Source: Israeli Defence Forces official Facebook page
It’s a sentiment that only a few contemporary thinkers have touched on. And when they did, it was in a fleeting manner, without elaborating on why it is that if Israel falls, Europe will soon follow. It’s not a new sentiment. A year after the Six Day War, Eric Hoffer, America’s “blue-collar philosopher“, wrote a short paragraph about the matter.
“At this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realise how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general. I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us.“
More recently, historian Niall Ferguson wrote:
“Though holy to all three monotheistic religions, Jerusalem today sometimes seems like the modern equivalent of Vienna in 1683 – a fortified city on the frontier of Western civilisation. (p.93)“
If the Polish king Jan III Sobieski and his 60.000 strong Polish-German fighting force, most notably consisting of his Winged Hussars, would not have defeated the Ottoman invaders besieging Vienna, a defenceless Western Europe would have been at their feet. By stating that modern day Israel is the equivalent of 1683 Vienna, Ferguson implies that if Israel falls, so will Europe.
But, just like Hoffer, Ferguson doesn’t expand on why this would be the case. And what actually do they mean?
Contrary to Vienna, Israel’s landmass is not adjacent to Europe. And in 1968, besides being Soviet proxies, there was no substantial threat to the West emanating from the Arab Muslim world itself. The French-Algerian war had ended six years earlier, and the Libyan Lockerbie and Berlin discotheque bombing wouldn’t take place until about 20 years later. And although shocking and deadly, those attacks had little to no impact on Europe’s structural security and social fabric.
Besides his instinctive sympathy towards the Jewish state, Hoffer regarded Israel as a forward base in the struggle to contain the Soviet Union. And indeed, Israel proved itself a solid ally and intelligence hub, for example by lending the US a stolen Soviet-Iraqi MIG-21 fighter to study. But while it is true that the Israeli victories resulting in peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan helped bring the Middle East under US hegemony, it remains unlikely that Israel’s destruction would have entailed a Soviet victory over the West, as Hoffer’s premonition implies.
Anno 2016 however, Israel’s downfall would have very profound effects on the already unravelling social fabric and structural security of Europe. Now more than at any time in its history, the fall of Israel would push Europe to the brink as well. It’s peculiar, but it seems Hoffer’s instincts are truer now than they were 49 years ago.