It seems that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has a soft spot for the Greek tragedies. That is perhaps one way of explaining his use of Iran as a deus ex machina. Iran has become a central lynch pin in Netanyahu’s rule, something that should make Israelis and people who care about the future of the state very uncomfortable. After all, it might only be curtains for Israel if this continues.
Theatrical metaphor aside, the point is that Netanyahu is using Iran to distract from other pressing, important issues. Iran is a major threat and poses a huge challenge to the State of Israel. However, it is also not an excuse for Israeli leadership not to make progress on other important issues that Israel faces. For lack of a better historical analogy, the United States was able to build the interstate highway system and make improvements in k-12 education while fighting Korea, and worrying about the threat of a nuclear Soviet Union. I do not necessarily object to Netanyahu’s stance on Iran, but I do object to his lack of concrete action in other areas that require vision and leadership.
Netanyahu has consistently missed opportunities to revisit the peace process with the Palestinians. In the latest protests, instead of opening discussion about the Paris Agreement and giving legitimacy to the PA, Israel issued a 250 million shekel advance in taxes that Israel collected on behalf of the Palestinians. The protests have not ended, and giving the PA, which is in desperate need of economic reform and guidance, a handout is not a solution to the relevant problem. This mere band-aid only delays the inevitable collapse of the PA, and with it Fayyad- one of the brightest hopes for a sustainable Palestinian state living peacefully next to a sovereign Jewish state.
Within Israel’s domestic sphere there are tensions brewing that demand immediate attention and leadership. Israel’s economy is no longer expanding at the rate it once was, and job opportunities are shrinking while the cost of living is expanding. Though Israel has often been pointed to as a shining example of a growing economy, according to The Taub Center its “living on borrowed time” with an unsustainable economic model. Last year’s tent protests started a push in the right direction, but there has not been sufficient follow-through. Parents cannot afford diapers, but Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The status of Israel’s level of education is diminishing annually, but President Ahmadinejad is crossing more red lines. There are scandals, government leaks, and unconscionable violations of any sort of moral compass by members of the rabbinate, but we look to Iranian rhetoric and do not give these other problems the attention they need.
The state of Israel was founded in uncertain times, and throughout its history has overcome those obstacles. We need to look to our leaders to do the same. We deserve visionary thinkers who can attack each challenge that Israel faces without hiding behind one mega-enemy.
Iran is a major threat to the existence of the state of Israel. Sadly, however, for Israel it is not the only threat. If the Palestinian protests do not end there will be a third Intifada. If there is no peace process there will be no peace, and if there is no peace, in 50 years there will be no Jewish democratic state. If Israel’s enemies do not destroy her then her economic problems and social strife will undo her from within. If we let all of these problems fester then Iran does not need to bother developing a weapon of mass destruction, we will have done it to ourselves.