Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
Visiting New York during this last week of December, one cannot remain impervious to the festive atmosphere. Colored lights everywhere make the trees at night seem like a magical wonderland. Yet when one reads the national papers or megabloggers, or hears the reports emanating from major channels, you quickly return to reality. What’s being said about Israel and the Middle East ignores major changes that have occurred on the ground and are for the most part repeats of outdated narratives that have little in common with the changing reality of Israel, Judea and Samaria, or the Middle East.
In the spirit of the coming election in Israel, little has been mentioned about the Israeli electorate turning to the Right and turning their backs on the liberal, Left-oriented political parties that have been a major force for the past 64 years since Israel’s establishment. The belief in a two-state solution and land for peace is continuing to be repeated like a mantra despite their being obsolete and having proven impossible to implement. The repeated Palestinian Arab refusal to accept a negotiated two-state solution and to end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all once a Palestinian Arab state is established is, as usual, ignored.
“Land for peace” has become a euphemism for “land for missiles,” yet none of this has sunk in or made a dent in what’s reported. The American Jewish liberal scene continues to support and espouse what clearly has been rejected by the Israeli electorate. The success of the Right in the last elections and the expected success of the Right in the coming elections are the most obvious examples of the transformation occurring in Israel.
In the words of author Joseph Heller, “Something happened.” Historically, Zionism arose in response to the inability of the religious establishment to transform the belief in Zion into a real modern state; that was done by Herzl and Ben-Gurion. Secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state. Israel as a state for the Jewish refugees of the world always played well with the Jewish liberal Left. Weak, Diaspora, underdog-type Jews were easy to identify with and defend.
However, after 64 years, Israel can no longer continue to exist on the ethos of a refugee state. If this was our only reason for our existence as a state, then clearly there are many places in the world that are more convenient, if not safer, for Jews. Therefore, the Israeli electorate has and will continue to turn their backs to secular Zionism and give a majority of their votes for those that support what can be considered Jewish Zionism. After 64 years, Israel as a modern Jewish state must be just that—a Jewish state. The Israeli public has and will, in the coming elections, continue to confirm this change, that Judaism is the reason for Israel’s existence and the justification of Israel’s existence.
Those of you who have been brought up believing that the secular-socialist mindset should continue to be what Israel stands for are having a tough time. Obama’s reelection and expected nomination of clearly pro-Arab secretaries of State and Defense will reinvigorate Jewish American liberals, who will use their strategic alliance with the White House to continue to support policies that define Israel as the home of Jewish refugees rather than the home of a modern Jewish state.
The good news is that a Jewish Israel will continue to be democratic, protecting the human rights of her minorities, and continue to be a true melting pot for all of the world’s Jews. The Palestinian Arabs who live within the legal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority as well as the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria will continue to benefit from the legal and human rights Israel provides them, more so than they have in any Arab nation in the Middle East. Israel will also act and behave morally and unashamedly as a Jewish state.
What can be expected in the coming period and after Israel’s election? Those Jewish leaders that continue to refuse to recognize the demographic changes in Israel’s national identity will ring the alarm bell. They will continue to claim that Israel, the “startup nation,” feels a greater affinity to the late Steve Jobs who climbed down from the mountain of Apple with the two tablets in his arms—iPad and iPad 2—than the Israel associated with Moses who, upon climbing down from Mount Sinai, shared with humanity the two Torah Tablets in his arms, the belief in one G‑d. He distinguished between happiness from mere pleasure, giving meaning to ourselves, our communities, and our nation, the Jewish nation of Israel.
Back in 1981, when Prime Minister Begin was about to apply Israeli law after annexing the Golan Heights, a previous generation of Jewish leaders warned him that it would lead to Israel’s becoming a leper state. He passed the Golan Heights Law, we received some criticism, and we carried on. History has vindicated his political wisdom—all one has to do is count the tens of thousands of dead bodies in Syria, or the expected Al Qaeda conquest of Syria. Whether or not Israel will annex parts of Judea and Samaria is a foregone conclusion. Today’s generation of Jewish leaders continues to claim that the establishment of Palestine is inevitable, but when one drives to Jerusalem via the city of Ariel and sees the tens of Jewish communities along the way, any reasonable person understands that this is not going to happen. The only uncertainty that remains is if we reach one million Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria before it’s annexed or afterward. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.