Saturday, October 29, 2016

In Israel, the Price of Relentless Polarization

Israeli politics is becoming entrenched along partisan lines in the way that many Americans fear will happen to us. The big questions of Israeli greatness vs. Palestinian rights dominate everything. Israel used to be a model of contentious politics in a truly united country, but now people who speak against the settlements and against oppression are regularly called traitors:
Back in Tel Aviv, I had dinner with Gil Friedlander. He’s an Israeli patriot who served in the air force for many years, before creating and selling a tech company. But his country, so dynamic on the economic front, fertile soil for start-ups, finds itself at a terrible political impasse.

“The great victorious war of 1967 had an impact that is eating us from the inside,” he told me. “I would be more than happy to get out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and build a country with a morality I believe in. I will fight for peace, but I will not fight to maintain the status quo.” He described feeling more and more confined, living in “smaller and smaller areas where I find people who think like me,” and feeling a stranger in the Jerusalem where he grew up.
I think that captures what decades of intense partisan conflict can do to a country.

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