The Right’s 'It’ll-be-fine' Mantra Is Dooming Israel

In the current situation, the risk in preserving the status quo is far greater than the risk in trying to change it.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Spectators cheering the Air Force Independence Day flyover above a Tel Aviv beach.
Spectators cheering the Air Force Independence Day flyover above a Tel Aviv beach.Credit: Alon Ron
Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

In the end, the Israeli right’s strategy can be summed up in three words: It’ll be fine.

The Palestinians in the West Bank are rising up against the Israeli occupation? It’ll be fine. The despair of the 1.8 million Gazans has become a strategic threat? It’ll be fine. A single state is emerging between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that can never be Jewish, democratic and Zionist? It’ll be fine.

The settlement enterprise is nurturing dark forces that are shredding Israel’s moral image? It’ll be fine. Israel is increasingly perceived in the West as a pariah apartheid state? It’ll be fine.

Anyone who makes ominous predictions is a pessimist and anyone who warns of the danger is anxiety-stricken, because Israel is eternal and the Jewish people will not fail. It’ll be fine.

The right’s it’ll-be-fine claim has its own solid logic. Fact: We survived Pharaoh, we survived the first intifada, we survived the second intifada and we’re still here. Fact: We’ve buried the Oslo Accords, we’ve buried the Clinton Parameters, we’ve buried the Kerry initiative and we’re still strong and thriving.

Even though we’ve erased the Green Line there has been no diplomatic tsunami and no economic isolation. Even though we’ve brought hundreds of thousands to the hills, we sell high-tech to China, we’re good buddies with India and Capitol Hill is in our hands.

Therefore, anyone who doesn’t think everything is hunky-dory with Israel simply lacks faith. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that everything here’s a 10 is a zero. Experience has shown that you can storm the walls, provoke the nations and ignore the iron laws of demography, diplomacy and history. It’ll be fine.

There’s a problem, though. The logic of “it’ll be fine” is the logic of gamblers. It was the logic of the years before the Yom Kippur War. It was the logic of the early years of the Algerian War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and the Lebanon wars. One might argue that it was also the logic of the years before the Holocaust.

During the first rounds, these kinds of blind bets may pan out. The music in the casino is stimulating, the lights are glowing and the girls are stunning. The gambler’s wild compulsion keeps him at the roulette table and makes him raise the stakes higher and higher. At a certain point he even starts to believe that an invisible hand is ensuring his success.

But as my wise grandmother would say, foolishness that succeeds is still foolishness. A gamble that doesn’t immediately fail is still a gamble. The right’s “it’ll be fine” is going for broke. The right’s “it’ll be fine” is like a man walking on ice when the glaciers are melting and saying, “See, I still haven’t fallen into the icy water. I still haven’t fallen. Not yet.”

We must understand that there’s nothing safe about doing nothing. In Israel’s situation, the risk in preserving the status quo is far greater than the risk in trying to change it. Israel is taking a course that will surely end in a collision. Because we’re such bastards, we might gain a year or two. Because we’re such badasses, it may even be a decade or two.

But in the end, no force in the world will let us continue to commit the follies we’re committing in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. No power on earth will let us control millions of Palestinians and remain a part of the free world.

The it’ll-be-fine drug is intoxicating, deceitful and deadly. It launches startups and fills gourmet restaurants, but it threatens our existence. Only when we realize that it’s not fine, and it won’t be fine, can we start putting things in order so we can have hope and a future.

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