Read the signs

There is an old faith story about a time when a big storm flooded a town and a man climbed up on the roof of his house, and said that he would be okay because God would protect him.

A boat came by and a man in the boat said: “Hey, jump in. We will take you with us.”

“No thanks,” said the man. “I’m a firm believer in God. He will rescue me,” and he sent the boat away.

It kept on raining and the water now reached his mouth. A helicopter came by and a guy in the helicopter threw down a rope and said: “Hi there my friend. Climb up. We will rescue you”. “No”, said the man. “I’m a firm believer in God. He will rescue me. I know he will”. The helicopter flew away. Finally the man drowned. When the man died, he went to heaven and he had an interview with God. The man asked: “Where were you. I waited and waited. I was sure you would rescue me, as I have been a firm believer all my life, and have only done good to others. So where were you when I needed you?” God scratched his confused looking face and answered: “I don’t get it either. I sent you a boat and a helicopter”.

How many signs do Bibi Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abass need before it’s too late to have any control over their nations’ destinies?

It is the most extraordinary thing that the two of them have no capacity to drive peaceful outcomes for the people who elected them in the first place.

For Israel, the signs are ominous. The Europeans are increasing their boycott of West Bank produce. The American relationship is in diabolical straights. BDS continues unabated and, as we discovered during our October Study Mission, the Israel Foreign Ministry has no strategy to combat BDS, and the person is in charge has no idea (“it’s a storm in a teacup”, the official said to us). Random stabbings and car-rammings are rampant at the moment and the army has said it has no idea how to stop it. Hebron is virtually in a state of war. Yes, the economy is booming. But the point is the foreboding signs of deterioration are clearly present and growing. The flood waters are rising and Bibi’s only concern seems to be to do whatever it takes to keep himself in the job.

For the Palestinians, the signs are even worse. Incitement against Israel and the Jews, and as a consequence, deteriorating political authority in the Palestinian Authority, is everywhere. Hamas continues to de-throne Abbas. ISIS and every other Islamic Fascist is fast attracting followers and, in their usual manner, will kill tens of thousands more fellow Muslims than Jews should they every really scale up in the West Bank. And with continued un-controlled stabbings, the Israelis have no choice but to increase their lock-down and separation of the West Bank, throwing hundreds and thousands Palestinians out of work.

It’s easy to say that Bibi and Abbas need to jointly find a way out of this current mess. But you do not need to solve everything in one go – we tried that with Oslo and failed.

Just go to a football game together and show people that what must ultimately be a political solution starts with political leaders sitting down together. Is it really that hard?

When random terrorism strikes without any control, and when the far-right Israeli crazies run amok torching the chances for co-existence, and when the Hamas crazies start setting the Palestinian agenda, you know things are really bad.

But when your leadership fails their responsibility to shape national destiny maybe we should just read some tea-leaves instead. Unfortunately it seems chance is a more accurate predictor of events in this part of the world.

About the Author
Co-convenor of the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue. Director of Blended Learning Group (Emotional Intelligence and Leadership training) Director of Bowerbase (IT start-up) Director of Soldales Pacific (Water technology start-up linking Israel and Australia).
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