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The Israeli Death Wish –
A Study in the Jewish Attitude
Toward National Sovereignty

Arieh Stav
Policy Paper No. 53, 1999


The Israeli death wish finds expression in the systematic destruction of the national existential purpose. This process is implemented both by the leadership and the general public. In Camp David, Menachem Begin signed an agreement which he, himself, characterized “a war treaty”. Yitzhak Rabin’s decisive contribution to the establishment of a Palestinian state stands in polar opposition to his claims that a Palestinian state will bring about the end of the Jewish state. Shimon Peres, who is leading Israel declaratively and publicly, back to the 1967 borders, is the one who repeatedly sounded warnings that “in the absence of defensible borders the State will be obliterated in war”. Binyamin Netanyahu’s spiritual world is based completely on the assumption that Judea and Samaria, the cradle of the Hebrew nation and the very foundation of Zionism, are an organic part of the Jewish state and relinquishing them will terminate the national existential purpose. But it was he who, in the Hebron agreement and with greater vigor in the Wye Plantation agreements, for all intents and purposes, ceded most of Judea and Samaria, and has accomplished more than any of his predecessors in bringing about the actual partition of Jerusalem.

The assumption guiding the four Prime Ministers in their actions is that a far-reaching process of moderation has taken place in the Arab world vis-à-vis Israel, and as a result, Israel can take more chances and yield territorial strategic assets. But this assumption is clearly mistaken. Over the course of the decade since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the level of armaments in the Arab world has ascended to a new degree – in terms of conventional, but especially in terms of non-conventional weapons and in the ballistic ability to launch these weapons on Israel. If in 1985 the number of ballistic missiles pointed at Israel numbered merely a few dozen, today the number is over a thousand. In addition, the Middle East is undergoing an accelerated radicalization process both fundamentalist (witness Iran, Sudan, Algeria and Israeli Arabs) and nationalist (witness the elimination of Lebanon by Syria and the attempt to conquer Kuwait by Iraq). Conversely, Israel has lost its “strategic asset” status in its relations with the United States. Furthermore, Israel is cutting its defense budget and developing weapons systems (the Arrow) which are irrelevant in light of the nature of the ballistic threat.

The attempt to analyze this phenomenon of systems collapse leads the author to the conclusion that there are three basic factors involved:

  1. The objective factor, according to which, the strategic threat to the Jewish state reached a critical mass with which the general public is no longer able to cope, as the spiritual strength, the national unity and the readiness for sacrifice which characterized Israel in the first three decades of its existence have gravely eroded.
  2. The Zionist failure – Zionism was supposed to provide the persecuted Jew with a safe haven and salvation from the curse of anti-Semitism, however, the absolute antithesis transpired. The State of Israel is the most dangerous place in the world for a Jew to live and the number of Israelis killed in wars and in terrorist attacks is much greater than the number killed resulting from anti-Semitism anywhere in the world, since World War II.
  3. The Jewish anomaly – The Jewish elite, that is the radical post-Zionist (actually anti-Zionist) Left, possessor of the cosmopolitan-universal beliefs, basically negates Jewish nationalism. Said left has achieved intellectual, political and media hegemony in Israel. Through systematic brainwashing, the Israeli radicals working hand in hand with their American Jewish counterparts have successfully implanted into the public mind a system of Orwellian thought according to which a national disaster is called a “peace process”.

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