Less is more

The despicable campaign of terror by extreme anti-Semitic Muslims against Israelis is the latest battle orchestrated by Hamas with the unspoken support of Fatah. It should be dealt with using Israel’s full military and diplomatic force. Jewish history reminds us that we must always be vigilant to identify real anti-semites and take responsibility for our own protection. In Jerusalem and Israel today there is a real and present danger that no other sovereign nation state would tolerate. For the record Palestinians are not African Americans and Mohammad Abbas is not Martin Luther King. They are not fighting for equal rights in one single sovereign state. We do not need or intend to live together in one state with the Palestinians. They should live in their own state. Our dispute with them is between two nations over territory, not two people within one nation. Our war is national not civil. Israel is not South Africa.

However, just as in the case of previous Intifadahs the Palestinians are marching to their own State which unfortunately is looking more like Isis, Hamas and Hezbollah than Scandinavia. The first Intifada led to the Oslo Accords and the establishment of Palestinian autonomous government in Judea and Samaria. The second led to the separation fence that divides most of Israel from the territories it captured in 1967, and the third will lead to a more physical separation between Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter what you call it – a shared capital or a divided city – the separation already exists and will only deepen. its already begun. The government will stamp out this wave of terror but it cannot stop the division of Jeruslaem which already exists. For the most part sane Jews stay away from East Jerusalem and leave the Palestinians to their own devices and this makes good sense. It would make even better sense if we didn’t have to foot the bill for all East Jerusalem residents’ Israeli social welfare and economic rights. You can’t throw stones in the morning and then go to Haddasah Hospital in the afternoon, all expenses paid. Let the Palestinian Authority provide East Jerusalem residents their health, welfare and education services.

The solution all comes back to a very simple and sustainable idea coined by E.F. Schumacher that “Small is Beautiful.” The opposite of bigger is better. In the same vein, for Israeli’s, Zionists and Palestinians, less is indeed more. Say it a few times. It feels good.

Our early leaders understood this when they took what the UN offered and, unlike the Palestinians, made the most of it. Begin understood it when he gave back the Sinai to Egypt, Barak when he pulled out of Southern Lebanon, and Arik Sharon when he withdrew from Gush Katif in Gaza. We live in an age where our excess and waste is unprecedented historically and where scientists tell us that we are destroying our environment. We teach our children that they should not waste water, they should recycle, use cars less and pollute less. We teach these things in order to preserve the environment and allow future generations to live sustainably on earth. The same logic applies in Israel. We simply don’t need to control all of the territories and all of Jerusalem. The attempt to do so is a type of reckless greed, akin to inviting global warming and its consequences to the detriment of the environment and future generations. We do not need to control all the territories and Jeruslaem to have a vibrant Jewish democracy that can last 1,000 years. Less is more.

Practically, less territory means more Israelis than Palestinians in the State of Israel and therefore more Israeli democracy. It means less spending in the territories and more money for the real Israel. More roads and infrastructure. More schools and health care. More social welfare. It means less hatred & negativity and more love and positivity. Less secret police and spies. Less administrative detention. Less home demolition. Less checkpoints. Less dehumanizing behavior. It means more co-operation, more economic development and jobs, more international trade. More self-confidence, more credibility, more Jewish unity and solidarity and more international legitimacy.

At present we doom ourselves and our children to a role of policing a people who don’t want us there. This incurs a price on us personally and casts us in a negative light internationally that impacts our very legitimacy. Young non-religious Israelis and Jews are being alienated from pride in their Jewish identity and Israel. Less time and money devoted to security and military issues means more time and money for us to fulfill our incredible Start Up Nation potential. We can better develop our ingenuity, our abilities and our interests. More time and energy to live our lives free of terror and with more international credibility to help us deal with the broader challenges we face in the region and globally. This is not weakness or lack of belief. This is common sense. Less is more. Less is more.

The current situation is untenable. Separation seems a logical and inevitable outcome. Ignoring the reality has a heavy price. We can recognize it now and save lots of lives on both sides or we can rush towards a battle and killing spree that we won’t be able to stop or contain until the human and economic price is so high on both sides that a solution is forced on us, and we reluctantly and sadly accept that, less is more.

About the Author
Simon Fink lives in Israel and is originally from Melbourne, Australia. He studied Law Politics and Economics and is interested in public policy. He has worked for governments in Israel and Australia and currently works for a Bank in Israel.