New Year’s Eve 2063. Israel is 115 years old. The Jewish State is much as it was
in 2013, only more so.
Iran still wants a bomb, but the United States and
Western European powers insist that as long as the mullahs threaten Israel and
the West, they will have only civil nuclear power. Grudgingly Iran continues to
allow international monitoring. Half a century has passed since the “civil but
not military” compromise narrowly avoided Israel’s 2013 red line. Israel’s not
terribly happy about the compromise, but not terribly unhappy,
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt are all firmly in the hands of
the Islamists, but of the mild variety, Erdogan-esque. No love lost with Israel
in those quarters, but matters are much worse for intellectuals, Christians,
women, gays and lesbians, and those economies than they are for Israel. The West
pumps in money to ensure that those countries don’t devolve into utter chaos.
Israel’s neighbors might love to do it in, but they know that they can’t;
America has Israel’s back. So they worry more about repressing the demands for
genuine democracy in their capitals and, the occasional venomous outburst about
Israel notwithstanding, they essentially ignore the Zionist cancer across their
In Gaza, the heirs to what used to be called Hamas are still in
power. Gazans are still poor and overcrowded, but not starving, as a carefully
monitored crossing with Egypt allows in food, medicine and building materials.
There are some imports by sea, as well, subject to Israeli naval supervision.
Every now and then, the regime lets fly some rockets; Israel then pounds them
into temporary submission. No one likes it, but no Gazan citizens are clamoring
for regime change, so almost everyone in Israel has just gotten used to
To the east, Fatah still hangs on. The Palestinians never got real
statehood, because they continued to insist that as a precondition for
negotiations, the now 10 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria be
allowed to return to Israel; Israel simply refuses.
economy chugs along under a reasonably light Israeli thumb, and because Israel
regularly makes proposals for longer-term arrangements and has effectively
worked European capitals, international consensus holds that the Palestinians
are the real stumbling block. There are occasional dustups about Israeli plans
for building housing, but the planned neighborhoods are mostly contiguous with
existing Israeli cities. Because Israel has reined in the hilltop settlers,
violence against Palestinians has stopped; with the European Union and its
post-nationalism now a thing of the past, Europe is not exactly enamored of
Israel, but the hostility has dissipated a bit. The rare periodic flare-ups
generally pass quickly.
Internally the crushing despair of 2000-2015 has
largely dissipated. The economy continues to thrive; Israel remains a
mini-Silicon Valley. Hostility among Israeli academics to the country’s very
existence has softened, and thanks to some small Zionist and pluralistic
colleges, creative and energetic Zionist thinking thrives once again. Ben-Gurion
and Berdichevsky would not recognize the issues being bandied about, but they
would recognize the diversity, the passion and the commitment to Jewish
Thanks to electoral reform, smaller parties are mostly a thing
of the past. The haredi stranglehold on coalition politics is a memory; haredi
kids do not serve in the army, but they do national service, and after that,
they work for a living.
Israel still wins many more Nobel prizes than it
does Olympic gold medals. That’s a frustration to some, but they’ve learned to
accept it. Israel is the Jewish state, after all.
state is much as it was in 2013, only more so.
Iran got the bomb in 2013.
Immobilized by battle-fatigue, the US decided it would not attack. It gave Israel
the green light, but overwhelming doubt in top Israeli echelons led to
When Iran finally detonated a warhead beneath
the sea, it was too late to attack.
European hostility to Israel never
subsided, and successive Israeli governments turned irritating both the EU and
the US into a national sport. In response to repeated European and American
demands that building projects cease, the government assured Israelis, “They’ll
learn to live with it. We just have to show them we can’t be
Germany changed the rules first. Lufthansa stopped flying to
Israel, and a year later, Germany refused El Al landing rights. After subsequent
dustups, Air France and France followed suit, as did British Airways and the UK.
Soon, the only way to get to Europe was by sea. Israelis could still fly to
At first, it didn’t seem a sea-change. But with the
economy in a drastic downturn and wild-eyed mullahs parading their gleaming
weapons, the best-educated and thus most mobile Israeli parents asked themselves
if raising children in the cross-hairs of nuclear-armed maniacs was moral.
Increasingly they departed for calmer pastures. It wasn’t a mad exodus, but the
Start-up Nation sputtered; everyone knew that if you wanted to do hi-tech, you
had to cross the ocean.
Syrian civil war, which dragged on for years
after President Bashar Assad fell, produced several million refugees. Once
another protracted civil war toppled the Hashemite Kingdom, there were several
million more. Hundreds of thousands made their way into the West Bank, which
could not sustain them. Under intense US pressure (American Jews had long since
softened their support for Israel on Capitol Hill), Israel agreed to grant tens
of thousands of work and residency permits, and then more. The economy tanked
With Jews and Palestinians so clearly sharing the space between
the river and the sea, and with the mere idea of a two-state solution a faint
memory, the UN announced plans for a commission that would study how and when a
one-state solution would be implemented. Outside a few staunch Israeli
ideological pockets, there wasn’t much resistance. Those Israelis who remained
were exhausted. Some members of the haredi community were actually relieved; a
shared state would effectively be an Arab state. It would have no real enemies,
and at long last, no one would care if they went to the army.
Israeli graduate students, the looming new reality was dubbed “The Second
Yishuv.” How it would be different from The First Yishuv was a matter of
academic debate, as was the question of whether the state that had existed
between the two Yishuv periods could have been saved, or whether demography and
geography had been too steeply stacked against it from the get-go.
the 2060 Olympics, Israel won two gold medals. The athletes had grown up in the
States and trained there, but they were technically Israeli
They figured that they had better chances of making the Israeli
team, and they did far better than anyone had anticipated. For a couple of days,
Israeli spirits lifted, if only a bit.
SOUND CRAZY? It’s not. The details
might be different, of course, but either of these scenarios is distinctly
possible. Neither includes a settlement with the Palestinians, and neither
requires that a single bullet be fired.
So, Happy New Year. And enjoy
The writer is senior vice president and Koret distinguished
fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. His most recent book is
The Promise of
Israel: Why Its Seemingly Greatest Weakness is Actually Its Greatest Strength