Make No Mistake. It’s Worse Than Ever In Israel
In his NY Times op-ed of May 18, David Brooks gives a good summary of where things are in Israel right now and how they got there.
There is one underlying fact that needs to be accepted by all participants in any potential negotiation for peace in the sliver of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In 1948, some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced from land that they had occupied by European and native Jews to make way for a new country, the Jewish state of Israel. This happened.
The prior generations of Israelis, Brooks thinks up to the death of Yitzhak Rabin, were trying to wrestle with this. They were cognizant of the facts. The new generation led by Prime Minister Netanyahu is not.
I have to agree with Brooks. My take from all of my trips to Israel is that most Israelis would either like to accommodate the Arabs in some way (the minority) or wish the Palestinians would just go away (the majority). It is mostly those in and around Jerusalem who feel this as the tech corridor between Haifa and Tel Aviv feels largely immune from the trauma that those in Jerusalem feel every day.
Today, each side, Arab and Jew, is in a locked in position of immovable blame of the other side for all of the ills that have befallen Israel and more importantly the Arabs.
Both camps seem split.
The Israelis, as I said, either ignore the Arabs (most of the west coast), hate them, or tolerate them. Many, especially in Jerusalem, see no reason some accommodation with their fellow occupants of the land can’t be reached, but these people are in the minority and certainly have little power in the government which is dominated by the right wing Likud and its even righter wing allies. The Orthodox citizens of Jerusalem and its parties hold a sword over Netanyahu’s head and lower it any time they want something.
On the Arab side, there are reasonable factions that also hold little power compared with the corrupt leadership of the West Bank and the murderous terrorists of Hamas in Gaza. (Most of those killed in Gaza last week were Hamas.)
This does not bode well for a peaceful Israel.
Now comes Donald Trump determined to make things worse and doing so with his move of the American embassy to Jerusalem while dragging out his pre-pubertal son-in-law and daughter to cut the ribbon and use evangelical zealots to lead the ceremony. He has no shame!
As Brooks points out, it is extremism that is dominating the region and the calm and considered are all but gone. There can be no other explanation for the slaughter on the Gaza border which certainly could have been prevented. How about another wall?
Until the forces of reason return to the White House and the Knesset, it is likely that tensions will escalate and more people will die. As this blog has said before, the Israelis need to make a choice—democracy, Jewish state, post-1967 borders—pick two. A Jewish state democracy will necessitate the ceding of some territory to the Palestinians for a state, even though this is a high-risk venture for Israel. It will also necessitate the Palestinians agreeing that Israel will exist and that the right of return to many of the sites they previously called home is not to be.
Even that was once viewed as possible. Not recently. Extremism has taken over and until the sides pull back from their insistence on being both right and righteous, this will go on.