The Myth of Right-Wing Security
Is it safer to be more to the right?
Many people believe that the more right-wing your politicians are, the better they are at security.
It’s easy to see how this belief developed. In the 1990s, left-wing Israeli parties were ready to give away Judea and Samaria in an extremely naive belief that the Palestinians were serious peace partners. Right-wing parties warned that they weren’t. And, of course, the right wing turned out to be correct - and the left collapsed.
Accordingly, since the Right were right and the Left were wrong, people think that the more Right you are are, the more right you are. But that’s sort of like saying that since tzniyut involves covering up, then the more you cover up, the more tzanua you are - with the end result being the “burqa babes” of Beit Shemesh.
There are two reasons why being more Right does not necessarily result in better security - and can even be worse for security.
First is that being more right has nothing to do with intelligence and strategic thinking. For example, it seems that our most right-wing government ever believed that IDF forces should be concentrated in Judea and Samaria rather than around Gaza. That, of course, was a fatal mistake. And perhaps they made that mistake because they were more obsessed with Judea and Samaria. Nor is it clear that handing out weaponry to all and sundry, without proper checks into who is going to act responsibly, is not going to have seriously negative consequences. And in general, anyone who is a “fundamentalist” - in the sense of having one absolute value, and never being willing to take into account the complexities of the world and the possibility of other perspectives - is not going to be good at strategy.
Second is that security is not just about IDF military power. It’s also about international political support. Many of the most right-wing people in Israel don’t even speak English and do not think or care about the effects of their words and actions on the rest of the world, or they think that that they don’t have to care about it. But the reality is that Israel is absolutely dependent on a certain crucial amount of political support, especially from the US. We don’t make our own aircraft. We don’t even make our own munitions! And that’s quite aside from the need for strong economic ties so that we can have a strong enough economy to power the IDF. For the sake of security, we do have to think about working together with our international friends.
Apparenly Ben-Gvir’s support has increased over the last three months. But anyone thinking deeply should realize that for all his bluster and gun-waving, he is going to seriously harm Israel’s security interests in the long run, even fatally so.
Rationalist Judaism is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.