Lessons From Gaza And The Path To Sustainable Peace

The picture below illustrates exactly why as long as we as a country continue on the current trajectory will never realize peace. It is the pervasive mentality that guides the Israeli conscious and defines our culture.  Us against them, a narrative that leaves no room for consensus.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Bratslav Hasidic sect, that gathered to show support for the forces, dance as they celebrate atop of a tank in southern Israel, close to the Israel Gaza Strip Border, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

But what I find even more disturbing than the obvious implications of this picture is the glaring paradox. A group of religious boys sitting on an IDF (Israel Defense Force) tank celebrating what they consider a victory for the military. The very same IDF the Orthodox Jews refuse to serve in.  Just recently the Tal Law, which exempts religious Jews from military service, expired. A new bill expanding conscription to include members of the 700,000 Haredi community was proposed, causing a major rift between the political parties. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said his Kadima party would leave the governing coalition due  to disagreements over the proposed draft law. In an interview on Israel’s army radio strategic affairs minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “I would like to see the Haredim join the IDF at 18 years old  But if we try this, we will start a civil war.”

Well God forbid that — something to divert the campaign by the right-wing led government to not just continue the occupation but expand over Palestinian lands. And have no doubt about it, this is exactly what Israel is doing with the unilateral and unconditional support of the U.S. – regardless of who sits in the Oval office.

And herein lies the crust of the problem. Because Israel will never on its own accord to “do the right thing”. They not only have any impetus to do so but will. The IDF is the prevailing institution that defines Israeli society. Because every citizen is mandated to serve there has become an overwhelming militarization of our culture. We are mentally and physically invested in the Israeli war machine;  we identify with it and fully support it. Why? Because not only do we serve in it but our sons and daughters do, our friends do, our mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, neighbors do. To take a stand contrary to the military would be akin to opposing the very individuals who constitute who and what we are.

For any paradigm shift to occur the international community as a whole, including our closest ally, must begin to place relentless pressure on the state of Israel. This includes sanctions, boycotts, verbal rebuke and an end to the $30 billion in aid from the U.S. until the colonialist Israeli state collapses. If Israel wishes to remain an apartheid state let it do so as an isolated one and on its own dime.