Yom Kippur is a good time to do mental arithmetic yes, not only on the individual level but also on the group level. For many years, the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been dominated by a two-state solution. In the Netanyahu era, Israel abandoned this solution, and after it ended – it is worth doing a mental arithmetic and asking ourselves honestly: Where do we go from here? If not two states for two peoples, then what exactly is Israel’s alternative vision? When we imagine the future, what exactly do we see there?
Let us assume that the most optimistic Israeli scenario will come true, and that she will be able to fulfill her vision in full. What will it look like? In this case, a bit like with our nuclear policy, most Israelis would prefer to leave things blank. But when living in Israel with attentive ears and open eyes, the alternative vision is as bright as our Mediterranean sun.
In short, the ruling powers in Israel moved from a two-state solution to a three-class solution. They foresee one country between the sea and the Jordan, where three types of people will live: Jews, who will enjoy all the rights; Type A Arabs, who will have some of the rights. And Type B Arabs, who will have almost no rights. This is the reality today, and judging by the votes at the ballot box, it seems that most Jews in Israel prefer that this is how it will remain. forever.
The solution of the three classes is not new, for decades Israel has been implementing it – using the salami method, step by step. But so far, Israel has denied its intentions; The different treatment given to Jews, Arabs who are citizens of Israel and Arabs who are not citizens – was justified on the grounds that this is a temporary situation, which stems from the security needs of the State of Israel. Even today, when Israeli representatives give a public speech – say, at the UN General Assembly – they will not dare to speak openly about the solution of the three classes as a permanent solution. It just does not smell good.
Instead, Israeli representatives will talk at length about Israel’s security challenges, or explain that although the space between the Jordan and the sea belongs entirely to Israel – it will never have to give voting rights to the residents of Nablus or Bethlehem, because they belong to some kind of miracle creature called the Palestinian Authority. “. It is a unique creature, somewhat similar to Aladdin’s demon.
Can we not admit that we are moving towards the solution of the three classes? That is, towards a country whose two million citizens are discriminated against in education, housing and policing and whose millions are not even eligible to vote in elections
Most of the time, this creature is locked inside a tiny lamp and does not interfere with us acting as we please. After all, Israel controls most of the land and water, and the entire air and digital space in the West Bank. Israel is also constantly interfering in the daily lives of Palestinian residents and determines, for example, how long a trip from Nablus to Bethlehem will take, and whether a Hebron family can go to a cousin’s wedding in Jordan. Flip through the last page of the main newspaper for a moment and look in the top left corner. The weather forecast map appears there. The entire area between the sea and the Jordan – including even the Gaza Strip – is painted a solid color. You will not find the Palestinian Authority with a magnifying glass either.
But when we have to shirk responsibility – for example the responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinian population against Corona – we just have to rub the lamp, and Shazam! Suddenly this creature emerges in all its glory, removing all responsibility from us. “Vaccinate the residents of Nablus and Bethlehem? But how are we related to them? Nablus and Bethlehem are not ours at all, that of the Palestinian Authority.”
But perhaps on Yom Kippur, when each with only himself, or with a friend from evil who can be trusted, we can be more visible. Can we not admit that we are moving towards the solution of the three classes? That is, towards one country whose two million citizens are discriminated against in education, housing and policing, and whose millions more are not even eligible to vote in elections. One country, with three types of people. One country, where one type of people will always enjoy a preference for personal security, movement and employment.
Some people are reminded of such and such historical examples. It is irrelevant. No two cases are the same in history, and as soon as you make historical comparisons, you immediately start arguing about whether it is similar, not similar and how similar it is to what happened once, and forget to talk about the main thing – what is happening here and now. That needs to be talked about.
The first rule of solving the three classes is that one must not talk about solving the three classes. At least not in public. It should not be talked about in public because it is clearly not a just solution. It stems from a worldview that puts another principle above justice – tribal loyalty. Those who believe in the principle of tribal loyalty believe that the very demand for justice for those who are not members of the tribe is treason.
While it is not acceptable for us to talk publicly about the solution of the three classes, the word “traitor” is thrown into the air in the morning news. Originally, a “traitor” was someone who, for example, gave military secrets to an enemy state. For example, Marcus Klingberg who provided the Soviets with information about Israel’s biological weapons program. Today, on the other hand, for many Israelis, a “traitor” is anyone who believes that justice is sometimes more important than loyalty to the Jewish tribe. Those who, in the name of justice, oppose the solution of the three classes, have been promoted from just “beautiful souls” to “traitors,” even if in the IDF they have the rank of general.
Before memorizing “we have sinned, we have betrayed, we have robbed,” we should first ask ourselves according to what moral principles we define guilt, betrayal, and robbery. Do we think that Jews are superior people by nature?
Consider, for example, the treatment of the High Court, which is often accused of treason. The problem many Israelis have with the High Court does not stem from a particular ruling, or from the identity of one judge or another. The problem stems from the identity of the High Court itself – which is the High Court of Justice, and not the High Court of Trust. Perhaps, he will still try to oppose him, in the name of the same justice. Therefore, they prefer to eliminate the High Court of Justice in advance, they do not want there to be any institution in the country that is committed to justice over loyalty.
One can understand those who place loyalty above justice. Millions of years of evolution are behind them. All social animals – from ants to chimpanzees – sanctify loyalty to their group. Although chimpanzees also understand what justice is, for them it is always secondary to loyalty. In a conflict between two members of their band, chimpanzees sometimes side with justice. But in a dispute between a band member and a foreign chimpanzee, chimpanzees will always prefer the member, even if it is clear that justice is on the other side. This is how people behave in many situations, such as in conflicts between criminal gangs or in rivalries between sports teams (when Maradona scored a goal with his hand, Argentine fans did not protest the injustice, but claimed it was the hand of God).
The calculation here is quite clear. In very many situations, if I prefer justice over loyalty to a tribe it will harm my interests, and may even endanger my life. But that is precisely why the preference for justice is called “morality” and not “interest.” Morality exists for those situations in life where interest pulls in one direction, and justice pulls in another. There is no doubt that it is more difficult to behave morally than to behave self-interestedly. This is probably why the Jewish religion has set a special day in the year for us to ask ourselves, “Are we behaving morally enough?” We do not need a special day to ask ourselves, “Are we behaving in an interesting enough way?” – That’s what we ask all the time anyway.
So on this Yom Kippur, before memorizing “we have sinned, we have betrayed, we have robbed,” we should first ask ourselves according to what moral principles we generally define guilt, betrayal, and robbery. Do we think that Jews are superior people by nature, entitled to special privileges? Do we think that justice is sometimes more important than tribal loyalty, or that loyalty to the tribe is always superior to justice? And is there still a way to reconcile the value claim to justice with the tribal claim to fidelity, without having to choose between the two, and without the desire to do justice being considered in our places a betrayal?
The author is a lecturer in the Department of History at the Hebrew University, and the best-selling author of “A Brief History of Mankind,” “History of Tomorrow,” “21 Thoughts on the 21st Century” and “History of Mankind: Illustrated History.”
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