Geneva Initiative Annexes
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Viewing Israel with one eye closed

By Shaul Arieli, Haaretz 
31.12.2012
 
 
Anyone who examines the Israeli reality with both eyes open cannot escape its complexity. On the other hand, those who shut their eyes will be forced to imagine that reality and, operating within that imagined space, will seek to impose fanciful solutions.
 
Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, Steering Committee member of the Geneva Initiative 
Many people, it seems, have recently chosen to look at reality with one eye closed. They are getting a one-dimensional picture that only appears to help them see things lucidly. They avoid opening their other eye, an act that would grant them the ability to cope with the depth and complexity of reality.
Those who peer with one eye at the long list of elected officials, including MKs like Miri Regev ‏(Likud‏) and Michael Ben Ari ‏(National Union‏), see their conduct and their positions as part of the norm accepted by the public. If they would just open their other eye, though, they would discover that that conduct and those positions draw their strength from chronic diseases in the education system.
These diseases afflict several different aspects of the system, including the large number of students in religious state-run schools and ultra-Orthodox ones, who aren’t receiving a proper education in the values of democracy and liberalism; the state-run schools’ deliberate avoidance of in-depth study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the overemphasis on the connection between the Holocaust and the establishment of a state for the Jewish people; the state’s reliance on military might to continue to exist; and the lack of instruction on the social phenomenona that brought us to this point.
Those who use only one eye see Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett as the new link between Zionism and Judaism. “It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish foundation, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish character,” Bennett told Haaretz’s Ari Shavit.
This is the nationalist, religio-messianic echo of the doctrine of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Israel’s first chief rabbi ‏(though the state had not yet been established‏), which Bennett wants to impose on the state. Kook believed that even if Zionism is a product of the profane, it will eventually return to the realm of the sacred. He also held that a religious utopia will prevail in the Land of Israel, whose climax will be the rebuilding of the Temple, resumption of a Jewish monarchy and reestablishment of the Sanhedrin religious council. This is a rather different Zionism than that of Theodor Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion.
Habayit Hayehudi and Moshe Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction of Likud, which bring together the settlement supporters of Gush Emunim, are seeking to annex Area C as a means of advancing this messianic reality, which has not moved forward since the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981. Only if we open both eyes will we fully see the truth of Yitzhak Rabin’s 1979 statement that Gush Emunim was “a cancer in the body of Israeli democracy.” He added: “It was necessary to fight an ideological battle ? one that exposes the true significance of the positions of Gush Emunim and its methods of action ? against their basic approach, which runs contrary to Israel’s democratic foundation.”
Those who peer with one eye at Palestinian society and see only one-dimensional Arabs who support the statements of Hamas are unable to see the struggle that is taking place within that society, not just with regard to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also in relation to the nature and character of a Palestinian state. Should it be theocratic, as per Hamas’ vision, or democratic, as per that of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters? More important, those who use both eyes would discover that a decision on the matter depends to a great extent on Israel and its policy toward these various positions within Palestinian society.
Israelis who look at the international community with only one eye and see it as a font of anti-Semitism or pro-Palestinianism would find, if they opened the other eye, that while the world does indeed condemn the occupation, of which the settlement enterprise is the apex, it also recognizes the Israel that lies within the 1967 lines. These Israelis would also understand that such a distinction lies at the core of the way in which the family of nations views a country that wants to belong to it.
Anyone who examines the Israeli reality with both eyes open cannot escape its complexity. On the other hand, those who shut their eyes will be forced to imagine that reality and, operating within that imagined space, will seek to impose fanciful solutions. By its nature, the secular Zionist enterprise integrates the courage to dream with the wisdom to adopt this complexity as a way of life.