Jonathan Schreiber
A former lone solider, Parent to a lone soldier

When Fantasy Meets Reality, Tragedy Inevitably Ensues

The current government of Israel is populated by some excellent politicians. By excellent politicians, I mean to say they are very good at building a political base, scaring up a boogie man to whip up that political base, leveraging current events to their advantage, always having a scapegoat for their failures and always having a brazen lie handy to justify their actions. Unfortunately, the traits that make a person good at electoral politics are often the opposite of what makes a person competent or capable of actually governing a country properly. In fact, the people driving the government are extremists who believe in their own fantasy world and have convinced their voters that they can make that fantasy world become a reality.

The tone and policies of the government have been set by Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. Both have a messianic belief in the fantasy that through sheer stubbornness and brutality they can solve all of Israel’s security and territorial challenges. They are convinced, despite having little (Smotrich) to no (Ben-Gvir) experience in the security services, that they can make terrorism and the Palestinians simply disappear without any consequences. They believe that once they demonstrate their stubbornness to the world everyone else will simply roll over. They are shocked and insulted when it doesn’t happen.

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir operate under the fantasy that Israel’s economy, military, and place in the world are givens that they can simply take over and divide up the spoils as they see fit. Having no experience in business or economics, they take for granted the fact that Israel’s economy is dependent on maintaining a vibrant, educated society that can innovate. They ignore the fact that Israel’s prosperity is dependent on the ability to access world markets and foreign capital. They pretend that the professional military and innovative military industries that help maintain Israel’s security are a given and not dependent on anybody who disagrees with them. They imagine that Israel’s allies (The United States of America) either do not matter or will simply buy in to whatever they want.  They make-believe that Israel has so many friends and allies that people who they don’t like (Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Democrats etc.…) are simply unnecessary. They pretend that they can create reality whenever they speak a lie. I am sure that Smotrich believes his absurd claim that eliminating an independent judiciary and judicial review makes Israeli democracy closer to American democracy. Only a person living in a fantasy world could make that claim. Above all else, they seem to be absolutely convinced that the lessons of history do not apply to them.

There are serious and capable people in the government. Avi Dichter and Yoav Galant should understand that Israel’s security is dependent on it being a democratic country where its citizens feel invested in the country. A secure Israel is an Israel that is an inclusive society where the best and brightest from all walks of life want to serve in the military and make the biggest contribution possible. A strong Israel is a country where the best and brightest believe that the best quality of life and the best opportunities are in their home country. A country that attracts investment and is integrated into the world economy because investors believe it is a true democracy with an independent judiciary.  My fear is that people such as Dichter and Galant are living in the fantasy that extremists can be contained and moderated. Extremists never share or compromise. History shows that eventually they will sink the ship with all hands aboard. The values that make Israel the country it is do not belong to the right or the left, they are universal. The serious people in the government are going to have to decide whether they kowtow to extremists or whether they stand up and fight for the democratic values that have given Israel the strength it needs to face its enemies. Israel does not have the margin of error of Iran or Russia. Israel doesn’t have the luxury to waste its strength given the tough reality it faces on a daily basis.

There is no doubt that the attempt to install a tyranny of a slim and divided majority will end in failure and in tragedy. The only open question is when it will fail and how terrible the tragedy will be. If we are lucky, the government will fall soon, and the tragedy will be limited to those victims who have already been killed or hurt by the flames of the current round of violence fanned by the extremists in the government.  In the Middle East, luck is hard to come by and the only way to avoid disaster is for politicians to put their conscience ahead of their careers.

About the Author
Received a orthodox day school education in the New York area. Completed the joint double degree program at Columbia-JTS. Served in the Armor Corp 1992-1993, completing Tank Commander Course. Served in the Gaza Strip 1992, Lebanon 1993 in my regular service. In reserves served in the environs of Jenin between the Intifadas, served in the environs of Shechem in the second Intifada well patrolling the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. After my service I stayed in Israel, got married where we had our first two children and worked in finance and tech industries in Israel. I moved backed to the US at the end of 2001 and began working in the energy industry. My son moved back to Israel in 2017, completed his degree at Reichman University and recently completed his service in Sayeret Nahal and has begun his career in Israel.
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