Israel doesn't have peace because peace and fear don't mix well
Israel simply cannot bring itself to use the bargaining chips it holds in exchange for the big prize. Why can’t it deliver the goods?
[...] A feeling of victimhood – as if our lengthy national childhood was one characterized by abuse – has turned us into a country that behaves like an abusive parent. This is how it works in nature, where violence is perpetuated from one generation to the next. The parents were fearful and beaten, so the children become thugs, yet remain fearful and lacking in self-confidence.Well, civil disobedience has worked as a political strategy in other places, most recently in South Africa. But I don't know how much of a chance it would have in Israel, as long as rockets keep flying over their borders at them.
Where are the keys needed to break this impasse? One of them is the passage of time. Maybe there is no such thing as “Peace Now.” Maybe our temporal proximity to the trauma of the ovens does not allow us to act with cold logic, only with hot passion. Maybe we need to wait for the next generation, already born, to accomplish what two generations – ourselves and our parents – totally failed at doing.
The other key is unfair, placing responsibility for Israel’s wellbeing on the Palestinians, for their own good as well. I liken Israel to a lazy elephant, sprawled across the road. It has no motivation to budge. It enjoys seeing itself as big and powerful, heavy, reclining and satiated.
It’s not surprising that in politics it is the weak and hungry that are agents of change. In contrast to a strong agent that has no motivation to move, the weak Palestinian can effect change. How? Violence has not wrought change, since we have become inured, even addicted to it. Each blow only adds to the historical fate to which we believe we have been subjected to over time – to justifying the present situation on the backdrop of our traumatic past.
Only one thing will raise the elephant from its current pose: a nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience, a creative and determined insurrection aimed at one goal – attaining equal rights. It seems as if there has been a recent awakening among Palestinians in this direction. This is reflected in a transition from a discourse about interests, power, terror and honor to a conversation about values, rights and liberties. Many Palestinians are rightfully angry at Israel, holding it accountable for many wrongs, but they are no longer afraid of it or feel threatened by making peace with it. They have internalized the positive aspects of a political settlement, and, in terms of their political mental framework, they are well ahead of many Israelis. More and more Palestinians are acting in the political arena without fear and with an ideology of nonviolent resistance. Israel has no response to such a course of action, neither a military, political nor moral one.
In contrast, Israelis are still an anxious collective. Since peace and fears don’t mix well together, we still don’t have peace. The dread inside us has taken on a life of its own, to which we’ve become accustomed and even addicted. Fears can play a positive role, keeping us alert in the face of dangers and threats, leading us to deal with them in an appropriate manner. For too many Israelis, any kind of peace is enmeshed in an existential dread, a condition that supposedly conceals a plot to eradicate us, posing risks but no opportunities.
There will only be peace here when the masses and their political leaders internalize the fact that peace is a therapy for our fears. It is the total, completely beneficial alternative to all our historical phobias – a condition that can replace or erase them. Paradoxically, the Palestinians – who now bear the brunt of our current historic phase of fears and phobias – can save Israel from itself. A million Palestinians who relate to Israel and its corrupting occupation with peace and conciliation, rather than with terror and hostility, will do well for themselves and us. [...]
If you read the whole thing, it explains a lot about the historical/psychological dynamics at work, that need to be overcome. That's a hard sell though, while the rockets continue to fly, reinforcing the old dynamics.