By Yoram Getzler, Now after the final curtain, do we remember that embarrassing moment of chagrin and confusion at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when the party leadership wanted to return the pledge to move the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem to the platform? How the sound of boos and rejection overwhelmed the pro “in favor” audio experience.
Well, if overwhelmed is too strong a description I would say the shock both to the chairman of the Convention as well as to we Israelis & Jews that the “YES” support was not close to 100% was significant. But after the shock wears off, then came feelings of anger at the betrayal by our closest international colleagues. Even worst, from the Democratic party, the long standing political home of American Jews. The party most Jews in the US have historically identified with. NO, not those rich white Republican anti-Semites, but our very own working class, immigrant respectful of minority’s party. What a shock! Beyond surprise embarrassment and disappointment. For many of us this was completely and simply; incomprehensible. How could this be? Where could it be coming from?
One result was outrage, pure and simple. How dare they! This is “our” party, they have no right. We reject these people.
Now for the Republicans among us,this was not much more than a reaffirmation of their contention these last four years that Obama and the Democrats were anti-Israel if not anti-Semitic. That Obama is pro-Muslim if not a Muslim himself.
Many of us, as a community, were in an acute state of distress. Another compensating thought was that after the farce of the 2/3rds majority voice vote, it would all be forgotten and things would return to the normal pro-Israel stance we have known for so long. Indeed we, (at least I) heard no more about it. Back to normal. America in its two party political structure would continue as if nothing special had happened. But under the surface the demographic changes are making themselves obvious within the new Democratic party congressional community. Fewer and fewer fervent Israel supporters.
But what is really called for is a more correct more useful, more functional conclusion and understanding leading to a necessary reevaluation and rethinking on our part.
ITS THE DEMOGRAPHICS, STUPID !
That was one of the most prevalent explanations for the Republican defeat. It seems that the good old American WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) leadership class has lost its overwhelming power in contemporary America.
ITS THE DEMOGRAPHICS, STUPID
Is also an awareness that cries out to be recognized here in Israel. It is the changing demographics between the river & the sea that is of critical concern to us. We are in eminent danger of becoming, (if we have not already in fact become) a by-national state. For the first time that I can remember there are Palestinian leaders calling for recognition of this reality. And when it strikes, and the call of “one man one vote” begins to be the mantra of choice our difficult situation among the nations will only deepen. What ever we Israelis think about it, that cry is the most difficult to brush off. Yes, China can get away with out a true democratic political system. So can Sudan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Cuba etc. But as we surely should know by not, when it is the Jewish state as the focus of the of the perceived injustice the price will be demanded.
IT IS THE DEMOGRAPHIICS , STUPID that we truly need to recognize and turn our attention too. This demographic reality demands on our part some difficult decisions. At what cost is it worth for our state to encompass the biblical “homeland”. How much are willing to sacrifice to recreate our ancient (ever shifting) borders.
An additional demographic imperative concerns the growing Haradi, non-Zionist community. This is a very expensive group of people to maintain, in the manner to which they have become accustomed by our distorted election system.
The sooner we can develop some separation and positive changes in our conflict with the Arab world in particular and the rest of the world in general the sooner we can refocus ourselves onto our own critical internal challenges.
The Jewish community in the United States is also undergoing several demographic processes simultaneously in the context of its current powerful influence in the American political process.
The Jewish community is in two forms of demographic decline. Fewer and fewer are identifying strongly as Jews. A 50% intermarriage rate with a declining conversion rate combined with a low birth rate does not a rosy future of political influence make.
The Jews of Eastern Europe faced a somewhat similar process between the two world wars. There were several decades during which they lost part of their value as the main educated population in the mostly rural areas of Poland and eastward. They were no longer the most prominent or likely entrepreneurs as the local population around them engaged in change and development. (And we know how that ended)
All these points lead me to conclude that we do not “have time on our side”. We remain passive and satisfied with the apparent quiet from the Israeli Arabs and their Palestinian family.
The fantasy of the Right including Netanyahu or at least those he kowtows too that we can maintain control of all of Judea & Samaria with its large Arab population and remain a Jewish Democratic state the maintains its pursuit of prosperity and normality is completely untenable. No matter how they manipulate the Arab population numbers, even if its only a million Palestinians in the PA, coupled with the million plus Israeli Arabs makes for a political reality difficult to impossible to for most Israeli Jews to live with.
If we do not give reason to the Arabs of Judea & Samaria to support the relatively moderate policies of PA President Abbas what they are left with are the radical and winning policies of Hamas.
Along with the other demographic changes are the ones that express themselves in the makeup of the legislatures of the various democracies. The same governments who were our traditional friends and supporters. There too a new generation “who knew not Hitler” or Roosevelt or Churchill is arising. For these people their university educations were accompanied by a variety of anti-Israel demonstrations and public expressions. This is the generation who are now entering the US congress, the House of Commons in Britain and the other legislative bodies in Europe. We can no longer take for granted their support or at least sympathy.
The same is happening right here, in front of us. Witness the new Likud Knesset list. The son of Menachem Began can not even gain the support of the new generation of Likud enthusiasts. He is not ideologically pure enough. Ideological purity is a dangerous road to travel in a democracy..
So, therefore it would be wise on our parts to expend our most creative energies in pursuit of a reasonable compromise with our neighboring enemies. Whether or not they are willing.
Up until now, for the past two decades at least we have expended all our energies on how to stop the Palestinians from achieving some kind of independence. We have succeeded. Now the historical imperative is how to help them achieve their stated goal with the lest threat to us, before the rest of the emerging world forces us into compromises we can ill afford.