Several processes are slowly making Israel’s Jewish society more conservative. This is not just a result of demography, which is working in favor of the haredim and traditionalist Jews and against the seculars. We are dealing with a plethora of cultural tendencies that have nothing to do with births.
The Jewish bookshelf is sweeping many groups and is turning into an element that holds ideological, not only cultural, influence on those joining the trend. The “Jewish new age era,” a sort of counter-reaction to the “candle era” of the peace children, is lifting geographical boundaries.
Samaria is suddenly turning into a site that belongs to “every Jew.” Workshops and trips there constitute the settlers’ “quiet revolution.” Even celebrities who “discovered” the synagogue at the heart of Tel Aviv are starting to arrive.
Meanwhile, the Russian and Ethiopian communities, as well as residents of the periphery, are mostly holding clear hawking views, despairing over the chance to see peace from the Palestinians, and are eager to see us using our power and producing deterrence. Territorial concessions are not perceived as a move that would affect the end of the conflict.
Message to Palestinians
Similar phenomena are taking place among some groups within Israel’s leftist camp; the moderate Left, known as “activist” in the past, which lives in “border areas.” The Gaza-region kibbutzim, which in the past granted the leftist Meretz party many Knesset seats, are showing ongoing support for Lieberman’s positions ever since the current government’s establishment. No less surprising: Even among these leftists, a majority characterizes the settlement enterprise as Zionism in every way.
Meanwhile, Meretz and Labor, which produced “Oslo,” are turning into niche parties. Kadima, which is led by people formerly associated with the Right, is the only dovish element with aspirations to take power.
Jewish perception and heritage are penetrating civics studies and the military and national service. The education minister is bringing awareness of Hebron to Tel Aviv. Moreover, members of the religious Zionist community are increasingly active in academia and in the film industry; they produce culture and convey their messages.
Israelis are becoming more spiritual. And no, this is not the spirituality associated with the flower children. It is the kind of spiritually associated with Rabbi Kook. It comes with love for the land and great belief in the ban on renouncing it.
These socio-political developments do not only bear domestic effects on Israel’s society. This process has strategic implications vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Until now, such trends in the Palestinian theater became a diplomatic consideration for Israelis: If you don’t sign a peace deal with the PLO, you’ll get Hamas. If you don’t secure an agreement with the Fayyad government, you’ll have to contend with Islamist radicals.
Well, we now have a parallel message we can start to convey to the Palestinian leadership: Israeli society is undergoing a process of “reinforcement.” – it has become more Jewish, more hawkish and more rightist. If you don’t sign an agreement with Israel today ,while recognizing it as the Jewish People’s state, you will have to deal with the future Israel: One that will only sign a deal with you if you recognize the gravesite of Rachel the Matriarch and mark the death of our holy mother every year.
Dr. Udi Label is a senior political science lecturer at the Ariel University Center of Samaria
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