Sarah Stern: Good afternoon. On this very important day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Ha’atzmaut, we look back and reflect upon just how far Israel has come in the last seventy-five years. Israel began seventy-five years ago with little more than tremendous moral courage, resolve, and determination. It is developed into a high-tech powerhouse with critical contributions made in the fields of medicine, high-tech pharmacology, agriculture, and water sustainability. It has a renowned powerful military force and is a great NATO-like ally to the United States. As a part of CENTCOM, it willingly shares intelligence with the United States about our common threats and has the closest voting record to the United States in the United Nations.
Israel has contributed so much in the humanitarian sphere. Every time there is a tsunami or an earthquake, Israel is there with its battle-learned expertise helping civilians on the ground. When the host nation allows them to, they proudly unfold the blue and white flag. The woman whose name I bear, who perished at the hands of the Nazis, would never have dreamed of such remarkable sovereign, independent Jewish state.
But there’s been an extremely heavy price. Israel has lost twenty-four thousand two hundred thirteen men, women, children, and more through abhorrent acts of terrorism. This number includes four thousand two hundred fifty-five victims of terror. Even yesterday, on the sacred day of Yom HaZikaron, Israel was in the midst of a terrorist attack, a car ramming in Jerusalem.
Almost every Israeli has a friend, a neighbor, or a relative who has given up their lives in defense of the Jewish state. Throughout the past few weeks, images were seared into my brain. We pause to remember some of the most recent, just murdered over this past Passover: Lucy Dee, a forty-five-year-old mother of Maia Dee who was twenty and Rina Dee who was fifteen.
We are honored to have with us today one of Israel’s most brilliant and distinguished analysts and thinkers, Professor Efraim Inbar.
Professor Inbar was the founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a position he held for twenty-three years. He is a professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and has been a visiting professor at Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and Boston University, a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Manfred Warner NATO fellow, and a visiting fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. He’s provided Israel with some of the best analysis and critical thinking skills today. He’s authored 5 brilliant books and scores and scores of articles.
Efraim holds an MA and a PhD from the University of Chicago after finishing his undergraduate studies in Political Science and English Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As always, we are really honored to have you with us today.
Efraim, as you know, there are many conflicting visions that came into the birth of the State of Israel. What is it that makes you into a Zionist? What vision of Israel do you hold?
Efraim Inbar: I’m a Zionist, because I am a nationalist. I think that you can fulfill the collective potential only within a national state. This is why I’m a Zionist. If I may start the briefing, we are very lucky to live as contemporaries of the Jewish state. Last week, as you mentioned, we commemorated this holocaust theme. We all realize what could be an alternative for the Jewish people. Israel is an insurance against a new attempt for holocaust.
Even in your country – it’s unbelievable – that is United States. You have increased incidence of anti-Semitism. I’ve lived for many years in the United States. I studied there. I was on sabbatical. I never felt any anti-Semitism. I always thought that if I don’t live in Israel, I’m sure I’ll live in America. It’s a great country. There, in this great country, Jewish are worried about wearing a “kippa”, carrying a [foreign word]. Israel is needed in order to give the Jewish people an option to defend itself, an armed option.
I’ll start with a personal story. I never told it in public. In February ’68, I served as a young paratrooper in the Jordan Valley. One of our squads went for a reconnaissance duty. [inaudible] company. It was ambushed. My squad was called, too, to be a reinforcement to rescue them. We were shuttled. We rescued our comrades. Two of them were wounded. We opened stretchers and carried them to our position. A stretcher is carried by 4 people. I was carrying 1 of them. I was next to his head. He said to me, “Tell my mother that I was okay.” This was his concern. He stopped talking. The 2 wounded, basically, died in our hands when we reached the position.
One was [inaudible], the only son of holocaust survivors. He had a sister. The other one David [inaudible]. He was the lone soldier from France. He became a Zionist. He liked the red beret of the paratroopers. He joined. He volunteered in Israel. Only volunteers [inaudible].
I served at that time in Company B Battalion 50 of the Paratrooper Brigades 35, the regular brigade. We had at that time the largest company in the brigade. We were forty-five soldiers. Now, they have larger companies. Within a period of 2 years – maybe a month more – we lost fifteen combats in combat. Basically, a third of the company was buried with honors. Afterwards, I stopped counting.
My experience is not unique in Israel. This is an experience of my contemporaries, younger people. This is a heavy price for being independent. The nagging question is, of course, is it worth it? Of course, everybody – if he’s a bereaved father, a bereaved wife, or whatever – is entitled to question. Is it worth it?
After going to many funerals and visiting the families of my comrades, it’s not easy for me to say. But eventually, if I have to make a decision, it’s worth it. We established, as it was mentioned, an extremely successful state in a very short time. A flourishing of economy – I’m not sure if you’re aware – our GNP per capita is larger than most European countries.
There are 7 million Jews now in Israel. We have the highest fertility rate in the Western world. We are also pioneers in dealing with fertility issues in the world. We have a health system with qualities that few have in the world. You could see it during the COVID crisis.
We are a startup nation. Everybody knows that. We are a fountain of innovation. There are areas in which we excel. We are among the best in the world – if not the best – in water treatment, agriculture, military. We are also a vibrant democracy, sometimes too much, too vibrant.
I do not feel an erosion of Israeli democracy despite what comes out from Israel now. I don’t know what will happen. But I do not feel a deterioration. The Zionist movement renewed the Hebrew language. We speak the language of the prophets. This is an unprecedented miracle in the world. There are other countries; other nations are trying to revive an old language. They were not successful. We did it.
The state was established not because of the holocaust. You see? It was established because of the tremendous energies of the Zionists. The Zionist idea, like many ideas, are powerful engines in history. As I mentioned, only in Israel the Jewish collective can develop fully its potential. Not everything is fine in Israel. But still, we can be proud of what we achieved so far.
I’m a religious Jew [inaudible]. I believe in divine intervention. We should always pray for the help of God, [foreign words]. But we should not rely on miracles. It is our own duty and privilege to complete the messianic dream.
According to Maimonides, [foreign words], twelfth century, “The difference between the days of messiah and the regular days is Jewish sovereignty.” We have Jewish sovereignty. We live in an era of redemption. We should appreciate it. The struggle, however, is [inaudible].
A few weeks ago, we sat around the Table of the Seder in Passover. We have that in every generation. We have enemies. They want to destroy it. This generation is not that [inaudible]. We have enemies that say openly that they want to destroy us. This is the Iranian genocidal regime, their ambitions, their nuclear aspirations, their religious enmity, their hegemonic dreams. For them, we are a religious sacrilege and – we should not forget – a barrier for hegemony. With America out of the Middle East – and it goes out – you do not leave it at all. But definitely, it will reduce its investments in the region.
Israel is the only country that can stop Iran from taking over the Middle East. We are the only ones that fight Iran actively in Syria and in other arenas. Unfortunately, we see the Iranian axis becoming stronger despite the sanctions, despite everything. They succeeded in having diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. Syria, an Arab ally of Iran is being reaccepted into the Arab world. Iran is part of it. Iran now is linked to Russia, to China. Definitely, it is willing to take more risks than before including attacking Israeli target. We’ve seen it just a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, we look weak. I think our deterrence is being eroded. Israel looks divided, is busy with domestic problems. It basically reassures the Iranian [inaudible], said they are right about what they call the spider web theory. In their eyes, we are a web that can be easily torn. This, of course, invite aggression.
There is a question of concern. Are we the talented Jewish people [inaudible]. We are a very talented people, ready to meet the challenge of sovereignty. We should not forget that the Jewish people have lost twice their state. They went into exile.
Nowadays, in Israel, again, unfortunately, we see a part of the Israeli’s irresponsible behavior. The discourse is acerbic. It’s hostile, very hostile. I’m concerned. There are signs that the politicians in Israel, maybe they’ll put their acts together. I hope so.
My institute called for a compromise. It really doesn’t matter what kind of compromise. There are issues that can be delayed. Not everything has to be done in the next few months. Also, if you want a warning, that war may come upon us if we don’t put our acts together.
Is the redemption process a one-way street? I don’t know. I’m not sure. Half of the Jewish people are living in the desert. I’m not sure they understand the great opportunity the Jewish people were given by providence. Are they fully aware of the greatness of the challenge or the potential to be fulfilled? Let us pray that the prophecies of our prophets would be fulfilled.
Rabbi Tarfon in Pirkei Avot, Ethics, says, “It’s not our duty to finish the work. But neither are you at liberty to neglect it.” I invite every Jew in Israel and the world [?] to participate in the building of the Jewish state. [foreign words]. I would like everybody to join us here in Israel in this miraculous historic journey.
Now, if there are the questions, I’ll be glad to take them.
Sarah: [foreign words]. As we discussed before, Efraim, ever since, really, the Peel Commission of 1937 – but certainly, since UN Resolution 181 – Israel has been given the right to exist in the community of nations. There are only 2 ways that nation-states are forged. One is through diplomacy. The other is through the battlefield. Both of these check marks have been made when the case comes for Israel. Israel probably has more right to exist than any other state in the world that I know of. Yet, on international arenas of the world, it is the one state whose very existence is constantly debated.
Now, how do we explain this? What is the best way to explain this to people who go back and talk about the occupation and don’t quite understand Israel’s history and the countless countless proposals that have been made to the Palestinians for two-state solution that they’ve rejected?
Efraim: We cannot [inaudible]. It’s a task to too big for us. We are a unique case. Let’s face it. How many people returned after two thousand years to their owner? It’s not easy to understand.
Having said that, I love to quote one of your presidents who refer to the diplomatic arena as “speak softly” – that’s diplomacy – “and carry a big stick”. Roosevelt. I think he was right. We can speak softly. We should speak softly. But at the same time, carry a big stick.
I think this big stick convinced some of our neighbors that it’s better to live in peace – at least, temporarily – with Israel. We have a peace treaty with Egypt – very important – a peace treaty with Jordan, and the Abraham Accord which we’re actually expanding. We see other Muslim countries coming in. Azerbaijan opened an embassy. We opened an embassy in Turkmenistan. I must say that – I travel a lot – part of the world likes us.
I came back months ago from India. India has a lot of Indians as you know. They surpassed China. India, for years, is a defense establishment. The political establishment belonging to the BJP Party – the India party – was very much interested in having a good relationship with Israel and appreciated what we are doing in our cooperation. We sell over $1 billion dollars a year to India.
But we see a change also in public opinion which is a result of Netflix. They put out Fauda. Fauda made miracles. Many Indians watching Fauda identify with Israel. Of course, they don’t like Muslims which helps. Even in China, I think China does not carry any anti-Semitic baggage. [inaudible]. If we are useful for them, it’s okay. If not, they don’t care about that.
The problem is primarily in the Muslim world and, of course, the Christian world, Europe, in particular. But Europe is not that important anyway. I hope America [inaudible]. You have also problems. I think your politicians also need to come to their senses in order to bring back some of the civil debates. I don’t mind making America great again.
Sarah: One piece of good news from the US Congress is that just yesterday, in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, there was an overwhelmingly positive resolution out of one hundred and forty-five members of Congress – only nineteen voted against it – congratulating Israel for its seventy-fifth birthday and encouraging more countries to join the Abraham Accords. We’re still, I think, very very much appreciated. The strength of the intelligence sharing and military cooperation with the United States – particularly, since America has withdrawn considerably from the Middle East – I think is very very appreciated.
Our major problem lies with the academia. The Edward Said and Revolution, that has really caught fire and has influenced far too many young people. This has been decades in brewing. We have to recapture the public imagination. It’s very very important, I think, that somehow we end and – God-forbid, not through Jewish blood – people understand what it is that is Israel is contributing in this very very unstable region of the world.
Speaking of instability, Efraim, you know that the world pretty much experienced a Teutonic shift when Beijing brokered the accords between Riyadh and Tehran. How do you feel this is affecting the strength of the Abraham Accords and Israel’s alliances in the region?
Efraim: My evaluation is Riyadh wanted to slap the United States for its lack of support and for its misbehavior on its part. This is what they did it for the Chinese. The uranium factor was less important than the Chinese factor for, I believe, the Saudis. But at the same time, as I mentioned, it definitely improves the situation, the position of Iran.
The Abraham Accords are not given [?]. They depend upon Israel taking muscular action against Iran and its proxies. This is why it was signed. This is a real glue, strategic glue that brought those countries to the table. If we don’t deliver, they’ll say, “Why do you need it?”
We have enough money to buy everything on the international market. It’s true that Israeli hospitals maybe are closer. But India is not that far. Also, they can buy good medicines there. It is dependent upon Israel doing what it must do versus Iran. This will stabilize the region. Otherwise, we all are in trouble.
Sarah: You know that the cost will be tremendous. You’ve recently written. There are, at least, one hundred thousand missiles from Hezbollah aimed at Israel. Some of them are precision-guided munitions. Also, Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran, recently said that if Israel makes any move, then they, “Don’t threaten us,” essentially, that, “You are in big trouble.”
I understand that there’s absolutely no way to be able to survive without making these calculated moves yet. I also understand how some of the people in the political establishment might be pausing. Do you want to reflect a bit?
Efraim: What I want to make quite clear is that we cannot live with a nuclear [inaudible]. It is [inaudible] illusions that we can emulate. The nuclear relationship had existed between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. This is completely incorrect.
In order to have what’s called the balance of terror, you need a very complicated situation. You need, of course, good communications which are not existing between Israel and Iran. You need long distances in order to give you early warning. This is also inexistent in the Iranian Israeli situation.
You need your rival to be deterred. Deterrence is a function of willingness to pay a cost. If the enemy doesn’t want to pay a cost, it’s deterred. Iran is willing to pay a heavy price for destroying the Jewish state. They speak about millions. A country that is willing to pay in the millions is not easily deterred.
First of all, I would like to suggest that there is a scenario where we might face nuclear attacks once there is a counter-revolution in Iran. Those guys that can push the button, the Islamic Guards, may decide to push the button once they’re afraid that there is a counter-revolution. They’ll be dragged into the streets, beaten, tortured, exactly as they did to their opponents. They want to go away in a big fanfare, and then push the button. I don’t want Israel to take any chances. Therefore, we have to act.
Sarah: Another major major difference between the former Soviet Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran is they didn’t believe in God or an afterlife. They were really just saving their own skins. We see; we see that Iran is on the march. Just last week, Esmail Qaani, the head of the Al Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was in Beirut meeting with Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Ishmael Haniyeh of Hamas saying that now is an opportune time to attack Israel.
Israel would be facing a war on multiple fronts. Do you feel that the IDF has the capacity, the resolve, and the determination to be able to fight wars on so many fronts?
Efraim: Israel is preparing for such scenarios. I’m not sure that Israel, the government, is putting at its disposal military, enough resources. I definitely advocate a larger defense budget in order to meet some of those challenges.
We shouldn’t forget also that, for example, if we talk about the missiles coming from the north of Hezbollah, we definitely don’t have enough Iron Dome batteries. Those batteries are primarily deployed along strategic sites and not to defend the population. We need more money. The Israeli Army is so low. We need more people.
Those are other scenarios in which just the best crack units are not enough. As one of our generals said, “We need also mediocre soldiers.” Not paratroopers or Golani or Givati. We need second ranked soldiers to go in and to do some of the job. We don’t have enough. We have structural problems that have to be addressed. I’m afraid that Israelis that are facing the guns vis-à-vis battle dilemma forget the need for guns and battery [inaudible].
I think Israel can afford to lower its standard of living and still be okay, because we need more money for the defense budget. This is not a popular position, as you can imagine. But this is what I’m doing. This is my institute. What it’s doing is we are trying to convince the Israelis that we need more resources in order to defend ourselves, because the price in the future might be too high.
Sarah: It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of values. You need to shelter first. Absolutely.
Efraim: Survival [crosstalk].
Sarah: Survival first. Recently, Senator Lindsey Graham was in Saudi Arabia. They, as you know, are very interested in their own nuclear program. I don’t know if he was sent by the president of the United States. I don’t know what kind of relationship. But he very much committed American resources – I don’t know if he was speaking out of turn and just talking for himself – for Saudi nuclear program.
We know that there have been fourteen centuries of enmity between the Saudis and the Iranians. But I personally would hate to see the Middle East become a nuclear keg. Do you have any feelings about this?
Efraim: I don’t think nuclear cooperation is a good thing. As we said, the United States should be very careful in transferring nuclear technology and should delay as long as possible such deals. Saudi Arabia doesn’t need nuclear energy. It has plenty of oil. It has plenty of solar energy, if they want to go green. There is no clear rationale for either Iran or for Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear technology.
Iran, of course, will precipitate the nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It’s not only Saudi Arabia. It’s also Turkey. It’s also Egypt. Therefore, the United States should be very careful when it tries to appease certain wishes by actors in the Middle East. That’s irresponsible behavior.
Sarah: You had come out. You and your wonderful institute, the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, had come out with some wonderful remarks earlier on about the debates of judicial reform and addressing some of the soldiers of the IDF and reservists who refuse to serve. Would you like to just reiterate some of those comments which I think are so incredibly valuable?
Efraim: Of course. I felt [inaudible]. [inaudible] and Israeli population that have crossed the lines of what is okay. You can, of course, demonstrate. You can state your position. You can lobby in the parliament. There are many ways to try to influence the government folks. But you cannot threaten to refuse orders with the military. This is incitement. This is irresponsible behavior. Again, I’m not sure about the legal position on such a thing. But it looks very bad.
Generally, to bring in the IDF into a political debate is, in my view, totally unacceptable. We should keep the IDF out of the political debates. The Israeli Army is an organ of the government, that is, it’s only mission is to defend the State of Israel and its citizens, not to become an actor in political debates.
Actually, those people, the reformists that try to use their position as reformists to make a political point, is something that is not done. It’s not done in any democracy. I know they speak about democracy. But they behave in an undemocratic way. I think it was a mistake to amplify their voice. They should have been taken to their commanders and explain to them that they should stay out as military in the military capacity from a political debate.
I think also that some of the remarks that were made by Israeli government ministers were unacceptable. You cannot send your pilots to hell, for example. This is not the language we should use in our political debates. I’m very sorry that there was a debasement of our discourse which is dangerous. It harms our nation cohesion.
I don’t know if you’re aware. In every position paper we write for the government, the first article is do not make any decision that will harm national cohesion. This is the first article. We should try to find a way to conduct our political debate respectfully without harming the national security of the State of Israel. Too much is at stake.
This is why the institute came out with several statements advocating, of course, a compromise and criticizing the language and the way this debate is conducted.
To make it perfectly clear, personally, I think that the balance between the judiciary – particularly, the Supreme Court of Justice – and parliament has to be redressed. I think the Supreme Court went too far in many of its decisions and intervened in issues that’s not their business. We are talking about values that should be decided by the people, by the parliament. It’s not a judicial decision. I, personally, do not accept that everything will be decided by the court. No. They should decide according to the law.
By the way, Supreme Court Justice decided on the few occasions against the Israeli law which is, again, unacceptable. I must say that there is a great consensus in Israel that the system needs revision. But the Supreme Court went too far. Even those that demonstrate against the government now agree that something must be done in order to [inaudible] the powers, the appetite of the Supreme Court of Justice.
My only hope is that we’ll be able to reach some kind of agreement. If we’ll not have every issue agreed upon, okay. We’ll delay those issues. We lived without a constitution seventy-five years. Some people said, “No. We need the Constitution.” So we delay. Delaying solving problems is also one way to manage.
Sarah: Especially at this point when Israel is facing so many existential threats. I think your call for cohesion and unity is brilliant and so necessary. As I often say, on Capitol Hill, I quote Natan Sharansky and his wonderful book, The Case for Democracy, “Democracy means being able to stand in the town square and criticize the government.”
If anything, Israel is a vociferous democracy. You can’t expect to criticize the government in Tehran or in China or in Beijing or in Moscow or in Riyadh and have a debate.
When people here are saying these absurd things because of the amplification of the debate here in the United States like, “I can no longer support Israel, because it’s no longer a democracy,” I say, “You really don’t understand what democracy is all about. Israel is a wonderful, healthy, vibrant democracy. The IDF is the backbone upon which all of Israel depends.”
I applaud you for taking these stances. There’s absolutely no way that Israel could survive if people say, “I will no longer serve in the IDF.” We applaud you 1000%.
With that I want, to turn the floor over to my amazing and heroic colleague, Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, who I am just very grateful to share every working day with who will read some of the questions that have come in. Hussein?
Hussein Aboubakr Mansour: Thank you very much, Sarah. Thank you very much, Efraim, for such a timely presentation. [foreign words] to you and all our listeners. Thank you very much to everybody who tuned in and who sent these questions. Please keep sending us your questions through the Q&A function through Zoom.
Efraim, [inaudible], of course, very diverse group of questions, because we touched on so many issues. I’m going to start actually with I think the most inflammatory of the questions. We received that group of questions asking about your own opinion about the current disagreements and major controversies which you touched on in Israel about the identity of Israel’s [inaudible]. Do you have a position on whether Israel is [inaudible] for the Jews? Is it a Jewish state? Do you think the Rabbanut is going too far? What is the role of Halakhah and the state? I don’t know if you can share with us some of your views.
Efraim: Israel is a Jewish state, because many Jews are living there more than anywhere else, a majority, over 7 million. It’s a Jewish state also, because it runs according to the Jewish calendar. Shabbat is a rest day. We have rest days on Rosh Hashanah. Some of the people go to the beach on Rosh Hashanah. But it’s Rosh Hashanah [inaudible].
In many ways, it’s obviously a Jewish state. We speak Hebrew, the Hebrew language. It’s a Jewish language. We create in Hebrew. It is, obviously, a Jewish state. There are many ways to be Jewish. I understand.
What I would like everybody, every Jew – irrelevant if he is a practicing Jew or a [inaudible] – is to be knowledgeable about his tradition. We have a wonderful tradition. It’s a civilization. Not too many people in the world have three thousand years of tradition.
Books that were written two thousand, three thousand years ago – though I’m going to the dispute when those were written – we can read them. We quote part of the debate in Israel with verses, Jewish verses. A Jewish state is [inaudible].
If I would like to have a greater Jewish content, yes. I think that our schools don’t give a good enough Jewish education to our kids. We should do more. Particularly, the last government reduced some of the humanistic content, particularly, Bible studies. I think it’s a mistake that can be corrected.
About Halakhah. I’m personally bound by the Halakhah. But it is my decision. Also, when you are saying that you are bound by the Halakhah, basically, you choose your own rabbi. The rule is “aseh lecha rav”. You choose your own rabbi. You know, more or less, what he’s going to tell you. In Germany [?], [inaudible].
The biblical establishment in Israel is too aloof from daily life, from the life of the Jews. It’s there in the book. This is a problem; I admit. This is something that should be corrected. But at the same time, it’s connected to [inaudible], because we are a Jewish state. You cannot go in another corner of the United States and establish you own synagogue and decide, “That’s my Jewish.” No. In Israel, it’s a state. If you want money from the government, if you want to belong to the state, it’s a revolutionary situation.
Therefore, religion is intermingled with the state. It’s all continuous tension. It will not stop. The tension will continue. The political power [inaudible] is dependent upon their numbers in the population. Let’s face it.
Hussein: You spoke of tensions. I received a couple of questions asking about the issue of IDF service by their religious population. This issue, particularly, as you know, causes a lot of grievances. I hear about it a lot from my own Israeli secular friends. Pretty much, I would say it’s first thing that they say whenever discussion of these tensions and disagreements in Israel happen. What is your view on this? How can this issue be addressed in a way that reduces the string of grievances among the secular population?
Efraim: I [inaudible]. I served this army. My son was also a paratrooper. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s not just [inaudible]. It’s having rights without duties.
I just finished writing a piece. A colleague of mine said, “We are advocating mandatory service for everybody including all ultra-orthodox, including Arabs. The service can be military service or civilian service. But full citizenship should be given to anybody that does not fulfill this basic duty to the state. We call it service for everybody.” This is what should happen.
I’m not sure that the political level will have the guts and will have the moral sensitivity to go along with it. But this is what is needed. Everybody has to give some time of his life to the state in order to be a full citizen. I don’t mind even saying openly. I wouldn’t give voting rights to people that don’t serve. Historically, serving in the army, carrying arms, participating in wars was a condition for citizenship in Greece, in classic Greece, in Rome. This should be the case for Israel.
I have no doubt in my mind. I have many friends, ultra-orthodox. They don’t like me because of that. They like me for other things. No. Certain things should be seen only in principle.
Part of what’s happening now in Israel, for economic reasons, the Ministry of Finance is conducting the campaign to lower the age, mandatory age, for ultra-orthodox, because they want them into the workforce in order to increase further the Israeli GNP. This is a mistake. You cannot look at this issue through financial, budgetary lenses. It is an issue of life and death. It’s not money.
Sarah: Thank you so much, Efraim, for your courageous words of wisdom. That would help if people heeded them. It would really do so much to heal the rift in Israeli society which is basic, is essential for Israel’s survival.
I hope that the government is not swayed by the politicians and their numbers but will have the wisdom to see what is really in the best interest of the national survival of the State of Israel and not just in keeping themselves in power.
I can’t thank you enough for your intellectual honesty and your moral clarity and for the wonderful work of the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy.
I like to encourage all of our listeners to look them up and to please support them as well as supporting EMET, if you could go to emetonline.org. As you know, we work incredibly hard here in the US Congress practically every day and put on these wonderful webinars with wonderful wonderful guests such as Professor Efraim Inbar. It’s an honor and a privilege to talk to you. Thank you.
Efraim: [foreign words]
Sarah: Thank you. [foreign words]
Sarah: Be well. Thank you. Bye-bye.
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