Hold onto your hat! Israeli-Palestinian Violence Is Coming

Ethan Bronner of the New York Times last week wrote about the disconnect between Israelis and the general problem they face with the Palestinians. Bronner, who was a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, had recently returned to Israel and found Israelis to be almost intoxicatingly removed from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They could “care less” about it and are more removed from the political situation than ever. Israel is a very successful economic culture and, various social inequities notwithstanding, they are enjoying the fruits of Western democracies and market economies. Bronner writes that even the Israeli left is increasingly insignificant, and a shell of its former activist self.

I must say that this is generally consistent with my own experiences. I was teaching in Israel last year at this time and quite struck by how “bored” the average Israeli is with the entire matter. They don’t believe there is anyone to talk to or that the Palestinians are serious. I spoke to plenty of students, wait staff, bartenders, and average citizens and the majority is fed up and has simply decided to ignore the whole thing. Cynicism about the peace process is so great that nobody cares to talk about it. Israelis don’t understand the extent of their international condemnation; Israelis don’t understand how anyone could offer up political and moral support for organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah; Israelis don’t understand why the world can’t learn from the lesson in Gaza that giving the Palestinians in Gaza what they wanted (an Israeli pullout) resulted in more rockets fired into Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is in bad shape and things will get even worse with the resignation of Salam Fayyad who was focusing on economic and institutional security in the West Bank. Things are quiet at the moment with John Kerry’s diplomatic efforts deserving of some credit. Even though the Palestinian Authority continues to receive criticism, it’s unlikely for now that the system will be pushed to its limits. The Palestinians are just as tired as the Israelis but for different reasons. They are fed up with their own political leaders and divided amongst themselves with respect to how to proceed. The issues of checkpoints, settlements, prisoners, and financial matters are weakening with respect to their individual issue capabilities. In other words, these matters do not hold the intensity they once did because the population has spent the political capital associated with them and the peace process is still elusive.

The International Crisis Group (go here) issued a report on May 29, 2013 concluding that the Palestinian Authority is in financial trouble and cannot pay salaries. And although they have been recently lulled into a sleep-like state with respect to larger peace issues with Israel, things are beginning to change. The Palestinian Authority, according to the crisis group, is under threat of dissolution. It is simply likely to evolve away into a different reality as Abbas ages. Abbas has a certain amount of historical legitimacy and is committed to a negotiated settlement. But with the Palestinian Authority so fragile, and enough time has gone by such that patience is running thin, any political act (settler violence, clashes in Jerusalem, hunger striking prisoners, or some act of violence) will spark the combustible mixture into a conflagration.

It does not matter how complacent Israelis feel or how content they are about their own good faith efforts, the current situation is not sustainable for very much longer. There remains economic fragility, violence, humiliation, and perceived injustices that cannot stand a much longer test of time. Images of the Titanic come to mind with some killer iceberg waiting in the not-too-distant dark.

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Posted on June 2, 2013, in Israel, Political Conflict and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I agree that much of the Jewish Israeli public prefers not to know about a situation they feel they can’t do anything about, and that the current situation is unsustainable. Worth taking a look at Amos Harel’s recent analysis in Ha’aretz – less about the (elsuive) public mood than the political situation. Here’s the English version: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/u-s-efforts-to-renew-israeli-palestinian-peace-negotiations-too-little-too-late.premium-1.527018

  2. Israelis don’t understand the extent of their international condemnation;

    Israelis understand this very well and have come to ignore it because no matter what they do or don’t do, they are condemned.

    Did Israel get ANY support when she withdrew from Gaza? She did not. When Gaza, which was handed over complete with greenhouses and other economic assets, was taken over in a bloody coup by Hamas, and then Hamas proceeded to rocket Israel, did Israel get ANY support for its self-defence? We all know the answer to that one.

    When Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered unprecedented return land to Yasser Arafat, what did the arch-terrorist do? He walked away and launched the violent and deadly intifada, causing thousands of deaths and terrible injuries to Israelis. And when Israel launched a self-defensive operation, did Israel get ANY support? Again – I leave that answer to you.

    It’s the hypocrisy that’s killing us (I speak as an Israeli) as much as the terrorists.

    So when you then draw the conclusion that

    It does not matter how complacent Israelis feel or how content they are about their own good faith efforts, the current situation is not sustainable for very much longer. There remains economic fragility, violence, humiliation, and perceived injustices that cannot stand a much longer test of time. Images of the Titanic come to mind with some killer iceberg waiting in the not-too-distant dark.

    please excuse us if we are not much impressed. The economic fragility, violence and humiliation are self-caused by the Palestinians to themselves. The situation can carry on as long as the Palestinians don’t launch another intifada, and if they do, Israel will take self-defensive action again, and will once more be condemned. Yada yada, so the world turns.

    • Without going into too much detail all I can say is “yada yada, so the world turns” is just the problem. More of the same.

      • More of the same what? You claimed that “Israelis don’t understand the extent of their international condemnation”. I replied that Israelis understand only too well, but since we have never received any credit for any of our multiple efforts at breaking the “peace” impasse and for giving up tangible assets for intangibles; and since the world broke its promises to Israel that Israel will be “allowed” to defend itself (horror of horrors!) and then having that pledge and the tangible concessions literally blow up in our faces, Israelis can be both forgiven and understood for not being interested any more in international condemnation.

        Since international promises and pledges of understanding and assistance have come to nothing, why on earth should Israelis be concerned about international condemnation?!

        Hence my cynical comment “yada yada, so the world turns”. – because ANYTHING Israel does earns it condemnation, even acts that are perfectly acceptable with other countries.

  3. Anne: You are not understanding me. I’m not saying literally that Israelis do not understand international condemnation. I meant it ironically that the Israelis are in disbelief that anyone would condemn them for the reasons you mention. Moreover, the international condemnation is misdirected but not something that is going to go away.

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