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PostScript: A state of temporary affairs

Who would have ever thought that as Israel edges toward 65, it would still be a country with no permanent borders, no internationally recognized capital and not even an anthem acceptable to all its citizens?

Instead of projecting maturity and stability after having won its wars and surmounting the immediate physical threats to its existence, absorbing millions of immigrants and having Iran on its toes, Israel at 65 gives off an aura of conflicted insecurity, a country torn into camps and divisions with no common perception of what type of country modern Israel should be.

Issues like state and religion have become exacerbated, not resolved.

I heard Eli Yishai, now the interior minister from Shas; tell listeners of a prime time radio show not that long ago that Reform Jews should be stoned to death for taking God’s name in vain.

Over six decades into the modern Jewish State and only just over 10 percent of high school students in Bnei Brak graduate with a state-recognized matriculation certificate, the rest left untrained to cope with modern life, let alone advance in it, ghetto dwellers and strangers in their own land.

Seven wars and two intifadas later and national service for the ever-growing haredi community remains unresolved, an open and bleeding wound, rather than a thing of the past. And 65 years into modern Israel, and many haredi communities continue to be avowed anti-Zionists while, at the same time, knowing full well how to make (actually take) the best the Zionist state has to offer.

As for the country’s borders, things there too are more contentious and impermanent than ever. Three of the country’s six borders, its maritime border and the borders with Jordan and Egypt, are recognized. Israel’s border with Lebanon has been recognized by the UN, but not the Lebanese with the Shaba Farms issue still unresolved. The border with Syria has yet to be defined, as does Syria’s future.

As for the West Bank, the situation is close to lunacy, with everyone involved at fever pitch, and where even to the naked eye one can see the seeds for civil rebellion in Israel are being planted, knowingly or unknowingly, by a few who have been brilliant at manipulating the many for a long time now.

I went up to Migron this week, a place that will no doubt be the focus of the news for the next few days, if not weeks, including the international media only too happy for pictures of Jewish policemen and women beating up on other Jews. It was on the day, just hours, before the Supreme Court ended a six-year legal battle and ordered the 50 settler families up there off the land they grabbed eight years ago.

Interestingly, the reasons given by the High Court did not deal with property ownership, but that the 50 families had built homes, schools and services without permission. The settlement belonged to no regional council.

No regional planning was done. Roads and other infrastructure were built with nods and winks, and a few trees planted in sorry reward for the once pristine hill top now scarred by the necessities of their presence: fences, roads, lights, water, electricity – all in the service of this monolithic, insular and Spartan group of people, who against the law have claimed title to land not theirs, thumbing their noses at the Israeli governments and its institutions for years upon years. They are now creating a reality that has already cost over NIS 30 million in alternate temporary housing a few hundred meters down the road, which the group on Migron up the hill have refused to even consider moving to.

Now are these folks up on Migron who spit at the Supreme Court and claim they have been raped, Zionists or non-Zionists. As they prepare for battle with Israel’s security forces, are they nationalists or not?

Are the rejectionists of Migron considered members of the Zionist Nationalist camp, which is supposed to care about Israel and the wellbeing of its armed forces and indeed constitute the bulk of its officer’s corps or rebels as they fight them?

Who is a Zionist in this contest to ensure the law of the land applies to all its citizens? Those who come to implement the law or those who intend to oppose it?

The worst thing about Migron and the whole incident is that it is indicative of the price of national indecision, a leadership vacuum, in determining Israel’s future. Migron is the hole in the fence, the loophole, not the Zionist dream or any part of it that espouses a vision of a modern, democratic, exemplary Jewish state.

For Israel to be permanent, it needs permanent borders. For it to be independent, it needs a military that will not falter in the service of democracy.

For it to be a Jewish state, it must accept Jewish pluralism, and God must be removed from government no matter what the rabbis say. For Israel to live up to the ideals of its founders, there has to be equality among its citizens, both rights and obligations, as envisioned in the Declaration of Independence, signed by Jews from all sides of the political spectrum, but dedicated to the vision of a reborn homeland for the Jewish people, and all those who come to live in it.

For Israel to be accepted as a nation worthy of respect, it first has to respect itself, and its people have to respect its institutions and laws. Outlaws on hills who spit in the well that feeds them when the chips are finally down, are not what modern Zionism, in any form, is about. Neither is it Jewish nationalism, a movement one supposes would want to strengthen the Jewish state, not weaken it.

The 50 families at Migron and 90 percent of Bnei Brak teenagers, who did not get a matriculation certificate, are as much victims as manipulators. The Migron folks were led to believe that in the name of the Bible anything and everything was doable and possible, while the haredim, in their various forms, have mastered the management of the foibles and indecisiveness of Israel’s politicians.

They are victims of modern Israel’s weaknesses and the lack of vision and determination of its latter-day leaders.

Others’ weaknesses have been the main source of their strength. The time has come for change, a leader who offers a vision of permanence and coexistence among the Jews, before the Migron factor permanently moves from a distant hilltop to the very heart of the system.