Surreal times sees another Likud win

These are surreal times in Israel. Israelis are living in constant danger so it’s occasionally easy for hubris to take root. Israelis tend to take it in their stride or at least try not to become too aggravated by the numerous security and economic problems they face daily. It wouldn’t be innovative to observe and say that Israel is surrounded by conflict on every border and maybe even more so domestically.

Perhaps because they cannot change their neighbors’ wows and plight or the nature of the diverse cosmopolitan society Israel is apparently at ease. Coping calmly with daily threats Israelis have not lost their cool. The security threats have had some originality over the years but there has also been some commonality. During the 1950s the Fedayeen crossed the border to illegally harvest crops. During the recent spate of terrorist inspired intentional arson attacks Hamas has aimed to scorch the harvest fields adjoining Gaza. Damage to property is one thing that definitely affects the owner. Casualties to people is another and more severe. Here the line is drawn and the adversary knows it. The entire nation would fume and respond. Should Israelis be hurt, then the response will be appropriate yet still without panic.

Not even an escalation, which is bound to happen, will weaken a strong religious belief supplemented by the Israel Defense Forces and faith in its capabilities and abilities. Israelis trust that both can and will protect them. As a sign of this faith and belief, the Israeli Air Force continues to pound terrorist targets be they in Gaza, Lebanon or Syria operating unhindered. The State of Israel continues to grow from strength to strength in all areas as the population increases and the diaspora diminishes.

Whereas not so long-ago Israel might have had to, in return for a peace treaty with Syria, to have withdrawn from the Golan heights now Netanyahu has Syrian President Bashar al-Assad exactly where he wants him. American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided and eternal capital with the practical step of moving its Embassy there is about to be replicated with recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. Israelis can continue to enjoy the Kinneret without apprehension of it being an international border with Syria as it once was and with Iranian forces camping on its shores.

So, it’s not too surprising that daily life continues along a pattern and rhythm that is surreal. There is chaos and anarchy in the region and Israeli’s have a lot on their plate of this. Yet few if any Israelis are concerned or at least voice concern about the strategic posture of Israel as being existential. However, that is not to say that peace is not constantly talked about and hypothesized by all walks of life and all ages. From the Knesset to the beach to family meals. No one has lost interest.

There is no pressure bottom up or top down. Both Jewish Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis by and large accept that they are as close as they’ll ever come to living in harmony. Those that look at the turmoil in neighboring states appreciate that their lives and livelihoods are not and could never be equaled should the political representation change.  So, the ball is in the court of the Palestinian Authority should they wish to pursue negotiations for independence. There is no pressure domestically or internationally on Israel to offer bold and unwise concessions to the Palestinians. Time is on the side of Israel.

Similarly, internationally Israel basks in the sunshine. President Trump has abrogated the nuclear deal with Iran. Iran is on the defensive. The regime of the Ayatollah cannot continue indefinitely given renewed sanctions that are paralyzing the Iranian economy. The commonality of views against Iran has led to tacit friendship between Israel and other Arab states. Russia although with many interests in Syria has turned an apparent blind eye to Israel’s preventive and preemptive strikes there. And Israel won the Eurovision!

So, with its primary threats mostly neutralized and with strong American Presidential support, Israel has never had it this good in the world. Moreover, the economy is relatively stable and the government is aiming at resolving the most important concern for citizens – affordable housing. Praise the answering of prayers for all of this. That means that the left-wing or those left of the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue not to win elections. Not even for local government elections that are around the corner. Surreal times sees another Likud win.

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.
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