Two visions of a possible Israeli future explain what this series of articles (see here
) is really about.
Suppose that 20 or 50 years hence there are 30 million Jews in the world, and 12 million Jews in Israel. Israel has a thriving economy and an integrated society of 15 million in total. Our education system is turning out engineers and scientists in quantity and our roaring economy finds jobs for them. An efficient transportation and communication system moves people, goods and information quickly. We are at peace with our neighbors and have forged strong alliances with world powers. Our universities produce philosophers and Nobel prize winners. Our parents are comfortable in their old age, our working people have the wherewithal to raise their families. Our stages present great works of art. People all over the world look to Israeli leaders in different fields of human endeavor. Jews from all over the world welcome the opportunity offered by history once in 2,000 years, to join us and participate in the miracle of the rebirth of the Jewish people. That is real strength. We are not going in that direction, however.
Suppose, on the other hand that 20 or 50 years hence there are 12 to 15 million Jews in the world, most of whom would rather not be Jews really. Israel has a population of 8 million Jews and 7 million Arabs who hate each other. A large population of ultraorthodox Jews studies the Talmud and waits for "Salvation" by the Messiah, like the Jerusalem Jews of 1850. Another group smokes dope and hangs around the cafes. Cars back up in traffic jams on smog-ridden antiquated roads. Our economy depends on "schnorring"
from foreign countries and foreign Jews. It cannot absorb the few engineers and scientists we manage to train, so they all migrate to Palo Alto and Route 28 to work in US start up companies (or maybe in Indian ones by then). Our rivers are filthy, and our air is unbreathable. Gangsters control our economy and shootouts occur in the streets. Our president is suspected of being a sex pervert. Our Prime Minister is suspected of being a crook.
Our poor sleep in the gutters and homeless people die of exposure. Our foreign policy is determined by the whims of Washington bureaucrats. Our army can't figure out which way to march and depends on weapons supplies from Washington as well. Our old people are starving for lack of care and adequate pension funds. We are surrounded by enemies and isolated by world public opinion.
The above nightmare picture of Israel in the future looks quite a bit like Israel in the present. Is this the Israel we want to bequeath to our children? Can anyone believe that this represents strength? Aren't we going in that direction? Isn't that what Yitzhak Rabin was warning about? Isn't that what he meant, when he kept talking about changing the priorities of Israeli society?
All the other questions, and chief among them the questions of "territories" and "peace" become irrelevant if we do not rise to the challenge of making Israel strong and building a healthy society. If there is no Israel, it doesn't matter if we have Halachic law or no law, and if the state that we would have would have reached to the green line or the Jordan river. Who would guard those territories, Yeshiva students or underworld thugs?
If all the Israelis are traveling in India and Columbia or working in Palo Alto, and all the American Jews became Unitarians or "citizens of the world," then who will settle in the "territories?" For that matter, who will live in Tel Aviv and Haifa? If we have 500 Jewish families in Hebron, guarded by 2,000 IDF soldiers, will that save Israel? Will it stop an Iranian, or Saudi or Egyptian nuclear missile?
If we are weak, we cannot make any choices. We don't have any choices. There is no point in discussing whether to keep territories or give back territories, to accept or reject peace offers. Nobody will make peace offers to the weak, and if we sign a treaty nobody will keep it. Likewise we cannot keep territories if we are weak. Not even Tel Aviv and Haifa. If we are weak, someone will take them away. If we are weak, we do what others force us to do. Every option for peace or war is a threat.
If we are strong, we can then discuss options for peace and war. Everyone will want to make peace with us on favorable terms. They will hear and respect our policy decisions. We will make our own choices and our own opportunities. Every option and every choice offered by history to the strong and united becomes an opportunity. We need to be strong to survive. We can either get on with the work of building a nation, or we can argue endlessly about the territories until there is no more Israel and no more Jewish people. That is the only choice we have to make.
Remember, Zionism is "God that Didn't fail"
. It didn't fail because the Zionist movement was strong enough to take advantage of opportunities. That strength was not built by speechifying, but by back breaking work, organization and training by a movement with a clear goal in mind.
All the slogans and mottoes of the right and of the left, must give way before the most important ancient slogan of the Jews, "Chazak Ve'ematz.
"Strength and Courage."Ami Isseroff
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