The formation of the Hebrew state in 1948 was accompanied by a serious identity crisis that has not been settled until today. This crisis is summarized in the following questions: What are the characteristics of citizenship in this state? Are they national, religious, political or regional (loyalty to the homeland)? What is the status of the non-Jewish citizens inside the state?
The destiny of Israel - II
- Publish date:27/02/2011
Due to the need to attract the Jewish religious institution, the founding fathers of the Hebrew state avoided writing a constitution for the country and sufficed with the declaration of the state. However, this merely postponed the confrontation in Israeli society which is now resurfacing for many reasons, including the increasing number of Jewish immigrants after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the victories of Israel over the Arabs, which eliminated the fear of external danger. Moreover, the gradual abandonment of the traditional lifestyle for the benefit of an Americanized Israeli society played a significant role in this respect.
Although the phenomenon of fundamentalism is not new to Israeli society, the recent years witnessed a wave of religious extremism inclining towards violence which threatens the fragile balance upon which the religious institution and the political bureaucratic formula of the state was established. The best evidence in this regard is the assassination of Rabin at the hands of an extremist Jew.
Within this context, the problem may be limited in effect, because the real danger lies in religious extremists penetrating the military institution. This institution was always the strong fort of Israeli “national unity” that managed to fuse all the contradictions of Israeli society.
The crisis of the Hebrew state intensifies when it comes to the dilemma of citizenship, because Israeli society comprises many ethnicities (Arabs, Khazar, Ashkenaz, Sephardim and Falasha). The ruling elite in Israel do not consider the Arabs of '48 citizens of the Jewish state, and all attempts to incorporate black Jews into Israeli society have failed. Hence, black Jews were excluded religiously, politically and nationally. On the other hand, the Russian emigrants, whose number exceeds 700 thousand, form a powerful ethnicity that prides itself on its Russian origins. Many of the Russian immigrants do not even recognize Judaism. All these factors keep the concept of citizenship unresolved and Israel remains vulnerable to ethnic and cultural conflicts.
The first problem that faces Israel politically and strategically is to find the practical formulas that guarantee keeping the occupied lands and incorporating them into the Israeli sovereignty for security, strategic and religious purposes, along with avoiding the serious dangers that will result from granting citizenship to the inhabitants of these incorporated lands.
This dilemma regarding the current political settlement process and its horizons has perplexed all the official trends inside Israel. Zionist thought has failed to find an efficient solution to the nature of the relationship with the Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories (borne out of a desire to keep the land without its inhabitants), just as it failed to solve the dilemma of the regional identity of the Hebrew state.
The centennial commemoration of the Zionist project has witnessed the appearance of a wide trend towards revision of the project or even getting over it, as revealed by the unanimity of traditional Israeli and Jewish studies regarding the urgent need to solve the crisis of the Zionist project, that has entered into one of its darkest phases.
In his research on the topic “Crisis of the Zionist Project on the Road to the Real Crisis” Muneer Shafeeq (Palestinian Islamic thinker) is of the view that the Zionist project must be read from the beginning as an integral part of the western colonial movement in all Arab and Islamic countries. This is because the implementation of the Zionist project was conditioned by the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, and it therefore should be regarded as part of the West itself.
Shafeeq differentiates between the traditional Jewish ideology that remains defensively locked within the culture of creed, prayers and rituals, as well as the conscience that forms the basis of some form of unity between the religious and non-religious Jews on one hand, and the Zionist project and its modern ideology that were launched in the Basel Conference on the other hand. He stresses that differentiating between them does not negate the deep roots of the Zionist project in the soil of historic myths and Jewish belief with the aim of utilizing it to gain religious legitimacy.
This approach, according to the author, is the only approach that can read the Zionist project as part of the international, western and regional balances of power, as well as understand the movement of the (ideology and the project) within this framework. In other words, he plays down the role of the Jewish creed in reading and understanding the Zionist project.
However, the author confirms that this project is not just part of the colonial strategy that merely complies with its orders and performs its duty. It also bears unique characteristics and objectives that develop correspondent with the increase of the power of Zionism worldwide, in addition to the services it offers since the establishment of the Hebrew state, which transformed it into a powerful military country that overpowers the region’s countries collectively.
The British strategy (then the US strategy) in particular and the western strategy in general were always in need of the (services) of the Hebrew state and the international Zionist movement during the Cold War. During this period, Israel played a significant role in the service of the western alliance under the leadership of the United States in the region, and worldwide against the Communist camp.
Hence, all western countries had to open their doors before the Hebrew state and Zionism to enable it to undertake this mission using all the available resources, powers, and weapons, as well as economic, scientific, and technological development.
This explains the conditions and circumstances that allowed Zionist lobbies to be so powerful and influential in the West itself. However, these facts should not make us look at Zionism merely within its functional role (as seen by Dr. Abd Al-Wahhaab Al-Miseeri) or consider it a mere front for imperialism (as the Communists used to believe), because the Zionist project has its own objectives and ambitions and it only waits until it gets enough power to implement them. In this case, the ambitions of the Zionist project will move to new levels and its roles will no longer be merely functional.
Objectives of the Zionist project develop and evolve over time and may even reach the dominance of the Middle East, from the Atlantic ocean to the Arabian Gulf, and the rearrangement of its map, and the geography of its countries and their roles.
In the light of these facts, Muneer Shafeeq is of the view that the strategies based on thwarting the Zionist state by mobilizing world opinion simply mean wasting one's efforts, since these efforts rely on factors on which we have no influence. Rather, we must focus on areas where we can generate pressure and influence world opinion – the Arab, Islamic and Third World public opinion -- that can exert pressure on the centers that influence public opinion in the west, and even inside the Hebrew state itself.
Shafeeq concludes that the onus is on us to adopt the strategy of creating the real crisis, which requires certain measures and steps including the following:
- Reawakening the Arab and Palestinian resistance
- Giving no more concessions
- Diminishing the US hegemony and dominance in the Arab Islamic states and the whole world through efforts of the Palestinians and Arabs in cooperation with other peoples and countries which resist a globalized world with the USA as the single dominating power that can do whatever it wants
- Approving of the Intifada and resistance as an unequivocal right to face occupation
According to the author, the success of this general strategy will create a real crisis for the Zionist project that will eventually lead to the fall of Israel.