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Israel’s Middle Eastern state of mind

While Israel is experiencing a housing crisis with prices in sky rocketing by as much as 100% in Tel Aviv and 80% elsewhere in the heartland over the past 5 years it simply cannot be that the government squanders one third of the budget for subsidised housing on 5% of the population. It simply cannot be that the government allocates a whopping one sixth of planned housing units to be built across the country as slated for building over the Green Line.

Unfortunately we are so far along in this process that finding a political party willing to actually admit to and stop this rot is increasingly difficult. At a time when policies have been replaced by viral campaign videos one could be forgiven for wondering how on earth this little bastion of democracy is going to be able to thrive into the twenty first century.

Having said that perhaps Israel is simply learning how to fit in to the wider Middle Eastern way of doing things.

In Cairo the government cooperates with Israel to the extent that they speak about the number of soldiers allowed into the Sinai Desert to fight insurgents. They are imposing a blockade on Hamas controlled Gaza and take harsher measures than Israel does in order to clamp down on Hamas tunnels. On the other hand they incite their own populace against both Israel and Jews. The government controlled press pumps out anti Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda at a rate and intensity that would impress Goebbels.

The impact is to ensure that Egypt’s government is consistently at odds with the Egyptian people. Egyptian society is so hopelessly anti Jew that Egyptian celebrities threaten death to people who so much as imply they were being interviewed by Israeli broadcasters. The effect of this is to ensure that while Israel is at peace with Egypt it is still at war with the Egyptian people.

In Jordan there is a peace treaty with Israel but the relationship is so twisted that the Jordanian Parliament held a minute of silence not for the victims of a recent terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue but for the now dead perpetrators. These men butchered their victims, who were at prayer, with knives and here are Jordanian politicians holding a minute’s silence for the murderers.

Before the Syrian civil war both Assad the father and the son ensured their border with Israel was the quietest of any Israeli border. The two sides maintained an absolute silence that was disrupted by nothing since the end of hostilities in 1973 save for occasional peace talks. The rhetoric against Israel of course within the country was every bit as vindictive and anti-Semitic as that being printed in the countries Israel is at peace with. In the end it has lead to a popular uprising by a populace who are now even more extreme and even more anti-Israel then the government was. Thanks to the government’s own failed policies.

Each of these governments are more interested in ensuring the populace hated and feared Jews and Israel than in addressing the needs of their people.

In Israel itself the Arab list has stated that it wouldn’t join a left wing coalition but would be prepared to support it from the outside. This nonsensical policy ensures there won’t be a left wing Israeli government to support. Furthermore they represent a constituency in Israel that is hopelessly underfunded, that receives less investment in their municipalities than their Jewish neighbours and who would gain significantly if they had politicians representing them in a government. On the other hand Arab politicians engage in so much incitement that they have limited their options before the election has even happened. They guarantee the Israeli Arabs they claim to represent are condemned to poverty and poor state services simply so they can continue to attack Israel without looking like hypocrites.

Then there’s the Palestinian Authority who on the one hand provides security support to Israel and on the other celebrates terror attacks against it. The Palestinian Authority who attacks Israel verbally at every possible opportunity and celebrates every terror attack to its own populace also arrests and often tortures anyone it believes might actually attack Israel. This is a Palestinian Authority which proclaims to the world the extent to which it wants a state of Palestine but simultaneously refuses to enter into negotiations for achieving one. They care about statehood enough to go to the UN and the International Criminal Court but find it impossible to simply agree Israel is a Jewish state.

This is the Middle Eastern state of mind. The mindset that says I can have it both ways. I can both make peace and remain enemies, I can both cooperate with Israel and attack Israel, I can both remain in opposition and be in the government, I can both encourage terrorism and fight it, I can negotiate peace while encouraging terror.

Yet while governments both incite against Israel and enjoy diplomatic ties with Israel the backlash is inevitable. After inciting entire generations against Israel the governments are then caught on the back foot when organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas become popular for pointing out the inconsistency between word and deed.

What do the Jordanians and Egyptians do when incitement and moments of silence aren’t enough? What do they do when demonstrations are held on the streets not against Israel but the governments because they refuse to attack Israel?

Well they make mass arrests of course. They send in the police and kill some demonstrators and imprison more. And slowly, slowly the citizens end up becoming the enemy of the government. Instead of worrying about Israel these governments become more worried about their own populations. Of course the citizens are only behaving this way because their government spent years inciting them to hatred.

Instead of having it both ways the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian government, the Jordanian government, Israeli Arab politicians, end up being petrified not of Israelis but of their own citizens. They have backed themselves into a corner where only in private are they able to meet with Israelis and have the joint policies they know they need. They have poisoned their own populace to the extent where they have to carry on attacking Israel in public in every possible forum just to maintain the sham to their own people.

By trying to have everything they ended up with nothing. Their democracy is a fiction, their economies barely exist, terrorism in their own societies runs rampant and the only thing that actually remains are the peace treaties with Israel that the government incited their populace against in the first place.

Now look to Israel where 48,000 new homes are scheduled to be built in the West Bank in the very places the next Israeli government will inevitably be negotiating with the Palestinian Authority over. On the one hand the government cynically funnels its own populace into homes over the green line and on the other hand negotiates over giving away the very land those Israelis are to be living on.

How can there be anything other than a backlash? How can a government not expect the citizens who bought their homes in good faith to be anything other than distraught when they are told they have to leave them?

In the diaspora, Jews talk about how the settlements are merely pawns in negotiations with the Palestinians, they don’t stop for a second to think about what they’re saying. These are people’s homes, they are communities where people go to school and go to work , where they raise their families. To callously call them pawns or bargaining chips is to utterly misunderstand the situation. These people have no interest in abandoning their homes and aren’t interested in the idea that they’re mere pawns. By doing this Israeli governments have been setting up tens of thousands of their own citizens to be betrayed in the name of peace.

Furthermore after years of slamming the Palestinian Authority and negotiating with it and then slamming it even while negotiating with it the Israeli government has created a situation similar to that of its neighbours. Any deal with the PA will be seen as a betrayal of the very values Israeli governments (across the political spectrum) have fostered amongst the Israeli people. In this way we will creep towards the kind of society where the government is unable to make decisions that will benefit Israel out of fear of a backlash from the very people it was elected to represent. Just like the governments around Israel, politicians will be forced to make back room deals in secret that they will then attack in public.

This is the inevitable outcome of the politics of stagnation. On the one hand the previous government released murderers back into Palestinian society and froze settlement building, on the other it worked to torpedo the very negotiations those actions were supposed to foster. On the one hand Netanyahu slams the Palestinian Authority, then, when Dahlan, a potential PA rival comes along he reaffirms support for dealing only with the PA…and then his people meet with Dahlan anyway. The policies are clear, do anything to ensure nothing is done.

Israel is adopting a Middle Eastern state of mind and it isn’t for the better. As the gap between rich and poor in Israel grows the talk from the politicians increasingly turns towards Iran. While Israelis can’t afford homes the Prime Minister bickers with Obama. The direction is towards becoming a country like our neighbours where the people are constantly incited against their neighbours by politicians lacking the strength of character to deal with the problems affecting their people day in day out.

Gene adds:
Noga Tarnopolsky writes:

On Wednesday, another previously planned comptroller’s report was issued, on Israel’s housing crisis. It outlined years of lackadaisical policies and negligence during which time the cost of housing shot up 36 percent.

Netanyahu’s response to the stinging critique was to avoid the issue entirely, instead striking his campaign’s singular note, Iran: “When we talk about housing costs and cost of living, I never forget life itself. The biggest challenge of our lives is preventing Iran from going nuclear.”

Batya Giladi, an Israeli blogger, retorted “Tomorrow, when the bank manager calls, I will very politely tell her that I don’t forget life itself and the real dangers we face: Iran.”

Giladi was reflecting Israelis’ growing impatience with Netanyahu and his singular focus on Iran.