Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In an op-ed in today's Ha'Aretz Aluf Benn asks a question that hardly any Israeli politician will ever ask: not in public because that would be political suicide for someone who exists merely by the grace of the voter, and not in private because no Israeli politician is known for having any viable long-term vision. That question is "What's so vital about Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim and Efrat and Kiryat Arba, that it's worth getting killed for them?".
Of course, the disengagement plan - if ever implemented - does not mean the end of the occupation. Nevertheless, it appears to be a sine qua non for such an end. Because no Israeli government ever really sat down to decide what it wants the Jewish state to look like ( as far as the economy, relations between diverse ethnic/religious/socio-economic groups, social justice, the place and role of religion, the environment, the rule of law, but also the nation's borders and relations with our neigbors are concerned ) we always have found - and will continue to find - ourselves in situations that were forced upon us.
When I plead for an end to the occupation and for clear borders I don't do that ( only ) because I have so much sympathy for the Palestinians. I want them to have a good life, because they deserve that like all other human beings, but most of all because that is in the interest of myself, my family and the state that I chose to live in. For the same reason - my personal interest - I want this state to have clear and internationally recognized borders, to stop being eroded away ethically, morally and financially by the occupation, and to start finally working on the definition of its own identity according to a framework of values cherished by Zionism's initiators.
We still are in a position of strength towards our neighbors. If we act right we will almost certainly have the full support of both the US and the EU, which remain today's strongest economic, political and military powers in the world. This is why our political leaders should grab the opportunity, make some tough decisions and start acting on our own initiative instead of reacting to facts created on the ground by Israeli settlers, Arab or other terrorists, etc. Looking at the way the disengagement plan is being 'implemented', and knowing that whoever is in power will always need a parliamentary majority chosen by a highly polarized electorate which consists of groups that have mutually exclusive interests, I fear that such deciciveness and such initiatives will remain an unattainable illusion.
In the meantime, Aluf Benn points out the necessity ( and implies also the impossibility ) of Israel's leadership telling the Israeli public what it does not want to hear regarding the territories: "There's no need to rush to the Green Line. One can and should demand a suitable security and political return from the Palestinians and the Syrians. But a courageous leadership would prepare the public for the inevitable withdrawal, come up with creative solutions for border amendments and territorial exchange and enlist international support for them, instead of deluding the public with empty promises that will only cause more killing and sorrow."

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