Friday, September 22, 2006

The state as a failing startup

By Gideon Samet in Ha'aretz

What the country went through toward the end of this year is only a promo for the mistakes to come. Commissions of inquiry will not be able to keep up with rate of mistakes of the poor administration that has taken over the Israeli startup. Fifty-eight years are too short a period of time in the history of a nation to boast of its impressive achievements. It is certainly too short a period in the life of a unique nation for its enterprise to deteriorate so badly. And now, when once again the failures in its pride and joy - the "best army in the world" - have been exposed, comes the time to pay for its political stupidity.

We are approaching a decisive political point not because we were striving toward it. With the exception of a few unusual years in the previous decade, the Israeli board of directors has done everything possible to prevent this point from being reached. The story is bitter and familiar. The flourishing of a competing enterprise, the settlements, sucked the marrow from the genuine Zionist enterprise and destroyed its army. And the deceptive tricks to prevent talking with the neighbors. Neighbors? An occupied, trampled nation whose terrorists and radical Islam are fueled by the blind cruelty of the foreign regime.

The new chapter is arriving because of a vacuum created by scandalous Israeli politics. Historians will have no difficulty recording it, a politics that adorned itself with the arrogance of supposed victors. Many good people thought the move would succeed. One of the finest, Moshe Dayan, expressed the innermost feelings of a self-satisfied nation when he preferred Sharm el-Sheikh to peace. After an accursed war and continued Ashkenazi contempt for the Mizrahim [Ashkenazim are Jews of European origin; Mizrahim are of North African or Middle Eastern origin], came the years of a crude, reactionary government of the right. It did everything in its considerable power to make do with the brilliant maneuver of its venerated leader, Menahem Begin, and to prevent the peace with Egypt from developing into an understanding with the Palestinians. The tragic end of this chapter and of the leader came in an idiotic war in which a renewed version of Land of Israel revisionism promised us that the land would be quiet for 40 years.

In spite of the first and second intifadas, changing administrations on the right and the left continued to grasp at the refusal on the other side to justify their own refusal to replace the diskette. Arafat was Hitler. After they destroyed his bunker in the Muqata and in effect tried to kill him, they mocked his replacement as impotent. Just as they eventually failed to foresee the missiles of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, a braggart Military Intelligence and the glorious Mossad erred in identifying the rising power, the inevitable victor in the Palestinian Authority.

Ariel Sharon, during the Israeli twilight period when the desire for a father figure swept the sins of the past under the rug, turned a cold shoulder on the new Palestinian leadership. His successor (under the circumstances of a stroke that was national, and not only private) avoided conducting even one serious conversation with Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). It didn't help that the vilified organization of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared de facto recognition of Israel through its spokesmen. He did so when Hamas adopted the pan-Arab agreement of 2002, in the context of the agreement to form a unity government with Fatah. But Israel is inciting Washington not to recognize such a government, as though a purely Fatah organization is Israel's heart's desire.

The irresponsible continuation of crushing any talks with the Palestinians is accompanied by a campaign to demonize the PA and Muslims everywhere. In spite of the pseudo-righteous regret, there was celebration in Jerusalem when the pope, apparently quite a coarse person, made his unbridled attack on Islam throughout the generations. When he cited a Byzantine emperor who was defeated by the Ottoman Empire, did the pope forget the Muslim Golden Age when most of Christian Europe, as Benjamin Disraeli once said, were swineherds? From the pope to Effi Eitan, they are talking about Muslims today in a manner that would cause an explosion in the international media had similar things been said about the Jews.

In an unexpected way, like the war, special circumstances are now being created for discussing peace. Not a Swiss peace of the kind that the right finds easy to attack; an agreement that is certainly possible but Israel looked the other way whenever there was even a shred of a chance that it would succeed. Let the automatic right say what it wants, but it's not true that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. It's true that all the Arab countries are willing to recognize it in accordance with the decisions of the Arab League, which have been reconfirmed, in exchange for withdrawal to the 1967 border. It is a distortion of the few serious but fragmented contacts after the second Camp David summit (led by Yossi Beilin, who is a leper in the eyes of the right) to maintain that there is no chance of preserving some of the settlements through an exchange of territory. And mainly Israel refuses to examine in serious negotiations whether the claims of the Palestinians like its own are not opening gambits. How can Olmert dare to enter such negotiations when his future lies in the balance?
Any startup would collapse into a terminal crisis if it were run like that. But Israel is not anticipating some round to raise capital. If it doesn't get itself moving, within a few years it will have to deal with an Iranian nuclear power, resting on "thickened" settlements and living in the center of Islamic hatred that has only increased. A commission of inquiry and dubious American support won't help then.


At 9:39 PM, Blogger Greg said...


I realize you're quoting but it's blatantly anti-Semitic. Hope you realize where I'm coming from.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Not really, no. You're confusing [self]criticism [in this case] of Israel with actual anti-Semitism (simply put, hatred of Jews and the Jewish People).

Not on my watch, sorry...

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Gert said...


If we equate criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism, then by (il)logical extension Israel would be the only country in the world to be above any form of criticism. That's of course what some Israeli want.


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