Leonard Zwelling

On page 301 of his fabulous book, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, Daniel Gordis defines the term conceptzia that arose in Israel after the Jewish state’s victory in the 1967 War.

It was the belief in the ultimate superiority of the Israel Defense Force and its mission to protect Israelis. It was shattered a mere six years later in the Yom Kippur War when Israel had to fight for its life after the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria. In essence, Israel had become complacent after 1967 and was thus susceptible to a surprise attack.

This has happened again.

Articles are now being written about how Hamas could knock out Israel’s border security systems, overrun its military installations, and kill over 1000 civilians and soldiers in a matter of hours almost 50 years to the day after the Yom Kippur War.

What Israel needs to do right now is to take a deep breath.

What is the upside of a ground assault on Gaza? Can Hamas really be eliminated? Can the hostages even be found alive? What if Israel did not attack, despite the thirst for revenge? What if Israel simply starved Gaza of utilities until the United Nations screamed that Israel was committing a war crime. (The UN has). Then Israel could say, fine, we will turn the power back on when every hostage is returned unharmed. Can the leadership of Israel admit to its conceptzia once again in 2023 and make rational decisions, because I do not see the upside of continuous bombing of Gazan residents or house-to-house fighting in an urban environment, let alone imagining how the Israelis will penetrate the Hamas tunnel system under Gaza. Furthermore, I believe that the Iranian puppet masters will unleash the hounds of Hezbollah and Hamas in the West Bank the minute Israeli tanks enter Gaza. Israel will be in the midst of a three-front war despite President Biden’s warning for others to stay out.

Can Netanyahu outsmart Hamas and somehow get the Gazans to throw them out? It’s a high-risk strategy, but it has no downside except for the hostages and they cannot be found anyway. They are likely being held in small groups all over Gaza. Some may already have been killed in Israeli shelling. Can Netanyahu begin to call on the Sunni nations of the Gulf to join in the outrage of the Israelis and ask for their help in alleviating the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza through humanitarian efforts once the hostages are returned? Only diplomacy will get the hostages back—not bombs or tanks.

This calls for the long view. The Middle East is forever changed. Who will determine the future now that it is clear that Iran is going to do everything in its power to kill every Jew in Israel? Perhaps the focus of destruction ought to be on Iranian oil fields, not Gazan civilians as Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested. But what would that do to the price of gas and what would Iran’s oil client China do?

This is a time requiring great contemplation and planning.

While we are on the subject of planning and tough decision making, what about the fact that the United States Congress is in virtual paralysis and the Republicans in the House cannot identify a leader? There’s a simple solution to this one though. The GOP leadership needs to approach Democratic minority leader Hakeem Jeffries and offer him up a deal that would get the Democrats in the House to vote for a moderate Republican for speaker. Boy, would that annoy Matt Gaetz!

The United States is also a little bit guilty of conceptzia. We should not be so cocky that we allow politics to trump the nation’s welfare and the nation cannot function without a viable Congress.

Finally, I find that leading academic institutions may be victims of conceptzia, too. When a letter can come out of Harvard blaming the events in Israel on the Israelis and the Harvard leadership not protest in the strongest of terms, it too has become complacent. It is finding that its donors agree. Some are walking away.

Complacency is dangerous for a nation, for a legislature, for an academic institution. It is to be resisted at all cost through constant vigilance.

Israel took its eye off the ball and paid a heavy price. Israel should not make another mistake without carefully considering the downstream effects.

Congress members need to act like the leaders they claim to be and get a Speaker in place.

Great academic institutions remain great by eschewing complacency and focusing on excellence and clarity of thought.

Conceptzia can be fatal as we have seen yet again. It must be resisted.

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