Let’s assume the optimistic forecast by special U.S. envoy George Mitchell comes true and in two years the establishment of an independent Palestine is declared at a ceremony. The event will be broadcast on prime time, but most Israelis will opt to view “Big Brother 6,” “Survivor 7” or whatever the next television hit is. Viewers will behave this way not because they oppose a Palestinian state but because they are indifferent. Palestine-shmalestine simply does not interest them.
Most Israelis today are cut off from the conflict with the Palestinians and do not interact with them. From their point of view, the Palestinians are blurry figures during TV newscasts: Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh speak, women covered from head to toe mourn in a tent, men run with a stretcher after an ambulance, men concealing their faces fire Qassam rockets. Israelis have no interest in knowing anything further. Nablus and Ramallah are about 40 minutes by car from Tel Aviv, but in the eyes of Tel Avivians they are on a different planet. New York, London and Thailand are much closer.
The settlers beyond the separation fence are the only Israelis who see Palestinians, mostly through car windows on the roads they share. The settlers, like the Palestinians, are disconnected from the residents of the Tel Aviv region, Haifa or Be’er Sheva, who hardly ever cross the fence. They have no business in Elon Moreh, Yitzhar or Psagot. The big settlements like Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel can be reached almost without having to see Palestinians. [continued…]