Saturday, 5 January 2013

Hypochondriac nation

Hypochondria does not bring peace. Nor does it bring happiness.

    In the current face-off between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, the latter could argue he was expressing the broad public's stand and that the right-wing is the one cut off from the people's sentiments. How strange it is. From afar, Israel looks like a desert island, where people speak a different language and have different rules for morality and justice. In reality, it transpires there's a second Israel, which can only be discerned by in-depth analysis.

Two opinion polls held in recent weeks indicate that most rightist voters support the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders, but with settlement blocs. They are also in favor of dividing Jerusalem. The surveys also show two thirds of Israelis supporting such a peace agreement. The question, then, is if the public thinks the opposite to its radical-rightist leadership, why the hell does it support those rightist parties rather than others?

The answer is that the people are scared. Systematic intimidation on the part of the ideological political establishment and interested parties has deterred the public from supporting decisions of peace and conciliation. Because of the intimidation campaign, the Israeli public suffers from a severe case of hypochondria. Being hypochondriac is healthy - up to a certain point. But refusing to shake a friend's hand without a handkerchief, or shutting oneself up at home? That's a disease.

Here's a compilation of intimidating acts from the last few days alone: Netanyahu warns that Hamas could rise to power in the Palestinian Authority, while Naftali Bennett is still harping on about Hamas' victory in the elections seven years ago. So what's the conclusion? That we must continue the occupation and the settlements until Israel receives a commitment that Hamas won't rise to power?

It's not only Hamas. One of Netanyahu's conclusions from the Arab Spring is that, as long as things are moving there, they must stand still here. In the same spirit, Ari Shavit wrote that the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt has killed the Israeli center-left again. So here's another question. Must the Arab world sign a commitment that Islamic movements won't rise to power so our good old hypochondriac may dare to leave his home?

The source of political hypochondria is in demonizing the other. It stems from the thought that he is not behaving by normal human codes, and that the Arabs' goal in life, unlike other mortals, is to destroy the Jewish state.

Today it has emerged that even people whom Israel painted with satanic colors act according to personal interests, just like other human beings. The Brotherhood in Egypt is not only upholding the peace agreement, it even served as broker during Operation Pillar of Defense. At the same time, Hamas' leadership is imposing the cease-fire rigorously on the other Gaza factions.

It is hard to know what influence the new video produced by the Likud-Beiteinu joint ticket will have (the clip shows Netanyahu talking to fervid Congress members under a headline claiming the world is listening to him ). The headline is in total contradiction to reality but hypochondriacs will buy it, because a hypochondriac needs a strong figure to protect him. The strong man is good only for frightened people.

Hypochondria does not bring peace. Nor does it bring happiness. Only misery will have a field day when people's hands and feet are bound, preventing those holed up at home from going out into the open, under the scorching sun of life.

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