A perfect storm

In October 1991, the convergence of weather conditions produced a storm off the North American East Coast, so furious and destructive that its legacy remains both in history and literature to this day. Ominous premonitions served no comfort to those caught within it. Prescient warnings by all who predicted its coming and who monitored its course, served few when it raged.

On the eve of Israel’s coming election, 67 years after the inception of the Jewish State, a convergence of conditions now exists where the essence of what Israel is, the ideology of Zionism itself, the sustainability of this remarkable endeavor, is about to be shifted, heaved, thrashed and mauled on the rocks of history. Whether it will survive is difficult to say.

In August 2012, a report was issued known as “Lo Niten.” It concluded that Israel is not an apartheid state, but that is in danger of being recognized as such by taking on attributes that erode its democratic character. The movement for the greater Israel dominates Israel’s largest political party, the Likud, and controls its leaders by having created a critical mass of party members who produce a bulldozer effect when voting en bloc for members of the Knesset. It is a well-known fact that many who drive this electoral bulldozer do not vote for the party in national elections, but take their vote to extreme ultra-nationalist contenders such as the Jewish Home party who unabashedly promulgate a policy of annexation of Palestinian land and a system of rule which can only be termed as a neo -Apartheid Bantustan type solution for Palestinians in the greater Israel.

Under the relentless bulldozer tracks of this machine, the last remaining politicians of reason and conscience in the Likud party have been churned, broken and thrown aside to make way for a cadre of young eager nationalists beating the drums of ethnic supremacy, waving a flag of nationalist religious dominance, preaching exclusionism with respect to foreigners specifically African refugees, thus shaming the Jewish people and tarnishing the vestige of the Zionist vision.

The Apartheid Montage

The current BDS movement has made progress by differentiating its message from other international causes and branding Israel and Apartheid South Africa as synonymous, thereby creating a putative foundation for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. While BDS has a stated goal of bringing about an end to the Jewish State, its message finds resonance amongst many who specifically wish to see change due to Israel’s continued occupation regime in West Bank and Gaza. Thus the alignment of forces between a liberal thinking western public and a radicalized Palestinian based ultra-nationalist movement, creates a lethal weapon when released on campuses and in the establishment media.  The result is a montage of images, whether of oppression, civilian death and destruction as in the last Gaza war, or the daily confrontation between the military and civilians under occupation.

BDS thanks Bibi

The 1975 United Nations resolution branding Zionism as racism (later to be revoked) and its reinvented attempt at the Durban conference in 2001 to equate Israel with racism ultimately found neither resonance nor serious international support simply because it was not true. The Israel within the green line, grants equal rights and the vote to all minorities; it grants to access the legal system to challenge actions of individuals and government. While sectarian preferences are present, the essence of what we understand as racism was not present. Flaws there were, but those flaws exist – indeed abound in probably most countries of the world. The BDS movement really had no ethical foundation, yet over time it has gained credence due to activities from the most unlikely source: Israel itself provides the fuel for what would otherwise simply be regarded as a baseless hate campaign aimed at putting an end to the Jewish state. Israel’s leaders, its leading political entities and its acquiescent public are all part of the unleashing of what is regarded by international bodies, a lawless crusade of colonial expansionism in territory which could provide a basis for a future Palestinian state. A borderless Israel extending from the sea to the Jordan River loses its natural majority, its identity and its raison detre within the world of nations.

And within this madness, a strategic gain brought forth from the recent Gaza war through sheer brute force, aligning all the moderate forces of the Arab world with moderate Palestinian leadership, is discarded at a whim by this current government rather than seizing the moment or leveraging the opportunity. In the misplaced ecstasy of some post-war catharsis, we celebrate a pyrrhic victory by declaring another 4000 dunams of occupied land for the greater Israel colonial campaign. In the words of BDS founder Omar Barghouti:

We’ve got to give credit to Netanyahu… Without him we could not have reached this far, at this time.

Politically Incorrect

At this bizarre juncture of premature elections the Israeli “center” evokes some confused, magical fascination – unjustified, empirically nonviable and destined to one great thing: failure. How many times does it take to understand that newly formed centrist parties are no more than rootless, spineless, impotent, short-lived entities stuck together with gel and wild promises of economic security?

The Jewish state, the Zionist vision, the humanist democratic embodiment of post twentieth century surviving Judaism has lost its footing, yet we insist on avoiding the hard questions. Until we find common ground with our minorities within Israel and work to find real solutions with our Palestinian partners, we have gained nothing.

Convergence of conditions

The Likud party and its leader are now hostage to the settler vote within its institutions. The Jewish Home Party sits firmly on the roots of its predecessor, the Mizrahi movement, but with a belligerent platform of occupation and annexation. Liberman’s” Israel Our Home” party, originally built on a campaign of fear and hatred of Arabs, taints the nation with shame and disgrace. The man who called for the bombing of the Aswan dam, the key architect of Israel’s isolation, and the intellect that masterminded the concept of paying Arabs to emigrate as ground breaking strategic vision, is no messenger of reason. The ultra-orthodox in all its forms, seek only a seat on the national gravy train and the centrists are the enablers: those who allow, finance and sustain the settlement addicts with their occupation fix while preaching for the common good.

The centrists are the enablers: those who allow, finance and sustain the settlement addicts with their occupation fix while preaching for the common good

Israel’s isolation is now fact. U.S. self-reliance on energy diminishes Israel’s strategic value and highlights its liabilities. Wasteful election economics and an increasing consumer debt in Israel bode not well.

All this presages a difficult time. A time to take your finger and put it in the dyke, just like the little Dutch boy and try to stop the flow. Because the storm is here, and history moves at an ominously unpredictable pace that only it knows, and the structure of our vessel has been compromised and is in need of urgent repair.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.