Photo: Orel Cohen, Calcalist
Yoel Esteron
Photo: Orel Cohen, Calcalist

The end of the procrastination era

Calcalist publisher Yoel Esteron speaks at the National Economic Conference 2014: A two-nation settlement with moderate Palestinians or ongoing terrorism and fighting – it's time to make a choice and end this national waltz called 'conflict management.'

So, did we win the fighting against the Hamas? Was it a victory measured in points? Or perhaps it ended in a disappointing draw? One thing is for sure - we're tired of this stale chewing-gum-sticky argument. We just want to forget the lousy summer we had and carry on with our lives. The question is – where do we go from here? Because the question whether we won the war or not hinges not on the summer's events but on what we chose to do henceforth.



It's safe to assume that the IDF is gearing up for further conflicts in the south and in the north of Israel, but one can dare to hope that Israel is still more than the sum of its conflicts and threats.


We seem to be a nation expert at procrastination. We would take the gold medal home at the procrastination Olympics. This is no new trait, mind you. Since 1967, generations of Israeli governments chose to live by the mantra "time is on our side". Golda Meir procrastinated and it cost Israel the Yom Kipur war. Yizhak Shamir was a skilled procrastinator who always took his noon siesta to avoid taking any real diplomatic initiative.


But the biggest of all procrastinators among Israeli prime ministers is undoubtedly Benjamin Netanyahu. The world expert on the eradication of terrorism has become champion procrastinator. In fact, he should change his name to Benjamin Procrastinyahu. We saw him in all his glory during the recent conflict, however, even before that, throughout his entire tenure as prime minister, he honed his denial skills, or the so called "conflict management". Now that we have stood on the precipice of the "Protective Edge", all he wants is to return to his peace and quiet.


As inclined as I am to admit that throwing punches at the government is rather gratifying, it's the easy way out. We all have to shrug off this national malady of procrastination and make some serious, dramatic and fateful decisions. And I'm not referring to grave matters such as deficit goals, tax hikes or cutting public spending, As important as they may be and as much as they deserve serious consideration, right now our most critical national social issue is whether we want to live in peace with the Palestinians. Real peace, no fragile ceasefire or short-lived settlement – a true, two-state agreement,


But more than a few Israelis don't believe in this. Defense Minister, Moshe Ya'alon claims it’s not viable for the near future and scorns any shadow of "soluitionism" or "nowism", while other ministers do their best to stymie any prospects of a two-state solution.


As legitimate and as worthy of serious discussion as their views may be, they have been on the table for too long without a shadow of resolution. We were busy with our social protest or playing Candy Crush or whatever is was that we were doing. Maybe we gave up hope, feeling there was no real partner peace. Maybe we believed we could live a life of ease in a secluded "Jungle Vila" as Ehude Barak called it, right before he upped and left to promote his own private-sector lucrative career.


The war was a painful reminder that what is not tended to today – rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient of times. And now we must decide whether to uphold a realty of war with the Hamas and other terrorist organizations or to attempt to reconcile with the moderate voices among the Palestinians. The third alternative – a low volume conflict, just doesn’t cut it anymore. The scorching summer proved that a small flame can quickly flare into a all-consuming fire.


And ISIS and their counterparts are adding their fuel into the regional fire. The most disappointing American president to date admitted several days ago that the United States had no tactics in place for dealing with ISIS. Apparently the US can afford to have a Barak Obama and the divide of the Atlantic Ocean frees it from the need for such a strategy.


We, sadly, have no such ocean and we must discern whether the threat of ISIS is present enough to relegate negotiations with the Palestinians to the back burner or to expedite them.


My logic tells me we should have bludgeoned the Hamas and not reward terrorism, while at the same time acted to empower the moderate voices in the Palestinian society. We must reach a peace accord with Mahmoud Abbas here and now to enable further collaboration with the moderate Arab world against these pernicious and maleficent forces.


I might be wrong, and it's perfectly fine if you disagree with me. So long as you look the truth in the eye and honestly declare that you have no desire to install a two-state solution, that you prefer to fight an ongoing war against the Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and all the other terrorist organizations that are yet to plague us. Say that you're willing to encumber our economy, stifle the public agenda, slash social affairs budgets, lower the level of education and healthcare, delay infrastructure development and wave culture goodbye.


Because if you do think I'm wrong, this is the honest truth: we are in over our heads with these threats. We do not have the funds to deal with them.


If we've learned one thing this past summer it's that we cannot keep up this procrastination waltz called "conflict management". We must decide what we want to do next, the sooner, the better.


פרסום ראשון: 09.02.14, 18:04
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