Yuval Noah Harari: From Gaza to Iran, the Netanyahu Govt Is Endangering Israel’s Survival

Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari in Haaretz: In the coming days Israel will have to make historic policy decisions, ones that could shape its fate and the fate of the entire region for generations to come. Unfortunately, Benjamin Netanyahu and his political partners have repeatedly proven that they are unfit to make such decisions. The policies they pursued for many years have brought Israel to the brink of destruction. So far, they have shown no regret for their past mistakes, and no inclination to change direction. If they continue to shape policy, they will lead us and the whole Middle East to perdition. Instead of rushing into a new war with Iran, we should first learn the lessons of Israel’s failures over the past six months of war.

War is a military means for achieving political aims, and there is one key yardstick by which to measure success in war: Were the political aims achieved? Following the horrendous massacre of October 7, Israel needed to liberate the hostages and disarm Hamas, but these should not have been its only aims. In light of the existential threat posed to Israel by Iran and its agents of chaos, Israel also needed to deepen its alliance with Western democracies, strengthen cooperation with moderate Arab forces, and work to establish a stable regional order. However, the Netanyahu government ignored all these aims, and instead focused on revenge. It has failed to secure the release of all the hostages, and has not disarmed Hamas. Worse, it intentionally inflicted a humanitarian disaster on the 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and thereby undermined the moral and geopolitical basis for Israel’s existence.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the worsening situation in the West Bank are inflaming regional chaos, weakening our alliances with Western democracies, and making it harder for countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to cooperate with us. Most Israelis have now focused their attention on Tehran, but even prior to the Iranian attack we preferred to turn a blind eye to what was happening in Gaza and the West Bank. Yet if we don’t change our behavior toward the Palestinians, our hubris and vengefulness will inflict a historic calamity on us.

After six months of war, many of the hostages are still in captivity and Hamas is still on its feet, but the Gaza Strip is devastated, many thousands of its people have been killed, and most of its population are now famished refugees. Together with Gaza, Israel’s international standing is also in ruins, and we are now hated and ostracized even by many of our former friends. If an all-out war breaks out with Iran and its proxies, to what extent can Israel count on the United States, the Western democracies and moderate Arab states to risk themselves for us, and provide us with vital military and diplomatic assistance? Even if such war is averted, how long can Israel survive as a pariah state? We don’t have Russia’s ample resources. Without commercial, scientific and cultural ties with the rest of the world, and without American arms and money, the most optimistic scenario for Israel is to become the North Korea of the Middle East.

More here.