Jon B. Alterman writes: Israel, by necessity, has developed one of the most able security and intelligence apparatus in the world. There has been no necessity to develop a world-class political apparatus, however, and it shows.
In a single week, the Israeli army’s chief of staff, the former head of internal security and the former head of external security have all publicly questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment on Iran. While the current army chief spoke narrowly about the Iranian government, the former security officials directed their fire at Israeli politicians. On Friday, the former internal security chief told an Israeli audience, “I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings” — and he was speaking not of Iran, but of Israel.
Last week was Israel’s independence day, traditionally an occasion of pride and celebration. Instead, Israelis are in a deep funk.
At its founding in 1948, Israel seemed an improbable state. An ingathering of Jews from Eastern Europe, the Arab world and beyond had no real economy, no common language and no common idea of what it was to be an Israeli. Tensions between religious Jews and secular Jews, European Jews and Oriental Jews, and Jews and Arabs simmered for decades. They made accommodations in the name of survival, but few conceded the fight for control of the state.
To hear many Israelis tell it now, their nation has become an impossible state. [Continue reading…]