Peace as Menace
In the Arabic world Lebanon was the only true democratic country. During 34 days it was being systematically destroyed . And it is worth realizing that Israeli bombers did not only mould Lebanon’s roads and bridges into ruins, they also devastated the Lebanese democracy. More than that, they minimized chances for any attempt of democratic development in elsewhere the Arabic world.
As a rule, war rarely serves as an impetus to democratization. The more shooting takes place in the Middle East, the more solid authoritarian regimes feel, the ones that control the Arabic world. The issue of political reforms (in some cases being rather urgent) is no longer on the agenda: under crisis there is no need to “swing the boat”, “to swap horses in the midstream”, things like that. And the role of the main opposition force in this case is played by the radical Islamist movements like Hamas or Hizballah, who gain moral authority in their struggle with Israel.
From day one of the bombings the most conscious analysts stated that by its actions Israel was driving itself to a deadlock. In reality, the entire Middle East was pushed into a new disaster, which scale could barely be estimated.
For the Israeli political elites the calamity in the region doesn’t look like a failure at all. This is exactly the same strategy, as favored by any authoritarian regime in the Arabic world, because it provides a feeling of self-confidence when interacting with citizens under condition of war. As long as people are sitting in the air-raid shelters, the political situation remains under control. The more to that, Israeli armed forces are so advanced, that even displaying no visible success, they go on fighting practically ceaselessly, with all the expenses being covered by the States, which really is a true blessing.
But, the Israeli state and society have to turn to peace negotiations. How will they mange it? The country, whose ideology and politics, and even institutions of the civil society have been adjusted to war throughout decades, lives on a different logic than countries accustomed to living in peace. Any Israel’s drive to seriously start thinking about peace settlement, results in a crisis, a split of the country, and trembling society. But should the shooting start, and the country is back on track, stable and disciplined.
What scares most, is that neither Israel’s ruling elites, nor their supporters from other countries are ready to even have these issues up for discussion. They are notoriously denying the idea that the Israeli ideology and social and political structure might contain an error. Any criticism towards Israel is discarded as a manifestation of “anti-Semitism”. Thus the state, whatever it is doing – even if its activity is openly immoral, irresponsible, even suicidal – still has perfect immunity against any reproach. No one will find an answer to a question, posed to the country, if posing questions as such is prohibited.
This ideological logic is deeply totalitarian. As is customary for any totalitarian approach, it leads its adherents to a deadlock, but this journey to nowhere is never long-lasting.
This war in Lebanon has once more revealed, what this “moral veto” on criticizing Israel may give way to. Obviously, outside the country, this prohibition is no longer in force, notably, the most severe criticisms are received from the liberal representatives of Jewish communities in the Western Europe and even in the United States – well, at least they can’t be “sued” for their anti-Semitism.
In their turn, Israeli ruling elites and the right-wing press create a new wave of anti-Semitism manifestations soar, which, according to them, is fed by the “liberals”. Those who don’t like the Jewish state, don’t like the Jews, the Wall Street Journal specifies, though in this case it would be wiser to turn this statement inside out: those who normally are intolerant of the Jews are therefore likely to have disfavor towards Israel. But this by no means implies that anyone disliking Israel is intolerant of the Jews. As we know from classes on logic, any herring is a fish, but not all fish is herring. And why not just put the question differently after all: isn’t it the policy Israel pursues, that encourages anti-Semitist sentiments in the world?
On the other hand, why should we display support for Israel, just for it being a “Jewish state”? When come across such slogans as “Russia for Russians” or “Germany for Germans”, we immediately view it as nationalism, or, what’s more, fascism. The “Israel for the Jews” has equally the same sense and ideological content. The state should belong to all of its citizens, regardless their confession, ethnicity and place of origin.
If one day we hear about Israel which has become a true home for the Jews, Arabs, Christians, and Muslims, that, perhaps, will mark an end of the war in the Middle East. Then the issue of Palestine will as well be resolved – not through separation, building walls, and organizing police raids, but by virtue of the integration of the Jewish and Arab (Christian as well as Islamic) societies in one entity. People who have been existing together, side by side, for twenty five hundred years, may not be separated. They will have to find ways for cooperation.