President of the Palestinian FA Jibril Rajoub shows a red card as he speaks during the 65th FIFA Congress on May 29, 2015 in Zurich..
(photo credit: AFP/MICHAEL BUHOLZER)
The lively events regarding Israel and the Palestinian Authority that took place at the FIFA meeting in Switzerland last week are a perfect example of the consequences when a government fails to take initiative. Anyone who read the newspaper headlines might have thought a compromise agreement had been reached between two world powers and that the cold war has come to an end.
Ofer Eini, chairman of the Israel Football Association, thanked Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, for his willingness to retract the PFA’s proposal that Israel be removed from FIFA.
Eini and Rajoub shook hands in front of the cameras and the bright lights and the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. So, what really happened there in Switzerland behind closed doors? For years, Rajoub has been considered the No. 1 Fatah terrorist.
He was convicted of orchestrating an endless number of terrorist attacks, was jailed for life, was deported to Lebanon, and then returned as head of Palestinian security in the West Bank for the Palestinian Authority all the while continuing to be involved in the same terrorist activities he was supposed to be preventing.
Rajoub, who was fired following allegations of corruption and embezzlement, filed a request two months ago with FIFA to have Israel removed from the organization on account of racism. Nothing in the Palestinian request had any connection with soccer or with sport in general.
The Palestinian Authority’s action was purely political and aimed at defaming Israel and cornering it in yet another international organization.
The State of Israel did not formulate any type of response to offer to FIFA. Nor did it appeal to the organization in Switzerland or show it any documents describing the Palestinian Authority’s human rights violations or the terrorist wing of Hamas’s involvement in sports in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel kept quiet about the extent of the anti-Semitism prevalent in Palestinian sports organizations and schools. The only overt action Israel took was to send Ofer Eini to try to calm the Palestinians down and to reach an agreement that would shut them up. The Palestinian achieved their goals of attracting international attention to their cause and arranging an amazing photo-op in which Rajoub and Eini shook hands.
This is not the first time we’ve seen the Israeli government’s lack of initiative. This has been the government’s modus operandi for years.
So I decided to look up the word “initiative” in the dictionary and this is what I found: “An introductory act, taking things into your own hands, readiness to take action; resourcefulness.” Another entry said, “Setting a new process into action; ability to determine nature of struggle; competition.”
Even if we tried very hard, I don’t think we’d find many instances in which the Israeli government has taken initiative and successfully solved a problem.
For example, in the area of security, for years Israel has been in a purely reactive mode with respect to Hamas. All eight of the military operations Israel has carried out in Gaza were in reaction to Hamas aggression. All cease-fires were in response to Hamas cease-fires. The extent of IDF attacks are always in proportion to Hamas’s attacks. The Israeli military has never engaged in a proactive, pre-planned action that is part of long-term strategy to reduce Hamas’s strength or block the transfer of munitions and funds.
In the diplomatic sphere, Israel has never initiated any dialogues or programs for solving regional conflicts. The Foreign Ministry is constantly scrambling to send delegates to talks initiated by the Palestinians, Saudis, Egyptians, Americans and European Union representatives, instead of taking the upper hand in these talks.
The social ills of Israeli society are not bearing any better, unfortunately. The government has made little, if any, efforts to reduce the cost of living, to lower real estate and gasoline prices or income tax rates. Transportation infrastructure in the greater Tel Aviv area is collapsing at the same time that more and more cars are driving on these roads every day.
In the field of education, former minister Shai Peron initiated a number of innovative changes, but many of these were blocked by complicated red tape or protests by teachers unions. And the modifications that Peron was successful in carrying out in the short two years he was minister are now being reversed by the new government.
The state health system has not undergone any revamping since the health funds were created. The government constantly channels more and more funds to keep these sickly health funds from crumbling, and there is still a shortage of doctors and nurses in the hospitals as salaries continue to plummet. No one in the government has taken the initiative to improve working conditions and increase salaries for the people who work so hard to keep all of us healthy.
The Israel Police is not in any better shape. With such a small budget to work with, it is no surprise that there are not enough police officers patrolling our streets. And yet the government year after year chooses to neglect the very organization in charge of our personal safety instead of carrying out the reforms necessary to dramatically improve the situation.
The only activity Israeli leaders are excited about and spend any time involved in is the formation of new governments, which takes place in Israel on average every two years. New offices are built for new ministers for whom new positions are created. And yet none of this helps improve the lives of Israeli citizens.
Known around the world as the Startup Nation, it appears that Israel cannot manage to channel this creativity and initiative into the public sector. The government remains passive, lacking in any creativity or desire to carry out change.
What Israel needs is a government that will enable and encourage its leaders to carry out true reform that will benefit its citizens. But until that happens, it looks like we’ll continue providing Jibril Rajoub with free public relations services.The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.