Israel Elections: Fear, the great enemy of compassion

18.03.2015 - Silvia Swinden

Israel Elections: Fear, the great enemy of compassion
(Image by Alice Kus)

So Netanyahu wins again, against all hope (yes, it is worse when there was hope).

Israel is likely to suffer political and diplomatic costs given the international pressure to resolve the Palestinian situation, stop settlements and comply with UN resolutions.

The late upsurge of support for him seems to have been related to his use of his old friends: Fear and Paranoia. It does not take much to convince the Israeli public that “the Arabs are coming”, since the memory of Hamas’ missiles is still very fresh in everybody’s minds. Charlie Hebdo and anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and other parts of the world also play into the right-wingers’ hands. Bibi is surely grateful to them.

And yet it is important not to dismiss the substantial number of Israelis who voted for change, for a two states solution, for peace, for compassion, for nonviolent co-existence and respect for other cultures and religions.

No doubt the response to this electoral results from the Palestinian camp will be polarised between those who wish to continue the nonviolent road of putting international pressure on Israel to recognise their right to self-determination, and those who wish to vent their frustration in violent ways that seek revenge and lock the zone into endless conflict that only benefits the arms dealers.

There is another factor to add to the struggle for Palestinian statehood. Now, with the elections results, there is clear numerical evidence of the proportion of Israeli Jews prepared to defy Netanyahu’s rigid policies, so it is the right time for the Palestinian community to overcome their mistrust and anger in order to work together with those sympathetic to their cause. The consequences would be twofold: the support of powerful allies within Israel (as there are now millions of Jews, in particular the young, all over the world) and the evidence in practice that the fear-mongering narrative is ill founded and misleading. The best present Hamas could give to Netanyahu to congratulate him for his success would be another missiles salvo into Israel, and he would be able to say “I told you so!”

Many Israelis are leaving for other shores, eg, families concerned about the looming military service for their children. And the Israeli newspaper Haaretz  concurs that “It’s not just the cost of living that attracts Tel Aviv’s young, educated and secular elite to the idea, if not the reality, of living abroad – but a broader sense of political and social claustrophobia.”. I would say, not just claustrophobia but outright contradiction and disgust, for being part of a system that so blatantly discriminates and oppresses a minority, a left-leaning-liberals-self-cleansing. So, who are the émigrés replaced by? The fearful and paranoid Jews who feel under siege in Europe after various anti-Semitic attacks, invited by (who else?) Mr Netanyahu, to come and live in a “safer”(!?) place, a kind of electorally-driven demographic engineering.

 The New Humanist view

In this seemingly dire panorama many will be asking themselves “but what can we do?” And it is important to remember that social changes can happen when Active Nonviolence grows and inspires large numbers of people to work for Reconciliation. It means that nobody is left out, not even those who, out of fear, have lost their compassion, for it can be found again in the depths of our consciousness. It can be awaken by a kind action from another, friend or stranger, that gives us back our faith in humanity.

We can begin by “…setting in motion social and cultural institutions that act from the base is of the utmost importance, because it allows communities that suffer discrimination or persecution to come together in a context of respect for human rights, finding a common direction notwithstanding their particular differences. The thesis that all ethnic groups, collectivities, and human groupings subject to discrimination must become strong by themselves so as to confront the abuse they are subject to exhibits a significant lack of understanding of the predicament we are all in. It is a position that stems from the notion that “mixing” with foreign elements will cause a loss of identity, when in reality it is precisely their isolated position that leaves them exposed and easily eradicated, or else left in a situation where they become so radical that their persecutors can justify direct action against them.

“The best guarantee of survival for minorities suffering discrimination is for them to form part of an action front with others to channel the struggle for their demands in a revolutionary direction. After all, it is the system taken as a whole that has created the conditions for discrimination, and these conditions will not disappear until that social order is transformed.” Silo, Letters to my Friends (7th Letter)

Categories: Diversity, Middle East, Nonviolence
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