Saturday, October 10, 2015

Netanyahu – a leader with no vision, and without a message

As so many times in the past, Israel is again burning. Terror, clashes and violence, mostly instigated and carried out by Palestinians, sweep over the country, not only in the West Bank and Gaza, but in Israel proper.

And now we have instances of terror carried out by Jews as well, and we can not claim moral immunity.

Yes, true, terror by Jews is condemned by the absolute majority of Israelis, while much of Palestinian teror is received by praise by both Palestinian leadership and society. Still, far from what is necessary has been done to reign in those extremist elements in Israeli society, particularly in the more fanatical of the settlements and among certain national-religious groups.

While Netanyahu occasionally has been pressured to freeze settlements and other concessions, it has never been his initiative. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has also never responded favorably to those concessions – for equally bad reasons: a lack of will and capability.

In his recent talk to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu spoke well and truthfully. Yet, without any vision. He did not bring any message. Declaring his desire to renew negotiations without preconditions is not enough. His counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, does not trust him, and is equally reluctant, since he cannot provide what is required – accepting a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel without any further claims on the Jewish state.

Yet, stalemate inevitably leads to the eruption of violence (even movement does not guarantee peaceful relations – the terror instigated by the Palestinians during the Oslo negotiations should not be forgotten or denied).

However, Mahmoud Abbas, while perhaps tired and often threatening to resign, does move his separate agenda, to gain international recognition. While his moves are mainly on the international arena, they ignite the fire on the ground, not the least by incitement (such as “The Jews have no right to defile Al-Aqsa with their filthy feet”).

Netanyahu, however, has to be dragged, sometimes into the right acts. His present reluctance to expand construction of settlements, and in fact enforcing a construction freeze, is helpful.

Even more helpful would be a comprehensive initiative. Considering the locked situation, the first issue on the agenda would be unilateral withdrawal from civilian occupation.

First, Israel would need to define a temporary border. In fact, the notorious security fence does this quite well; 9-13% of the West Bank remains west of the fence. That is, 87-90% of the West Bank remains outside the security fence, to establish a demilitarized Palestinian state with temporary, but near-complete borders.

© Shaul Arieli,

Secondly, separate between civilian and military occupation:
a. Withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the self-defined temporary border, and beyond the big settlement blocs; i.e., from close to 90% of the West Bank. Relocate the many small and scattered settlements - in which a minority of settlers reside, to inside the security fence, i.e., the self-defined, temporary but distinct border, preferably by offering compensation for voluntary relocation.

b. Retain military occupation for security needs, but step by step, increase the territory handed over to Palestinian civilian authority – and eventually, as well, security control. Practical and creative solutions to ensure security cooperation can be provided – some are already implemented. Each limited territorial step, as part of a long range plan, should be accompanied by steps of mutuality, agreed upon by both sides. If no agreement, no military withdrawal, until security control can be transferred. 
c. That is, unilateral civilian disengagement and withdrawal from occupied territories beyond thesecurity fence, but negotiated step-by-step military withdrawal, with increased Palestinian security responsibility in those areas added to its sovereign territory.
Thirdly, in the long run, in order to ensure viability, low-level confederative frameworks of cooperation, can be conducive, encompassing Gaza-Israel-West Bank/Palestinian Authority-Jordan.

The critical issue at this time is withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the big settlement blocs (located along the cease-fire lines), while incremental withdrawal from military occupation can only take place when agreements are reached.


By Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book of the distinction between “The Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths.” We see this vividly demonstrated when we put Ari Shavit’s acclaimed new book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel alongside Erel Shalit’s classic work, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel. The former takes us through the history of the heroic creation of Israel, including the darkest “shadow” behaviors of the Jewish state in the 1948 massacre of the Arabs of Lydda.
In the latter work, Erel Shalit tells us why.

This is no simplistic psychological analysis. The brilliance of this Israeli Jungian analyst is that he offers no easy solutions, plumbing the paradox of the necessary heroic identity of the Jewish state, and yet, around every corner is the shadow of every hero: the beggar, the frightened one, the part of all of us that is dependent on forces outside of our control.

It is also very important to note that Erel Shalit’s book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the inner workings of the soul. On one level Israel is the backdrop for the author to explore how shadow, myth, and projection work in all of us, regardless of our life circumstance, nationality, environment, or history. It even includes a comprehensive glossary of Jungian terms that has some of the best definitions I have ever encountered, and hence a find for readers new to Jung.

And, of course, for people who are fascinated by the scope and depth of the story of Israel, this is a simply great read. It stands alone, but read as a companion to Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, Erel Shalit’s Hero and His Shadow gives us The Spirit of the Depths in all its dimension. We may not be able to resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict, but we can learn many things from this brave, complex Israeli author, that we can apply to healing the inner and outer wars in our own lives.

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