When the Horizon Is an Illusion

As long as the Palestinians don't have a horizon, neither will we.

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Israel and the Sinai peninsula as seen from space.
Israel and the Sinai peninsula as seen from space.Credit: Reuters

It could have been a bad year. One in which all the nightmares and threats came true. But in the final analysis we came out of it more or less okay.

It was a year in which we predicted, with the greatest possible certainty, that a third intifada was on the starting blocks, and now it is ending with nothing more than children throwing rocks. A year in which Israel Air Force planes were nearly on their way to Iran, and Iranian missiles nearly about to land in Israel — and not in open areas — and now Iran and Washington are embracing.

It was a year in which, like every year, we expected rockets from Hezbollah and in the end only Hamas fired at us. A year in which the prime minister reported that Operation Protective Edge ended in a resounding victory for Israel, and the number of missiles aimed at us declined from 170,000 to 165,000. A year in which we discovered that we love Egypt and that the Arab states are ready to dance with us against Iran. A year in which no president was jailed for rape and only a former prime minister was convicted on corruption charges. A year in which we almost succeeded in getting rid of the black refugees, and only the High Court of Justice ruined the party.

It was a year in which we were saved again from a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the civil war that would have erupted as a result. Truly, it could have been much worse than it was.

So where did that feeling of nausea rising in the throat come from? What does that revulsion that creates the joy of desertion feed off of? The answer cannot lie in the wonders of the past year, which was stuffed to the brim with goodness.

The problem is with the term “horizon” that has taken hold in these parts. This term, usually intended to be reassuring even in intolerably difficult situations, has become the problem itself.

The word “horizon” comes to whitewash the present. Things are bad now only in order to insure a better future. We fight now for the sake of the peace that is visible on the horizon. We will pay higher taxes now, in order to establish excellent health, education and welfare systems in the future.

Governments sell the horizon to their citizens in order to keep them from rebelling. Parents pour it down their children’s throats. If you learn well, you will earn well, marry well and be able to buy a nice home, they promise. We will buy advanced weapons and then our enemies will fear us and make peace with us and we will no longer need to serve in the army.

“Horizon” is always the great promise of the next year, the next decade, the next generation. Like an amazing dessert that is worth waiting for. When the horizon looks like a fabrication, it recruits the children, the “horizon” generation, to its side. After all, who wouldn’t be willing to suffer on behalf of the children?

So let’s talk about the children. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics’ Statistical Abstract of Israel 2013, as of the end of 2012 more than 2.6 million children lived in Israel, accounting for around one-third of the total population. Within a few years they will dive into the “horizon” that was promised to them. There they will meet the other two-thirds of the population, which has already realized that the horizon moves farther away the closer you come to it.

Nevertheless, the “horizon” will remain sacred. Who dares admit today that there will never be peace with the Palestinians? That the economy will never be any better? That health, education, the police, the army and the government will never improve and that last year will be the best we’ve ever had? That in fact we’ve lost the horizon and the present is the maximum horizon we will ever have?

We can only envy the Palestinians, who understood before we did that horizon, whether political or economic, is a bluff. That you can’t build a better future with “horizon” when the present is shattered. They have realized something more important: We are stuck with them in the same no-horizon. They are our mirror image. As long as they don’t have a horizon, neither will we. This is the spring from which flow the nausea, the revulsion, the sourness and the despair. After all, who wants a Palestinian horizon?

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