19 March 2009

Leadership Crisis in Israel

As difficult as it is to read, one must take a look at Ethan Bronner's story in today's Times about Israel's difficulty in maintaining an upper hand in the PR war with Palestinians.

We Jews agonize in public--always have, always will. So to some degree, that we do so here is an expression of our strength. Grappling with the morality of war or the dysfunctionality of its fragile democracy is a way to model to the world whose eyes are cast upon Israel's drama and very existence.

I only wish we could read such reports of Palestinian moral struggles. If they exist, we need to see and hear about it more: do leaders agonize over rockets in Sderot or suicide bombing?

None of this, however, diminishes the severity of things.

To me, the most troubling aspect of the article is the outlandish idea that Israel needs to rebrand itself. God willing one day we will move beyond branding and marketing and return to the days when values matter above all else. For 42 years Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip along with the Golan Heights. One can't rebrand that except to attempt to annex those territories and then redraw official maps. But that is not being considered, so we are left with the peace process, to the extent that it exists or doesn't exist.

Israel cannot "blame" the Palestinians for its Right Wing turn. It's problematic democratic process has created this crisis; the failure of Labor and the Left wing parties to articulate a vision has created this crisis; and the rise (all over the world) of rampant individualism and retreat into the self has removed from the process potential voices of responsibility, obligation, and sacrifice.

In short, it's a leadership crisis--on the Israel and Palestinian side. I'm proud that the Jewish people's political entity is tearing out its hair in public. Let us be an example. But more than that, let us move toward responsible decisions, difficult decisions, with strength and bravery.


Dave said...

i read that piece today and had some of the usual reactions of "only Israel is held to such a standard, etc etc."

then, while listening to the BBC's Newshour on NPR i heard a story pegged to a Haaretz report on alleged actions by members of the IDF in Gaza.

it doesn't change things but, as you say, it's good that such debates are had and a loss that they are not often (if ever) had by others.

Kung Fu Jew 18 said...

I think it's most visible in campus activism, where advocacy groups produce materials about how Israel invents Google and cancer cures, and wholesale avoid the very thing that makes Israel a morally uncomfortable ground to tread: the occupation. Blue Star PR is the perfect example.

Being involved in Breaking the Silence, the soldier misconduct in Gaza is no surprise and has been quickly bubbling up: http://tinyurl.com/d26gsp