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The curse of the eighth decade and the end of Israel

May 12, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Ex-Israel PM Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem. [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

I had written an article about the belief among a large section of the Palestinians that the second half of the eight decade of the State of Israel would be the beginning of the end, but it became clear to me that the Israelis also hold, in one way or another, this belief, especially the leaders of the Israeli political elite who take this belief/obsession seriously.

Perhaps the first one who spoke in this sense and invoked it from among the prime ministers of Israel was Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that his stay as the Prime Minister is the only guarantee for Israel’s continuity after its eighth decade and exceeding a century, unlike the history of the Jews who did not have a State that lasted more than eight decades. Then, the speech of Naftali Bennett, the current Prime Minister of Israel, in his 2020 election campaign, in which he echoed the same sentiments and urged Jewish voters to stand behind the Blue and White coalition that he leads, in order to surmount the eighth decade safely and ensure the continuation of the State of Israel after its eightieth year. Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel, writes to confirm the same complex, the complex of fear for survival. It is important to keep in mind that the people mentioned are not just some rabbis who believe in religious superstitions that have no connection to reality but, rather, they are the political leaders of Israel.

The important question here is why this fear of the future, despite all the manifestations of force that Israel has been keen to display, directly or indirectly? Why this fear, despite all the American and European financial, military and legal support, which has made Israel an entity above the law and above criticism, and protected it in international institutions, including the Security Council and the global mainstream media? Israel has obtained American weapon systems that exist only in the United States of America and has the largest American weapons store at its disposal, while it also enjoys a military advantage that no country in the region enjoys, which is the nuclear weapon.

Israel’s leaders have long bragged about Israel’s penetration of the Arab political elite and its attraction to influential Arab countries such as Egypt, Morocco, the Emirates, Jordan and others, and it has also succeeded in achieving complete subjugation of the Palestinian Authority and turning it into a security tool in its hand, in addition to Israel’s role in causing unrest in the Arab countries around it, such as Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Israel has sought hard to impose a stifling economic blockade on Iran, under the pretext of its possible production of a nuclear bomb that could threaten Israel’s security, and turned it into a pariah State in the international community.

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Despite all this, Israel still suffers from a chronic complex of fear, a complex that is reflected in the public discourse of its intellectuals, journalists, academics, thinkers, the speeches of its prime ministers and the fear of its citizens about the future, who see in dual citizenship a lifeboat when any danger approaches. They philosophise this existential horror of the future based on Jewish history, but rather turn it into a cosmic phenomenon that transcends civilisations and centuries, as Ehud Barak did a few days ago on the pages of Yedioth Ahronoth, because – apparently – they do not see the world outside their limited subjective experience.

We see them at every historical turning point, or an important event on the external or internal level, engaging in a discussion about the future of Israel and its ability to survive. It is, indeed, a rare situation, as you hardly find a country in the whole world that discusses the idea of ​​its survival or continuity; a leader or a party may lose power, and the State may change from one regime to another or from one form to another, but it does not cross the minds of its elite or the minds of its citizens   that the people, the country and the State are subject to extinction. We have seen the Soviet Union collapse, but its peoples remained, and the State was transformed into smaller entities; it was transformed from one regime to another, but it did not perish. We have seen how Yugoslavia broke into smaller pieces, but the people, the culture and the land remain. It is true that Germany suffered a huge blow in the Second World War and was divided into two parts, but it recovered in the end and achieved unity, but the situation in Israel is not like this at all.

The former Prime Minister of Israel, the commander of its army and its most decorated general, Ehud Barak, put the danger of internal division before external threats, and considered it the greatest danger that awaits its survival. Even Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not an existential threat. Even if it succeeded in producing a nuclear bomb, it would not be able to use it against Israel, and this supposed nuclear weapon would be just a weapon of deterrence.

There is no doubt that Ehud Barak’s concerns did not come out of nowhere, as Israel is an entity full of contradictions, which someone like Netanyahu was keen to present as a kind of benign and disciplined diversity, similar to what is happening in the United States of America.

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 A non-homogeneous group of ethnicities, cultures, loyalties and ideologies, that even the Jewish religion, which they gather under its banner, is not able to unite. On the contrary, religion divides the Israelis, and could ignite the fire of an internal religious war that could turn Israel into ashes. We have seen the credibility of some of that through the video clips that show a argument between two rabbis, one of whom is from the Haredi sect and another of religious Zionism, when the first accused the second of being responsible for the El-Ad operation carried out by two Palestinians against a group of settlers, and said that their exploitation of religion, contrary to the Torah teaching, and their continuous provocations of the feelings of Muslims by storming Al-Aqsa Mosque is what incites the Palestinians and pushes them to take revenge and kill the Jews, and that they are the ones who pay the price of errors of religious Zionism.

The state of political and religious rivalry threatens today with the fall of the Bennett government, and the holding of new elections that could deepen the state of internal division and polarisation, and the elections – in this case – will be the fourth to take place within a period of two years, which means the average lifespan of a single government is no more than six months, which is an indication of the failure of the government system in Israel and the bankruptcy of the Israeli political class.

Yesterday morning, the Israeli army assassinated – as it has done countless times before – the news reporter in the West Bank, Shireen Abu Akleh, who holds American citizenship in addition to Palestinian. From the first moment, the Israelis tried to follow their usual strategy of transferring responsibility for their criminal actions to the Palestinian side, despite this being practically impossible, assuming that by claiming to investigate the incident, they would absorb popular resentment and eventually come out with a cold, multi-interpretation statement denying criminal responsibility for the occupation and its soldiers.

This type of arrogant behaviour and disregard for the truth is what will push all those who support Israel to abandon it, and will gradually turn the conflict into an internal conflict as a result of holding each other’s party responsible for the chronic failure that Israel suffers from, and not the biblical prophecies, nor the arbitrary interpretation of the events of history. The obsession that the Israelis suffer from will turn into a tangible reality as a result of their reckless actions, not due to supernatural events.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.