Sunday, April 13, 2008

60th "celebrations" 1

From time to time my efforts to keep this blog light and fluffy give way to an urge to delve more deeply into the complexitities, contradictions and conundrums that surround the rooftop.

This temptation has been increasing as the 60th anniversary celebrations grow inexorably closer (officially Independence Day is on May 8). The official celebrations for which no-one seems to have much stomach, have even been the subject of an on-line protest petition calling to spend the money on projects more urgen than fireworks and DJs.
The urge has also been exacerbated by a spreading feeling of national hope-less-ness, an entry into a very uncertain era in which peace is not merely difficult to attain but accepted as permanently unattainable. Consequently, the stark choice that is beginning to emerge is between apartheid (contination of the occupation with a Palestinian majority betweenthe Jordan and the Med) or Israel/Palestine as a 'state of all its citizens (i.e. no more Israel as a Jewish state).

Such an article would really have to involve a serious research job. I would have amass all the latest studies and statistics, articles and books and also do fieldwork and interview experts and opinion makers, break the whole thing down into chapter headings and provide my findings.
But why bother? The Economist has done it for me in a special report called Israel Six Decades on . I recommend taking a few minutes to read it. It's a comprehensive yet concise dissection of Israel today and the manifold challenges it is facing. Here are few quotes to whet your appetite:

"Israelis have good reason to wonder what their country will look like in 2040—or, for that matter, in 2020. Compared with much of its past, Israel's present is prosperous and secure. But its future is as uncertain as at any time in its 60 years of history."

"At some point, and perhaps quite soon, the political cost of being exposed to daily rocket fire from Gaza may outweigh that of losing dozens of troops in a massive operation to destroy Hamas's power there. That, in turn, could be the death knell of Mahmoud Abbas's leadership in the West Bank and possibly of the Palestinian Authority itself. In extremis, Israel could find itself back in charge of the occupied territories, with nobody to give the keys to, and the wheel will have come full circle."

"For the first time since 1948, real existential threats to Israel, at least in its Zionist form, are on the horizon."

"It is ironic that the fundamental disagreement between Jews and Palestinians today is not about whether there should be a Palestinian state; most Israeli Jews accepted that long ago. It is about whether there should be a Jewish one."

"If a Palestinian state does come to pass, Israel's Palestinians will face a grim choice: move there and lose their homes, or stay in Israel and lose themselves."

It is this blockage [of the political system], not Palestinian missiles or an Iranian nuclear bomb, that is the main threat to Israel's well-being. ...Israel's survival in the long term will depend on decisions taken in the near future, which will make the difference between growth and stagnation, harmony and social strife, intelligent self-defence and self-destructive belligerence. To take the right decisions it needs a system that reduces the power of special-interest groups without riding roughshod over minorities and allows long-term goals to override short-term politics. "

“…the settlers have subverted government decisions and co-opted local army commanders over the past 40 years, contriving to align the state's security interests with their own plan to populate the occupied territories. Many commentators saw their failure to stop the unilateral Gaza withdrawal as a mortal blow to their power. But they have staged a comeback.”

The Jerusalem Post devoted an editorial to criticising the special report as among other things a "tendentious reading of Israel's political landscape" but it seems to be pretty much on the mark.

More reports on the celebrations to come.

chag sameach from the rooftop

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