Ronald R. Krebs
How the Occupation Is Destroying the Nation
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2011
For the Israeli right and its allies around the world, the greatest danger to
By inducing a bunker mentality among Israelis, the occupation has bred an aggressive ethnic nationalism that privileges the interests of
Yet all is not lost. A centrist governing coalition could halt
In the years after its independence,
These achievements were made possible in part by the fact that, until 1967,
First and foremost, the ongoing occupation has fueled an aggressive ethnoreligious nationalism that has become increasingly prominent in Israeli politics. Although a certain amount of ethnocentrism is inevitable in
The country's abiding sense of anxiety has advanced the fortunes of, among others, Israeli Foreign Minister
Indeed, Lieberman and members of his party have led the charge in attempting to silence Israeli NGOs focused on human rights and civil liberties. Together with allies in the right-wing Likud and the purportedly moderate Kadima, they have proposed bills that would establish a Knesset commission to investigate these groups' funding, that would limit their sources of support, and that would ban those that are merely suspected of opposing the definition of
Optimists argue that the illiberal bills will either fail, pass in watered-down form, or be struck down by the
OUTSIDERS ON THE INSIDE
The growing ethnocentrism among Israeli Jews as a result of the occupation has also imperiled
On top of this, over the past decade, Arab citizens have suffered increasing hostility from the Israeli government. For example, in 2007, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the head of the Shin Bet,
This intensified discrimination against Arab citizens has come against the backdrop of the second intifada and
The combination of these factors has led Israeli Jews to become deeply suspicious of their fellow Arab citizens. According to polling conducted by the
It comes as no surprise, then, that according to these same polls, in 2009 nearly 60 percent of
With the era of mass Jewish immigration almost certainly over, Arab citizens, whose rates of reproduction remain higher than those of their Jewish counterparts, are a growing political force. As long as the occupation continues to structure
The occupation has impeded a serious national conversation in
AN UNHOLY BURDEN
The rapid growth of
But of equal concern is the threat haredim pose to
The burden of the haredi population on the Israeli economy is immense and growing. In 2010, the
Such statistics worry those responsible for
Subsidies for the haredim are one of the reasons that the overall tax burden on
One cause of this flight is economic and professional opportunity. Israelis working in the sciences and high-tech industries often find higher salaries and better research environments overseas. Last year, in an effort to entice the country's most capable scientists to remain in
The occupation is not the sole cause of
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The occupation stands at the center of the challenges to
Only by abandoning the occupation can
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Copyright 2011, Foreign Affairs