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Israel is suffering more than a failed administration; it is suffering a failed constitution

Reader comment on item: Samir Kuntar and the Last Laugh

Submitted by Richard Sackler (United States), Jul 25, 2008 at 18:26

Although I agree with your view of the "prisoner exchange" being a disgrace, I do not agree with the conclusion that the problem lies solely with the current Government. The entire network of systems, goals, structure, and organization of the legislature and government requires redesign, reorganization, and many if not most of today's politicians need to be retired and replaced en masse.

Governance by coherent, consistent and honorable principles and purposes has all but disappeared (in the last 25 years) being replaced in large measure by incoherence, inconsistency and dishonorable actions cloaked in the mantle of ‘pragmatism' and ‘compromise' necessary to achieve a real peace and restore legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

The turning point in Israel's history can be bracketed by two historic events, the first "positive" and the second "negative," specifically, the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. These events of extraordinary contrasts occurred in quick succession and bookend their respective eras, the first being the first 30 years of Israel's history and the last 25 years marked by decline.

The 1979 treaties have clearly stood the test of time, but the invasion and almost all policies since have proven that something ominous and adverse had happened in those three short years. 1982 ushered in a new period of inconsistency, incoherence and policy contradictions. Any doubts about these two events being stark opposites should be dispelled by the Sabra and Shatila massacres during the 1982 war.

The killings were at the time misunderstood as a wartime "on the ground errors" of commanders who were inept, incompetent, and unsuitable for command. In retrospect, the entire affair was a symptom of a failure of the Government to resolve the Israel internal and external contradictions inherent in law, strategy and foreign and domestic policy. Failed policies – both aggressive and concessionary – being made by all the successive Governments of Israel imply to me a systematic and structural defect now undermines strategy, moral clarity and action.

After twenty five years of wandering in the deserts of irresolution, I conclude that the current government constitution has proven to be inimical to the interests of Israel and Israelis and has prevented the formation of a government capable of regaining the respect of the international community and cohesion of Israel's citizens. The consequence, loss of legitimacy, makes every Government's ability to advance policies worthy of confidence and respect uncertain at best and impossible at worst.

Without resolution of the internal and external contradictions of Israel's policies and purposes, action is much more likely to worsen Israel's position internally and externally. [Has this ongoing thread of failure has led to the corruption and violations of trust in the government that is so demoralizing and distracting to the country?] These contradictions in Israel are manifest to all Israelis and require solution or the downward spiral of Israel's place in the world and the affection and allegiance of citizens and Jews will accelerate.

People love their country because they believe in its purposes, principals, and the rightness of these and other predicates of a ‘successful' society. The past 25 years' failures are symptoms of a systemic problems that requires a systemic solutions.

Only three weeks ago, I was in Israel. The demoralization of the country is vast and manifest. This visit preceded the recent ‘rescue' of two corpses for an astonishing price, Israel's pride, purpose and resolve. This was more than the release of a child slayer; the cost was yet another loss of credibility of the nation of Israel. For me, this sets in stone like a monument this analysis. To its friends and foes alike, the legitimacy of the government and the constitution of Israel have all but been extinguished with this phony ‘exchange.'

The 2006 war against Hezbollah, Iran's proxy, demonstrated that Israel cannot effectively engage its large, conventional military machine to protect itself from aggressors, nor can it credibly dissuade those who would infiltrate stores, cafes, beaches, homes, restaurants, hotels and places of work and play from committing murder and creating mayhem. Most agree that the exchange of living evil for dead innocence will only encourage more ‘capture and kill' missions as well as other ‘unconventional' engagements.

The Geneva Convention will only be applied as a truncheon to bludgeon Israel, not chastise, sanction, deflect or deter Israel's adversaries.

Short of a constitutional convention in Israel, I deeply believe that it is only a matter of years and at most a decade or maybe two, for the State of Israel to neither exist in any recognizable form nor will it have the ability of serve as a symbol, focus and the site of refuge for the world's Jews.

To prevent this outcome will require a fundamental 'reconstitution' to achieve political stability and strength to tackle the many profound problems both within its borders and without. Israel simply can't evade the judgment of mankind and history for the miserable performance of the last 25 years and it is beyond my powers of imagination to conceive an approval that continues current governance (without reform) and attain substantial successes that would constitute a turnaround. What is needed is the recognition of the inability of the system to reverse the ¼ of a century of decline in esteem and legitimacy.

So, the problems go far deeper and more extensive than the Olmert government. The fruits of the present were sowed in the past, and in many ways beyond this recent astonishing lack of judgment and resolve. It is the current organization of the State of Israel that is to blame. It doesn't have to be so, but unless changed, Israel will continue to be a failing State and will succumb as a victim of both its external enemies and internal contradictions.

What has demonstrated and declared these defects? Why such rampant and callow selfishness and criminal behavior in its leaders? I can't answer this but what I see are defects in both Israeli constitutional law and in the strategic position of Israel. Overarching these is a total lack of vision of what Israel must change to and become to survive.

Where does Israel see Palestinians in this law/strategy/legitimacy nexus? Are Palestinians part of a ‘greater Israel' vision and thus entitled to and full benefits of citizenship where all are equal before and under the law? Conversely are they the subject of strategy (external to Israel)? This seems to be the currently articulated view, but in stark contradiction, Israel continues investing in settlements and the West bank. Why?

Each strategy brings with it unique challenges which can only be met after fundamental, existential question are asked and resolved to the satisfaction of a super-majority of Israelis. The requirement that there be ‘peace' before partition cannot be attained because of the on-going internal struggle of what does Israel stand for that is seen as honorable and productive by its citizens and by its external stakeholders.

In either event, the internal contradictions of treating this dilemma in "incremental" and "pragmatic" ways have lead to this intolerable set of contradictions and a deplorable and reviled Government. An all-embracing, ‘greater' Israel State would have to be a secular state. If "small Israel" is the solution, then it can retain its Jewish-state character, but even then, it must adopt the European model of giving 20th and 21st century ideals — equal opportunity, rights, responsibilities, roles and obligations of citizenship — full scope. This hasn't been the case within Israel, not today, not ever.

I see Israel as stuck in an early 20th European model democracy in which state sponsored religion was embraced but coexisted with liberty. But this didn't poison European legitimacy because Europe was basically unified as a Christian region and the role and power of religion in Europe (until the advent of militant Islam) has been weak to non-existent; how else might we explain the helplessness of the Pope and protestant leaders to discourage birth control, abortion, and divorce? I am fearful that no government under the existing Israeli constitution can resolve Israel's contradictions and find a successful outcome to the problems.

Until Israel manifests a clear determination to come to grips with its imploded governance and failed strategy and now failure to protect its soldiers and citizens, I think that we American Jews have to think the unthinkable and prepare to accept the unacceptable, and go about strengthening our country and Jews' place in it. Of urgent importance to the people in Israel is our laying the groundwork in spirit and law so that the US will accept these soon-to-be sad and sorrowful refugees. I fear think that these Jews could face another calamity in this regard just like 1938-9 when ships were turned back to deliver escaping Jews to Hitler and annihilation. So the question for me is which candidate will be more likely to facilitate the evacuation of Jews from Israel and accept millions of displaced people to our for-the-time-being safer shores?


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (91) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Sammy [24 words]AlbertE.Sep 14, 2015 22:45225037
4"Killed in a military strike" is a better wording than "executed". [37 words]Anon.Jul 30, 2015 15:52224496
Arabs and Nazis [62 words]Bob SAug 13, 2008 19:41136685
I agree but.... [112 words]thefishAug 8, 2008 16:43136470
1Israel-then and now [159 words]Donald W. BalesJul 27, 2008 14:30135745
..a "Stockholm Syndrome"? [83 words]Art VictorAug 8, 2008 16:44135745
Tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye! [315 words]Rodni E. ChaletJul 27, 2008 02:24135717
Re S.K. [14 words]alan ukJul 26, 2008 15:02135691
Noble bones [237 words]William EastJul 26, 2008 12:21135686
Amazed [279 words]Ako GideonAug 2, 2008 05:53135686
Peace is reciprocal [246 words]Ako GideonAug 6, 2008 04:18135686
One solution [284 words]Archimedes2Jul 25, 2008 19:01135665
Israel is suffering more than a failed administration; it is suffering a failed constitution [1494 words]Richard SacklerJul 25, 2008 18:26135663
Daily Papers or Hardcover Books [99 words]JayJul 24, 2008 23:39135650
Kuntar's fate [144 words]yuval Brandstetter MDJul 24, 2008 12:32135629
Finding consolation with old movies [116 words]Alberto DwekJul 24, 2008 11:30135625
Liked the Posting. [61 words]YnnatchkahJul 29, 2008 20:55135625
the set of values of Israelis are different [66 words]IsraeliJul 24, 2008 08:32135621
Israeli is right; Israelis do not need advice on how to ruin their country; they are experts at it [65 words]j burkeAug 1, 2008 16:38135621
Israel thanks [22 words]FadiJul 24, 2008 07:25135617
The only way to help Israel is to boycott Israel [229 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
James BurkeJul 24, 2008 05:31135615
Forward thinking is natural for most people! [300 words]PrashantAug 22, 2015 22:14135615
War for Land, Corpses for the living [133 words]Arif Jayish Al AmirikiJul 23, 2008 13:13135592
The longer vision [184 words]Rebecca MouldsJul 23, 2008 08:50135589
Misinterpretation [116 words]Mary ConnorJul 23, 2008 07:44135588
The Successful Immigrant. [243 words]Maura CollinsJul 23, 2008 07:35135587
Items not to be overlooked [313 words]David GoshenJul 23, 2008 06:56135586
mom and pop shop [238 words]Jay J.Jul 29, 2008 01:10135586
i have a question [140 words]mzravinblackJul 23, 2008 01:57135577
gross... [18 words]pjmJul 22, 2008 23:48135572
Last Laugh? [105 words]William EastJul 22, 2008 14:49135563
One Reservation [396 words]John W McGinleyJul 22, 2008 13:08135557
Last laugh (Israel) [51 words]InfidelJul 22, 2008 12:19135555
Another Israeli failure [130 words]Ken BesigJul 22, 2008 07:01135551
kuntar [65 words]mgJul 22, 2008 04:32135544
Samir Kunta and Jewish morality [58 words]DannykidJul 22, 2008 02:50135540
Samir Kuntar - well fed? [71 words]DanielJul 22, 2008 01:29135537
Disagree [268 words]EricJul 22, 2008 00:41135536
I guess everybody forgot about the Israeli invasion of Lebaonon in 2006 [124 words]There is NO Santa ClausJul 21, 2008 22:19135533
Our problem is we are not united...everything else are details [2258 words]JAck GlasnerJul 21, 2008 21:57135532
Yes, but ... ? [55 words]AlexJul 21, 2008 20:01135531
Israel could have had the last laugh as early as July 16th, 2008. [82 words]M.D'SouzaJul 21, 2008 18:57135528
Loss to Hizbullah? [316 words]Archimedes2Jul 21, 2008 18:17135526
Agree with you - Hizbullah lost - time to ignore the P.R. war [79 words]jennifer solisJul 26, 2008 16:01135526
How can the authors of exhilarating victories repeatedly bring such disgrace upon themselves, seemingly oblivious to the import of their actions? [742 words]Lame CherryJul 21, 2008 18:10135525
Israel Has Her Eternal Sovereign's WORD on Survival-Psalm 2 States Why with Laughter for Those Who Do Not Believe [482 words]M. ToveyJul 21, 2008 16:32135520
Other nagging questions [263 words]Salomon BenzimraJul 21, 2008 15:21135514
Avoid a Hitlerian Nuclear War Through Hard Legal Measures Against Iran's Criminal Leadership [206 words]Timothy HunterJul 21, 2008 14:21135512
Kuntar, Iran [75 words]steven LJul 21, 2008 14:07135511
Supine [67 words]VijayJul 21, 2008 13:59135509
A great victory for Israel [163 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
HansjeJul 21, 2008 13:42135506
shall we forget [82 words]Yacco`v Avi b`cookJul 21, 2008 13:40135505
Depends [115 words]rickJul 21, 2008 13:15135501
Samir Kuntar [52 words]EmilyJul 21, 2008 13:14135498
Samir Kuntar and the last laugh [443 words]kim segarJul 21, 2008 13:06135497
KUNTAR AND THE ARAB CULTURE [193 words]JACQUES HADIDAJul 21, 2008 12:51135495
Almost Past Time For Muslims To Revert And Choose Life [217 words]Moshebaer ben YosefleviJul 21, 2008 12:38135494
No Silver Lining [268 words]Jonathan KeilerJul 21, 2008 10:36135487
Israel should turn back to Jehovah [70 words]David TeeterJul 21, 2008 10:35135486
Samir Kuntar and the last laugh [69 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Steve GureJul 21, 2008 10:11135485
A dangerous game [399 words]Abu NudnikJul 21, 2008 10:11135484
Should Israel Have the Death Penalty? [98 words]Bill NarveyJul 21, 2008 10:08135483
Kuntar is not a psychopath- Arab society has different moral values than the west [328 words]Guy LivnatJul 21, 2008 10:04135482
The Arab mind [204 words]UgriJul 24, 2008 03:16135482
Kuntar and Psychopathology [87 words]Clifton ChadwickJul 24, 2008 03:32135482
Kuntar mental health [46 words]JinoJul 25, 2008 15:42135482
First time I hear about Rafael Patai.THANK YOU. [13 words]YnnatchkahJul 27, 2008 02:34135482
moral values in Arab society [88 words]Guy LivnatJul 27, 2008 03:06135482
Psycopathology Vs cultural values and codes [225 words]Guy LivnatJul 27, 2008 03:27135482
Absurd [87 words]donvanJul 28, 2008 12:34135482
Arab culture verses Islam [33 words]TimothyJul 28, 2008 16:56135482
Samir Kuntar and last laugh- "oh Israel, your have fallen away from your deliverer "Lord God." [105 words]Margaret HoodJul 21, 2008 09:38135479
A Nation and Its Leaders [251 words]yehuda Ben-Asher, MD Tekoa, Gush EtzionJul 21, 2008 09:26135478
Retrospect is 20-20 [223 words]Rebecca MouldsJul 21, 2008 08:54135476
The Olmert Government's Ignominious Exchange with Hizbollah [331 words]Paul EidelbergJul 21, 2008 08:21135472
Anger is a bad counsellor [45 words]Sebastian von BerenburgJul 21, 2008 08:05135471
What a question? [64 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Eyvind, DenmarkJul 21, 2008 07:57135470
The Sanction of the Victims [88 words]Ralph C Whaley MDJul 21, 2008 07:51135469
Kuntar is a symbol of resistance [249 words]Gary H. Johnson, Jr.Jul 24, 2008 13:57135469
How are "good" and "evil" defined without God? [69 words]Lactantius JrJul 30, 2008 10:03135469
the price Lebanon paid for Samir Kuntar [69 words]yisrael campbellJul 21, 2008 07:19135468
True rewards? [57 words]Larry B.Jul 31, 2008 20:00135468
Herr Kuntar [17 words]KOGANJul 21, 2008 05:02135462
Sieg Heil Samir Kuntar! [33 words]Francesco MangasciàJul 21, 2008 04:21135461
Excellent note [18 words]Clifton ChadwickJul 21, 2008 04:20135458
Samir Kuntar's Last Laugh [129 words]MauriceJul 21, 2008 04:10135457
Some Muslim groups. [77 words]steven LJul 27, 2008 00:34135457
An Idea [129 words]jojoSep 2, 2008 17:17135457
Thank You Dr. Pipes for the relief. [69 words]YnnatchkahJul 21, 2008 03:52135456
And in a crowd, let´s hope [29 words]DonAug 2, 2008 08:05135456
Israel and the World [60 words]Agha Ali ArkahnJul 21, 2008 02:48135452

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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