On Wednesday I attended a lecture with David Horovitz, editor-in-chief of the The Jerusalem Post. After reassuring the attendees that there is a day to day feeling of calm and security in Israel and especially in Jerusalem, he went on to say that there is a sense of crisis because of three simmering issues:
1. The need to separate from the Palestinians in order to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel. This need is creating a growing sense of angst because there is no viable partner with which to make peace. The vast majority of Israelis share two conflicting feelings: the Jewish imperative to make peace tugging against the fact that there is no one with which to talk.
2. The growing existential threat of Iran. Soon there will be a regime who agitates for the destruction of Israel combined with the means (namely nuclear weapons) to carry out these aims. A nuclear armed Iran remakes the region and is unacceptable to Israel. The vast majority of Israelis have little hope and faith in Obama's diplomatic efforts. A strengthened Iran continues to embolden the radicals in the region. Israelis believe that Iran must first be de-fanged in order for the moderates to emerge and for there to be serious negotiations with the Palestinians.
3. The increasing de-legitimization of the State of Israel in the international community. The legitimacy of the modern State of Israel transcends the Holocaust and the suffering the Jewish people endured during those years. The modern state is built on the foundations of the ancient state. History binds our presence to the land of Israel. Within international discourse this very connection is being systematically severed. In a bitter irony, at the United Nations, the very institution that lent international legitimacy to the nascent state, Ahmadinejad (y'mach sh'mo) is allowed to spout venom and begrudge Israel's existence. The State of Israel means far more than the amelioration of suffering.
Despite these worries and fears, Israelis continue to sing and dance, celebrate and rejoice. The economy continues to grow and the State of Israel thrives.