completes its nuclear arsenal.

  13. Chris Dannon on January 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm said:

    Obama’s approach to Israel is indeed distressing. But his approach to radical Islam, and the threat it represents to the free world… wanton murders, be-headings and bloodbaths, is even more disturbing.

    His approach to radical Islam which is still the number one threat to stability and peace in the middle east is to ignore it, allow it, and even coddle it. As a way to apologize for US policy (as in his Cairo speech), Obama believes the west must pay penance per his fathers marxist attitude toward British colonialism. (How terribly oppresssive to bring culture and capitalism to a 3rd world country as the British did. Then educate that country’s leaders in Britain and see them return to their own country again to establish civil self governance).

    Consequently, the Left’s agenda under Obama is hereafter to pretend that n such thing as radical Islam exists… in effect he now makes it “invisible” to the world.

    The way in which entrenched ideologies remain entrenched is by staying invisible. And the primary way in which they stay invisible is by staying unnamed. If we don’t name it, we can’t talk about it, and if we can’t talk about it, it will not come under significant review or be subject to question. This is Obama’s approach to radical Islam and the Left is blindly following him in this astounding insouciance.

    In my view the legacy this president will leave in the middle east will be much like that of Neville Chamberlain, but perhaps the consequences will be far worse.

  14. Dave Cobb on January 31, 2015 at 1:45 pm said:

    That you Lewis?
    As the Clock winds down be Alert! Rules of 70 are about us and counting.

  15. Jerry Stein on January 31, 2015 at 7:01 pm said:

    It’s quite correct that internal pacifism is the gravest threat to Israel’s existence. The millennials and socialists have neither the memory of past wars nor the perception of the existential threat posed by Iran. They’re too busy tending to their iPhones and building up the welfare state.

    It was a grievous error by Bibi, and the supposedly wiser heads, not to recognize the rapid erosion of support for an attack from both their increasingly passive electorate and the anti-Semitic administrations in the U.S and Western Europe.

    They should have taken out Iran’s nuclear capabilities in early 2012, when they were less hardened and when Obama’s retaliation against them would have been restricted by his re-election campaign’s need to tend to the desultory sensibilities of his clueless, high-dollar Jewish donors.

    If and when they do attack, they must take into account the increasing probability that Obama will use satellite surveillance data to warn his friends in Tehran of an impending attack.

  16. obama and the democratic party sentiment will pass. bebe and israel just have to hold off on long enough for this poison to end and to do whatever they can and need to do to delay nuclear warheads and missles in iran. there is time. it all depends on the election n 2016. if bebe and the republicans cannot win this one by 2016 and by the end of 2020 to end this terror, they dont deserve to be heard or to rule. might as well, then, hand over the baton to iran and the muslims and go buy your prayer rug.

  17. S. Plankenberg on February 7, 2015 at 6:53 am said:

    It will be a mistake for Israel to delay hitting Iran while hoping for a more Israeli friendly U.S. presidency. It’s not happening. Hillary WILL be the next president, if she wants it , largely because people want to see Bill back in the White House. He will do most of the campaigning and fundraising as Hillary’s people skills are practically non – existent . Though he will not actually be president , a lot of voters are nostalgic enough for his earlier term that his popularity will indeed push Hillary across the finish line with ease.

  18. Alcibiades on October 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm said:

    Great article but flawed assumptions. Israel survives (and thrives) for one reason only: HaShem (G-d). There is no way to explain how a tiny group of people with little to no experience in farming, military, or running governments managed to in-gather in an unfamiliar and inhospitable climate and land, revive a dead language, and expel by force the mightiest empire in the world at that time (the British). If this was not the result of a miracle then some other indigenous people would have been able to do the same at some point in human history, yet history has no other example. Furthermore, the 3 pillars outlined here are simply not reflective of reality, and will not help us understand what is really going on:

    (1) Many of Israel’s democratic institutions are critically lacking. The non-elected, non-democratically selected, and unchecked, Supreme Court holds a tremendous amount of power which it routinely uses to nullify popular legislation and to push the agenda of an elite minority. The Israeli government is known to take sweeping action through non-democratic means, such as the 2005 Disengagement which expelled 10,000 Israeli citizens from their homes. Israel also has less civil rights protections than most other western nations, which is perhaps most apparent in its recent actions to detain without charge several right-wing Israeli citizens without charges. As to the nuclear argument, Israel had already developed nuclear capability by 1973 but this did not deter the Arab invasion of that year which nearly achieved total victory and Israel’s destruction.

    (2) Israel is not a western nation and its “western” traditions are questionable. Half the Jewish population hails from non-western origins and non-western cultures. 20% of the population is Arab, Druze, and other non-Westerners. The nation only introduced a Western style free market economy (and only to some aspects of its economy) in the 1980s & 1990s; prior to that it was a very socialist society, with a population in number much fewer than today, yet one that still survived and thrived in the face of many immediate existential threats. Among Israel’s fast growing Torah conscious demographic, the people hold a distinctly non-Western Jewish tradition and culture (which Western civilization has been impacted by but that which itself is not Western).

    (3) Israel has never enjoyed the support of the West. Aside from occasional strategic support, the West has traditionally been Israel’s adversary. In 1948 every Western nation refused to sell the newly independent state arms. Israel had to manufacture its own weapons and rely on illicit shipments from American gangsters and Czechoslovakia. On top of that, the British armed, trained, and led invading Arab armies that took from Israel Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza and killed 1% of its population. After Israel-Britain’s successful 50s Sinai campaign, the U.S. forced Israel to give up its captured territory. In 1967, Israel went to war against massive Arab armies in defiance of the U.S. and Europe, in which it liberated Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and captured the Golan Heights and the Sinai. After that war, every U.S. administration to the present day has tried persuade, pressure, and coerce Israel to return its liberated lands against its self-interest. Each successive surrender of sovereignty, whether in Judea & Samaria in the 1990s or Gaza in 2005 has encouraged a wave of terror and proved disastrous. We no also see Europe backing the BDS campaign and the boycott of Israel. And lets not forget the millions of dollars of European money that funds NGOs that delegitimize Israel and incite conflict between Arabs and Jews.

    I think the takeaway from the last 67 years is that the West has been a major adversary and obstacle to Israel and the sooner Israel realizes this, the better it would be. Additionally, the phenomena of Israeli leaders wanting to be Western is also one of the major reasons why Israel has not seen peace. As long as Israel’s leaders want to be Western, the Arabs will view them as foreign colonialists that do not believe in the middle east. At the end of the day, Israel needs to be authentically Jewish & Hebrew, trust in HaShem, and pave its own way.

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