War in Context, January 11, 2009 - Israel apologists, in defending Israel’s war on Gaza, repeatedly return to the same question: what would you do? Is Israel not acting in exactly the same way that any other country would when under attack?
Implicit in this question is the notion of Israel as a stable, democratic, fundamentally peaceable nation whose only serious problem is the hostility of its neighbors.
The fact that Israel has existed in a near perpetual state of war since its creation is treated as being descriptive of the region in which Israel exists and not descriptive of Israel itself.
At the same time, look anywhere else on the planet at any government and any nation whose political system is profoundly molded by warfare and it is clear that relentless war and sustainable democratic governance are incompatible.
Any nation that perpetually focuses on threats from outside, simultaneously rots from within.
When thoughtful, open-minded Israelis such as Tom Segev have reached the conclusion that peace is no longer possible — that the best that Israelis and Palestinians can hope for is better conflict management — isn’t it time to declare the Zionist project a failure?
To say that Zionism has failed is not to suggest that the state of Israel can or should be dismantled but to say that Israel will never become what it was hoped to be.
Without this recognition of failure, Israel will remain in a state of paralysis. In its state of partial birth it will become progressively more disfigured.
Paul Woodward is the Editor of War in Context and managing editor of Conflicts Forum.