a time, Jews
to wear stars.
(image from Ha’aretz)
Amotz Asa-el writes an interesting opinion piece about the Gaza pullout being the beginning of the end of what he calls the “war of utopias.”
With the Jordanian artillery’s damage still visible on buildings and in courtyards around us, we proceeded to explore what for the previous 19 years had been for all of us beyond the pale. Joining the colorful, jubilant and often singing convoy of 200,000 young, old, rich, poor, religious, secular and above all delirious Israelis that snaked its way around Mount Zion to the Old City in Shavuot of ’67, usually for the first time in their lives, we felt as if panacea was one arm’s length ahead of us, and all of Jewish history’s tortures were behind us.
In fact, we were merely embarking on yet another arduous journey, one that would last decades and nearly debilitate the Jewish state. For the morning after the Six Day War a new battle had been engaged, a skirmish purely Jewish, one that ultimately split Israel and much of the Diaspora down the middle, dividing thinkers, parties, families and even individuals.
It was the war of the Jewish utopias.
And later in the piece:
The following year’s murder of peace activist Emil Gruenzweig during a political rally outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem made it plain that what back in ’67 caused a sense of euphoria actually carried with it the seeds of a potential civil war. The following decade, those who still deluded themselves that the situation was actually digestible were confounded once and for all by the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.
The war of the utopias was threatening to bring down the Jewish state in other ways as well. It was sapping the political system’s energies, which were dedicated disproportionately to the territorial debate, while fundamental debates about the shape of the economy, the school system, health care or infrastructure development were neglected, and actually altogether avoided.
Fortunately, by then, Middle Israelis had grown disillusioned with both schools of thought.
To them, the Lebanon War and the Intifada proved the Greater Israel mindset impractical, while the Oslo misadventure exposed land for peace as an equally aloof illusion. At that point, roughly when he became prime minister, Sharon figured that restoring the Israeli consensus – which he more than anyone else had helped shatter – was more strategically imperative than a greater Israel. It was no coincidence that just then, when a major figure in the war of utopias finally gave up on winning it, Israel’s political discourse veered, for the first time in decades, to worthwhile domestic policy dilemmas, as the Netanyahu and Dovrat reforms were introduced.
In a few weeks, once he ends Israel’s presence in Gaza and establishes the new, unstated Israeli strategic aim of obtaining internationally tolerated borders with as much land and as few Palestinians as possible, Sharon will have also effectively ended the futile war of Israeli utopias.
It’s high time.