“we took to the road in an effort to see the country afresh. Beginning two years ago, […] we spent days and nights with ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh, Russian immigrants in Ashdod, Palestinian Israelis in Nazareth, Mizrahim in Yerucham, Bedouin in the neighboring unrecognized village of Rachma, settlers in Kfar Etzion and Palestinians in Beit Jallah. We travelled to Efrat, Uhm el-Fahm, Tirat Carmel, Ein Hud, Haifa and Jerusalem. When the summer protests produced tent camps across the country, we visited them from Kiryat Shemona in the north to Dimona in the south.
Through these travels, we observed a great and growing discrepancy between the way Israeli politics and society are discussed, at home and abroad, and the way they operate for real. The dichotomies that so many of us have for so long believed define the country – Ashkenazi vs. Mizrahi, Jew vs. Arab, secular vs. religious, center vs. periphery, native vs. immigrant, left vs. right – no longer reflect the complexity of Israeli society. There are commonalities in values and in visions that have gone largely unnoticed, and in these things that we share one find seeds of a common future characterized not by conflict, but by community.
One commonality, often overlooked, is a shared wish to be part of the world in which we live, and take responsibility for it. […]
Everywhere we found Israelis who believe that the ability of each of us to live a good life depends upon the ability of our neighbors to live a decent life. […] We are unwilling to accept that to get ahead, others [must] be left behind. To most of us, social solidarity matters, just like salary.
We found that, alongside disgust for the politics of today, there is great thirst for a new sort of politics of tomorrow. […]
For those able to look with a careful eye, a future is unfolding that is more decent than we usually allow ourselves to see. The truth is, it takes no great act of imagination to envision an Israel at 100 that is decent and sustaining for all Israelis, at peace with its neighbors and at home in the world.”
Noah Efron and Nazier Magally, At 64, Israel’s future is brighter than you might think.
While I largely share the observations and the resulting optimism in this article, I’m afraid I have one reservation: Israel always wanted very much to live at peace with its neighbors, but so far, our neighbors didn’t want. The developments of the past year provide little reason to think that this will change any time soon – and it may not even change soon enough for Israel’s 100th anniversary. The Islamists now taking power in much of the Middle East will not be easily dislodged, as the example of Iran suggests. And there is little reason to think that the rule of the Arab Islamists will prove more beneficial than the rule of the Iranian Islamists. The observation that many Israelis believe that “the ability of each of us to live a good life depends upon the ability of our neighbors to live a decent life” is arguably also applicable beyond Israel’s borders – and our neighbors will not live a decent life under Islamist rule.