Shayna Abramson

My Israeli Nightmare

This my Israeli nightmare, the image that haunts me on nights when I can’t sleep:

The year is 2026. Israel is still at war. It went into Rafah, but it didn’t find Sinwar. 50 Israelis are still hostages. IDF forces are stuck in a game of cat and mouse in the Gaza Strip: They take a town, but cannot hold it. Hamas forces move in when the IDF moves out, so IDF move in again, and the cycle continues. In the North, there is no war with Hezbollah, but a stalemate, of rockerts and tits for tats. Half of the residents of the North have permanently relocated, rather than live under daily rocket fire.

Due to increased reserve duty demands as a result of the war and Israel’s increasing global unpopularity, high tech investments have dived, resulting in massive layoffs, precisely at a time when the government has massively cut back social services. It needed more funding to pay for the war, and social services were not on the government’s priority list. But what was on the government’s priority list? Funding Haredi yeshivas. Between this, and the lack of a draft for the Haredi population, tensions between Haredi and non-Haredi are at a constant boil.

The Knesset recently passed a law postponing elections until after the war. Nobody knows when that will be. The Supreme Court overruled the law, but nobody seems to care. Certainly no elections have been scheduled.

Israelis have lost track of the number of UN resolutions against them; the US has massively cut its military aid, and the weapons Israel gets from China just aren’t that good, especially when matched against the weapons of Hamas and Hezbollah supplied by Iran. The sanctions imposed by the EU have hurt the middle class, and good luck to any Israeli scientist who wants to run a research project in collaboration with a European hospital or an academic who wants to be a visiting professor at a European university. To be fair though, a lot of those people have already moved abroad.

Haaretz is closed, due to lack of readership. Many of its readers moved abroad after an incident of extreme police brutality against a protest of solidarity with the hostages, in which over 1,000 Israelis were beaten up by police and 2,000 were detained overnight on vandalism and disruption of public order charges. But also, it couldn’t keep up with the state-sponsored, free newspaper that gets handed out daily on street corners. Oh, and of course it didn’t help that their readership was doxxed by a right-wing activist organization and received threatening letters from the public. Some people even reported their kids being harassed at school after parents were outed as Haaretz readers.

A leading head of the pro-ceasefire movement has just been convicted on charges of supporting terrorism. Protests haven’t disappeared, but at every protest, a few people get beaten up by police or arrested and held overnight, just to make a point. The scarier thing is the lynch mobs lying in wait near the protests. Sometimes they use their fists. Other times they use rocks or guns. 

There is a movement now to change the national anthem, because “hope” is seen as a left-wing concept. “Huwara!” is a popular right-wing rallying cry, and progroms against Palestinians in the West Bank are not an infrequent occurrence. Sometimes IDF soldiers try to stop the violence; other times they stand silently by, other times they join in.

This is the Israel we are headed towards unless we have elections, now, and allow ourselves to vote in a new government that can help steer us away from the catastrophic course we are taking. Bibi, as the prime minister, is ultimately the one in charge of defining the war’s aim and defining when the war is over and the day after begins. As long as he knows that the war’s end means elections and that most likely he will be voted out of office, he has a political incentive to keep the war going and to define the war aims in terms that are vague or unobtainable, preventing us from achieving victory. Yes, in general, it is better to wait until after a war to hold elections. But that is not the case when the government is one of the key obstacles to winning the war and cannot be trusted to run the war.

We need to change things now, before it is too late. I fear that every month that passes without elections scheduled and without any real hope of having a new government is a month where my nightmare inches one step closer to becoming a reality.

We need a government that has been elected by the people after October 7th, with a mandate by the Israel people to lead them in a post-October 7th reality. Because how the war is fought, what its aims are, when we consider the war over, and what the day after (which must begin to be planned during the war) should look like are such central questions to Israel’s future, we must have elections now, despite the ongoing war. This will empower Israelis to have a say in important decisions relating to the very nature of the war itself, including its scope and aims.

Until then, I will continue to be haunted by my Israel nightmare, knowing there is no hope for change in policy or government on the horizon, and knowing that my nightmare is growing closer and closer to reality.

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.