October 30, 2010
Roughly twenty years ago the individual and collective mindset of the Israeli nation made an abrupt change. Seemingly overnight the unspeakable, if not unthinkable, suddenly became the norm. One by one time revered taboos, no longer deemed sacred, were trespassed and broken; negotiations with the PLO, retreat from the Golan Heights, relinquishing parts of Yesha, dividing Jerusalem, admitting Palestinian refugees, establishing a Palestinian state – nothing was off limits, nothing beyond discussion. Still further, the more the shackles were released the more politicians, military leaders and other public figures jumped on board, frequently changing their stripes and supporting what they formerly had opposed.
How did this happen over the course of a relatively short time period? What caused the effective breakdown of previously held public consensus untouchables? These are not just hypothetical questions since understanding the dynamics of this phenomenon is a key for anyone who wants to implement a change of direction in this country.
The truth is that although the shift in direction had the backing of most of the key international players, a fact which partially explains how the ideas were so quickly placed in the forefront of the public agenda and why they have remained there ever since, nonetheless within Israel itself the change in direction was initiated simply by more and more public figures speaking the previously unspeakable or unthought-of. It really was that simple.
This brings us to today. Although the “powers that be”, whether domestic or international, are still fixated with the Oslo land for peace formula, for most people on the Israeli street Oslo was a proven disaster that unleashed years of record bloodshed and killings. Moreover, although the mindset of the nation is still somewhat controlled by the same domestic powers that be, their vice grip hold has been severely weakened. Years of general disillusionment with a ruling establishment that is frequently viewed as corrupt and self-serving, together with traumatic events like the Lebanon War, Gaza Disengagement and bloody evacuation in Amona, have all taken their toll and shaken the public’s confidence in the system. Most people know something is amiss, something is wrong, even if they cannot fully express it.
For this reason the masses are ready for a changed direction. They are longing for words of truth, spoken directly without beating around the bush, and would most likely back any public figures that would clearly present the message.
Relating this to the “peace process”, they’ve had it with the Oslo debacle and would happily embrace a new direction. With this in mind it should come as no surprise that declaring full Israeli sovereignty in all of Judea and Samaria, an idea that was all but dead, is slowly making a comeback. Despite the obvious complexities entailed in such a move, more and more people are seeing this as a preferred alternative to the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria since it is apparent, after 17 years of the Oslo experiment, that such a state would pose a real threat to whatever remains of a significantly reduced State of Israel.
Moreover, with the nation clearly behind the message, then the controlling powers would fall in line since ultimately they want to control. If they see the nation aligned behind a message, a stance, then they will quickly adopt the position since it would be in their own interest, a sort of win-win situation. All that is needed to get the ball rolling, as was the case 20 years ago, is for some public figures to take the initiative and to start clearly articulating the direction.
Regarding the timing of such a declaration, perhaps an opportunity is being presented. Salam Fayyad, the PA Prime Minister, recently stated his intention to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state in August 2011, a date that eerily corresponds with the approaching 10-year anniversary of September 11. Rather than passively allowing the Palestinians to be rewarded with a state that in all likelihood will be used as a springboard to destroy us, perhaps we should go on the offensive and take control of our own destiny by officially declaring Israeli sovereignty in all of Judea and Samaria. The people are ripe for a change. Therefore, the time is ripe for a change.