Israeli border police in the West Bank city of Hebron April 24, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Years ago, my brilliant professor of business administration, Boaz Ronen, used to hold his hands out to the side in what he called the “weeping willow gesture” and say to us captivated students, “What can you do?” It was his way of mocking CEOs and their litany of excuses for the failures of their company, the list of forces majeures they blamed it on. The bottom line was always the same: It’s not our fault, it’s the result of objective circumstances.
Prof. Ronen specialized in identifying and clearing bottlenecks in businesses. “You can do more with what you have,” he always said. Even complicated problems can be solved in this way, by unclogging the pipes.
And if it doesn’t fix 100 percent of the problem, fixing 70 or 80% is better than nothing.
Israel isn’t a business, but the principle is the same. The national bottleneck, the main threat to our future, is the persistent and still bleeding issue of the Palestinians. I don’t intend to deal here with humanitarian questions; there is more than one side to that coin. It’s enough to say that we live here because we won, and they live here because we’re at least seven times more humanitarian than they are. If they had won, not one of us would be left in this land. But when certain freedoms of one side conflict with the right to life of the other side, the problem is complex.
In clearing the national bottleneck, we should be guided by three principles: 1) Our survival must not be endangered. The solution for the West Bank is not the same as the solution for Gaza – total withdrawal is out of the question; 2) No binational state. That’s like pudding with sardines, a fried egg with chocolate, or a bomb affixed to the car of a mafia boss – they don’t go well together.
It won’t get very far before it blows up; and 3) No apartheid. That’s just not us. It’s like sexual harassment – it was repulsive and indefensible even before there was a law against it, but now you go to prison for it. Apartheid may have managed to hold its own in the previous century, but today it’s a thing of the past, and good riddance to it. It shouldn’t – and couldn’t – be allowed to return.
The naïve and the fool are relatives who live side by side. Anyone who thinks we can reach a final, comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians falls under at least one of these categories. The same goes for those who claim, “Even though there’s no chance of success, we have to keep trying.” What’s the point of treading water? The ones who say, “We’ll agree to a Palestinian state only on condition that...” are also basically arguing for a continued standstill. The problem is that the “standstill” isn’t really standing still. It’s leading us to infringement of principles (2) and (3) above, and ultimately of principle (1) as well.
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What we need is something different.
It may not solve 100% of the problem, because there is no perfect solution, but it will be better than what we have. “The enemy of ‘good’ is ‘very good,’” Prof. Ronen used to say. But as things stand, “good” is definitely good enough.
Our partners to the solution are the Americans and other friendly nations, and not the Palestinians who are masters of deception. Despite what they may say, they don’t want their own impoverished country; they want to be part of our prosperous one. What needs to be done is to declare a Palestinian state within temporary borders, a state with which we have a territorial dispute. The rest of the issues can be discussed by the club members after we have buried the mother of all our problems. If the Palestinians don’t agree to a state of their own right here and now, their true face will be revealed for all to see.Translated by Sara Kitai.
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