Let's imagine that Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan continue to head the government and the Defense Ministry for months and years after the debacle of the Yom Kippur War; and not merely that, but that no decisive situation was reached during the war and hostile forces continue to pour in from north and south, to Ashkelon and to Tiberias, and to mount a siege of Israel's major cities.
Is such an unrealistic scenario possible? Could it happen in a country of committees of inquiry and state comptroller reports when the careers of senior army and government figures are ended almost automatically after every bungled battle? The answer is: yes. It's not only possible but happening right now in front of our eyes. It happens under one condition - that the disaster takes place not on the battlefield, but in the political arena.
With well-honed apathy, one can dismiss the horrifying survey the BBC released this week saying that a huge percentage of the public in 27 countries places Israel among the most hated states in the world, alongside Iran and North Korea.
It's possible not merely to scorn these findings (and similar ones published in recent years ), but even to wallow in them in the kind of masochistic pleasure which became a motto of Israeli foreign policy in the Netanyahu-Lieberman era - Happy are we, we are hated! We are hated anyway simply because we are Jews and because the world is anti-Semitic. Why try to be "Israeli"? To what end should we attempt to take our fate into our own hands and strive for normalization and a diplomatic solution if they will go on hating us anyway?
On the contrary, we can supply the gentiles with new reasons to hate us: We shall continue to settle and to irritate them until they burst a blood vessel and - as a bonus - we shall strengthen our "Jewish identity." That means we shall curl up tighter inside our ethnocentric ghetto mentality.
Even though the diplomatic fiasco that Israel is experiencing now is no less serious than a military blunder, and its implications in the long run are perhaps even more threatening to the country's future and robustness, no protest movement has sprung up against those clearly responsible for the failure. No commission of inquiry has been appointed. Even the state comptroller does not sniff any possibility of unveiling the rot. Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman continue to stretch out in their armchairs, their arrogance and defiance grow, and they have rolled up their sleeves to continue the same "policy," while it explodes in our faces daily.
Only one voice has been heard - the profound and courageous words of Ilan Baruch, the Foreign Ministry official who resigned in protest over the "malignant diplomatic dynamic" of the Netanyahu government, which is acting provocatively in a way that "threatens Israel's international standing and undermines the legitimacy not only of the occupation but also Israel's very membership in the family of nations."
In retrospect, will we compare this lone protest to Motti Ashkenazi, who provoked the outrage that followed the Yom Kippur debacle? That's doubtful. Israelis have become accustomed to being dependent, almost exclusively, on the army, on its campaigns and wars, for their sense of self-importance and national morale. No civilian political culture has developed that can grasp profoundly - sometimes with horror - the fateful significance of coping with the diplomatic challenge, which is the real playing field of the nations. No one is going out in the streets holding placards protesting against the fall of one political outpost after another; there are no demonstrations against the apathy that holds Israel captive as its isolation grows, year after year.
When people want to say a good word about Netanyahu and the way in which he functions, they point mainly to the "quiet on the security front." They boast that "there are no terrorist attacks on the buses," that the stock exchange is rising, and that the number of soldiers dying is small. It makes you think of a person whose home burned down and now is proud of the fact that he's gotten rid of the smoky smell, while a flood is washing away the ground on which it stands.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now