Emanuel Shahaf

Israel, Jewish tribal nation

Netanyahu’s efforts to legislate the Jewish Nation state is the culmination of a long standing effort to make absolutely and unequivocally sure that Israel will be a tribal nation, just like the other tribal nations that are reestablishing themselves in this neighborhood. His aim is to make this a nation of the Jewish tribe for the Jewish tribe and whoever doesn’t belong to the Jewish tribe, better look for his fortune elsewhere. It is Jewish self-determination in overdrive. It was never meant to be that way and our inclusive declaration of independence is proof of that. But hey, who says we cannot regress big time ?

Netanyahu’s efforts are in total contradiction to the European and American democratic ethos which, over many years and tribulations has developed into one where civil rights and privileges and protections granted by the state are not connected to the ethnicity, religion or national origin of its citizens.

At the same time it is, of course, a total acceptance of the tribal approach that is returning to the  Middle East – only those that belong to the tribe have access to its protection and all the benefits it grants. Unfortunately for us, our tribe is different from all the other tribes in the area, they are Muslim and we aren’t. So while subscribing to the tribal ethos, ostensibly adapting to the area, we can’t and never will be part of any regional tribal alignment. As a matter of fact all the other tribes will act against us at this or that level even if their leaders, out of convenience, fear or opportunism, will cooperate with us or appear to do so at any given time. The members of the other tribes will not accept us.

Thus ingeniously Netanyahu maximizes the international isolation of Israel and will ensure that we will be a nation on our own. Alone. Those that will stick with us are only individuals who belong to our tribe. Western nations who have long abandoned the tribal approach will stay away from us – we are bad news. Actually we are a threat because we just might inspire other ethnic minorities in Europe. Those are presently kept in check by the European Community whose benefits far outweigh the perceived advantages of ethnic separatism, if there ever were any. Needless to say, Muslim nations will stay away from us too, if they don’t fight us: Fighting the Jews is probably the only thing Sunnites and Shiites will be able to agree upon.

Led by a Prime Minister who thinks nothing of abandoning the Western value system in favor of chauvinst Jewish tribalism we are fast approaching an abyss that has reduced nations bigger than ours. If we remain on the path Netanyahu has put us on, the start-up nation will soon grind to a halt.

A developing intifada, together with the onset of an economic crisis and the downgrading of our credit-rating will eventually bring down this government, either through early elections or public protests.  The question is only how much damage will have been caused before that happens and if it happens before we topple into the abyss.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".