Could Jordan be seen as an apartheid kingdom?
What will Israeli society look like in 2025? And what developments will it go through by then? Will it succeed in overcoming the deep rifts that characterize it today? And if not, what options does the State of Israel have for its future? - The participants in a scenario simulation game that took place from January 1999 to mid-2000 tried to find an answer to these questions.
The project was initiated by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and was carried out based on the model of the “Mont Fleur” scenario simulation game with which the FES office in Cape Town had accompanied South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy in 1991/92.
It was clear to all participants: the future cannot be predicted. However, a clear analysis of current developments can lead to a description of several possible future variants. On the basis of these scenarios it can be discussed which steps have to be taken so that a certain future occurs or does not occur.
The scenario team at times comprised up to twenty personalities from politics, business and society who represent different political camps. In an extremely dynamic discussion and certainly also learning process, the participants in the simulation game succeeded in agreeing on four possible future scenarios for Israeli society, despite their different and sometimes opposing political and ideological views:
- Dictatorship of the Jewish majority over the Arab minority ("slave ship" scenario)
- Loss of the Jewish-Zionist character of the state ("drifting ship" scenario)
- Disintegration and division of the state into autonomous structures ("three boats" scenario)
- Only dialogue and mutual willingness to renounce can prevent these developments and be helpful in realizing a fourth, "optimistic" scenario ("ship in calm waters" scenario)
The scenario method
The scenario method is an instrument of strategic planning that is mainly used in the economy, but in recent years also increasingly in the social and political area. At the center of the considerations are not a fixed goal and the possibilities and ways to achieve this goal, but rather the question: “What if?” - What happens when events occur that are not specifically predictable at the moment, but are definitely in the Are the realm of the possible and which can thwart all planning? What can be done to prevent them from occurring? In the dialogue between different social groups, this method has the advantage that it can be used to describe different possible future variants and in this way a consensus can be found more easily than is the case with a dispute about a single desired future. However, every participant in a scenario exercise must be prepared to recognize the likelihood of the future scenario presented by his political opponent.
As early as 1991/92, the office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in South Africa under its then head Dr. Winfried Veit is carrying out a scenario project. At that time, the country was in the critical initial phase of the transition from apartheid to democracy. According to the location of the conference, the scenario simulation game was called the “Mont Fleur Project”. The 22-strong project team included politicians, academics, industrialists and trade unionists from the center-left of the political spectrum in South Africa, including several senior members of the ANC. After several meetings, the team reached agreement on four scenarios for South Africa's political, social and economic development by 2002. The scenarios were presented to the country’s political elite and the general public and were incorporated into the political discussion and decision-making process at that time.
In 1998, Dr. Yair Hirschfeld, one of the initiators of the Oslo Peace Process, to Dr. Veit, head of the FES office in Israel at the time, suggested taking up the South African idea and carrying out a similar project in Israel. With Israel Harel, one of the founders of the settler movement in the occupied territories, a contact person from the right-wing religious area of the Israeli political spectrum who was ready for dialogue could be found as a co-initiator of the project.
The scenario team
The scenario team met for the first time in January 1999. It comprised twenty personalities from politics, business and society in Israel who represent different political camps. The team was led by Dr. Yossi Rein, one of the best strategic consultants in Israel and experts in scenario planning. With Col. (Res.) Yonathan Lerner, a former high-ranking employee of the strategic planning department of the Israeli armed forces was at his side. The project was coordinated by Dirk Sadowski, research associate at the FES Israel office.
One of the prerequisites for a successful scenario exercise is the regular participation of the team members in the individual meetings and, associated with this, their willingness to sacrifice a large part of their work and leisure time to the project. This is the main reason that some of the members of the initial team had to leave the group during the course of the project. Thirteen of the original members took part in the final phase of the project, the formulation of the four main scenarios:
- Dr. Mor Altshuler, Kabbalah researcher and employee at the right-wing “Shalem” institute
- Gabi Botbol, Deputy Chairman of the National Broadcasting Authority and Shas Party member
- David Brodet, CEO of the telecommunications company "YES" and from 1995-1997 Director General of the Ministry of Finance
- Chaim Falk, chairman of the MAFDAL Youth (National Religious Party) and settler activist
- Gidi Grinstein, employee of the Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF), since 2000 employee in the office of the Prime Minister
- Israel Harel, publicist and research fellow at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, co-founder and former chairman of the YESHA Settlers Council in the Occupied Territories
- Dr. Yair Hirschfeld, director of the Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF) and lecturer in Middle Eastern history at Haifa University
- Menachem Leibovitz, chairman of the “Movement for Progressive Judaism” (Reform Judaism) in Israel
- Dr. David Ohana, publicist, employee of the Van Leer Institute Jerusalem (since 2000 philosophy lecturer at the University of Beer Sheva)
- Dr. Ron Pundak, Lecturer at the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University, Co-Director of the Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF)
- Raya Strauss Ben-Dror, director and co-owner of the "Strauss" group, member of the peace movement "Dor Shalom"
- Dr. Hana Swaid, Mayor of the Arab-Christian community of Elabun in Galilee, member of the National Planning Council
- Dani Tamari, former chairman of the religious kibbutz movement
The team met about a dozen times during 1999 for meetings lasting several days or one day. The first meetings served to create a common information base on current demographic, economic, social, political and security-relevant developments. Renowned experts from these areas were invited to do this. B. the head of the Israeli domestic secret service Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon. Further meetings served to discuss possible future scenarios. Without the external factors of the existence of Israel - behavior of the Arab neighbors, peace process, Jewish diaspora and others. - as well as neglecting global political, social and economic developments, the discussion concentrated mainly on the future of Israeli society. While the team members viewed the process of compromise with their Arab neighbors as essentially irreversible, they recognized the tensions that existed today within Israeli society between the various groups as the greatest threat to the future of their country.
After the team members had presented their personal scenarios for the future of Israeli society, an attempt was made in the following meetings to reach agreement on three to four future scenarios that everyone thought possible. This agreement was essentially achieved in March 2000. This completed the first part of the project. In a second project phase, an attempt was made to present the results of the project to a broader public and to important decision-makers in political and social life in Israel. Among other things, the scenarios came to the attention of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, they were presented by members of the group in front of a forum of - left and right - Knesset members around the parliamentary president Avraham Burg. In addition, presentations were held in front of various social and political forums as well as in schools.
The ship metaphor was chosen to illustrate the scenarios. It's memorable and has proven very effective in presenting and discussing the scenarios publicly.
Where is the “Ship Israel” heading? - The initial situation
The participants in the scenario exercise agreed that Israeli society today is characterized by a series of deep conflicts and crises that threaten the continued existence of the State of Israel in its current form:
1. Israel has still not reached a final peace solution with its Arab neighbors and is sacrificing considerable material and immaterial resources to deal with this problem.
2. Israeli society is characterized by a multitude of deep conflicts, which e. T. superimpose and mutually exacerbate each other.
3. The State of Israel defines itself as a “Jewish State”, while the proportion of non-Jewish citizens is steadily increasing.
4. There is growing dissent within Jewish society as to the role that religion and tradition should play in the affairs of the state and in the lives of its citizens.
5. There is a growing inequality in the distribution of resources (income, education, etc.), which particularly affects certain population groups such as the Arab minority, ultra-Orthodox, new immigrants and Oriental Jews.
6. There is a growing tendency among the Arab citizens of Israel to bring about a change in their legal position, while at the same time increasing signs of a separate identity.
7. The struggles fought between the different groups damage democracy and call into question the legitimacy and authority of the state.
If no corrective action is taken, a number of scenarios risk materializing which could lead to the dissolution of the State of Israel or to drastic changes in its character.
Israeli society is like a ship in a storm that threatens to shatter unless tough measures are taken to seal the leaks, mend the sails, unite the crew and steer the ship around the cliffs.
3 + 1 scenarios for Israel's future
1. The "slave ship" scenario
The Arab minority is deprived of important rights. Restriction of democratic rights for the Jewish population as well.
This scenario assumes that Israel's conflict with its Arab neighbors will not be resolved in the next few years and decades. Israel's security situation in the region, but also inside, remains precarious. Much of the national resources are still consumed in this conflict. Certain sections of the population are particularly hard hit by the unequal distribution of the remaining resources and the ultra-liberal economic policies of the governments. Social tensions are intensifying. The demographically strong and still discriminated Arab minority tries to secure more rights and meet their national claims - e.g. Sometimes by force - to assert validity, with which it encounters the determined resistance of the Jewish majority and the state. At the same time, the division within Jewish society is growing. Here two camps face each other almost irreconcilably: a strengthened religious-ultra-orthodox-nationalist camp on the one hand and a secular, non-Zionist camp on the other. The nationalist camp gains power in the state in a democratic way. In the Knesset, its representatives enforce laws that severely restrict the rights of the Arab minority. Sometimes it can also be enforced by force. At the same time, and in view of the growing “civil disobedience” on the part of the secular camp, important general freedoms and civil rights, such as the right to freedom of expression, are also curtailed. A dictatorship of the majority over the minority, which bears the traits of (reverse) apartheid, is emerging. The tense external situation and the internal instability lead to the flight of capital and highly specialized skilled workers, the economic and social situation deteriorate noticeably.
In the year 2025, Israel will be like a ship on whose deck there is constant alert, while passengers without rights or “slaves” are transported on the lower deck.
2. The "drifting ship" scenario
The state is losing its special Jewish identity
This scenario assumes a compromise solution to the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The energies of the various social groups are now directed towards the internal conflicts, which are exacerbated by a lack of dialogue and a continuing unjust distribution of resources. Jewish society is determined by two opposing main forces: the strengthened ultra-Orthodox camp, which regards the Halacha as the sole authoritative law (and which has increased its power at the expense of the national religious camp and the traditional Israeli right), and the secular camp, which Tries to hold on to democracy in its most liberal form. This camp is reinforced by a large number of non-Jewish citizens who have immigrated to Israel in the past few decades as a result of the Law of Return. At the same time, the proportion of the Arab minority has risen to over a quarter of the total population. After the abolition of all discriminatory measures, the Arab citizens of Israel have succeeded in integrating themselves into Israeli society over the course of time. They are pushing for a - peaceful - change in the Jewish-Zionist character of the state, which has long been questioned on the Jewish side by the secular-liberal camp. Arab-Palestinian national symbols are increasingly appearing alongside the Jewish-Zionist symbols; z. In some cases, the former will be replaced by the latter (for example, there will be an Arab president for the first time in 2025). The bond between Israel and the - itself weakened - Jewish diaspora is loosening more and more. After the dissolution of the Zionist consensus and the loss of its special Jewish character, the country found itself in a serious identity conflict, which aroused the desires of its Arab neighbors anew.
In the year 2025 Israel will be like a ship that drifts around the seas without navigation and that is exposed to the storm and the pirates.
3. The "three boats" scenario:
Division of the state into autonomous units
The starting position of this scenario is similar to that of the previous scenario of the "drifting ship": a compromise solution between Israel and the neighboring Arab states while at the same time the conflicts between the various social groups in the interior of Israel intensify. Over the years, separatist tendencies have developed among two groups of the population: the Arab citizens and the ultra-Orthodox. The attempts by the Arab minority, which continues to be discriminated against, to secure equal rights and to change the character of the state meet with resistance from the Jewish majority and the state, who want to maintain this character at all costs. The disputes take z. Sometimes violent features. At the same time, however, the struggle for the character of the state is intensifying within Jewish society.The question here is: Halacha state (represented by the religious / ultra-orthodox) or secular democracy. This conflict is also z. Sometimes carried out with violence. Both conflicts are fueled by the persistent inequality in the distribution of resources, from which both the Arab minority and the ultra-Orthodox Jews are particularly affected. The obvious insolubility of the two basic conflicts in the traditional state framework leads to the insight that a solution can only consist in the subdivision of the country into autonomous units (an Arab, a religious-ultra-orthodox and a secular Jewish entity) in which the individual groups belong to them Shaping life according to your own ideas. Israel becomes a federal state. Internal affairs such as infrastructure planning, jurisdiction, cultural and social issues are determined independently by each of the three sub-states, while security and foreign policy remain in the hands of the federal government. The situation is calming down, but this relative calm cannot hide the fact that the State of Israel has dissolved in its old form and that the alienation between the individual states is increasing.
In 2025, Israel will be like a ship whose crew will set out on different courses in several dinghies after a mutiny.
Is there a way to avoid these three “horror scenarios”? The participants in the scenario exercise were convinced that only dialogue and willingness to renounce on the part of all social and political groups can prevent developments as described in the three previous scenarios. The general process would then move towards democracy, social justice and the preservation of the state as a territorial unit. While some team members believed that under this scenario the development would go more towards a “state of all citizens”, the majority of the participants were of the opinion that the Zionist-Jewish character of the state would ultimately be preserved. The main features of this scenario are as follows:
4. The "ship in calm waters" scenario:
Israeli society is characterized by cohesion based on dialogue and mutual renunciation
A comprehensive peace solution has been reached between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Above all, however, the anti-peace camp opposes the new political order. At the same time, the conflicts between the various social groups inside Israel are intensifying. The clashes are taking on increasingly violent forms. In this situation, the leaders of the various political and social groups understand that dialogue and mutual renunciation are the only means to preserve the future of the country. Each group must be prepared to set aside certain sectoral efforts in favor of the common goal: a stable, socially just and prosperous state of Israel. The dialogue, which is accompanied by serious conflicts within the individual groups, leads to the creation of a social pact that recognizes the right of each group to an independent cultural identity, provided that no rights of another group are reduced and the foundations of the state as the common frame of reference are not affected stay. The individual conflicts are resolved in the following way:
One) The state fully realizes the rights of the Arab minority; all discriminatory measures will be abolished. Only now can the Arab Israelis feel fully integrated into Israeli society and for their part renounce separatist tendencies or the endeavor to change the character of the state.
Two) The state recognizes the non-Orthodox currents of Judaism and in this way strengthens the connection between Israel and the Jewish diaspora. The ultra-orthodox, who have lost their “monopoly on religion”, are being integrated more into society. The national religious camp acts as a mediator between the various currents and between them and the state, which in this way - and after the loss of its previous raison d'être, the settlement of Judea and Samaria - finds its new role.
Three) The energies that are released with the settlement of these two basic conflicts are used to improve the economic and social situation; the social gaps are diminishing and with it the tensions between the Ashkenazi and the Oriental Jews. The periphery is strengthened compared to the center. Thanks to a solution to the conversion problem, the alienation of immigrants from the CIS and their descendants from the state will also decrease. You now play an important role in Israel's development into a modern economy.
In 2025, Israel will be like a ship embarking on a course accepted by the majority of the crew after severe storms. Dialogue and willingness to tolerate determine the atmosphere on board. The ship finally gets safely to safe waters.
As in South Africa, the members of the Israeli scenario team also encountered difficulties in formulating a fourth, optimistic future scenario. This is partly due to the fact that this fourth scenario tries to describe a state in which all social groups live in harmony with one another. The discussion about such a harmonious scenario automatically turns into a political negotiation process about the desired future character of the state. In such a negotiation process it becomes more difficult to accept the other person's point of view than in a discussion process that only deals with possible variants of the future.
The scenario stories
The following texts should be understood as “illustrations” of the scenarios presented. You carry out the development moves roughly outlined in scenarios 1 to 4. After the scenario team had reached an agreement on the four basic future patterns, some members of the group were asked to write a “story” for each of these scenarios, which then served as the basis for further discussion. These narratives are naturally very personal interpretations in which the respective political and ideological views of the authors - but not necessarily their future wishes - have been incorporated.
The stories were written in late 1999 / early 2000. Some of the developments described in them are now - in the spring of 2001 - obsolete, and compared to today's reality, some of the most pessimistic predictions look downright rosy. So it did not even come to a “small” solution between Israel and the Palestinians, the prophesied unrest broke out in September 2000, and the “first Barak government” is no longer in office. A comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict seems a long way off - and the “slave ship” scenario is currently the most likely of all future options. But some of the stories have a plasticity and realism that can astonish and terrify the reader.
“Spartheid” - the name is a combination of the words “Sparta” and “Apartheid” - by Ron Pundak is supposed to illustrate the “slave ship” scenario. “The Last Independence Day” by Israel Harel describes the gradual loss of the Zionist-Jewish character of the state and thus serves as an illustration of the scenario of the “drifting ship”. Two members of the team, Hana Swaid and Menachem Leibowitz, were asked for their interpretation of the “Three Boats” scenario. Finally, the story “Friedenslaube” by Gidi Grinstein, David Brodet and Mor Altschuler on the “Ship in Safe Waters” scenario offers an optimistic outlook.
The old digital clock woke me up with an annoying snarl. It occurred to me that I had to order old-type batteries from the manufacturer. A quiet command - "Screen!" - and the wall in front of me became 250 rectangles of the same size. The top rows showed Israeli canals. I wasted no time checking what was going on. The majority were showing religious programs, others were already in the middle of game shows, and the news channels, all of which are controlled by the government or its private sector agents, were teeming with lies. For over five years I have woken up early every morning and swear to myself not to zap through the Hebrew-language news channels. And when I do get weak, I always feel reminded of the roaring propaganda broadcasts on Radio Cairo during the 1960s. Also this week some pirate channels went on air with democratic and liberal messages. I don't know whether I follow their goings-on because of their content, which I miss so painfully on the countless other channels, or because of my sympathy for the grandchildren of Salman Schockens, who are rumored to be behind this desperate undertaking.
This morning the annoying question ate through my mind again whether it wasn't finally time to scrape together what was left and get out of here. In recent years the situation had become so catastrophic that most of the friends who had stayed at first had eventually left the country. The whole thing usually started with their children or grandchildren running away. A whole generation of entrepreneurs and high-tech company founders had simply disappeared. Some of them emigrated to Europe, many to the USA and some even as far as the Far East. The country that was a leader in a number of areas of high technology at the end of the twentieth century and was called the “world's leading molecular laboratory” in the first decade of the twenty-first century is missing a large part of all experts in this field today. I remembered the optimistic forecasts from twenty-five years ago. It got off to a promising start indeed. Israeli companies changed hands for billions. But nobody would have predicted that the gross national product would have been falling drastically for ten years now.
On one of the channels, the BBC aired a special on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the State of Palestine. I couldn't help thinking of the grave mistakes that were made during the term of office of the first Barak government. At the time, everything seemed ripe for the signing and implementation of the great historical agreement with the Palestinians, which might have changed the course of history. But the government opted for the small, uninspired solution that was imposed on the Palestinians and turned the Middle East into a madhouse that we still pay for today.
The negotiations on the final agreement, which were conducted with the Palestinians in the course of the year 2000, were arduous and repeatedly brought the well-known insights of zero-sum games. The Israeli government was unwilling to allow the Palestinians to establish their own state on most of the West Bank and the Gasa Strip. In addition, it tried to restrict the refugees' right of return to the newly established state, insisted on claiming a broad security strip under Israeli control along the Jordan Basin, and denied the Palestinians, real partners in the management of the water reservoirs that are located under their national territory would to be. Negotiations over the status of Jerusalem also got stuck when Israel demanded both rule over the entire city area - including the 65 square kilometers annexed to the West Bank in 1967 - and full sovereignty over the Arab population of the City that numbered 200,000 people at the time and is already approaching half a million today.
In the end, it was clear to the Israeli government that the only way to get an agreement was to put pressure on Arafat to accept the Israeli dictated peace. Arafat, who knew that he was a sick man and that his days were numbered, and who more than anything else wanted to be the founder of an independent state of Palestine, submitted to pressure from Barak and the American President Clinton, who is now more likely to be the husband of the assassinated President Rodham is known. After Arafat was assured that the treaty would make it possible to immediately resume negotiations on all the issues that had been left out in the course of talks on the final agreement, including the status of Jerusalem, the refugee issue and the future of those forty percent of the West Bank , which remained in Israeli hands under the deal, he eventually agreed to the deal.
The Israeli government began to erect a high fence along the new border line, which in fact annexed forty percent of the occupied territories, which was additionally secured by patrol routes and electronic sensors, in order to achieve a physical separation between Israel and the Palestinian state. At the same time, the government stuck to its policy of reducing the number of Palestinians working in Israel to a minimum. Israeli-Palestinian cooperation projects found no encouragement from the Israeli government and the Palestinian economy collapsed.
In Israel, the referendum easily got the required number of votes. Yes, perhaps with too much ease. On the Palestinian side, on the other hand, immediately after Arafat had signed the treaty, a broad opposition to the agreement arose in the area of the new state. Hamas allied itself with the youth organization Fatah, which until then had been considered the most vehement advocate of the idea of peace and coexistence with Israel. Appeals published on behalf of Fatah itself said that democratic opposition to the peace treaty and the political struggle for the rights of the Palestinian people would continue. At the same time, ways to achieve real peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people as equal partners will continue to be sought. The principle of a Palestinian state side by side with the Israeli state continues to apply, within the 1967 borders with slight border corrections that included the exchange of territories.
Arafat would not succeed in uniting the conflicting forces until his death the following year. His successor Abu Masen became a puppet in the hands of the security and secret services, which continued to rule autocratically and prevented the developing bourgeois-democratic society from developing structures and gaining influence. The reasoning was obvious: the security situation makes this impossible.
A year later, the situation came to a head. The tension between the two states heightened every time Palestinian extremists easily crossed the security fence and carried out explosives in Beit-El, Kochav-Ya’ir and Maccabim-Re’ut. The government, which in those years neglected investments in the social sector and further disadvantaged Arabs living in Israel in terms of infrastructure, education and industrial settlement, suffered a devastating defeat in the elections. One of the reasons for the clear election failure was the voting behavior of the Israeli Arabs. In the previous elections, 95 percent had voted for Barak, this time half of them supported Azmi Bishara's candidacy. At the same time, the Islamist movement managed to convince around a third of all Arab voters not to go to the polls on election day.
Prime Minister Barak vacated his place in favor of a new government led by Ehud Olmert, who formed a moderate right-wing coalition with the Shas party, which was able to win again in the elections. In his first public statement, the new prime minister said that continuing negotiations with the Palestinians was out of the question. For the new government, the case was closed: there was a - albeit cold - peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian state, which had already been granted more than was necessary.
The Olmert government emerged as a government of standstill. The only reason that Olmert was able to triumph in the 2007 elections was the economic boom in Israel at the time. This was based on a variety of groundbreaking technological developments by Israeli start-ups, whose shares were traded worldwide and brought investors into the country.At the same time, however, the situation between Israel and the Arab states deteriorated noticeably. The fact that a strong Israel unilaterally boycotted the continuation of negotiations with the Palestinian state on all points that still required final clarification according to the treaty not only led to a further deterioration in relations with Palestine, but also to growing tensions with Egypt and Jordan.
When the former settlers - more precisely those who lived in settlements on the West Bank not far from the new border line with Palestine - began retaliatory actions against Palestinian villages suspected of supporting Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, tension built up a conflagration. Egypt accused the Israeli government of not only approving such actions but also of being responsible for organizing and equipping the paramilitary units. In the press they were given the designation 2101, alluding to the legendary 101 unit that made a name for itself more than half a century ago. Along the border in the area between Afula and Jenin, there were alternating Palestinian and Israeli terrorist acts until the Israeli government finally gave orders to occupy the region around Jenin and Nablus for a few days in order to “clear nests of terror” and then itself to withdraw again beyond the international border.
The result was disastrous. In Israel, the action met with heavy criticism from the opposition. The European states condemned the action, and the US soon joined in their harsh criticism. The Palestinian police, who fought the Israeli army using guerrilla methods, inflicted heavy losses on the Israeli tank units. Once again the Israeli army was stuck in the “Arab morass” without being able to hope for support from its own public in the face of worldwide protests. When after a week the action was still not over, the "Movement of Forty Fathers" organized a mass demonstration in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Tens of thousands of young people signed a petition calling for a "No to service in an occupying army," and rumors in the media reported that soldiers from the ranks of the elite units were in disagreement with the principle of action Crowds deserted. The international press reported that the Anssar 3 detention center had been reopened and filled with thousands of Israeli soldiers who had defied orders.
When, after a month's notice, the Israeli armed forces were still in northern Samaria, Jordan and Egypt announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel. In return, some ministers - headed by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon - called for Israeli troops to be concentrated in the Jordan Basin in order to cut off the Palestinian state from any connection with the eastern front line. Reports have been spread in the Israeli media that the Iraqi army deployed troops on the Iraqi-Jordan border in response to Israeli moves. Later it turned out that the reports were part of Israel's psychological warfare and were deliberately launched as misinformation in order to accelerate the government's decision to transfer troops to the Jordan Depression and to give it the necessary legitimacy. The government then actually took the desired decision, so that the Israeli forces took control of strategically important areas in the Jordan Depression and announced their readiness to "repel a possible Iraqi attack". The Iraqi government, driven into the vicious circle of escalation, announced that Iraq - which at that time was already able to build a primitive atomic bomb - would respond to any aggression from Israel. Israeli and Iraqi communiques chased each other, and in right-wing government circles and among right-wing groups in the
The public increased the voices calling for a preemptive strike against the Iraqi nuclear threat. Prime Minister Olmert, who tried to stabilize his cabinet, to order the army units back to Israel and to defuse the growing tension in the Middle East, failed and was overthrown along with his government by the right-wing Knesset.
The next election brought an even more right-wing government to power. The election campaign slogans of the religious parties were based on quotations from the Old Testament, which seemed to suggest a welcome solution. For example, that paragraph from the fifth book of Moses 2.33 was used: But the LORD our God gave him before our eyes so that we could beat him with his sons and all his people of war. So at that time we took all his cities and exerted the ban on all the cities, men, women and children, leaving no one to be left. The passage from the fifth book of Moses 3.3 was also excellently suited: So the LORD our God also gave King Og of Bashan into our hands with all his warriors, so that we could beat him until there was none left for him. Likewise the dark passage from Moses 19: When the LORD your God has cut off the peoples whose land the LORD your God will give you, you shall take it and dwell in their towns and houses. And last but not least, that dark commandment from Moses 20.16 was pleased: But in the cities of these peoples, which the LORD your God will give you as an inheritance, you shall not let anything live that has breath.
The slogan that finally helped the new prime minister win the election was: “Remember what Amalek did to you. Arabs inside or outside - a danger to the State of Israel! "
The conflict between Israel and Iraq failed to mask the growing tension between the Arab minority in Israel and large parts of Israeli society. Over the past decade, the number of Arabs living in Israel had risen by around 700,000, including the quarter of a million Arabs in East Jerusalem who were forced to become Israeli citizens.
The efforts of the Arab population to find their place in Israeli society and to become citizens with equal rights in all respects were unsuccessful. The political establishment in Israel showed itself to be unable to fight the problems and social upheavals, which generated growing resentment among the young Arab population, who broke away from the traditional generation of fathers. She had got used to getting to her destination through personal relationships and petitions to the “gentlemen” from the Ministry of Interior and Housing and the domestic secret service.
Knesset MP Asmi Bishara, one of the pioneers of a “state of all its citizens”, was interviewed on television and described with striking clarity the process of change that the policies of Arab Palestinians with Israeli passports were going through at the time, trying to be cautious To provide forecast for the future:
Phase 1: Termination of the partnership with the Zionist parties.
Phase 2: Creation of independent Arab parties.
Phase 3: Joining forces with post-Zionist parties to accelerate the process of "Israelizing" society.
Phase 4: Return to partnership with Israeli parties that define themselves as being Jewish.
At that time there was also a public debate about a possible Arab autonomy within the Israeli state. The advocates of this idea were less demanding in the direction of territorial autonomy, but rather aimed at a cultural and functional form of independence. This approach found support among the Jewish population, both in circles on the left, who saw it as the only possible way to normalize relations between the ethnic groups, which were drifting towards a momentous escalation, and among moderate religious people, who essentially care went to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of the Israeli state. Their model envisaged an internal separation that was to preserve the Jewish-nationalist character of the Israeli state as the state of the Jewish people. The resistance of the right-wing government to the idea of autonomy was relentless.
As a result of the political and diplomatic tensions between Israel and the United States, the Americans stopped their financial aid for civil and military matters in Israel. The dialogue with the Jewish communities abroad also increasingly came to a standstill. Over the years, neither the government nor the Jewish Agency was able to create an alternative and contemporary network of relationships between Israel and the diaspora, which was becoming increasingly assimilated. The generation of young Jews in the United States and Europe showed little sympathy for the metamorphosis that was beginning to take shape within Israeli society.
The tense security situation along the borders has led to immense investments in both the armaments budget and the current defense budget in recent years, which inevitably led to cuts in the areas of education, infrastructure, industrial funding and the budget of the Ministry of the Interior. The general situation also led to a decline in the volume of exports on the one hand and a steady emigration of skilled workers abroad on the other, which gradually grew into a frightening phenomenon from which the gross national product suffered noticeably. The first to suffer from the budget cuts were the Arab regional administrations and cities, for the government secretly acted according to the maxim "the poor of your own city (- the Jews -) first". Unemployment in the Arab sector continued to rise, crime rates soared, and resentments against the government and Jewish society in Israel reached unprecedented levels.
When in this situation the cabinet decided to reverse an earlier government decision, which had already passed through all the law committees, and to put the construction of a modern Arab city in the so-called triangle on hold, a conflagration broke out. On the day of the planned laying of the foundation stone for the new city, which had already been given the name al-Amal - Hope - by the Israeli Arabs, 200,000 demonstrators, including tens of thousands of Jews, gathered on the site. The instruction to the police was clear: the demonstration is illegal and will be broken up by force. The next day, twenty-five were killed, including three police officers, and around one hundred injured, including about thirty police officers who were burned when a police team bus was set on fire by a demonstrator.
The government's response was not long in coming. A state of emergency was declared, and that same night a curfew was imposed on the Arab villages and cities of the Triangle and Galilee. In the early hours of the morning, dozen of the Arab-Israeli leaders were brought for questioning and some were taken into administrative detention for subversive activities.
There were tumultuous scenes in the Knesset. The representatives of the “New Kach Party” demanded that the detainees be expelled from Israel. In parliament there were increasing voices demanding that the democratic rules of the game be changed. A year earlier, the draft law had been passed that would in future prevent Arab Knesset members from taking part in votes that are related to “the Jewish character or the future of Israel as a state of the Jewish people and everything that is directly or indirectly related to it”. Minister Kahane (junior) now demanded that a law be implemented, as it was in the US democracy until the early 1960s of the last century, according to which in future elections the vote of every Arab (- in the US was it the colored -) should make up a third of the voice of a Jew. "This is the only possible democratic way to ensure a Jewish democratic majority in the Knesset," said Kahane. The bill ultimately failed in the Knesset due to a single missing vote, but five years later, when the demographers prophesied that in little more than thirty years the number of Arabs in Israel would rise to forty-five percent, a corresponding bill was passed with a clear majority.
In Jewish Israel, too, the social fabric began to collapse. The economic decline gave rise to xenophobia, which in places bordered on racism. Around half a million foreign workers lived in the slums of large cities, most of them without valid residence and work permits. Many of these foreign workers were already the second generation to live in the country. Their numbers grew steadily as Jewish employers, who had long since ceased to employ workers from the Palestinian state, began increasingly to refrain from employing Israeli Arabs. Hundreds of thousands from Romania, Yugoslavia, China, Poland, Nigeria and elsewhere lived in inhumane conditions. Most of their families never received any health or social services, and their children tended to fall through the cracks of the educational system. Tensions between them and the Israeli population increased when the bodies of three Orthodox children were found at Christmas 2015. Although the murder was never solved, fascist racist elements in Israel accused black foreign workers that the murder was part of a pagan African rite. The result was that considerable parts of the cities became ghettos, which the Israelis consistently avoided.
But this development was secondary in view of the worsening confrontation between the country's secular liberal minority, who generated most of the country's gross national product, and the religious establishment, the rabbinates and their followers in government.
The fragile coalition was forced to bow to the rabbis' dictates. The community, which from a demographic point of view was by now mostly no longer Jewish, became a state with strict religious laws. Among the legal innovations and enactments, the following should be emphasized in particular: The recognition of civil marriages has been repealed; likewise all non-religious forms of burial were abolished; local public transport, including those tolerated under the previous status quo, was without exception suspended on Shabbat; the sale and supply of non-kosher meat was banned across the country, with the exception of Arab towns and villages; the appointment of a ritual rule controller was made a condition of opening a restaurant; Theaters and places of entertainment had to remain closed on Shabbat and on holidays; employers, including those in high-tech industries, were banned from working on Shabbat; Ben Gurion Airport was completely shut down on Shabbat. The rumors that the Ministry of Religions intended to influence the content of teaching at universities turned out to be correct.
In the 2017 elections, when the State of Israel was well on the way to slipping into chaos both domestically and externally, the call for a “revival of hope from the beginning of the century” rang out almost unanimously. The aged leader Ehud Barak was urged to take over the formation of the government a second time. In order to overcome the high hurdle from the right, Barak promised a government to save the nation that should be based on experts, not politicians. The Barak of 2017 turned out to be a mature leader. In the first months of his term in office he invested tremendous efforts in contacts with the Palestinians and the Arab states in order to free the stalled cart of peace efforts. His proposal was identical to the one he should have made to the Palestinians eighteen years earlier. But Barak failed to realize that what was still important in 1999 could not necessarily be implemented in the new age.
The Palestinian leadership did not believe the Israeli embassy, although it was not clear in any case whether they would be able to sell peace studies to the Arab public who were still fighting the Israeli army in the occupied territories around Jenin and Nablus. The whole episode was short-lived. Barak's good intentions failed to convince the Israeli public, which appeared to prefer the conflict to persist over a peaceful solution. A new government was formed after only a year.
The next seven years turned out to be the toughest Israel had seen since its inception. The Israeli army waged a difficult and costly war against guerrilla forces in the occupied territories. Tactics had changed little since the days of the Lebanon War at the end of the last century. The Palestinian terror was only sporadic and was directed exclusively against soldiers and those civilians who “settled” in the areas that should actually have belonged to the territory of the Palestinian state. The losses were extremely painful, but the public in heartland Israel followed events in the disputed areas with indifference.
Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon denied entry to Israeli citizens. The peace treaties, which were still valid and in force on paper, were not applied by either side, and it did not appear that either party was making a fuss or was considering it, therefore complain to the international To submit to the Court of Justice. The Israeli government took the position that "this has never been a real peace anyway".
The constantly tense situation along the borders devoured immense financial resources, which were at the expense of the development budget, education expenditure and other important departments. On the other hand, the army was confronted with thousands of conscientious objectors every year. The Israeli-Jewish sense of togetherness that unified society was noticeably dwindling.
The situation of the Arab minority in Israel, which had now grown to almost 2.5 million, was becoming increasingly catastrophic. As at the time of the Palestinian Intifada forty years ago, certain areas of Galilee were unilaterally declared “independent regions” by their inhabitants. The majority of Arabs in Israel no longer paid any taxes, and the decline of the welfare system was evident in every village and town. Most of the Arab settlements in Wadi Ara were subject to curfew from 6 p.m. to the next morning each day. The number of Israeli Arabs in administrative detention sometimes went into the tens of thousands. Jews suspected of collaborating with Arabs in Israel were also interned in various camps.
Internationally, Israel was isolated like never before. Certain states in Europe announced that they would impose various sanctions on Israel, but only after the European Union had come to the unexpected decision to allow each member state to determine its own trade and cultural contacts with Israel. Israeli doctors, researchers and scientists were no longer invited to international congresses. Israel has been reprimanded repeatedly in various international forums, especially in the General Assembly of the United Nations. This was received with ostentatious disdain on the part of the government, which announced that it would not deal with such “corrupters of Israel”. When the US continued to join the condemnations and threats of sanctions in recent years, the Israeli government withdrew to the phrase “the whole world is against us”. Some of the Orthodox Cabinet ministers added that the world was still having a hard time accepting the fact that we were the chosen people and light of the unbelievers and that we were allowed to do things that would not be understood for many years.
In response to the condemnation passed by the United Nations Security Council on December 31, 2025, regarding the continued Israeli occupation of areas of the West Bank, the Israeli government spokesman issued a brief statement containing a quote from Moses 11:23: So the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, that you may inherit greater and stronger nations than you are. All the land on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the desert to Mount Lebanon and from the river Euphrates to the sea in the west shall be your territory.
The last independence day
On the eve of Independence Day in 5785, the year 2025 of the Christian era: After a lengthy and sometimes irreconcilable public and parliamentary debate on how the state should celebrate its 77th Independence Day, the President of the Republic, Dr. Abdul Aziz al-Hindi, decided to cancel his participation in the solemn Knesset meeting that takes place every year on this occasion. He also canceled his participation in other events, such as the main rally to kick off the day of mourning for the soldiers who died in Israel's wars, which takes place in the square in front of the Western Wall. "You will not see me at an event called 'Independence Day'," said the President. “And the day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers is a day of remembrance neither for me nor for the members of my people. In addition, ”added Dr. Al-Hindi adds, “This day symbolizes the consequences of the illegal wars that the Zionist forces have waged against the partition plan of the United Nations and the crime of brutal transfer of the Arab-Palestinian people as a result of the atrocities they initiated. ”
After the President's announcement, the chairman of the Knesset, Mohammed al-Khatib, announced that in view of the dramatic developments, the traditional Knesset ceremony as it had been held for the past seventy-six years was losing its festive and majestic character, which is why he “With great regret”, as it was said - I have been forced not to allow this to take place. And so, despite the loud protests of most (- mind you, most, but not all -) Jewish Knesset members, a symbolic and solemn national tradition of more than seventy-five years of history came to an end.
However, not all Jewish members of the Knesset accepted the chairman's decision. A group of MPs, mostly from the ranks of the People's Party, which had emerged from the remnants of the former right-wing parties - the Likud, the National Religious Party, the National Unity Party and the Shas Party - came to the parliament building to attend - as they called it - “to continue the tradition of the Independence Day ceremony”. But on the instructions of the Knesset chairman, the parliamentary stewards prevented them from holding the event in the plenary hall. The group therefore went to the meeting room of the Accountability Committee, the chairman of which, the aging MP Chaim Falk, a former settler and, according to his own definition, a devout Zionist, had the authority to provide the room for the ceremony.
Some of the families whose sons had died were not prepared to give up either. As every year, they gathered in front of the Western Wall. However, since the President's absence made the ceremony less official, the Chief of Staff, Major General Eliram Genut, was unable to attend the memorial ceremony. He therefore left it to the army chief rabbi, the aged General Gad Navon, to say a few brief words on behalf of the chief of staff after the reading of the psalms, which he had been reading on that occasion for more than half a century.
The Israeli media, while allowing criticism of the steps taken by the President and the Knesset chairman, reacted negatively to the holding of such “pirate ceremonies”, as stated in the editorial of the online newspaper “HaAretz”, Israel's most influential publication. "Commemorative events that do not meet with the approval of all Israelis only increase the polarization and mutual alienation that already exist in this torn country," wrote the famous poet Shachaf Ahavim in the newspaper "Yediot-Ma'ariv", who whenever When there are fundamental ideological debates in society, it is necessary to express the opinion of intellectuals. “They in no way serve the goal that the initiators of such events wanted to achieve. The character of celebrations and symbols in a constitutional state are determined by those who are destined to do so by virtue of the law. And those who are at the top of the hierarchy of rules and regulations when it comes to celebrations and symbols, ”continued the essayist in his usual authoritative tone,“ are the President of the Republic and the chairman of the Knesset. ” “We all have to respect their decision”, the poet consequently stated, “even if some of us only grudgingly do so. Because whoever touches the position of the president and the chairman of the Knesset is questioning the foundations of the state as a bi-national, multicultural community, ”the influential poet concluded in the country's largest-circulation newspaper. (The merger between the two most widely read newspapers came about after the “Yediot” group of companies had taken over the majority of the “Ma'ariv” group of owners in a brilliant and surprising stock market maneuver. The merged paper enjoyed the most influence in those circles who could not get used to the electronic form of the daily press and who remained loyal to the traditional print media, the circulation of which had continuously declined since 2005.)
When President al-Hindi found that the Jewish population sector was accepting his steps, at least at this point in time, he decided to publish the letter he had sent to a number of Jewish figures. "Since the Arab public, who make up more than 30% of the total population in this country, can no longer accept the exclusively Zionist character of the country's independence celebrations," said President al-Hindi's letter to Prime Minister Ofir Pines1 President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch2, and to the State Auditor Ron Pundak, “and since the ethos of independence celebrations is based on the Nakba, the catastrophe of my, the Palestinian people, participation by the President or the Chairman of the Knesset - which will be soon anyway their name will change - at these events. " “Also,” added the President in his letter, which was widely circulated, “the Jews who still define themselves as Zionists are now only a minority in the overall fabric of Israeli society. We, the Arabs, do - as I said - a third of the total population. Another 10% of the population claim to be members of the 'new Israeli nation'. Which means nothing else than that, even if their origins are Jewish, they have consciously renounced their membership of the Jewish nation in favor of a new identity. A new national conglomerate has emerged in our country that also includes members of other ethnic groups who have made their home here, including Arabs who have renounced their original nationality. Together with the descendants of foreign workers and the Jews, who prefer a “state of all its citizens” to a pure nation state, they make up approximately 55% of the total population and thus represent an absolute majority.
Our common task today is to create stable social framework conditions that apply equally to Jews, Arabs and citizens of other origins. And should the Jews make accusations in this connection, they should address them to themselves. After all, it was they who brought hundreds of thousands of non-Jews into the country as “immigrants” or foreign workers, primarily in order to stop the emerging demographic parity between Jews and Arabs. But they overlooked the possibility that these new population elements could ally with forces like the local Arabs who want a bourgeois democracy instead of a Jewish nation-state with unmistakably religious, nationalist - not to say racist - traits.
In view of the momentous upheavals that have taken place in our country, I therefore advise that part of the Jewish community to no longer insist on celebrating what they call Independence Day. An exaggeratedly solemn organization of this day could hurt the feelings of the Arab population, even outrage, as well as disturb those parts of the population that are neither Jewish nor Muslim. In addition, this is opposed to an increasingly large part of the Jewish population who - as the last three elections to the Knesset have shown - prefer Israel to become a real community, a state of all its citizens, and no longer insist on the home of the Jewish people to be." “Most citizens understand,” added the highest representative of the state, “that in view of the demographic and political conditions prevailing in our country today, it is no longer permissible to celebrate the Zionist Independence Festival as a national holiday and that a supranational replacement must be found as has long been the case in other bourgeois democracies. This alternative national holiday must meet with acceptance in large parts of the population and in most of the social currents, which today constitute a clear majority of the population in the country. Unfortunately, however, those Jews who insist that the identity of the state must remain Jewish do not see this. Nowadays such an attitude is nothing more than narrow-minded chauvinism and no longer even finds a majority among Jews. "
“I also believe that I can establish,” stated the President in his letter, which provoked mixed reactions in the “One Israel Party” 3, by which he had been nominated for the high office, “that - as we have seen - most of the residents of Israel would now be willing to change the name of the state, which is clearly Jewish nationalist. As you will recall, the Supreme Court (following a petition submitted by Ganit Shamash-Rantissi in 2020) has already ordered the government to set up a commission to deal with this sensitive issue. Ultimately, however, it was the massive demonstrations by the Arab public in favor of a name change that ensured that the commission was constituted. Unfortunately, however, the delaying tactics used by certain elements in the Commission has so far prevented the desired conclusions from being made public. This is one of the reasons for the demonstrative - yes, demonstrative - step that I felt compelled to take. After all, even after the far-reaching demographic, ideological and ideological changes that our country has undergone in the last quarter of a century, we cannot continue as if nothing had happened. With this letter I would therefore like to warn that if the name of the state does not change in the near future, a new petition to the Supreme Court is likely. Because the latter has already indicated that he is not very happy about the non-fulfillment of the legal concept on which his judgment is based. All those who can no longer accept the Commission's abduction tactics are also free to take up arms in public demonstrations, although one can only hope that such demonstrations will not escalate into violence.
But not only the name of the state needs a change. Even the declaration of independence, a “holy cow” for many years, can no longer be acceptable; both because of the ethos it represents and because of the legal status it has been given as a kind of constitutional preamble.
But my dear fellow Jewish citizens, do not be alarmed at the annulment of the declaration of independence. We will all get used to it, just as we got used to the withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories or the abolition of the “HaTikwa” national anthem. In 2000, as many will remember, the Knesset rejected a legislative proposal by MP Baramcha4 to change the national anthem by an overwhelming majority. In 2005, when MP Husail tabled the bill again, a third of all MPs had already voted for it, including quite a few Jews who had understood that one must adapt to a changed reality. So the rejection front melted within a few years, before, as is well known, four years ago the government could save itself only thanks to the commitment given by the coalition - and kept - to support the introduction of a new anthem.
It hurt a little, but as they got used to it, the Jewish fellow citizens also wondered how they had so many and precious years on the continuation of the Zionist occupation or the use of the nationalistic and certainly not very significant text of the old hymn can persevere. And so it will behave after we have all got used to the fact that the declaration of independence, which speaks exclusively and in some places in an almost racist form of the rights of the Jewish people in Eretz Israel, has been annulled.
And I would like to remind you all that another commission has meanwhile started its work and is trying to find an alternative proposal to the existing national flag, which is also the flag of the Jewish people outside the national borders. This commission, thank God, was not set up as a result of a Supreme Court decree or as a result of violent demonstrations. The Arab vote and cooperation with other progressive forces in the Knesset were enough to move the government to take this step. I am quite sure that we will also come to an agreement on the national flag, just as we are, thanks to the Arab vote, which is gaining weight from election to election, to the appointment of Arab ministers, an Arab president and an Arab Knesset chairman have been able to agree. The fact is that this equality is currently still limited to representative offices - even though the Jews no longer make up the majority of the population. But in certain areas, especially with regard to state celebrations, which express the collective identity of our population, it is no longer Jews in the narrower sense who determine the form of expression today.
I would therefore like to take the opportunity to remind our fellow Jewish citizens that the identity of our state is no longer what it used to be. We are at the point today where, with the political support of non-Arab forces, taking advantage of international pressure we can use for this purpose, and with the help of the liberal Supreme Court, we can change the character of the state according to its new socio-political structure.
We all still remember the vehement and violent protests of the nationalist-Jewish right. On the other hand, however, we remember how these very rights were worn down and tired by the ongoing political struggle and the Arab intifada, until they finally came to terms with reality, as they had previously done with the withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the evacuation of most of the settlements in Judea and Samaria had accepted. The situation will be similar - ins'allah - with the change in the name of the state, the annulment of the declaration of independence and the law of return as well as the change of the state flag. Demographic reality, along with the greatly reduced weight that Israelis still attach to Jewish nationality, is what makes the difference. "
As noted by some of the so-called “New Historians”, the content of the writing demonstrated a continuous development that began in the days of the Intifada and in the 1990s when the Arabs, in conjunction with liberal and progressive Jewish people Kreis, had succeeded in shaking the belief of the Jewish population in the legitimacy of the Zionist cause and their full right in the country. "From the moment the virus of doubt - both in an interpersonal and in a political sense - got stuck," wrote the elderly historian Ilan Pappe, who was once known as one of the so-called "New Historians" in the 1980s and 1990s had caused a sensation in the last century, "it was clear that the Jewish state lived on borrowed time, and not only in terms of security policy."
When Education Minister Mossi Ras ruled that presidential writing should be memorized in all schools in the country, no one protested against the return to teaching methods that had been frowned upon for half a century. “This is a historic moment in our history,” said the minister at a convention of school inspectors. "From my point of view, this is the happy end of a struggle that I waged as General Secretary of Shalom Achshav at the end of the 1990s against the violent, land-hungry settlers who threatened to turn our lives into another trip to hell."
Unsurprisingly, the Israeli President's move sparked a lively response around the world, especially in the Arab world. The New York Times, for example, ran it as the lead story and said in an editorial on the same subject that the Jewish citizens of Israel must come to terms with the reality as their president has aptly analyzed them. "The Jews of Israel are uncomfortable with the dramatic upheavals that have taken place in their state, which they have built as a state of the Jewish people at the cost of countless sacrifices," the editorial noted. “Nevertheless, they have not managed to create a state with economic and social values as an incentive that would have exerted a downright magnetic attraction on Jews who do not live in Israel. But since the majority of the Jewish people could not be persuaded to go to the land of their forefathers, a situation arose in which the Jews living in Israel, not least because of low birth rates and abandoning the Zionist beliefs, the necessary majority lost in order to remain a nation-state in the classical sense as we know it from Europe and Asia. It can therefore be said that the Jewish-Zionist national movement, which so successfully laid the foundations of a Jewish state, which fought for its independence and, with military and population strategy means, allowed it to exist in the Middle East for three quarters of a century under the most unfavorable conditions possible is now forced to accept a reality for which she is largely responsible. " “This failure,” summed up the most important newspaper in the world, “was expressed by the Arab President of Israel, and all citizens of his country should accept the correctness of his analysis. However, those parts of Israeli society that do not agree with the current reality should not allow themselves to be misled into trying undemocratic means to try to stop a development, no matter how painful, that has essentially come about through their own ineptitude. ” “The collapse of the Jewish state has fallen into the hands of the Arabs like a ripe fruit,” the editorial concluded. “And not as a result of defeatist activities, as nationalist circles in Israel accuse citizens of Arab origin. All means that the Arabs resorted to to bring about the current situation were, in the context of the competition between Jews and Arabs for the character and future of their state, entirely legitimate. How cynical and cruel the story is at times when it becomes clear that the Jews are inferior in this competition. " “The 'fall of the Third Temple', as many Jews in Israel describe the situation, is certainly not the correct expression. The Jews' complete rule over their state was lost almost willingly, but most certainly not as a result of a physical confrontation. The loss does not even begin to compare with the fall of the Second Temple, which gave birth to a new Jewish state of Israel, albeit two thousand years later. This time, however - regrettably - the almost voluntary abdication of the Jewish state threatens an assimilation of the Jews, as is already evident in the USA and Europe, also in their own homeland. "
The Central Bureau of Statistics published the latest statistical data on the eve of Independence Day, as it has done every year since the state was founded. As a result, the population of Israel today can be estimated at nearly 10 million citizens. These live on 21,500 square kilometers (- of the formerly occupied territories, Israel kept only 1,000 square kilometers in the wake of the agreement with the Palestinians, which no one calls a "peace agreement" any more -), which, according to the UN, made Israel the most densely populated State of the world is. Only 4,752,000 of its residents clearly and primarily define themselves as Jews. According to the Central Statistical Office, the number of non-Jewish immigrants and their descendants who came to Israel from the CIS countries or as foreign workers is 3.5 million. Around 750,000 citizens refuse to be assigned to one of the two large national groups. The annual statistical report also states that a good 50% (compared to only 32% in 2000) of all children who attend kindergartens, elementary schools and secondary schools are Arabs. 20% of the children come from the orthodox-Jewish milieu and only 30% from the Jewish-secular population sector, the religious-nationalist and that which cannot be assigned to either of the two majority ethnic groups - the Jewish or the Arab.
The President's letter and his cancellation of the state festivities sparked violent emotional reactions from both the Jewish secular population and - which could not surprise anyone who followed developments in this large community - among the Orthodox. Although the President was correct in stating that the majority of Jewish Israelis had got used to the dramatic changes in their state and had learned to live with them, this time the humiliation was directed as particularly painful, hurtful and directed against the most elementary roots of their own identity felt.
For the second time in the history of the state, demonstrations were held instead of parades on Independence Day, the only Israeli public holiday to have been added to the calendar since the religious festivals were established. (The first time occurred in the early 1980s when the Shalom Achshaw peace movement held a demonstration on Har-Bracha Hill, where a makeshift Jewish settlement had been established.) This time the initiative came from a movement called “On their way”, headed by the grandchildren of former settlers. The central rally took place on the 'Hill of Screams' near the Knesset building. The police, who had refused to authorize a demonstration for a day that was officially still a national holiday, rioted the demonstrators and dispersed them using batons and tear gas. The Knesset guards, who report personally to the chairman of parliament and are largely made up of members of his people from Galilee and the Negev, also took part in the dissolution of a demonstration for the first time. Several members of the youth organization of the “One Israel Party”, Jews and Arabs, also opposed the demonstrators.
Although, as opinion polls showed, non-religious Jews were also angry about the cancellation of the Independence Day celebrations, few of them joined the demonstrations. The impression arose, therefore, that this time only the religious and orthodox community was demonstrating against the removal of Jewish symbols from public life in the state. Spokespersons for the majority of all parties - with the exception of right-wing organizations, successor organizations to Likud, MAFDAL and the National Unity Party - reprimanded the demonstrators for “disrupting the holiday in a“ populist and violent way ”and the sentiments of the majority of the population decided to have violated this day without using nationalist symbols. The party spokesmen also condemned the nationalist and extremist statements that were made during the demonstrations, such as the call to return to the old state flag and to stop the process of finding a new state name, as well as the demand for resistance to the repeal of the declaration of independence and the Return law, as mere sedition. In view of the sensitivity with which the Arab public meets such maximum demands from the ranks of the unworldly Israeli right, such verbal injuries could, in the worst case, lead to bloodshed.
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