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JewishJournal.com

August 31, 2011

Israel at a crossroads: Danger or opportunity?

http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/israel_at_a_crossroads_danger_or_opportunity_20110831

Israel flag. Photo by REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Israel flag. Photo by REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Conflicting Issues or two sides of Israel’s national security?

a)  Israel’s middle class and the socio-economic ‘‘Revolution’‘: 300,000 Israeli’s take to the streets demanding a ‘‘New Deal’‘.
b) ‘‘Palestinian September’’ – Recognition of an independent Palestinian State:  Reaction of UN, Israeli government and Jewish communities.

Israel stands at a crossroads once again, threatened from within by the lack of solidarity and crisis of trust between the Israeli government and the middle class. Israel is also threatened from without by the ‘’Palestinian September’’ as the Palestinians take their case for an independent State to the United Nations.

There is an inherent connection between the public outcry regarding Israel’s socio-economic gaps and Israel’s national security.  These are two sides of Israel’s continuing struggle for security and acceptance in the complex reality of living in the tough neighborhood of the Middle East.

Israel’s shrinking middle class has been hit by stagnation in wages and the privatization of the public sector. There is a feeling that the socio-economic inequality among Israeli citizens, one of the highest in the western world, is crippling their ability to live normal lives and is slowly threatening their willingness to mobilize themselves for the betterment of Israeli society. Israelis between the ages of 20-45 are the backbone of Israel’s defense forces as well as the economic and cultural future of the country.  At the same time, this same population is constantly living in danger from the missiles of the Hezbollah in the north, the Hamas in the south. Today, an additional threat exists, of a Palestinian Intifada, as we move towards September and the issue of a declaration of an independent Palestinian State at the United Nations is approaching. Israel’s resilience depends on nourishing its inner strength with its ability to stand firm against external threats.  Israel’s enemies understand this connection and are trying to implode Israel from within.

This complex situation can cripple the ability of Israel to flourish or it could be an opportunity to deal with Israel’s basic issues, incorporating a ‘‘new deal ‘’ between the government and the people and also open up avenues to move forward to the two-State solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel, with the support of the Jewish world must face both these issues as if they are one.

Martin Ben Moreh, Director of Judaism, Renewed Zionism and the Israeli Society, at the Reut Institute.

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