What is needed is a new vision of a just society and the political will to implement it. Nor is this merely an internal Israeli affair. Diaspora Jews for whom Israel is a central pillar of their identity must pay heed and speak out. If the pillar collapses, the upper floors will come crashing down.
The opposition does not exist, and the coalition, with Arik Sharon at its head, claims the right to remain silent. In a nation of chatterboxes, everyone has suddenly fallen dumb, because there's nothing left to say. We live in a thunderously failed reality. Yes, we have revived the Hebrew language, created a marvelous theater and a strong national currency. Our Jewish minds are as sharp as ever. We are traded on the Nasdaq. But is this why we created a state? The Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or anti-missile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed.
It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive. More and more Israelis are coming to understand this as they ask their children where they expect to live in 25 years. Children who are honest admit, to their parents' shock, that they do not know. The countdown to the end of Israeli society has begun.
As Jonathan Edelstein succinctly summarizes, the bottom line is this: Jewish state, Democratic state, or Greater Israel. Pick any two.
From the priorities of practically every government of Israel thus far, however, both Labor and Likud, there hasn't been any will to reject the third option.
What is clear however is that pursuing all three options is destroying Israel from within - its economy is steadily deteriorating (as has been documented in almost mundane detail to anyone reading Ha'aretz on a daily basis for the past two years):
A series of events - from the intifada to the global recession - have brought about a serious regression in the economy's performance. This is reflected in a decrease in the gross domestic product, which finances the great majority of the defense budget, as well as in growing unemployment and a decline in the living standard. The result has been an increase in the government deficit, which has reached a level that poses a danger to the country's financial stability.
To prevent a collapse, severe cuts were made last year and this year in the civilian sphere, which affected the level of public services and the welfare arrangements for the weak population groups; additional cuts are to be expected in 2004. The defense establishment and those who serve in it cannot evade their
participation - as part of the general public - in bearing the burden of the economic difficulties.
the drain on the economy caused by the lavish spending on the settlements, and the mass subsidies to the Orthodox community, is both what is fueling the drive for Greater Israel and the brakes on the rest of Israeli society as a whole.
UPDATE: It seems that some Israeli partisans consider this to be related to the peace process. I disagree - it's solely Israel's responsibility to decide which Two of Three to embrace. If they intend to be Jewish and Democrartic, then Greater Israel must be abandoned. That means leaving the West Bank, unilaterally. The settlements must be destroyed.