Sunny with light missile cover in Tel Aviv this morning. I awoke to muffled thuds in the distance, Iron Dome shooting down Syrian-made missiles launched from Gaza, according to news reports. I attended the obligatory morning mixer for hotel guests at the bomb shelter, which fortunately lasted only five minutes before the all-clear sounded. I’ll write something more comprehensive on this soon — Tablet is scheduled to run my essay next Monday — but the thumbnail version is that Hamas is making a demonstration out of weakness. Money is tight, 44,000 Gaza civil servants haven’t been paid for weeks, and the IDF did significant damage to its infrastructure on the West Bank after the kidnapping-murder of the three yeshiva boys. Netanyahu will look indecisive and confused, because he has to deal with an openly hostile U.S. administration on one side and his nationalist camp on the other. Time, though, is on Israel’s side: economically, demographically, strategically. The proportion of Jewish births continues to soar. The fruits of a decade of venture capital investing are ripening into high-valuation companies. And the Arab world is disintegrating all around Israel’s borders.
I have no idea whether the IDF will go into Gaza on the ground, or what they will do if they do so: that’s a tricky cost-benefit calculation, and no-one outside the government has relevant information. But the broader point is that Israel will win a war of attrition. Hamas has shot off hundreds of rockets (including one that landed a few kilometers from me up north in Zichron Yaakov while I had lunch there yesterday) without causing a single injury. Iron Dome has worked brilliantly. Traffic was a bit lighter than normal last night, but there wasn’t a free table at any of the hundred or so cafe terraces on Dizengoff St., Tel Aviv’s main drag.
There will be no Intifada on the West Bank: the Palestinian Arabs are older, more resigned and less inclined to destroy their livelihoods than in 2000. Syria and Iraq continue to disintegrate, Lebanon is inundated with Syrian Sunni refugees (weakening Hezbollah’s relative position), and Jordan is looking to Israel to protect it against ISIS. Egypt is busy trying to survive economically.
Medium-term, the boycott and BDS threat become irrelevant. “Startup nation” is becoming market-cap nation as hundreds of Israeli firms exit the venture capital stage and become profitable, mature enterprises. There’s never been anything like this. India and China beckon with a combined market of 2.5 billion people. To the extent that the Europeans threaten Israel with sanctions, the term “Middle East” gradually will be replaced by “Western Asia.”
[I was interrupted by another brief visit to the bomb shelter, again for five minutes.]
In the short-term, to be sure, Israel must proceed with caution. It is still vulnerable to pressure from the U.S., which provides the bulk of its military hardware, and economic pressure from Europe, which accounts for a third of its trade. Nonetheless, Israel is winning and its adversaries are losing. B’ezrat Hashem Israel will prevail.