A Rebellion on the Titanic

Uri Avnery
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Uri Avnery

The next elections will determine who rules Israel for the next four years, from 2013 to 2017.

Those will be crucial years – perhaps the most crucial in the country’s history. If things stay as they are, by 2018 change may no longer be possible. Israeli political scientist Meron Benvenisti's contention that the situation is irreversible will be realized.

We know that "The Conflict," or as Israelis call it, "The Situation," is not a situation at all. It is a dynamic process of annexing the West Bank by means of settling it. It will inexorably lead to a nightmare known as “the one-state solution.”

That single state, between the sea and the river, will be an Apartheid state. The Jews (who will soon be a minority in that single state) will rule over the Arabs (who will soon be the majority there). Life in that state will be hell for rulers and ruled alike.

Sooner or later, the Jews will have no choice but to give the Arabs citizenship rights. The State of Israel will become the State of Palestine. The Jews will be a minority in an Arab country. Many of them will emigrate and scatter throughout the world. One way or another, 130 years of the Zionist enterprise will turn into a historical blip like its predecessor, the Crusader state, which lasted for 200 years. All this is obvious. You don't need any special intelligence to see it.

There is only one way to prevent this scenario from unfolding: the scorned solution of “two states for two peoples.” In short: peace.

This is the major subject – almost the only subject – that matters to our national existence. And not one of the big political parties is talking about it. Heaven forbid they should utter its name.

The State of Israel is like the Titanic, that splendid vessel that was called unsinkable. Even as the iceberg is spotted on the horizon, arguments rage on deck. But what are they about? The crew wants to hold democratic elections for a new captain. The incumbent captain says he is the only one who can steer the ship safely to port. To prove his point, he reminds those on deck that he has never once run the ship aground.

The mechanics are griping about the difficulties of their work environment and demanding higher pay. Some of the passengers chime in and say their cabins are not comfortable enough and call for immediate renovations. Others demand social justice, noting that the gap in conditions between first class and steerage is just too wide.

There is a story of an aristocratic Englishwoman, drunk as a skunk, who stood on the deck with a glass of whiskey in her hand, muttering, "I asked for some ice, but this is ridiculous!"

Now for the moral. To save the State of Israel – literally – a change of government is not enough. We must change the way we perceive the problem of our existence.

The word “peace” has become a four-letter word. All the large and medium-size parties, on the right and on the left, are running away from it as they would run from a fire. It is simply never mentioned. True, there is the Meretz party, but it is small and isolated. There is Hadash, but it is boycotted. And it never occurs to anyone that the “Arab parties” could ever be part of any coalition.

Last year’s social-justice protest, which was a blessing, bears a great deal of influence on the character of the elections. But the demand for social justice closed all the doors and windows to a discussion of the state’s most fundamental problem.

This shifts the blessing into a curse.

The right wing found a suitable Zionist solution to the problem by simply ignoring it. The right wing rules the country and will keep on ruling it as long as no firm demand from the public compels it to talk about a clear solution. This camp (the Likud, the Haredi and religious factions, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party, the settlers and fascists of various sorts) sings the praises of the Jewish state even as it steers us forward toward destruction.

But the factions running around on the “center-left,” with or without What’s-his-name, with or without new factions, with or without unity, are not challenging the right wing on the matter that will determine our existence. For all practical purposes, they have joined the right wing’s march toward the abyss.

If this ship does not change course, it will hit the iceberg. And then we all know what will happen next.

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