Phil Mirzoev's blog

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Israel stays on in the 20th century not noticing the millennial change

Very simple change: in the 20th century Israel's military aggression and occupation was at the expense of Arabs and to the benefit of Israelis, now in the 21th century it is the other way around. But Israel doesn't want even to see this, like an ostrich with its head in the sand. (here meant by Israel is its politically powerful elites, not its people. Ideologically, politically, economically even morally they - Israel political elites - want to remain in in the 20 century, but the reality hastens to disappoint them: this 'old rusty bicycle' of the war-and-xenophobia-based national mendacious ideology, policy-making, parasitic war-subsidy-driven economy from now on will more take (for 'repairs') than allow the nation to ride ahead like it was in the last century.
What changed for Israel at the beginning of the new century? Very simple: during decades of the second half of the 20th century Israel kept all the status-quot - sprawling occupation of Palestine and the endless smouldering war (whether it be war of weapons or threats or words) supporting its militaristic political and economic vital structure - AT THE EXPENSE OF PALESTINIANS and other peoples (including American taxpayers) and to the apparent economic and political benefit of Israel itself. Israel did it through sham peace negotiations and other kinds of political charade without ever bothering to make this charade look very truthful.
But Israel didn't notice one 'small' change: with the beginning of the 21th century the situation diametrically changed to the opposite: now every extra minute which Israel tries to linger in the 20th century goes AT THE EXPENSE of Israelis, their children and their future and TO THE BENEFIT of Palestinians and other Arabs. In this context a great change has come to the US - big brother of Israel - too - the same change: all the policy of American influence in the Middle East through support of Israel and support of dictators in the region brought apparent dividends to the US and was largely at the expense of Arab nations, but now the situation has changed diametrically to the opposite. But the difference is that America - at least starting from Obama's administration - seems, at least partly, to understand this problem and to start the transition and adaptation to the new realities of the 21th century.
But Israel is another story. Election of 'a dinosaur' like Binyamin Netanyahu as PM at a time when the task of belated well overdue reforms and transition even for most progressive and talented politicians posed a huge, painfully difficult challenge, was a real CATASTROPHE. Instead of at least running on the spot, Israel voted in a man not even from the 20th century, but almost from the 19th, just at the moment when for Israel a gulp of 'fresh air', a minimum life-supporting momentum was as necessary as life, just keep the movement ahead or at least not to fall behind too much. It was like taking pills for high blood pressure when actually having low pressure. I couldn't agree more with Mrs Tzipi Livni who flat out pointed out, that Netanyahu Govt brought Israel to a real disaster and to a never-seen-before isolation on the world arena.
Since in the 20th century Israel (with a great participation of the US) made the above status quot an existential feature of its economy and political life (this everlasting war became an absolute political and economic necessity, it became an integral condition for supporting national self-identity, compass of the collective national moral, a part of national ethos and ideology in generations), the above change and the problems ensuing too can be existential.
I hope that Israelis - especially young ones - will soon realize (before it's too late) that the main existential threat to Israel in the 21th century is posed by Israel and Israel itself only! If someone can destroy Israel it is Israel itself. Not guns, or bombs are now the main threat, but bad RELATIONS and lack of critical thinking. Israel can in this sense become a victim of its own guns and bombs - militaristic mentality and way of life. And this threat, unpleasant as it may appear to the younger generation to recognize, has been created, nursed and fostered by their parents and grandparents during the second half of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21th. In this sense, the 20th century generation of Israelis in large measure have lived economically and politically at the expense of their children and grand children borrowing from the future generations.
But now the main thing is to understand and recognize that this 'old comfortable bike', on which Israel teenage state joyfully and self-confidently rode through the 20th century,  stopped working and will never start again as in the past. Now, on the contrary, by the minute this old bike requires more and more for repairs and doesn't give a penny in return - neither economically, nor socially, nor politically etc. Now its Israel and Israelis who PAY for the military nationalism adventures (of the medieval type). Now it is America who pay for its Middle East adventures - the past and present ones. But America seems to have already realized this deplorable fact, whereas its teenager (spoiled rotten by America during decades) doesn't seem to have even begun to suspect that something is not as ever...
Of course, partly the success of Israel, as a quasi-state which cannot be considered a fully independent entity economically and politically even now, depends heavily on the US policy. Big brother US did Israel a terrible disservice in fact. I really hope that Obama or next presidents will be able once and for all openly to put an end to this absolutely obsolete and unjustified type of relationship with Israel - giving it absolute impunity and not letting it to account for its action like any other sovereign country before international community for it's actions. This unconditional friendship policy for the last several decades cost Israeli people, American people and the rest of the world thousands up on thousands of lives (directly and indirectly) and billions upon billions of dollars (in direct and indirect economic losses and expenditures). The human cost is can hardly be estimated. Yes the US must remain friends with Israel but this relationship must be an adult one.

In short, nothing good. I'm afraid you don't have to be Cassandra to predict some of the negative things that can be round the corner:
1. Young talented Israelis will continue to drain from Israel in ever increasing quantities. Brain drain - as simple as that (already now non-native Israelis are emigrating in alarming numbers, and the number of native young Israelis emigrating is significantly above the zero mark: see on this topic). This will take place not only because of the fundamentally flawed military-based economic system, but also because of the loss of belief in the future of the country - moral and trust hazard.
2. Demographic balance will continue to tip in favor of the Arab population - again, not only because of the economic factor, but because of the loss of belief in and hope for the future.
These problems could be increasingly exacerbated by a third factor which is not discussed very much, if at all: the Jews beyond Israel will be increasingly reluctant to give their support to Israel (economic as well as political support), because the younger generation of the American Jews (as well as those who live in countries other than the US) is not so ready to UNCONDITIONALLY identify themselves with the Jewish community in Israel and to UNCONDITIONALLY give their support to Israel. This young generation of the American Jews are much more pragmatic, liberal and critical in their ways. Conservatism is no longer in fashion like it was before, and such 'dinosaurs' like Benjamin Netanyahu - their rhetoric and policies - don't add up too much to closing this potentially opening rift between Israeli and Non-Israeli Jews and Israeli emigrants.
Israel will have to chose whether it wants to stay in the 20th century or even go back in time to middle ages with the chosen ethnicity-based model feeding on militaristic nationalism, or it wants a modern civil rights-based democracy, because these two ideologies and models are intrinsically INCOMPATIBLE. You just can't have them both. The sooner Israel recognizes this problem the better chances it has to stop the negative tendency. 

See also on the topic of Israel policy:
On Iran nuclear:
On UN legitimization of Palestine:
America's policy change towards Israel:

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