I am writing this on Saturday, as news outlets report hundreds of Israeli dead, and dozens, if not hundreds, of soldiers and civilians kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and taken into Gaza.
It is never a good idea to write anything as events are still rapidly unfolding, especially as neither I nor anyone else can answer the only question that ultimately matters—namely, “what happens now?” But we can answer another, much more rudimentary and no less urgent question: Who’s at fault?
There will be plenty of time to pore over how a cataclysmic disaster of this magnitude could happen, and who—from Bibi down to the IDF chief of staff, head of intelligence, et al.—failed to protect the lives of Israelis. A lot of it will have to do with people who should have known better—including former prime ministers and former and current high-level security officials—abandoning the core commitment of defending Israel and instead entertaining themselves by cosplaying some game of Demokratia, complete with donning handmaid outfits and ululating about fascism. Hysterics about your political opponents being the enemies of democracy may be fun in Kalorama; in Sderot and Ofakim, and even in Tel Aviv, there’s a price to pay for abandoning the real world and indulging in fetish play.
But the bigger mistake on the part of the Israelis is that over the past few years they have gotten the power equation that governs their lives backward: Instead of understanding themselves to be citizens of a strong but beleaguered country whose first responsibility is to protect itself, they luxuriated in the fantasy that the United States was and always would be their protector—when in fact the ruling party in America has decided that Israel is a liability.
Watch this video. That’s a Hamas drone taking down an Israeli Merkava tank. A drone operated by an organization sponsored and trained by Iran applying both Iranian tactics and, most likely, Iranian hardware to attack Israel. This happened weeks after America sent Iran $6 billion, and one week after we learned that the American government had over the past years ceded whole parts of its own intelligence units to Iranian spies.
The stage for this attack was not set in or by Israel. It was set by the United States.
For the better part of the past decade, the United States has pursued a foreign policy designed to strengthen Iran and enable it to form a strong sphere of influence in the region. This is the idea behind what Tony Badran and Michael Doran called “the realignment,” a vision of a new world order in which America partners with Iran in order to “find a more stable balance of power that would make [the Middle East] less dependent on direct U.S. interference or protection.” Those words aren’t Badran and Doran’s; they’re Robert Malley’s, Barack Obama’s lead negotiator on the Iran deal who, as Semafor reported this week, helped to infiltrate an Iranian agent of influence into some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. government—first at the State Department and now the Pentagon, where she has been serving as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. Biden himself, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, spoke of “an integrated Middle East,” using the phrase no less than three times to make clear that his administration was intent on pursuing his predecessor’s commitment to seeing Iran not as a U.S. foe but as our collaborator.
And the Biden administration wasn’t just talking the talk. It was also walking the walk, from unfreezing billions in assets to make it easier for Tehran to support its proxy Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon to sending huge cash infusions used primarily to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of unvetted “security personnel.” And while the previous administration halted all aid to the Palestinians—directly because of the “pay for slay” policies that support the families of those who slaughter Israelis—the Biden administration was quick to reverse the decision.
Lots of people argued that this was simply clear-minded realpolitik after decades of disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bullshit. Here’s how you know this policy was, and is, motivated not by what’s best for America but by what would kneecap the Jewish state: Because it extended to inside Israel’s borders.
In addition to creating the external circumstances for terror, the Biden administration did everything in its power to derail Israel’s democratically elected government and prevent it from being able to see an attack like today’s coming. That the Israelis let themselves fall for this was stupidity of criminal order. But the invisible hand here was America’s. Biden himself took to CNN to call Netanyahu’s government “the most extreme” he’s ever seen, and lost no opportunity to lecture his Israeli counterpart about democratic values. The former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, took the unprecedented step of intervening in the country’s domestic affairs, announcing ominously that he “think[s] most Israelis want the United States to be in their business.” And if words weren’t enough, the administration also sent American dollars to support the anti-Netanyahu NGOs organizing the protests that brought Israel to a halt for months. Netanyahu was famously denied an invite to the White House; his key opponent, opposition leader Benny Gantz, had no such problem.
One idea floating around my inbox this afternoon is that part of Israel’s complete military collapse today was caused by a massive Iranian cyber attack that hacked its systems and prevented it from seeing what ought to have been obvious. That this could not only be true but related to the U.S. having recently given a team of Iranian agents high-level access to U.S. intelligence, which could very well have included information about Israeli systems, is not nearly as far-fetched a scenario as many would like it to be. And to the extent that we ever find out the truth about any of this, it will be because of Elon Musk, without whom we’d only have access to state-approved propaganda.
It doesn’t matter what words Biden says today. When you champion Iran; when you send it and its proxies money; when you reward Palestinian violence; when you go out of your way to portray Bibi as a dangerous fascist; when you finance and champion his opponents, contributing to further instability and unrest; when you hand over U.S. intelligence keys to Iranian agents; when you have your spokespeople declare it “disinformation” for people to connect obvious dots; when you do all of this, you know what is going to happen. You mean for it to happen.
Here today, then, is the challenge for Israel’s leadership: Can you accept that this is what’s happening? Can you imagine a future for the Jewish state decoupled from America? Because you must.
For at least a decade now, we’ve been told that part of what makes Israel so mighty and so safe is its superior technology, developed in partnership with America. Who, went this line of argument, needs to worry about missiles when we have Iron Dome and F-35 stealth fighter planes as part of a $3 billion military aid package? Who cares about guns and grenades when we’ve developed high-level cybersecurity systems that can strike at will? The war of the future, we’ve been promised, will be waged on computer terminals, in cyberspace—not in dusty border towns.
And then came a gaggle of Gazans with Kevlar vests and pickup trucks and small arms that brought Israel to its knees. “Startup nation” has been ravaged by reality. It is clear that the dream Israel’s elites have entertained for the past decade—to become part of the global set of people who make all the money and all the decisions and have all the right opinions and fashionable friends—has soured into a nightmare.
And now it’s time to wake up. Stop prattling about the “cycle of violence,” about faults on both sides, about “the occupation,” about Bibi’s cabinet appointments, or any other distraction.
Reroot yourself in what you should never have forgotten—which is that we have enemies not because of what we did or didn’t do here or there, or on this day or that one, or because our hasbara isn’t good enough or because it is too good, or any other pointless argument. It is because we have vicious enemies, and they hate us. Instead of trying pathetically to curry favor with American overlords by scrubbing Judaism from your streets, pray to HaShem to fulfill the promise made to Isaiah and deliver vengeance. Reject, with great force and wrath, the death cult that has gripped so much of American political, public, and intellectual life and that sees virtue in propping up benighted regimes in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We don’t need an integrated Middle East, because we don’t wish to integrate with the murderous mullahs and their packs of wild animals. We have our own interests, and if we’re smart—and if we wish to survive—we’ll never forget it again.