A famous Israeli singer recently wrote on social media that Operation Breaking Dawn, the three-day military campaign in May in which Israel fought against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, may have been a military victory, but it did not solve anything. Other than making us feel good about ourselves, it accomplished nothing. If anything, the pride is detrimental to us, rather than beneficial.
The singer also referred to the reputation of the Jewish people as being the smartest in the world. He said that our ingenuity in developing sophisticated defense systems makes us dangerously complacent and smug.
I agree with this statement because weapons, however sophisticated and advanced, will not bring us peace. At best, they can give us a respite from active hostilities, but if we use the pause to rest or build even more sophisticated weapons, and think that this is all we need to do, then we are a stupid smartest people.
We need to understand that weapons, however effective and advanced, will not end our wars because weapons do not bring peace. The saying si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war), is true only if our definition of peace is absence of active hostilities. This is not the definition of peace as I know it.
In Hebrew, the word shalom (peace) comes from the word hashlama (complementarity). Complementarity is when two contradictory, alien, and often hostile parties forge a bond that transcends their disagreements and conflicts. They do not suppress or cancel their disputes, but value unity more than the cause of their conflict. Therefore, they form a bond that is stronger than the reason for their fight.
Indeed, the bond must be stronger than the conflict so as not to break under the pressure of the division. It follows that the harder the dispute, the stronger must be the unity that the parties build, if they wish to maintain peace.
Achieving such peace requires working on connection, on bonding. It requires constant elevation of the value of unity, solidarity, cohesion, and mutual responsibility. This is the people of Israel’s only “weapon” that will give us real and lasting peace—first among ourselves, and subsequently with our neighbors.
It will not be easy. We are not only smart; we are also very selfish. There is no question that preferring unity to the pleasure of self-righteousness is not easy. On top of that, we lack the basic wisdom to understand that our strength lies in our connection, and that this is our only road to victory. But difficult or not, unity is still our only tool for achieving final victory.
Our successes on the battlefield buy us time, but we must use them wisely. If we use them to rest, we will eventually lose. If we use our breaks from active hostilities to strengthen our connection, we will promote peace within Israel and with our neighbors. This is Israel’s only hope for peace, and the only smart move that the smartest people can make.
Tel Aviv, Israel August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Corinna Kern