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Israel today

A few articles by Israelis today captured my sense of a nation that is dangerously lost, caught in a defensive stupor.  Below is David Grossman's response to the flotilla violence.

A Puppet on a String - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

No explanation can justify or whitewash the crime that was committed here, and no excuse can explain away the stupid actions of the government and the army. Israel did not send it soldiers to kill civilians in cold blood; indeed, this is the last thing it wanted. And yet, a small Turkish organization, fanatical in its religious views and radically hostile to Israel, recruited to its cause several hundred seekers of peace and justice, and managed to lure Israel into a trap, precisely because it knew how Israel would react, knew how Israel is destined and compelled, like a puppet on a string, to react the way it did.

Also read Ronin Bergman's Wall Street Journal piece that, like Grossman's, portrays a nation and its leadership that is creatively and perhaps morally exhausted. To its severe critics and enemies, the country is morally bankrupt. While I don't see how most of its critics (and certainly its enemies) own any moral high-ground (in fact the opposite), as someone who has admired Israel in idea and reality, it's hard to feel anything but repulsion for the current state of affairs. The security situation has been used to legitimate an ugly occupation, corroding the moral core of the occupying force. The Palestinians suffer the physical violence. The Israelis end up suffering the violent insensitivity which ricochets back on the perpetrator. Bergman, an Israeli military and security analyst, puts it best for me.

Everything that has happened in the past year—the Goldstone Report condemning Israel's war in Gaza, the international furor after the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, even the statement singling out Israel at the recent Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference—is taken as an indication that any attempt to do the "right thing" is pointless and perhaps counterproductive. One might as well simply give up.

This feeling is shared by a large section of the Israeli population—not merely the right wing of Israeli society. While many are condemning the IDF's operation on Monday, it is probably fair to say that the majority of the country instinctively understands why these events were permitted to occur.

Israel's fatigue and deep sense of ostracism is, to say the least, unhealthy. It would be unhealthy for any country at the best of times. But it is particularly troubling when the country in question is at perpetual war, and when it is repeatedly threatened with annihilation by the leader of a country who is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. And, of course, it is profoundly disturbing when the fatigued and isolated country itself has the means to strike pre-emptively and punishingly at its enemies, including in ways from which, realistically, there may be no return.

As a supporter of a Jewish state, in arguing with left wing friends, in recent years I have often felt like a friend defending an addict. But again, what's difficult is the seemingly willful blindness of Israel's critics to what that nation confronts. Regardless, with a set of ministers leading Israel who seem willfully ignorant - if not often bigoted and lost in hubris based on violent stupidity - it is hard to defend any of them. And as well as worrying for the people whose occupation these dangerous men dictate, I worry similarly about the people these same men apparently serve.

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