Israeli nuttiness and moderation

A series of legislative proposals that seem nutty to many of those in the center and left tell us something about the tensions in Israeli society.
In recent weeks we've been considering a death penalty for terrorists, insistence that all of Jerusalem remain united under Israeli rule, limiting police with respect to suspicious characters in high political office, the extension of Israeli law (or sovereignty) to some or all of the West Bank, aspirations to end the threats from Gaza as well as the West Bank, as well as a reaction to the Yair fiasco by penalizing government drivers and guards who record embarrassing things said by their passengers.
Assessments are that none of those proposals will become government policy, or--if they do in a formal sense--none of them will change the way that Israel operates.
Some of this may be nothing more than the desperation of those who see their future in protecting--or seeming to protect--Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud's political advantages.
Yet some is the work of true believers, willing to risk international condemnation to achieve what they think God promised the Jewish people, and some thinking that threats should be ended once and for all.
On virtually all of the issues, the proponents stand against opposition from professionals in government and the IDF who have assessed the options and conclude that they are likely to do more harm than good.
A death penalty may make some feel good in achieving revenge for ugly acts, but it is not likely to deter terrorism, especially that associated with religious fervor, self-sacrifice, and the notion of 70 virgins prepared to serve each martyr.
A greater absorption of the West Bank won't mean a great deal for the Jews already living there. They already have the rights of Israeli citizenship and deal with Israeli authorities on matters of government. Should Israel extend its control across the West Bank, greater contacts with Palestinians are not likely to make anybody happier.
In regard to not dividing Jerusalem, the city is already divided in ways that resemble European and American places with low income minorities and high rates of neighborhood violence. Few Israeli Jews visit the most problematic of the Arab neighborhoods, just as most middle and upper income Whites of Washington, New York, Cleveland etc stay away from the diciest of minority ghettos.
Several of those problematic neighborhoods abut territory already assigned to Palestinians. Residents of northern Israel, including French Hill, would be pleased to be rid of Isaweea and parts of Shuafat..
Senior military officers have argued, successfully with respect to government policy, that the total conquest of Gaza would not be worth its cost in Israeli casualties and the spin off to wider regional tensions.
Saving  Bibi and his friends has limited and lessening appeal, with weekend demonstrations by leftists and rightists who put an end to corruption above the political survival of any cadre.
Along with the noise of those wanting to set things right in an absolute sense, Israel lives reasonably well with its tensions.
Over the most recent decade, casualties from terror have been significantly fewer than those from traffic accidents.
Palestinian rants about cutting ties with the Trump administration and cancelling the Oslo Accords seem closer to the political static produced by over aged politicians than anything serious.
BDS is more of an insult than a real threat.
The most prominent damage has been pop stars cancelling their Israeli appearances, and an Arab model refusing to work for L'Oreal cosmetics.
Beneath the level of political rhetoric from Palestinian or Israeli extremists, the mass of both populations seems to get along.
Individual Israelis and Palestinians work together, learn and receive treatment alongside one another and from professionals associated with each community in universities, colleges, hospitals, and clinics, shop in one another's neighborhoods or towns, enjoy one another's restaurants, and sometime one another's company.
That Israel is restrained in security matters may seem odd to people who read of incursions to Arab/Palestinian towns and neighborhoods by the IDF and other security services. However, the policy preferences shared by upper reaches of relevant professions (and as shown by Prime Minister Netanyahu's actions if not his rhetoric) support a minimum use of force necessary to preserve a decent status quo.
That minimum may seem vicious by humane souls watching videos of operations in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon since the 1980s, but are modest when compared with how the fledgling defense forces operated in 1948, and what would be possible today if the provocation was significantly beyond that of recent years.
Israel's walls that block the free entry of Palestinians do not play well among those who see a parallel with South African apartheid. However, Israel's walls were built against frequent attacks on civilians (buses, coffee houses, crowded markets). Their construction was associated with a lessening of those attacks, and there is no prospect of removing them.
The status quo may not be ideal, depending on one's preferences, but it's what exists. And stands as where we should begin to consider the endless supply of proposals and scenarios imaginable into the future.
Demands that we turn back history to 1967, 1947, or 1917 ain't goin' nowhere.
Comments welcome
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem