Israel Palestine Infos
“Around Us the Storm is Raging…”
US the storm is raging / But our head will not be bowed…” we sang when we were
young, before the State of
On the eve of
Around us, many storms are raging. In
Israel sees itself as an island in the stormy sea, threatened on all sides, ready for the tsunami to hit any minute.
THERE IS something ironic about all this.
The Zionist adventure started with the promise to create a safe haven for the Jews, after centuries of helplessness.
Indeed, stripped of all ideological decorations, that was the central theme of the endeavor. Everywhere, Jews were defenseless, dependent on the mercies of others. Here, in a state of our own, we would be able to defend ourselves, head unbowed.
In other words, for ages we were the object of history, now we were taking our destiny in our own hands, an actor on the stage of history, a nation among the nations.
Before that, Jews were some kind of ethnic-religious entity. With Zionism, the Jews – or a part of them – constituted themselves as a modern nation, able to defend itself against any enemy.
In this sense, Zionism was indeed a roaring success. Its creation, the State of
OR IS it? Listening to many of our leaders, the opposite seems to be true.
Years ago, Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the caustic critic of the Zionist
establishment, famously asserted that
A few days ago, on Holocaust Day, our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu,
declared that we are threatened by a Second Holocaust, perpetrated by a
The next day, a group of international hackers, animated by pro-Palestinian
sentiments, declared a cyber-war on
What is this? Paranoia? Manipulation? Political gimmickry? All of these and more?
IN THE span of nine days,
Last Monday was Holocaust Day. The entire country turned to the memory of that awful chapter of history. At 10 o’clock, to the sound of the sirens, the whole country came to a standstill. Cars stopped in the middle of the road, men, women and children got out and stood at attention. Survivors still alive - mostly over 80 – told their horrible stories, listeners shed tears.
At Yad Vashem, Netanyahu made his standard speech - Never again… We shall not… the Iranian bomb… Second Holocaust…
Tomorrow evening will be Memorial Day. The country will mourn for the many
thousands who fell in
The next day will be a day of joy. Without an interruption, the sirens will
announce the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Independence Day. Speeches
about the sacrifices of the fallen will be superseded by speeches about the
glories and achievement of the state, which rose so miraculously from the ashes
of the Holocaust. In the center of festivities stand
The close proximity of these three dates is not accidental. It is a conscious
attempt to imbue generations of Israelis with the idea that
Many people consider this a manipulation, as indeed it is. Under Netanyahu, this has reached new heights (or depths). Jewish victimhood is bandied about as a totem that sanctifies all our policies: the occupation, the settlements, the oppression of the Palestinians, the rejection in practice of peace based on the two-state solution.
It is also a political ploy. The constant reminders of existential dangers – in
HOWEVER, it would be a great mistake to discount Israeli fears as artificial. They are quite real.
Foreigners are often amazed to hear Israelis asserting in the same sentence,
literally in the same breath, that “
No one who has been in
YET WE must overcome them, because they have no relation with current reality and prevent us from rational behavior.
The simple fact is that
We have a very strong and efficient military, more than sufficient for meeting
any foreseeable threat. The Arab spring has at least temporarily removed several
military menaces. That is true also for the real or imagined nuclear threat from
But a strong military is only one component of security. There are many others.
In 65 years we have built a solid and strong economy, more resilient than much bigger and stronger economies around the world. In several areas, such as high-tech, science, medicine, agriculture and the arts, we belong to the premier world league. Israel’s intimate relations with the No. 1 world power seem safe for a long time to come and of huge advantage in many fields, even given the gradual decline of US power.
The revived Hebrew language is vibrant and firmly entrenched. Israeli democracy, though under constant threat, seems to be able to withstand the onslaught. We can surely be proud of what our society has achieved, practically from scratch.
The only real dangers facing
I AM pointing this out not in order to inflame a sense of triumphalism, but on the contrary.
The Israeli peace camp must resolutely stand up against this world view. Israel is strong, and because it is strong it can take risks, make peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab and Muslim world.
65 years ago, when we were a population of hardly 650 thousand people, my generation had this self-confidence. Our heads were unbowed. We must rediscover this now.