Why are Israelis sleepwalking toward a one-state solution?
Op-ed: Avoidance of peace initiatives and delusional West Bank construction threaten Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state, yet the silent majority remains silent.
Where is everybody? Where is the mass protest? Where are the hundreds of thousands of people to flood the squares? Why can't we see or hear them?
The protest has ended, and I am not talking about a protest against the annoying price of one dairy product
or another. I am referring to the protest against Israel's deterioration down a slippery slope to a situation of a bi-national state.
An intolerable situation, a clear risk to our lives and to our children's lives. Hell on the earth of this land.
The vast majority of Israelis don't want a bi-national state. The vast majority of Israelis understand very well that such a state means cancelling Zionism as the Jewish people's national liberation movement.
Most of us are unprepared to live in a bi-national state, even if it has a slim Jewish majority, and all the more so if the Jews are a minority subject to the Palestinians' mercy.
Nonetheless, the silent majority here really is silent. Here and there, an alarmed manifesto pops up signed by several hundred figures from different fields, here and there Knesset members exchange verbal jabs. Beyond that, there is silence.
No one is willing to organize an apolitical protest against the expansion of settlement construction and the acceptance of a bi-national state. It would be attended, the potential organizers say, by several thousand activists from the political left – and that would be the end of it.
Peace Now, a large popular movement born outside of the party establishments, before the Internet, the social networks and the cellular phones, is today nothing more than a pale shadow of itself.
How can this indifference be explained as the future of the homeland is hanging in the balance? It's not because of the difficulties of life. New figures have just been published about the level of income and expenses of families in Israel. In 2013, the average real income of a family of salaried employees increased by 5.5%, the household saving rates have risen and the gaps have been significantly reduced.
It's not the economy, stupid. It's the politics.
There are undemocratic states, and sometimes democratic states too, where the political leadership stimulates a national and religious unrest in order to divert the public's attention from the shaky economic situation to goals whose achievement makes people forget the troubles. A "small" initiated war may direct the social-economic anger towards uniting patriotism.
And there are countries, although few, where the political leadership sees an economic protest as an efficient economic tool for diverting the public's attention from its policy in other areas – from civil rights to international isolation and existential threats. This is a tactic of walking on the edge, which takes advantage of the innocence and goodwill of serious people who are concerned about the economy and society.
Social protest. 'It's not the economy, stupid. It's the politics' (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
In the term "leadership," I am not referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu senses the dangers lying in wait for Israel strongly and deals with them his own way, rather than escaping to consumer-economic issues.
The advantage – from the government's point of view – of a specific economic protest is that it is undamaging in governmental terms and can be quickly quelled at a minimal cost. The price of pudding will be reduced, and to hell with the state.
Its disadvantage is that the flames of the protest could spread and start threatening the government. So it must make sure to stop it the moment it becomes "political."
This is what happened here three years ago, when a protest which was called "social" until then turned into a clear political protest. The last major rally, in which the hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded a "new list of priorities," and therefore a new government, was indeed the last.
The adamant avoidance of a peace initiative and the delusional declarations of a building momentum and alleged construction in Judea and Samaria are threatening Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The homeland is in clear and present danger. But the public is dazzled and silenced.
Everyone taking part in this silence, willingly or out of ignorance, intentionally or due to oversight, everyone channeling Israelis' sense of distress and anxiety away from the urgent political problems toward ones that can be solved within consumer unions, should know that they are lending a hand to the destruction of the generations-long Zionist and Jewish dream.
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