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Dana Agmon Headshot

Can Israel Be Its Own Worst Enemy?

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It's hard for me to understand fellow Israelis who still believe violent struggle with the Palestinians is a good idea. A justification that tops every Israeli patriot's list is that we should never again experience the holocaust. We shouldn't. I also agree with the assertion that Israel needs to be militarily strong because it faces hostile neighbors. But where I diverge is in identifying some of the threats we face.

Terror attacks, civil unrest within the Palestinian territories, or imminent danger have dramatically declined, especially following the Gaza war. While Israel has not destroyed Hamas, it has significantly weakened the organization. Though Israel is continuously condemned for its actions, it is Hamas that faces opposition from everyone. In the scheme of things, Israel is looked at as a responsible nation that needs to get its human rights record back on track; Hamas has become a leper. Unfortunately, leprosy is contagious.

It is not outrageous that many Israelis feel overly criticized and completely misunderstood. Nor is it surprising that they feel like they are the only ones blamed for each and every misstep in the conflict. And yes, there is an unbalanced tendency to condemn Israel for every action and never its counterpart. But when that counterpart is Hamas, it is only to Israel's advantage. Sadly, the shortsighted in Israel have misinterpreted this equation and have begun following their enemies' philosophies and strategies, putting Israel at risk of moving much closer to being shunned from the world.

Hamas and Hezbollah have a reckless and indiscriminate approach to Israeli lives. We all know they target civilians in Israel as a strategy. But since when is that a legitimate philosophy to adopt, even if our enemies hold it? when exactly did it become acceptable to have any disrespect for life? But in Israel, the extreme element of the settler movement, the rightist nationalistic movement and other peace-bashers have made it their mission to become as brute, cruel and mindless as those they so vehemently criticize and preach against.

This is not only sad, it is dangerous. The more energy Israel spends on opposing criticism, manufacturing its own reports to offset condemnations, and taking less responsibility (standing behind their acts while not admitting their mistakes), the less legitimacy it will have in the world. It will hurt Israel's ability to defend itself and will allow a coalition of rogue groups and the countries that support them to deliver one final blow to Israel. And while war hawks may believe Israel can withstand such attacks - it most certainly will not.

This will have only one outcome; a slow deterioration and destruction of Israel, its society, and its integrity, and the absolute and unquestionable victory of those we set out to eradicate. Lepers are indistinguishable to the general population, and Israel is in danger of becoming quarantined.