The past few weeks have been bloody. Israel seems to have stepped up its counter-offensive against the terrorists and the Palestinians have increased the dangerous vitriol that has sparked a new wave of grass-roots terrorism by disaffected individuals. The traditional Israeli response to terrorism, a doubling down on security measures and the deflection of all blame to external enemies seems to have lost its effectiveness. Additionally, the political crisis affecting Israel, one that threatens its social integrity from within, has the security established dealing with not only terror threats, but with domestic threats aimed at civil servants and lawmakers, a dangerous combination that will spread the strained security establishment’s resources ever more thinly. Many onlookers in Israel and abroad must be asking themselves a simple question: How on Earth did we get to this point and how can we possibly solve these crises without suffering from another round of the 1990’s violence that surrounded the Oslo Accords?
While I do not profess to write of a single, foolproof solution to our many issues, I do believe that such a resolution is at hand, and does not require of us much, if any, sacrifice. However, I routinely suffer from bouts of disenchantment and disappointment as I observe the cowardly, immature stature our politicians have reached through their whining and bickering. Things may logically follow from what I write here, but one should not underestimate the stupidity of my fellow citizens and the corruption of our leaders. Even if the truth were as bright as the sun on a clear, cloudless day, we would most likely muck it up anyway. Even so, I feel it necessary to at least try to lay down some framework for what can be accomplished in the short term, through effective communication.
Last month, I ventured out yet again to U.S.-occupied Italy in order to ascertain the situation and to try, against all odds, to find common ground with the locals. This was my fourth trip of such nature in the past year, so I was prepared, to an extent, for what I found. Over the course of a few weeks, I spoke with numerous activists and random folk I met on trains and on my long walks, and even managed to talk with direct representatives of a local Questura, or police department, with whom I shared my story. I told them all of my personal wanderings, of my existential weariness and of my interminable search for a home, and I was met by mutual understanding, warm-wishes, and empathy. In a way, the trip, as well as the others I made over the past year, was more than just a way of branching out and meeting people, it was also a way for me to seek validation and gain the approval of those peoples whom we have discounted in the West as historically insubordinate, untrustworthy, potentially hateful and dangerous. My personal experiences with the locals has taught me the true power of human interaction, of understanding, and of forgiveness.
During one of my many conversations, I was asked by a young Italian to describe the feeling I have when approaching Europeans like him. I answered that while I cannot disregard the innate hesitation, and even mild antagonism that I bear towards Europe for obvious reasons, I have come to see the innocence and the hope that lay underneath the veil of the artificial structure that has been placed upon them by external forces, at first justly, but, by now, out of corrupt material greed. I want to free myself of the constraints placed on me by my particularly problematic situation, but, deep down, I know that, ironically, only through the gradual freeing of these European nations, who so cruelly persecuted my people over seventy years ago, will I believe again in my own humanity. In a sense, my personal awakening, as I’ve experienced it play out over the past year in Europe, has convinced me that for Israel to successfully extricate itself from its current instability, we must, as a whole, reach out to our European neighbors and heed their call for a unified, coordinated effort against global corruption. Through such a joint effort, we may also be able to initiate a mediated rapprochement with the Arabs that would see the reintroduction of European interests into the Middle-East, as well as a gradual process of integration and independence-building that one day may unite the region, just as the European Union promised to do for Europe.
In order to initiate this process, we will need to first identify and fight the strong Western-backed interests that dominate our current political and diplomatic landscape. Corporate lobbyists, NGOs and corrupt elements of the E.U. have all invested in an unfeasible two-state doctrine antithetical to any realistic settlement. Instead of dividing and conquering, the West should work to facilitate a more equitable relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, one which respects the diverse cultures and religions that define our shared home. However, in order to make things right, Israel must first distance herself from the West and develop a platform that will bring her distinct, local, security and economic interests to the forefront. Israel need not divorce itself from Western support, the West needs her military clout now more than ever, but she need not fear cutting the umbilical cord, the childlike, irrational dependency that forces her to compromise on her internal security relations and her economic interests abroad.
While I honestly have not closely examined the details of the proposed reforms making their way through the Knesset, I can observe, through reading the Israeli tabloids and speaking with concerned citizens, the palpable fear that parts of the political establishment have of the detrimental effect that the reforms may cause to Israel’s standing in the West, legally, diplomatically and economically (curiously, the security aspect does not seem to get much attention). If passed, the reform bills may, in fact, damage some of Israel’s ties with the West. For example, many non-Orthodox Jewish organizations in the U.S. threaten Israel with a boycott if the reform measures, which could significantly harm non-Orthodox (though not necessarily secular) interests in Israel, are not halted.
This cooling of relations couldn’t come at a better time. On account of the unrelenting war in the Ukraine and the uninspired European response to Putin’s significant territorial advances in Donbas, the U.S. has become more dependent on European public opinion. The energy-rationing that the global establishment has imposed upon Western Europe and the suspected American sabotage of the Nord-Stream gas pipeline have caused a perceivable backlash among even the most vocal supporters of America’s foreign policy. Finland’s expected entrance into NATO with its strong, independent military, alongside Germany’s plans to significantly increase its own military spending, promise to further dilute U.S. power and allow the Europeans more freedom to pursue relations with other global powers, such as China and Iran. If Israel remains diplomatically locked-in with the U.S., the Europeans will surely use this leverage to pressure the U.S. into increasingly hostile positions regarding Israel.
The recent U.S./European joint condemnation of settlement expansion came directly from the respective foreign ministries, clearly leapfrogging the sluggish and corrupt E.U. diplomatic channels. This also indicates that the U.S. did not, in fact, lead the Europeans, as Ambassador Nides has claimed in his now-infamous podcast, but was instead pressured into condemning Israel in order to preserve the semblance of Western unity. Ironically, this may actually help bring Israel to its senses and force her to develop stronger ties to Europe, who, even now, can already be considered Israel’s greatest trade partner. Additionally, the purported inflationary effect that the political instability is having on the Sheqel and the corresponding interest rate increases that threaten to pop the local housing bubble may actually result in the development of real constructive pressures, such as the withdrawal of some American capital from the Israeli economy, that could theoretically help wean Israel off of its Hi-Tech nonsense and point her economy in a healthier direction.
While I would not usually promote what I see as a destructive pieces of legislation, I do believe that, in the long run, the destabilizing effects it promises to have on current Israeli economic and diplomatic interests will force Israel’s political establishment into making significant concessions to the Europeans, and, eventually, coming to terms with a reimagined and restored European-backed Palestinian Authority. The counterintuitive nature of such a dynamic, however, needs to be monitored closely by the relevant authorities. The destabilizing effects projected by the political establishment onto the general public, by ways of irresponsible incitement and malicious fear-mongering, need to be dealt with both diplomatically and militarily. The public must be reassured of the relative stability of Israel’s civil society.
Israel now has many ways to defend herself, primarily by projecting her advanced military prowess overseas. In the 90’s, before Israel had time to develop relevant military industries, international pressures, driven primarily by American post-Cold War jingoism, actively sought to sow chaos in our midst by granting semi-autonomous powers to corrupt thugs imported from Tunisia. In 2005, the empire struck again, pressuring Israel to withdraw from the newly-recaptured Gaza and Jenin. Today, America’s power has seriously begun to wane and the imperial pressures have started to subside. Israel has what to fear from its many enemies, but it should not let the West dictate its domestic policies based on irrelevant, outdated dogmas. Let us let Israel explore its budding identity in this complicated region of the world. We should not fear the unknown. If you still fear the consequences of the reform, feel free to continue demonstrating and fighting for what you feel is right. If the reform passes anyway, console yourself in that knowledge that things are really much better than how they might appear.