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The End of Israel as We Know It

politico.com

In the last few weeks—following our ‘Days of Awe,’ as it were—two major developments occurred in Israel-Palestine that might shape the reality of the place and its people for years to come. Now, while these two developments, in and of themselves, are not so earth-shattering—though nonetheless, historic—it is quite possible that they would seal the deal on the outcome, the trends, the events that have been brewing in the Holy Land for quite some time.

The first of these two developments is the unification deal between Fatah and Hamas, which was signed in Cairo on October 12, and which received the proper attention and media coverage in Israel, the world at large, and America. This deal of course is not a ‘done deal;’ in other words: thorny issues remain to be further ironed out, to be put into place and practice, until things will materialize into a sustainable reality. Until then, doubts will persist. However, there can be no doubt that if successful, this will be regarded as a momentous event, which will bring about a unified—fractured though it may still remain—Palestinian entity and force.

This development, which has been welcomed generally by the Palestinian people, the Arab Middle East leaders, the European countries; in short, anybody who for long believed that this is a major, required step towards solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Predictably, however, it has been rejected by Israel (strongly), and America (weakly). As far the latter is concerned, since it has no coherent policy of its own, or anybody in the State Department or the White House who has a clear understanding of the conflict, it has simply followed Israel’s dictate on the matter. Netanyahu—again, predictably—rejected the deal outright with all kinds of accusations and demands. The reason for that is simple: Anything that can bring closer a reconciliation between the two sides, with the possibility of peace and the creation of a Palestinian state, living side-by-side with Israel, is a nightmare for him.

The reasons for that, and for why this deal might in fact widen the chasm between the two sides—Israel and Palestine, that is, Jews and Arabs—and might push further away the chances of peace, are numerous. Meanwhile, it’s time for me to let you know about the second development, which came shortly after this first one, and that unlike it, received hardly any mention here in the American media, and in particular the Jewish American press. This development, coupled with the Palestinian unification deal, might signal, and solidify, the end of Israel as we know and love it. Or, to be more precise and honest: the Israel that we ‘knew’ and ‘loved.’

I am talking about, generally, the fate of the Labor Party in Israel, and specifically, the man who infiltrated it—indeed, like a fifth-column—‘kidnaped’ its leadership (albeit democratically) and now threatens to dismantle it once and for all. His name is Avi Gabbay. He is relatively a young man, 50, a successful business man—not without blemish, especially from the point of view of the ‘party of the working people’—who three months ago or so, after being a rightwing Likudnik most of his political life, including being a minister in Netanyahu’s government, switched allegiance, became a Labor Party card-carrying member, threw his hat into the ring, and—surprising everybody—had won the election, and became party chairman.

For those of you who don’t know, or remember, the Labor Party was formed in 1968, and comprised of the three main parties that ruled Israel—led mostly by David Ben-Guroin—for twenty years since independence. This union produced five Prime Ministers, and ruled Israel on and off until the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Thereafter, though not immediately, Netanyahu and the right-center Likud came into power, and never let go. Now to those of you who say, not without some justification, that the Labor Party—representing the center-left side of the Israeli people and politics—has been dead for many years, I say this: The Labor Party and its chairman, Isaac Herzog, lost by only six Knesset members to Netanyahu’s Likud in the last elections. If not for some late-hour shenanigans by Mr. Netanyahu—a la Mr. Trump—he might as well had won the election. A man of principals, Mr. Herzog refused the many attempts by Mr. Netanyahu to join his government, and be its Foreign Minister, unless there were real commitment to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, along the lines of the Two-State solution. But of course, there was no such commitment.

And so, in the last two weeks, the new leader Mr. Gabbay came out of the closet as what he truly is: A rightwing Likudnic. He declared, exactly as Mr. Netanyahu has done a few days earlier, that Israel will never dismantle any settlements. He declared the West bank settlers as the truly brave, new pioneers of Israel. Israel would never relinquish its s hold on the Jordan Valley, he’d further said, echoing Netanyahu. Latest rumors in Israel has it that he intends on changing the name of the party, where he already has power to appoint cronies to future ministerial positions all by himself, regardless of party affiliation. Furthermore, he declared his wish and intention to go into a national unity government with the Likud and Netanyahu. You see the similarities with the first development?

Why the Labor Party members—among them my 90-year-old-mother—have chosen him for their leader is a topic for another article. Though obviously, they are very keen on reclaiming governmental power, apparently at all costs. What is clear, however, is that while the first development signifies a compromise between the two Palestinian camps, and a wish—not without objectors, of course—to bring about peace based upon the principle of the a Two-State solution, the second development is exactly of the opposite kind: it signifies the enlargement, and hardening of the rightwing side of the Israeli people and politics. This side rejects any compromise, including the above mentioned Two-State solution. Essentially—it rejects peace.

Therefore, it closes the coffin on Israel as we know it: Jewish and democratic. What will come instead, only years will tell.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue

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Who Said God Is Dead?

jpost.com

Not me, though I was never much of a believer in his—her/its—existence to begin with. But the closer Netanyahu is getting to the end of his reign, most probably in disgrace, the more I’m tempted to believe that someone up there still cares about Israel’s future. I doubt it will make me a believer, but for a naïve, idealistic-minded person such as myself, a renewed belief in the possibility of solving the eternal Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to just ‘managing’ it, and with it securing Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state, is a big step forward.

Of course, we have a long way to go before both things—Netanyahu’s demise and a peaceful, secure resolution of the conflict—can become a reality, and can produce a real chance for success. Still, one can always hope. One can hope that Netanyahu’s hold on power, his Mafiosi-style, take-no-prisoners’ attitude to staying in power, the belief—both in large segment of the Israeli population, and in some quarters of the American Jewish population as well—that he’s the new “King David of Jerusalem” is coming to an end soon.

What’s my beef with Netanyahu, you ask? I’ll tell you what. But before I do that, something else that suddenly hits me. It is this: The most ardent, fanatic supporters of Netanyahu happened to be also the most fanatic supporters—hooligans, actually, is a better word to describe them; I know, I’ve seen them in action—of the Holy City’s soccer club ‘Beitar Jerusalem.’ It’s a known phenomenon in Israel, at least at the time when I was following Israel’s soccer games more closely, that whenever their beloved team scored a goal, their loudest, most unifying chant was “Yesh Elohim!” “There’s God!”

Go figure. I thought they are all believers, anyhow, goal or no goal. I suppose even such extreme fans need a ‘solid’ proof occasionally. But enough of that. Now to my beef with Netanyahu, who (supposedly) worked so hard for Israel’s security and prosperity. As for security, there are many things not to like about his long—longer than anybody else in modern Israel’s history, other than Ben Gurion—stay in power, but I will concentrate on three. First, for me, is his culpability in the assassination of the late prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. His guilt in one of the three, or four most momentous events in Israel’s short history is, of course, by association only. Nonetheless, the atmosphere he fostered and inflamed; the speeches he gave in a Jerusalem’s square from a hotel balcony—remind you of any other dictators?—calling Rabin a traitor, and not silencing the crowd and their thirst for blood, will never be forgotten. It brought upon the country a tragic, major moment of crisis.

And, if you want proof for his guilt, I give you this: Netanyahu was, still is—together with the settlement movement—the main beneficiary of that political assassination. As result of that, here comes the second argument against him: His grab of power by any, and all means. It is said that all politicians are corrupted this way, but I beg to differ. Some lose a battle and continue on to other fields, to other arenas. Just look at a case here in America, with Al Gore, who should’ve been the president but lost anyhow (to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision), and continued to serve us all with his fight against global warming. But not Netanyahu. He vanquished all opposition, disposed of all previous allies and friends, and made deals with anybody who will keep him in power.

Power that became the main reason to stay in power. As opposed to the real, important reasons to be in charge, and usher positive, desirable changes. Which brings me to the third reason: His ‘do nothing,’ at all costs—other than continuing, and solidifying the occupation—in regard to the conflict with the Palestinians. He is gutless. He is coward—despite what all his followers and worshipers in Israel and in America would like you to believe. The ‘magician,’ as they like to call him, used all the tricks in his arsenal to run away from peace at any opportunity he’s had, or created, in order to just ‘manage’ the situation. And we are left to pay—for many years, I’m afraid, and who knows at what costs—for his mistakes.

As for prosperity, in a word, it seems—judging by what we know about the cases against him being investigated currently by the police, but not only from that—that he was mainly interested in his own family’s prosperity (like all dictators). But, no mistake here, I’m not so delusional as to believe that all the problems, even just the most crucial ones facing Israel, we’ll be solved with ‘King Bibi’s’ exit. Far from it. The occupation is here to stay. The heart of the dispute with the Palestinians will continue to beat. And there’s no guarantee whatsoever that those elected to replace him we’ll do a better job. The harm that has been done is cutting too deep and is too everlasting to disappear magically. But… there will be a chance for change again. There will be a chance for peace again. How to go about it will be up to the people of Israel. Stay tune.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue

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