What happened? Why did the volcano erupt?
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What happened was that nothing happened. For almost 10 years, Judea and Samaria were amazingly quiet. For more than four years the Arab chaos did not penetrate the Promised Land. Israel experienced unprecedented prosperity. The West Bank experienced relative prosperity. But the golden opportunity that was in the offing during those tranquil, good and fat years was missed by all the national leaderships.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not launch a bold plan to divide the land. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not adopt the Barak plan or the Olmert plan or the Clinton plan. John Kerry promoted a lofty and baseless plan of lasting-peace-now. No one filled the diplomatic vacuum with a realistic, gradual and decisive diplomatic process. No leader proposed a vision. And “where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint,” as is written in Proverbs. Without hope, two peoples cast off restraint.
Palestinian frustration and despair became a furrow in which the seeds of Islamic zealotry easily took root. Israeli anxiety and treading in place became the furrow in which the evil flowers of Jewish zealotry bloomed. When the moment came, both furrows produced poison fruit. The hand of one teen raised against another, the hand of the stabber against the stabbed, one people holds another by the throat.
Instead of Israelis and Palestinians marching slowly toward a common future, Israelis and Palestinians are filling each other with fear. The new Jerusalem war has the potential to become a sick civil war, in which there are no victors, but only the defeated, the bloody and the frightened.
What happened? What is the nature of the lava that burst from the volcano? What happened is that the fondest dream of the extreme right and the extreme left has come true to establish one state here.
Ostensibly, even the craziest nationalists and the most crazy purists should have understood the fatal meaning of the idea they were promoting. Ostensibly, even the right-wing and the lunatics should have seen what is happening in Syria and what is happening in Iraq and understood that in the current Middle East there is no chance for a bi-national or multi-national entity. But the zealots on the one hand and the blind on the other refused to see. They blathered their blatherings about the supposed alternative to the two-state solution.
And now, look and see. You wanted one state? You’ve got it. You wanted a Jerusalem of all its citizens? You’ve got it. You didn’t want Islamic State across the border, but rather within the border? You’ve got that, too. Just like in Syria and Iraq, the bi-national reality is taking shape. Hallelujah, Gush Emunim nationalists; Hallelujah BDS liberals. You did it. You made it come true. You turned our lives into a nightmare.
What will happen? Will the smoking volcano be extinguished? It is still possible to stop the bloody vortex. Abbas can still issue a resolute and unambiguous statement strictly prohibiting the despicable murder of Israeli citizens. Netanyahu can still pound on the table and tell the wild weeds to abandon their xenophobia and go back to being Jewish. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar can still force Ismail Haniyeh to declare a hiatus. The Islamic religious leadership and the Jewish religious leadership can do their part.
In three or four moves of true leadership, the bloody vortex can still be stopped. Just as volcanos erupt suddenly, they can also calm down. But if we don’t hear this horrific wakeup call, if we do not exchange the one-state dynamic for a two-state dynamic, sooner or later the land will once again sink into a quagmire of hatred, paranoia and bloodshed. Fashionably late, Israel will be sucked into the Middle Eastern chaos.