Wealth without borders
The Israeli economy and all its elites were built up and exist via continuous "foreign aid."
Of the 46 donors to Benjamin Netanyahu before the Likud party primary, 37 were Americans. In these pages last week, Shlomo Avineri called on "organizations that fear for the fate of Israeli democracy, such as the Israel Democracy Institute," to take up cudgels against this trend. (And where does the institute's money come from?)
In any case, one can summarize: The involvement of money - which has no passport - on the politics of small countries is increasing. It's dissolving their geopolitical borders and emptying their democratic lives of meaning: nations' control of their own fates. Dozens of nation-states established during this process will be joined by the new bankrupt nations of Western Europe that are having a hard time existing as democracies without heeding the money from the outside.
But the outrage over the American donors derives from a hallucination: that our democratic institutions represent all citizens in exactly the same way the parliament in Stockholm represents the people ruled by the Swedish state. Alas, for 45 years, Israeli democracy has been ruling over an occupied population, which has no representation and is not entitled to determine any issue connected to its life.
Moreover, our borders are blurred. One map is used for geography lessons, another by the army, and a third for the voter registry: Kiryat Arba and Beit El - inside Israel; neighboring Hebron and Ramallah - outside Israel. None of these maps is official. "Why should I have a clear border?" is the motto of force.
And as if the zigzag of "Only we are allowed" were not enough, we have the state within a state: the Jewish Agency, its authority and its rights regarding land ownership, water and immigrant absorption.
It's easy to see how trivial the matter of Netanyahu's donors is if you think about who makes up the Jewish Agency and who their voters are, citizens of which countries. Think about the source of their authority to determine matters of Israel's water, land and occupied subjects.
Moving on: If the 37 "scandalous" donors immigrated to Israel, would everything be perfectly fine because they would be "linking their fate to ours"? Israel's citizenship laws - the Law of Return and the hell non-Jews go through to become citizens - are part of this zigzag: We establish the rule and the exceptions. We do not have uniform, universal criteria apart from "our" interests.
So far it's all familiar: The left is appalled by Netanyahu's donors, the right is angry at the New Israel Fund, while both agree with Jewish ownership of the land. And what they really have in common is the self-image of Israeli sovereignty relative to "the others." Setting aside for a moment the land grab after the establishment of the state, "our" economic success is built on foreign money. The Israeli economy, and all its elites, were built up and exist via continuous "foreign aid."
Why is it important to understand this? It's important because the Israelis are living "the villa in the jungle" and the contempt of the east and the ultra-Orthodox in the name of a high gross domestic product and the living standard of the elites. And what they are throwing us all stems from "donations."
Israel's accumulation of capital, which ensured us membership in the OECD, was not produced by "the work of our hands." Hence the importance of the myth of "with our own hands' - draining the swamps via "the Jewish brain," with industrialist Stef Wertheimer as an icon. Imprinted on some sort of kernel of truth is the fantasy that "we have succeeded," as opposed to our neighbors and the "nonmoderns."
Our donors' investments - from Republicans and Democrats, Christians Democrats and socialists - is the abundance that enables what our forbears developed (yes, most of them worked very hard ). If we had to return these investments, we would be impoverished. As an example of this, think about the tens of thousands of years of study invested in "our" 15,000 doctors, engineers and mathematicians - the ones from high tech - by the Soviet Union without recompense, while the state is reducing its investments in medicine and education.
This of course is an optical exercise. Instead of getting fitted for glasses, it is recommended that we stand facing our reflection in the mirror and not see the familiar image but rather the amorphous image - of the state.