Syria border protest May 15, 2011 (Yaron Kaminsky)
Demonstrators on the border in the Golan Heights, May 15, 2011. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
Text size

The defense minister was right to say he refuses to get excited over the fact that "a few dozen" Palestinians succeeded in entering Israel from Syria and thereby "violated Israel's sovereignty."

Ehud Barak was also right to say that the Israel Defense Forces cannot station thousands of soldiers along the border to prevent such a "violation of sovereignty."

But it's a pity this approach was lacking when Israel decided to attack a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza, that it vanishes when Israel uses dogs to chase off Palestinian laborers seeking to "violate its sovereignty" by entering the country to work, and that it's the exact opposite of the manner in which the IDF maintains its meticulous closure of the Gaza Strip.

It turns out that according to Barak, a "violation of sovereignty" is not an existential threat, or even a strategic one. At most, this was an intelligence failure that was partially compensated for by wise judgment on the part of commanders in the field.

And in fact, this is the appropriate attitude for a country that is making little effort to delineate its borders, instead relying on an empty policy that assumes Israel can continue to exist in flexible, unrecognized borders that trespass on territory belonging to other nations.

As a result of this policy, the state's sovereignty has also become flexible rather than absolute. It's no surprise that statements about the events of Nakba Day made much use of words and phrases such as "terror," "threat," "the IDF's deployment," "the number of dead and wounded," "a third intifada" and "the threat we can expect in September."

This is the standard lexicon that the government pulls out whenever it is faced with the need to present real solutions to fundamental problems.

The government all too easily assigns the IDF the job of "being ready for any scenario" and making diplomatic decisions in its stead.

The events of Nakba Day are neither a "reminder" nor a "threat," and they certainly aren't an attempt to destroy the State of Israel. Rather, they reflect the Palestinians' fundamental historical demand for an independent state with recognized sovereignty, within whose framework the refugee problem, too, can be solved.

The Nakba Day events simply expressed in a different form the demands the Palestinian leadership has been putting forth for years, and that Israel has evaded. It is not the IDF that is supposed to provide solutions for these "incidents," but the government.

Yet the latter still has trouble understanding that the next stage is not another intifada, but international pressure and a battle against the great powers.