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English translation of my Haaretz op-ed

31/08/2011

Nasrallah and the cry for social justice in Israel

Recently, it appears like two separate and contradicting conversations are being carried out in the Israeli mainstream: the first, a social-economic discourse, which aims to divert the set of national priorities from security to social justice, the second, sees the protest movement as an irresponsible and disturbing element that ignores the threatening winds of this upcoming September.

Although these two discourses certainly hold some base of truth, at the same time they reflect a fundamental error. On the one hand, the main error of the supporters engaging in social-economic discourse is the futile attempt to treat Israel as a “normal state”‘ which obviously ignores some basic truths about its unique security circumstances. On the other hand, the supporters of the security discourse lack the deep understanding that some social-economic change is vital for the fortification of Israel’s national security.

The supporters of the security discourse reflect an inability to comprehend that the traditional separation between military issues and social-economic issues is superficial at best, and does not coincide with the dynamic Israeli reality of the 21st century. As for 2011, most of the threats facing Israel from its enemies are directed at its internal national resilience. Israel’s enemies have moved from the leading “Destruction” logic –the physical elimination of Israel by military force – to an “Implosion” logic – to bring Israel to implode from within by overstretching its resources and by undermining its citizens spirit.

Continuing terror attacks, constant shooting of Kassam rockets, the main focus on hitting Israel’s home front – all of these tactics are aimed at disrupting Israel’s internal cohesion, to weaken Israeli society to the point of a collapse, in the words of Hassan Nasrallah, just like a spiders web. Israel’s enemies give special emphasis to attempting to hurt Israel’s economy. It seems like they have already absorbed what some of Israel’s chief security experts have not – that the Israeli economy is a central component in Israel’s national resilience.

In the last two years alone it is possible to identify a growing effort by hostile entities against Israeli strategic economic goals: Khaled Mashaal of Hamas has only recently defined the boycott method as one of the main three methods in the struggle against Israel, this included the growing involvement of Hizballah in the Lebanese governments’ challenge over the martial Israeli borders aimed at its future gas drilling rights –all of these occurrences exemplify the growing importance of the economic arena in the eyes of our enemies.

Therefore, creating the right balance between social-economic interests, and political and security matters must become an important component of the Israeli national security concept. Such a balance is exactly one of the declared outcomes of the tent protests. Not one the protests leaders have called for a severe cut of the security budget that might jeopardize Israeli citizen’s security. Instead the protest is calling for a new balance that would recognize the need to adjust the current security concept towards the goal of securing not just the basic ability of Israelis to live in Israel but also their quality of life.

A relevant security concept includes a deep understanding that social-economic principles such as “Inclusive Growth” – a growth that the entire population benefits from, preventing further erosion of the Israeli middle class or the development of the periphery are crucial to national security just as much as known military concepts like deterrence or early warning.

Therefore, the civil protest campaign that we are pushing today – a struggle for ensuring the resilience of the Israeli society and its qualitative advantage, one that derives from the willingness and commitment of its citizens to sacrifice and endure hardships – has an intrinsic value for ensuring Israel’s national security.