Who would have ever thought that as Israel edges toward 65, it would still be a
country with no permanent borders, no internationally recognized capital and not
even an anthem acceptable to all its citizens?
Instead of projecting maturity
and stability after having won its wars and surmounting the immediate physical
threats to its existence, absorbing millions of immigrants and having Iran on
its toes, Israel at 65 gives off an aura of conflicted insecurity, a country
torn into camps and divisions with no common perception of what type of country
modern Israel should be.
Issues like state and religion have become
exacerbated, not resolved.
I heard Eli Yishai, now the interior minister
from Shas; tell listeners of a prime time radio show not that long ago that
Reform Jews should be stoned to death for taking God’s name in vain.
six decades into the modern Jewish State and only just over 10 percent of high
school students in Bnei Brak graduate with a state-recognized matriculation
certificate, the rest left untrained to cope with modern life, let alone advance
in it, ghetto dwellers and strangers in their own land.
Seven wars and
two intifadas later and national service for the ever-growing haredi community
remains unresolved, an open and bleeding wound, rather than a thing of the past.
And 65 years into modern Israel, and many haredi communities continue to be
avowed anti-Zionists while, at the same time, knowing full well how to make
(actually take) the best the Zionist state has to offer.
As for the
country’s borders, things there too are more contentious and impermanent than
ever. Three of the country’s six borders, its maritime border and the borders
with Jordan and Egypt, are recognized. Israel’s border with Lebanon has been
recognized by the UN, but not the Lebanese with the Shaba Farms issue still
unresolved. The border with Syria has yet to be defined, as does Syria’s
As for the West Bank, the situation is close to lunacy, with
everyone involved at fever pitch, and where even to the naked eye one can see
the seeds for civil rebellion in Israel are being planted, knowingly or
unknowingly, by a few who have been brilliant at manipulating the many for a
long time now.
I went up to Migron this week, a place that will no doubt
be the focus of the news for the next few days, if not weeks, including the
international media only too happy for pictures of Jewish policemen and women
beating up on other Jews. It was on the day, just hours, before the Supreme
Court ended a six-year legal battle and ordered the 50 settler families up there
off the land they grabbed eight years ago.
Interestingly, the reasons
given by the High Court did not deal with property ownership, but that the 50
families had built homes, schools and services without permission. The
settlement belonged to no regional council.
No regional planning was
done. Roads and other infrastructure were built with nods and winks, and a few
trees planted in sorry reward for the once pristine hill top now scarred by the
necessities of their presence: fences, roads, lights, water, electricity – all
in the service of this monolithic, insular and Spartan group of people, who
against the law have claimed title to land not theirs, thumbing their noses at
the Israeli governments and its institutions for years upon years. They are now
creating a reality that has already cost over NIS 30 million in alternate
temporary housing a few hundred meters down the road, which the group on Migron
up the hill have refused to even consider moving to.
Now are these folks
up on Migron who spit at the Supreme Court and claim they have been raped,
Zionists or non-Zionists. As they prepare for battle with Israel’s
security forces, are they nationalists or not?
Are the rejectionists of Migron
considered members of the Zionist Nationalist camp, which is supposed to care
about Israel and the wellbeing of its armed forces and indeed constitute the
bulk of its officer’s corps or rebels as they fight them?
Who is a Zionist in
this contest to ensure the law of the land applies to all its citizens? Those
who come to implement the law or those who intend to oppose it?
The worst thing
about Migron and the whole incident is that it is indicative of the price of
national indecision, a leadership vacuum, in determining Israel’s future. Migron
is the hole in the fence, the loophole, not the Zionist dream or any part of it
that espouses a vision of a modern, democratic, exemplary Jewish
For Israel to be permanent, it needs permanent borders. For it to
be independent, it needs a military that will not falter in the service of
For it to be a Jewish state, it must accept Jewish pluralism,
and God must be removed from government no matter what the rabbis say. For
Israel to live up to the ideals of its founders, there has to be equality among
its citizens, both rights and obligations, as envisioned in the Declaration of
Independence, signed by Jews from all sides of the political spectrum, but
dedicated to the vision of a reborn homeland for the Jewish people, and all
those who come to live in it.
For Israel to be accepted as a nation
worthy of respect, it first has to respect itself, and its people have to
respect its institutions and laws. Outlaws on hills who spit in the well that
feeds them when the chips are finally down, are not what modern Zionism, in any
form, is about. Neither is it Jewish nationalism, a movement one supposes would
want to strengthen the Jewish state, not weaken it.
The 50 families at
Migron and 90 percent of Bnei Brak teenagers, who did not get a matriculation
certificate, are as much victims as manipulators. The Migron folks were led to
believe that in the name of the Bible anything and everything was doable and
possible, while the haredim, in their various forms, have mastered the
management of the foibles and indecisiveness of Israel’s
They are victims of modern Israel’s weaknesses and the lack
of vision and determination of its latter-day leaders.
have been the main source of their strength. The time has come for change, a
leader who offers a vision of permanence and coexistence among the Jews, before
the Migron factor permanently moves from a distant hilltop to the very heart of
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