The concept of security has evolved beyond its conventional and military framework, encompassing an array of diverse dimensions. Players now face complex threats that infiltrate every aspect of life. As a result, they have no choice by to adopt multidimensional policies to counter these intricate challenges. Implementing these strategies mandates a simultaneous focus on both hard and soft power. Israel, a major player in international relations, particularly in matters of security, has not been immune to the reverberations of these dynamics.
With the shifting tides within the international system, the traditional sovereignty of states has been diminished. New actors have emerged in the current labyrinthine state of the international system. Therefore, the examination of any issue needs an all-inclusive approach and one-dimensional analysis has become obsolete.
Given this backdrop, Israel has constantly hooked its security to the US. Because of its limited geographical expanse, the volatility of both fixed and variable geopolitical factors, and the threats posed by the Resistance Front, Israel’s ability to form a protective shield for the inhabitants of occupied territories is constrained. Thus, the potential waning of American hegemony looms as a major cause behind Israel’s profound anxieties about its future.
Over the past seventy years, despite the fluctuating nature of their relations, the United States has stood by Israel since its recognition, becoming its foremost ally and supporter. This has led to a relationship characterized by mutual interests, a bond so robust that it has solidified into what can be termed as a special rapport. Such commitment has persisted through the tenures of US presidents, no matter Democrat and Republican, all have pledged unwavering support for Israel’s security.
Israel is seen as a strategic asset for the United States, reflecting the power of influential American Jewish factions, mutual interests, common values, and analogous institutions that influence their domestic and foreign policy directions. These features have acted as underpinnings that foster understanding and cooperation between Tel Aviv and Washington.
Their bilateral interactions span from the United States’ empathetic stance when Israel came into existence in 1948 to the forging of a distinctive partnership. These engagements have led to a situation where Israel, although compact in size, possesses outstanding military power and is tied to the United States in terms of both economic and military reliance. The US, meanwhile, tries to strike a balance in the region, through Israel. While some in the United States view the substantial aid and commitments to Israel as a trade-off against cultivating relations with diverse Arab nations, others perceive Israel as a crucial partner.
Israel is one of the two primary non-NATO allies of the United States in the Middle East. In broader terms, such relations are unprecedented. The United States has vetoed almost all anti-Israeli resolutions in the UN Security Council over the years.
Israel functions as a military stronghold for the US in the Middle East, offering a vantage point for Washington to assert its political, military, social, and economic influence over neighboring countries. The United States has channeled its resources to ensure Israel’s security, stability and recognition. Israel has enjoyed an array of benefits — economic, military, security, and political — similar to those enjoyed by the United States. Its security remains a cornerstone of America’s foreign policy.
Impact of diminishing US hegemony on Israel
US support for Israel over the past seventy years has emboldened the latter to commit any crime. However, the looming specter of a waning hegemony has emerged as a primary concern in shaping the present and future trajectory of the Jewish entity.
Israel’s security has become intertwined with its reliance on the United States. Should the US find itself unable to exert the same role within the emerging international order as it had in the past, the existence of Israel and those living in the occupied territories would be at stake. Moreover, two striking internal issues have taken center stage: a prevailing sense of desperation about Israel’s future and a surge in reverse migration. Simultaneously, the threats coming from the Resistance Front further exacerbate the situation.
The Jewish Agency and affiliated organizations have placed the transfer of Jews to occupied Palestine on their agenda, offering a variety of incentives and launching extensive campaigns about the well-being and security of Israelis. Despite such efforts, roughly one-sixth of the seven million Jewish population has emigrated in recent years due to unfavorable economic conditions and growing insecurity.
While Israel does incorporate these returning migrants into its population statistics, it has denied them voting in the recent elections. This comes amid Israel’s economic woes, exacerbated by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment rates reaching 30%. Under such circumstances, it is natural to see little enthusiasm on the part of Jews to immigrate to occupied Palestine. In essence, the diminishing Jewish population has plunged Israel into a severe existential quandary, as its very foundation rests upon a Jewish populace.
This is a critical concern highlighted by Israeli media and experts, who perceive it as a prelude to the erosion of Israel. In 2010 alone, as many as 230,000 Israelis returned to their countries of origin. Statistics reveal that by annexing around 85% of Palestinian territories, Israel managed to draw over five million Jews to these areas between 1948 and 2016. Paradoxically, this occurred in tandem with a reverse migration trend, witnessing over 20% of these Jews returning to their native lands during the years 2000 to 2016.
According to experts, the current escalating trend of reverse migration constitutes the most daunting challenge to Israeli existence. By Israel’s classification, reverse migrants are those who have departed occupied Palestine for over a year for any reason and have resided overseas. Official records indicate that the minimal count of Israelis living abroad is 750,000 — equivalent to more than 10% of Israel’s overall population. Nevertheless, fresh data suggest that the number of Zionist Jews residing abroad far surpasses these figures. During Israel’s initial decade, the exodus of emigrants abroad was about 100,000. However, in 1980, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics disclosed that over 270,000 Zionists had resided abroad for over a year, accounting for 7% of Israel’s entire population at that time. This figure has grown significantly over the decades. Departing Jews, when pressed about their reasons for leaving, reply: “Don’t ask why we left Israel, ask why we remained there for so long.”
Desperation about future
Recent polls suggest that nearly half of Israel’s population consists of young individuals who prefer to live abroad. The primary reason cited by Israelis for their yearning to migrate hinges on the unfavorable conditions prevailing within the entity. Among those residing in the occupied territories, who initially migrated to Palestine enticed by an array of promises, optimism about Israel’s future has dwindled to a state of desolation. Credible statistics and surveys underscore that hope for the future has hit a record low over the past decade.
Following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that consolidated the Resistance Front, Israel’s erstwhile image of an invincible military power has eroded. Presently, Israel finds itself incapable of countering even the smallest faction within the Resistance Front, an alliance encompassing Palestinian resistance groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the emergence of Ansarullah in Yemen and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and the failure of plots to overthrow the Syrian government, have made this front exceedingly formidable.
Despite a series of ploys ranging from sanctions to targeted killings and proxy wars, the United States, at the zenith of its power, has failed to overcome this alliance. And now a decline in US dominance has curtailed its capacity even further in countering this coalition of groups and governments. Israel has astutely recognized that the Resistance Front is progressively tightening the noose around its neck.
Media coverage of US fading influence in Israel
Since 2020, the trajectory of the Jewish entity within the era of a multipolar system and the erosion of American hegemony has remained a focal point for Israeli media and think tanks. In an article, Mitvim – the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, explored Israel’s concerns stemming from the decline of the US influence, coupled with the collapse of the world order engineered by the US, alongside the rise of China and Russia. The key points of the article are as follows:
The ascent of China and the decline of American power serve to undermine the credibility of the established liberal world order, a development rife with peril for Israel.
Frictions between the vanguards of liberalism in the West and Israel have escalated. These tensions arise from Israel’s ongoing control over the Palestinian people in the West Bank and its military attacks on the Gaza Strip. A recent report from Amnesty International casts doubt on the legitimacy of Israel’s political paradigm.
Certain Israeli acts, such as targeting military figures (both governmental and non-governmental) engaged in activities against Israel, stand in contradiction to the values upheld by the liberal world. In the absence of American support, Israel’s actions remain unsupported.
A weakened United States would invariably debilitate Israel. A substantial portion of Tel Aviv’s potency comes from its close ties to Washington. The decline of American influence would undoubtedly cast a shadow over Israel as well. And the prospect of maintaining a parallel level of intimate partnership with China seems implausible.
A global landscape defined by two competing powerhouses — Beijing and Washington — would prompt a more insular world. Israel’s gains from the globalization driven by the United States are at stake.
Although Israeli concerns about Russia and China are less pronounced than those about Iran, the prevailing sentiment among Zionists is that Russia and China are unlikely to evolve into strategic allies for Israel. The Zionist perspective maintains that Israel alone cannot counter the increasing influence of Iran and its proxy groups. Additionally, the United States’ ability to rally support against this axis has dwindled compared to the past. Presently, the US finds itself in a position where it seeks negotiation with these very groups and nations.
Within Israeli media, a paradigm shift is evident, heralding the waning of American hegemony. While the United States continues to outpace its competitors in various aspects, the overarching path is leading toward a multipolar global order. Confronted by this shifting landscape, Israel must grapple with crafting a viable strategy to secure its existence. However, according to many Israeli experts, the entity’s vitality is perceived to be in its twilight stages, projected to endure far less than 25 years.
Extensive Israeli analyses regarding the future of the entity have spawned a range of media narratives, collectively culminating in a prevailing sense of despair among Zionists residing in the occupied territories concerning the times ahead.