Israel’s National Security: the Psychological Dimension
No one should fault the Israelis for their preoccupation with national security. Indeed, the Jewish historical experience speaks for itself: centuries of persecution, expulsion, anti-Semitism and segregation culminating with the Holocaust and followed by incessant, violent confrontations with Arab states and the Palestinians. Such things have created a major psychological barrier that places national security concerns at the front and center of Israel’s domestic and foreign policy. For this reason, any agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must take into full account Israel’s legitimate national security concerns, which are deeply embedded in the mind and soul of every Israeli. Regardless of how exaggerated Israel’s sense of vulnerability may seem to its detractors, the Palestinians cannot afford to dismiss Israel’s concerns and hope to strike a peace agreement. Although the Israelis and the Palestinians differ about the kind of measures needed to alleviate Israel’s security concerns, only if the Palestinians appreciate the psychological underpinnings behind Israel’s national security and agree on the security measures needed will both sides reach an enduring peace.