09/05/2007

Israel, an unenthusiastic anniversary

On the 14th of May 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel. Today, sixty years after, the celebrations for the anniversary of the Hebrew state take place in a background of lukewarm enthusiasm. While the achievements of the young State are remarkable and numerous, the Israelis now arise many questions about the future of the country.

First, sixty years ago, the Palestinian people was exiled from his own land. Sixty years later, a little less than 4,500,000 Palestinian refugees, including more or less 1,300,000 living in camps, are still waiting to return home. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unsolved, and makes the daily lives of millions of Palestinians more heavier, as well as that of millions of Israelis.

Secondly, the ideal of the beginning has disappeared. Despite a flourishing economy, social and racial inequalities are becoming more pronounced. A quarter of Israelis living below the poverty line (set at 340 euros per person per month), and among them mainly Arabs, Ethiopian Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews, but also some of the survivors of the camps. As for the Israeli identity, it is jeopardized by increasing national particularities. The Russian Jews have developed a parallel network of socialization. The Ethiopian Jewish immigrants suffer from racism, Arabs from discrimination. In short advocated multiculturalism tends to disappear.

Thirdly, the Israeli government today suffers from a serious lack of legitimacy. Weakened since the Lebanon warEhud Olmert admitted during the ceremony sixty years, yesterday, he had actually received payments of an American businessman. The Prime Minister claims that money has taken a legal path, but this case involves yet another blow to its credibility. Since Ariel Sharon sank into a coma, Israel is sorely lacking of a leader to bring together the majority. The Israeli government is often the hostage of a small party, as today Shas in the government Olmert. Note that the fragility of power in place is associated with a fragile peace process launched in November in Annapolis, wich is also dependent on the Palestinian political instability.

The sixty years of Israel are celebrated in a kind of artificial jubilation where everyone is wondering what the future of the country will be in ten years. It is probably time for the Hebrew state to reflect the new foundations of its creation, its ideals and its identity. The country has before him a long future, but has to operate now a necessary self-criticism as well as mandatory concessions.

N.J.O.