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For Israel, a War Unlike Any Other

©Yehoshua Halevi/
©Yehoshua Halevi/
Yossi Klein Halevi is a Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Together with Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University and Jennifer Raskas, he co-directs the Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative. Yossi is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor and co-host with Donniel Hartman and Elana Stein Hain of the Institute’s award-winning podcast, For Heaven’s Sake. He is also the author of Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli

“The Israeli psyche resembles an archaeological site of layers of unresolved traumas, ordinary life interrupted by history. Still, none of the previous wars and terror assaults and missile barrages that I’ve lived through in my four decades as an Israeli has quite prepared me for this moment of rage, dread, uncertainty, resolve.

This is the first war I’ve experienced that seems existential. Not in an immediate sense: Israel will not disappear tomorrow if it fails to meet its stated goal of destroying Hamas. But Israelis intuitively understand that if this round of fighting ends with one more stalemate, then our military deterrence—shattered by the mass but intimate butchery of Oct. 7—could be irretrievable. Without credible deterrence, we have ‘nothing to look for,’ as Israeli slang puts it, in the Middle East.

The Iranian regime has effectively surrounded Israel with terror proxies pressing on its borders. Hezbollah alone possesses some 150,000 rockets and missiles, capable of striking anywhere in Israel. When the siren sounds, we enter the concrete-reinforced “safe room” that every Israeli apartment built in recent decades is required by law to maintain, reasonably confident that the Iron Dome antimissile system can handle the Hamas barrages. But if Hezbollah enters the war, our defenses will be overwhelmed. What is now a conceptual definition of existential threat would become tangible.”

Read the full article on Wall Street Journal.

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