Israel: A Paper Tiger

Sam Vaknin
Flags of Israel and Palestine and barbed wire

Belgium (Brussels Morning newspaper) In the ocean of analyses of the current iteration of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, harking back to 1882, we have been missing three crucial facts:

1. Israel’s army and intelligence community have been rendered paper tigers by years of budget cuts and degraded by a lack of training.

Israel’s military is prepared and equipped for a conventional war rather than for asymmetrical warfare and has been experiencing a precipitous decline in the quality of recruits ever since the 1990s.

Should Israel face a war or even mere unrest on 5 fronts, it will be defeated and will require the military intervention of the USA.

GAZA, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY – DECEMBER 3: A man combs amid the rubble of the Palestinian National Authority Council of Ministers building, December 3, 2012.

But will the USA sacrifice its global interests for the sake of preserving Israel under the demented regime of an authoritarian criminal? Will it divert desperately needed resources from a Ukraine on the verge of defeat to an Israel on the verge of extinction? Will the USA alienate allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however precarious their loyalty is? 

2. The USA is supplying Israel only with precision and defensive munitions because it is terrified of what the harried Israeli government might do to civilians in the course of its collective punishment revenge rampage.

The US is also worried about the expansion of the war to include Egypt (which is coerced by Israel into accommodating a million Gazan refugees), Iran, and even Russian-backed Syria. 

Such a conflagration would force the more moderate Arab states – especially in the Gulf – to abandon their alliances with the West and to act against its interests. It will also scuttle the nascent reconciliation between Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as previous peace agreements;

And, finally:

3. The settlers – not the Palestinians – are now Israel’s greatest internal threat. Armed to the teeth, organized in militias, defiant, contumacious, violent, delusional-Messianic, and hellbent on retribution, they might regard recent events as an opportunity to ethnically cleanse the West Bank of Palestinians. They could yet constitute the most difficult and ominous front for the thinly stretched IDF.  

Israel has been reacting disproportionately to undeniable but limited and largely symbolic provocations by Hezbollah, Syria, and by a smattering of Palestinians in the West Bank. This kind of macho reflex is nothing short of suicidal. 

It seems that Israel is far from humbled even by the egregious and abhorrent terror attack of October 7. To borrow a phrase from the self-help industry: Israel has not yet hit rock bottom and is not ready to modify its behaviors, soul search, and transform and heal itself. 

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Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. is a former economic advisor to governments (Nigeria, Sierra Leone, North Macedonia), served as the editor in chief of “Global Politician” and as a columnist in various print and international media including “Central Europe Review” and United Press International (UPI). He taught psychology and finance in various academic institutions in several countries ( )