A Holiday for Israel

If the next generations fear that "enemies from within" (as MK Carmel Shama of Likud called those who want peace with Syria ) will bring about a withdrawal from the Golan Heights, the referendum law has removed the threat.

Once upon a time, in 2001, a Knesset post was created that inspired hope. The occupant was called the Next Generations Commissioner, and his job was to advise the Knesset on any legislative issue that might harm future generations. Five years later, the commissioner, Judge Shlomo Shoham, completed his term, and the post languished.

Not to worry. The coming generations are in good hands. The lawmakers are laying the groundwork. For example, if the next generations fear that "enemies from within" (as MK Carmel Shama of Likud called those who want peace with Syria ) will bring about a withdrawal from the Golan Heights, the referendum law has removed the threat. The bill, which passed in the Knesset House Committee, defines how a referendum will be held and breathes life into the 1999 law on safeguarding the Golan, which stipulated that relinquishing territory in the hands of the state would require a majority of 61 MKs and a majority in a referendum. Without the referendum law, which clarifies how the plebiscite is to be held, the Golan law would remain an explosive charge without a detonator.

Shama and his colleague, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union ), who both run for the bomb shelter every time the Syrian president (or any Arab leader ) calls for peace, are well aware of the magnitude of the threat, and they have rushed to build a defensive wall against it. "Until now the Israel Defense Forces defended the Golan and Jerusalem against external threats; today the citizens of Israel can protect Jerusalem and the Golan from internal threats," Shama jovially explained. "This is a holiday for Israel."

It's worth paying attention to the wording. "The citizens of Israel" in whose name the peace-frightened MKs are speaking are only those who see a terrible danger in peace with Syria. All the other citizens are part of the threat itself, or at least ignoramuses who do not comprehend the magnitude of the threat, and Eldad and Shama have sprung to their defense. This is the first time that a whole population of Jews (Arabs have long been considered a threat ) has become "an internal threat," no less dangerous than the external threat. That's the nature of fascism. It comes in dribs and drabs, always camouflaged as "the public good," but it immediately marks the enemy of the people and the state. This is where the selection process begins. Whoever is for the law, to the right; against it, to the left.

What is so frightening about this bill is the intention of using it to build an eternal reality. No one expects the current prime minister, who is locked in an extreme rightist stranglehold, to announce next week that he is ready to withdraw from the Golan. It can also be safely assumed that the people who are undisturbed by violations of the rights of Arab MKs, who do not join demonstrations against land theft in the territories and who are not up in arms over citizenship laws that come close to racism will not change their tune and give their votes to leftist parties. The rightist nature of Israeli society is not in danger, and that will be reflected in the next government and perhaps the one after that.

Who, then, scares the MKs who raced to shackle the chance for peace with Syria? "The next generations" scare them. Not those who will serve in the government in another term or two, but someone who in another decade or more might timidly think that peace with Syria is a lesser evil than withdrawing from the Golan. For example, if Israel is embroiled in a war, if missiles from Syria and Lebanon fall here, if residents of the north and center will have had enough of another round of sitting in moldy bomb shelters, if U.S. policy changes and it wants to promote peace with Syria, the referendum law will stand against all these. Even if a miracle occurs and a center-left government is established a generation from now, it will face the referendum law and the safeguarding the Golan law, which has turned the Golan into national land; that is, sacred ground. That is the minefield laid by Shama, Eldad and their colleagues for the next generations.

This law is typical of a country that has not managed to legislate laws on war; laws that would require, for example, a referendum before going to war, or at least stipulate that war should not be waged unless all other means have been exhausted, including peace. In "a small and surrounded nation" ... war is an instinct. Peace has to be restrained.