Opinion

Israel as We Know It Has Less Than a Decade Left

Unless Israel makes a U-turn, it will be too late to divide the land. There's a third way that could save it: It's a long, gradual process of dividing the land, one that isn’t based on comprehensive agreements but on partial understandings, and of building the nation.

People watch from a Tel Aviv beach as Israeli Air Force helicopters fly over the Mediterranean Sea, during Independence Day celebrations, April 23, 2015.
Reuters

Rogel Alpher (Haaretz, September 11) is right. Sometimes states commit suicide. In fact, the state Rogel and I live in is committing suicide these days. We have less than a decade left. If Israel doesn’t make a U-turn, in 2025 there will be some 750,000 settlers living in the West Bank. And then it will no longer be possible to divide the land. And if it isn’t possible to divide the land, Israel will cease being a Jewish democracy. It will either become an apartheid state, or a binational state, which after a while will become an Arab state.

One way or another, it will be the end of the Zionist project. Both Rogel’s and my children will have no future in the country our grandparents came to and our parents built and we live in.

The suicide will be a magnificent one. High-tech has never been more promising. The water technology has never been more impressive. The gas is flowing, the cyber is soaring to heaven and the aerial superiority is absolute. A strong army, a vibrant economy and a clear strategic edge against a crumbling Middle East create the illusion that we’re in excellent shape. That’s why the restaurants are full, the new cars are grabbed up and even the rising housing prices attest that Israelis believe in the strength of their national home.

But the truth is that Israelis are victims of their success. Military power and economic success blind them to what is waiting around the corner. The shining Ferrari we’ve built with our own hands allows us to speed with eyes shut into the abyss. So every Israeli whose eyes remain open must wake up today and turn the wheel. Anyone to whom the state is dear must try to stop this insane journey toward suicide.

There’s no time for personal arguments and personal accounts. No time for quibbling and hair-splitting. We must unite ranks and mobilize forces. It’s time to take action. To knock on every door and talk to every person and change the nation’s heart.

How do we do that? First of all we admit mistakes. We admit that the Oslo agreement failed and the Camp David summit led to disaster and the disengagement from Gaza brought missiles on Ashdod. We admit Yasser Arafat was never a partner and Mahmoud Abbas will never be a partner and a considerable part of the Palestinians still want Jaffa, Ramle and Lod.

After that we exchange the old peace campaign for a new Zionism campaign. We turn the tables on the right wing – we’ll show that while we’re fighting the Jewish state’s war, you are the anti-nationalists who are destroying the Third Temple. You are the post-Zionists bringing Zionism to an end. You are the arrogant elite of the 21st century, which prefers its luxury settlements to the people of Israel and the State of Israel.

Then, after admitting past mistakes and denouncing those who are undermining our future, we propose a third way. We propose a long, gradual process of dividing the land, one that isn’t based on comprehensive agreements but on partial understandings, and of building the nation. In the spirit of Maimonides, we propose a middle way between Jewish and democratic, between traditional and modern, and between entrepreneurial and socially-minded. We propose getting off the present treadmill and onto the golden path that leads to the model state.

Is success guaranteed? No. But the alternative is clear. One reason for optimism is that we haven’t tried the right way yet. Since the victories of 1992 and 1999 we haven’t mobilized in a big way. In the last two decades we haven’t come up with a new big idea, either. We whined and whined and didn’t do anything of substance. The second reason for optimism is that Israelis are neither suckers nor stupid. If we speak truthfully to our brothers and make our sisters a real offer – there’s a chance. Not a certainty, but a chance.