What must Israel do to stay independent, so our descendants can celebrate Independence day in 200 years? This is not a trivial question. Geopolitically, Israel is an accident. Historically, it has only been able to exist as an independent state when the empires to the south (Egypt) and northeast (Assyria, Babylonia, Persia) were too weak to overrun the slender strip of fertile land on both sides of the Jordan river. There is no denying that Israel has many enemies, as well. But what will determine our survival as an independent state is primarily what we do, not what others do or say.
To answer the question, we need to ask what got us this far. How could there be a Jewish state since 1948, when there could not have been one previously, and how did it manage to prevail against the odds until now? We can gain insight into the reasons not only by checking Jewish history, but also by comparing our society to that of the Palestinian Arabs. For it is equally interesting to ask why the Arabs of Palestine, much more numerous and much more warlike in their declarations, have been unable to establish a state, not only since the Six Day War
, or in the Israel War of Independence
, but also under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation, and for that matter, since the first Arabs reached Palestine. There was never a Palestinian Arab state in all history, a fact that is often overlooked by critics of Israel.
The first prerequisite is unity, as I noted in a previous article on Israel Independence Day
. We do not have to accept each others' opinions. We must accept and follow the decisions of the democratic majority and the democratically elected government, and we must respect those officials to the extent that is reasonable and expected in a free society. In a few weeks, no doubt, Benjamin Netanyahu
and his government may make decisions that some of us don't like, just as Ehud Olmert
and Ariel Sharon
and Ehud Barak
did in the past. Criticism of government policies must center around discussion of the issues and examination of whether or not the policy is right. Delegitimation of government figures as "traitors" or "fascists" equally puts you outside the camp. We have only to regard the disunity of the Palestinians, and the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, to understand the cost of disunity. It is likewise impossible to accept that some people will not serve in the army because they support settlements at any cost, others won't serve because they are opposed to settlements, while a third group doesn't serve because they are too religious, or perhaps because they do not recognize the state.
The second prerequisite is decent government and a culture that enforces ethics, impartiality transparency in government. A glance over the fence is instructive again. Nasser Lahham, editor of the European supported Maan News, explains (In defense of nepotism and favoritism
) that corruption, favoritism and nepotism are good things, because that is the way Palestinians always do things:
Inside our factions and out, however, what the report calls “favoritism and nepotism” I would prefer to call “social diplomacy.” I draw your attention to the case of the job applicant: He is in hard circumstances and is in bad need of work. His fellow party member, cousin or clansman shows respect for his position and gives him a three month probationary period during which he must prove he can do the job.
Including a young man in a new company is like having him marry into your family; it is a way to look out for and ensure the protection of younger generations and those in need. Being able to offer work, a respectable position, is community diplomacy and an essential tool.
It's all in La Famiglia, and it shows respect, right? Of course, what you get with that sort of public ethics is not a state, but a collection of warring clans like the Palestinian Authority, or like Lebanon, Iraq and other Middle Eastern failed states, inevitably blamed on "Zionism" or on western colonialist powers.
Responsibility and flexibility are further prerequisites for successful independence. We got our state because we were willing to compromise and accept the disappointing solution of partition, offered by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. The Palestinians didn't get any state because they insisted on maximalist, extremist positions that the world would not support. Responsibility is needed because independence is a sort of adulthood. We can't say or do annoying or destructive things out of spite or peevishness, because we won't be forgiven. Once you are an adult, you are not protected by the unconditional love of parents.
Finally, independence requires thinking as an independent nation. Israelis and their supporters devote far too much effort to ascertaining what Barack Obama will do or say, and what to do about it, and far too little time to examining what Israel ought to be doing and saying.
The whole point of being independent is that we are no longer subject to the whims of a government that does not necessarily have our national interest at heart. We cannot allow the US administration to lead us because they are not "parents." They aren't doing what is good for us, but rather what is good for them, and they do not know what is good for us better than we do. We ourselves had better know what is good for us and we ourselves need to propose a course of action in foreign policy and explain to others why it is in their best interests to support that course of action.
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Replies: 4 Comments
Well Jayzed, some of what you write is what I implied, but you wrote:
"However if Israeli governments do not know how to honor the commitments of their predecessors, talk in double talk about accepting the roadmap but rejecting a two-state solution, "
Lieberman has at least on one occasion affirmed Israel's support for a two state solution. I believe however, that the full name of that solution is "Two states for two peoples" - which the Palestinians have rejected explicitly.
Zionism-Israel, Friday, May 1st
“Responsibility and flexibility are further prerequisites for successful independence. We got our state because we were willing to compromise and accept the disappointing solution of partition, offered by UN General Assembly Resolution 181”
And to that I would add that responsibility and flexibility are today prerequisites for sustaining continued independence and statehood. This is why Israel has accepted the roadmap, entered into the Annapolis conference and has thus confirmed that under conditions that affirm her security - and not the territorial desires of extremist zealots – that there is room for an independent Palestinian state. Whether the Palestinians will mature into a viable unified entity capable of meeting the standards and commitments required for this process and in so doing bring about an end to terror as their prime means of leverage, will determine its outcome.
However if Israeli governments do not know how to honor the commitments of their predecessors, talk in double talk about accepting the roadmap but rejecting a two-state solution, promise to stop settlement expansion but plan and build on land agreed for a future Palestine, lay down separate and superior infrastructure for Jews while closing off roads and infrastructure of local Palestinian residents thereby annexing under segregation a hostile population, the outcome of this will lead to the demise of the independent, sovereign Jewish State as we know it today.
In the spirit of the founders who understood the greatness in “compromise and accepting disappointing solutions” as the means to freedom and future success - happy 61. Um is not always Shmum.
jayzed, Thursday, April 30th
Indeed. But American spoils or patronage system was mild compared to the Palestinian version. The Palestinian version regulates the behavior of armed groups not regular political parties. And it regulates the various businesses they run like counterfeit CDs.
Zionism-Israel, Thursday, April 30th
"The spoils system was more fruitful of degradation in our political life than any other that could have possibly been invented. The spoils monger, the man who peddled patronage, inevitably bred the vote-buyer, the vote-seller, and the man guilty of misfeasance in office."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, in a letter dated February 8, 1895.
Mark Kennet, Thursday, April 30th
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