Israel, the UAV

The Israeli plane has no pilot. Instead of a prime minister, we have a dangerous vacuum, one that is filled at any given time with some momentary whim.

Aner Shalev
Aner Shalev
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Aner Shalev
Aner Shalev

There doesn't seem to be much to say about the drone that whizzed through the skies - and our lives - in the midst of the oppressive holidays, leaving behind a trail of fireballs and photos and headlines. The event was more like an MTV clip than a news story. Something colorful and frenetic that breaks up the routine and rescues us from boredom, but doesn't require too much attention, which we lack in any case.

But there actually is quite a lot to say about the exaggeration of that clip here, and about the warnings heard in its wake. Israel uses drones both as a standard method of gathering intelligence and as lethal attack devices. An endless number of Israeli drone sorties are not a story, but an isolated foreign drone in our skies constitutes an earthquake.

Why? Because we're so accustomed to asymmetry - to the idea that nobody else in this neighborhood is capable of doing what we can do. We nurture the myth of our supremacy to such a degree that we cannot tolerate the thought that there are other countries in the region capable of developing and launching an unmanned aerial vehicle, or of attaining any technological achievements. It is seen as a contradiction of the laws of nature, and necessitates headlines, lots of warnings and supersonic booms in the skies of Lebanon.

Nuclear asymmetry is one thing. But the idea that the enemy is not even allowed to fly a toy airplane borders on pathological. At this point we might as well warn the countries in the region against producing electricity and television broadcasts, and using computers and telephones. It is even recommended that we set clear red lines for them because, after all, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted in his speech at the United Nations, our enemies represent the darkness of the Middle Ages - and should stay there.

But the drone affair is not only evidence of Israeli arrogance - it is also a sad metaphor for our conduct in recent years. Under Netanyahu's rule, Israel appears more and more like a small, unmanned aerial vehicle. There is no sense of direction, no sense of any destination or that there is anyone at the wheel. Indeed, the feeling is just the opposite: It is one of constant confusion, of being dragged about by sudden gusts of wind, of changes in direction to the point of dizziness.

The examples are innumerable: from freezing the settlements at the beginning of the Netanyahu government to their accelerated development afterward; from the moderate Bar-Ilan speech about two states for two peoples to the portrayal of that solution as stupid and childish; and the unbridled attacks against our only partner, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The committees Netanyahu formed with such great fanfare have died out with a small, muted voice. The Trajtenberg Committee did not bring about a solution to the lack of public housing or the cost of living, which is only rising. Its only achievement - free education from the age of 3 - lacks proper budgetary support. And the Plesner Committee, which was formed in order to equalize the burden of national service, ended in a farce and a 180-degree turn. A tempest in a teapot.

The messages Israel is sending regarding Iran are no less dizzying. The War of Spring 2012 turned into the War of Autumn 2012, and then into the War of Spring 2013. The enemy's identity also gradually changed: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, U.S. President Barack Obama, Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The early elections that were declared, canceled and now declared again have turned the dizziness into a migraine. Israel has never been run in as frenetic, inconsistent and irresponsible a manner as during Netanyahu's second term.

One thing must be made clear: The Israeli plane has no pilot. Instead of a prime minister, we have a dangerous vacuum, one that is filled at any given time with some momentary whim. The question is, why does a pilot who has long since abandoned his plane insist on returning to it for a third time?

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