The future of Israel is being forfeited by a determined Left, refusing to relinquish a disproven delusion of two states; and by a despairing Right embracing a fanciful formula for one state.
— A distraught email received last week from a prominent pro-Israel activistI see Israel as a lost polity, one full of talent, energy and resolve but lacking direction.
— Daniel Pipes, “Israel’s Strategic Incompetence,” January 2009
Time is running out for Israel. Don’t let the soaring skyscrapers, plush offices and luxurious penthouses that make up its rapidly changing urban sky-line fool you. Something is gravely amiss with the direction in which the nation is drifting.
Devoid of direction and destinationÂ
“Drifting” is the operative word. For there is an overwhelming sense of “rudderlessness,” of lack of leadership, or, at least, of elected incumbents devoid of commitment to any charted direction, much less an envisioned destination. Perhaps the starkest illustration of the syndrome of aimlessness was the fact that the dominant faction in the ruling coalition, Likud Beytenu, felt it appropriate to compete in the last election without even presenting a platform.
This amounts to asking for voters’ support without informing them of what they were being asked to support.
Dismissing the importance of notifying the public of his faction’s intended policies, Gilad Erdan, then-environmental protection minister, who together with then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar, was largely responsible for the Likud campaign, scoffed, “Asking a ruling party what its platform is, [is] a bit petty.”
With disturbing disdain for electoral pledges, Erdan belittled their value: “At times, any connection between the platform and reality is purely coincidental.”
This attitude might explain, at least partially, why the Likud fared so poorly in the election. After all, you can’t reach your destination if don’t have one, and if you don’t have one, there is little reason to expect voters to “get on board” without knowing where they are bound.
Normal standards don’t apply
Of course, by normal standards, Israeli governments have been remarkably successful.
Since its inception Israel has achieved staggering successes, against daunting odds, in virtually every field of human endeavor — agricultural, scientific, economic, social, cultural and military.
Clearly, the credit for all these accumulated accomplishments must in part be ascribed to the quality of the country’s governance.
Yet despite the undeniable achievement in face of great adversity, there is a feeling that something has gone — or at least, is going — badly awry. The burgeoning GDP per capita, the vast newly found energy resources, the amazing technology of the IDF armaments cannot disperse a sense of foreboding that afflicts growing circles of the public.
Israel is not like other nations. It faces a range of existential threats of intensity and immediacy, unlike any other industrial nation. Accordingly, the Israeli leadership cannot be judged by normal standards — because they simply do not apply.