In the past week, Israeli fighter jets boldly traversed Lebanese airspace in broad daylight, demonstrating their unwavering confidence, and launched precise strikes on Syrian and Iranian targets in the border region shared by Lebanon and Syria. Over the weekend, Israel employed a drone to neutralize a Hamas outpost that overlooked its territory. This action was a clear message in response to the ongoing disturbances orchestrated by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Today, Israeli defense company Elbit secured a substantial $95 million contract to provide their cutting-edge fully autonomous loitering munitions to an undisclosed European nation.

These incidents from the past week underscore Israel's undeniable military supremacy in the region, not to mention its distinct advantages when compared to the world's leading armed forces. This has been the status quo for decades. However, on the diplomatic front, especially in regional endeavors for peace and normalization, foreign governments often seem to downplay these indisputable facts. The purpose here is not to suggest that Israel's non-hostile neighbors should live in constant fear of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) or Israeli security apparatus. Rather, it is to highlight the peculiar and illogical situation that Israel, in part, has contributed to.

Throughout history, the principles of diplomacy have remained largely consistent when it comes to nations forming regional and global alliances. Typically, the following sequence unfolds: nations engage in conflict or non-violent competition, one or more nations establish clear financial and military superiority, wars come to an end, and the victorious parties set the terms for peace, steering the region towards a brighter future. This doesn't necessarily imply suffering for the losing sides, especially in modern times, but it does indicate that a region tends to follow the lead of its most successful nations.

However, Israeli diplomacy seems to have deviated from this logical aspect of human nature. Almost every peace treaty or regional cooperation agreement it has entered into has involved significant concessions on Israel's part. Several factors contribute to this situation. The State of Israel, its politicians, and its citizens, as a collective, genuinely and wholeheartedly embrace the idea of peace. For a people who have been, and still are, subjected to hatred worldwide, the prospect of a neighboring nation willing to engage in peaceful relations, regardless of the costs, is immensely gratifying.

This psychology mirrors the behavior of unpopular high school students who are willing to do almost anything for a chance to be recognized as 'cool kids,' even when they are academically successful and have secured acceptance to prestigious universities. This behavior could be termed appeasement, but given that Israel is the stronger party on every front, a more apt description might be that Israelis and Jews, in general, exhibit sociotropic tendencies — a desire to please others.

While this people-pleasing behavior was somewhat less apparent in the Abraham Accords, it was evident in agreements between Israel and Jordan, Egypt, and the Oslo Accords with the PLO. A recent example of this tendency can be seen in the Saudi-Israeli normalization talks. From a security and economic standpoint, Israel has no urgent need to strike a deal with Saudi Arabia. There has been no direct military threat from Saudi Arabia for decades, and Israel's economy is thriving. In fact, forging this new relationship could be a game-changer for Saudi Arabia, given the declining significance of oil and the rising Iranian threat. Despite this, it is Israel that cautiously extends an olive branch, hoping that the Saudis will graciously accept it.

Politically, too, the potential normalization with Saudi Arabia is more of a boon for Bin Salman than for Israel. Netanyahu, as the Prime Minister under whose leadership the Abraham Accords were signed, would see peace with Saudi Arabia as a flattering addition to his legacy. For Bin Salman, normalization with Israel would validate his vision for the region, particularly his ambitious 2030 plan. In essence, what Israel primarily gains from Saudi normalization is the internal joy of achieving peace and further validation from its Western allies.

Recent headlines have suggested that Saudi Arabia has instructed its diplomats to halt all normalization talks mediated by the U.S. with Israel. The pretext cited is that Israeli officials are unwilling to make significant concessions regarding the Palestinian issue. These reports have gained widespread attention among the Israeli opposition and global critics of Israel and its leadership, particularly Netanyahu. They argue that the Prime Minister is unwisely resisting full cooperation with every demand made by the Saudis or Americans.

Perhaps Israeli diplomacy could benefit from the same lesson that high school 'nerds' learn — the lesson that Netanyahu and his controversial right-wing government are striving to impart: the most effective form of people-pleasing, one that carries genuine validation, is self-respect. Israel, at the very least, is a regional superpower, and the Arab world should not only silently acknowledge it but also openly recognize it. This would be in the interest of honesty, regional progress, and the attainment of lasting peace.

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