The defense establishment is sending out the all-clear siren. The hudna may have crashed but a new respite will soon follow. Another few days of terrorist attacks, then another quiet period is expected. Then the cycle will repeat itself again. The Israel Defense Forces' learned evaluations are authoritative as usual. Didn't they tell us two months ago that the "present round" of the armed conflict with the Palestinians had ended? It was they who assumed, already two weeks ago, that the cease-fire will endure because it was in the joint interest of all the parties involved.
According to the defense establishment's vision, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on the threshold of a new era, in which respites and war periods come hot on each other's heels. Something like 1948's War of Independence. A delightful future, immeasurably better compared to the situation in some African states. In Liberia, for instance, a murderous cycle of violence that lasted 14 years ended last week. In Rwanda, battles have been raging for 10 years, as they have in Congo. And if anyone insists on looking for an eternal model of tribal war, he is invited to look at Sudan - the bloodshed between the North and the South there has been going on for 30 years.
Only a state that has lost its sanity can gaze nonchalantly at such a script, dictated by its leaders - to be satisfied with seven-week breathers between one wave of terrorist attacks and the next, and to accept the activity of the fundamental elements gnawing at its foundations. Prophecies such as those produced by the defense establishment tend to fulfill themselves, because they are conceived in the minds of those with the greatest influence in the state, and because these people have a built-in tendency to adapt their thinking to the world view and will of the government whose policy they are required to carry out.
Had Israel's government been headed by Yossi Beilin, for example, the defense establishment's initial assumptions would have been totally different, and its forecasts and recommendations would have changed accordingly. The IDF and even the Shin Bet would have read the events on the Palestinians' side differently and would have adapted themselves to the commander's spirit blowing from the prime minister's office. See, for example, the Shin Bet evaluations after the Oslo accords, which backed the conceptions and illusions of Shimon Peres.
At this moment the defense establishment's prediction seems like an inescapable destiny - Israel had tried once again to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, and again met with disappointment. Abu Mazen let us down, Arafat did not give up the use of terror, the armed organizations are still conspiring against Israel. There is no choice but to revert to the familiar pattern of assassinations, reoccupation of Palestinian cities, closures and sieges, to prevent, as much as possible, such horrors as the bus bombing in Jerusalem last Tuesday night.
The reaction of fury and frustration to the bombing, as understandable as it may be, must not damage our ability to see the future. Today every Israeli, almost, feels right and determined. Today everyone, almost, is bombarded with the government's version of the development and its reasons. Today almost everyone is convinced by the defense establishment's future outline of the future. This state of mind conceals the visibility range. Tomorrow the burdensome oppressive feeling deriving from the continuation of the violent conflict will return. Tomorrow it will transpire yet again that the IDF is unable to defeat terrorism; tomorrow soldiers will be killed in a chase after terrorists; tomorrow Hamas and Islamic Jihad will once again demonstrate how brutal their revenge can be.
And most important - tomorrow it will be proved anew that the deformation in the state's normal development, which began in 1967, is getting worse and is jeopardizing the very existence of the state as the national home of the Jewish people. The partial retreats, the bypassing roads, the separation fence, the trust in Abu Mazen - all these are witch-doctor medicines. The only way out of this problem is to cut ourselves off from the territories.
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