The 70th anniversary of the State of Israel happens in a crucial moment, one that will be decisive for the country’s future. Israel is facing challenges on several fronts, directly calling into question the democratic nature of the state, identity issues, and traditional alliances. Internally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing investigations for corruption while striving for renewed popular support.
The notion that Israel is the only true parliamentary democracy in the Middle East is supported by several fundamental markers: separate status and autonomy of the three powers: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary; elections regularly held according to a pre-established calendar; a large number of political parties competing for office; and last but not least, periodic alternation of the main political parties
What’s new in Israeli politics? "Nothing, really", seems to be the most agreed-upon analysis of the current political or ideological trends. Seventy years in the life of a nation is nothing, especially when many seem to agree that the nation-state as we know it today is a failing entity with little to no future.
As the State of Israel enters its 70s, it is in very good shape: economic growth is sound and steady, and the country is a member of the OECD club (since 2010). In addition, it seems to have overcome its 70 years’ of wearing conflict with the Palestinians – the enemy from within – who finally laid down their weapons on the Hamas side. However, on May 14, a new mass return or Nakba march is scheduled, which has already been staged each Friday since last March 30.
It is fair to say that what is going on in Gaza, the Palestinian “Great March of Return”, was for Hamas a kind of calculated propaganda: a way to make sense of its own political life. It is also fair to assert that its permanent, low-intensity war against Israel – meaning a sort of national collective suicide – is the only way the Islamist organisation has to show its power in the Strip. To a great extent, the unnecessary death of dozens of young Palestinians is a cynical power play carried out by Hamas.
In 1890 the Austrian journalist Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937) was the first one to use the word Zionism, in the pages of the journal Selbst-Emanzipation! [Self-Emancipation!]. But it was another journalist, Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), who was born in Budapest and had lived in Vienna for several years, to make Zionism a more widely known concept.
Of the many formidable foreign policy questions facing Israel as it celebrates its 70th anniversary, the most auspicious is how the Jewish State should adapt to a multipolar world. The urgency to answer this question has accelerated in recent days. President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the US from the Iran deal – applauded by Israeli leadership – will, over time, force Israel to develop cooperative relationships with non-traditional partners in order to meet its regional security objectives.
Not if, but when. Since the second Lebanon war in July-August 2006, a sense of inevitability seems to apply to the Israel-Hezbollah tensions, leading pundits to forecast initiation of a third confrontation. The crystallisation of the Syrian crisis, the gradual involvement of Hezbollah on Assad’s side, as well as the growing approach to the Israeli-Syrian border of militias supported by Iran, are all elements which seem to convey the possibility that the war theatre will not be limited to the Israeli-Lebanese border, but will probably extend to Syria.
After the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013, Sinai Peninsula became a safe haven for many radical Bedouins and Jihadists, who used Morsi’s ouster both to legitimize their ideological and political battles in Egypt and to enlarge their strategic range from the Sinai Peninsula to the immediate neighborhood of the Egyptian Peninsula. Indeed, during these years’ attacks and violence increased exponentially of the 69% in Sinai and in Egypt.
Israeli PM Netanyahu’s March 3 speech in the US Congress was a rather amazing political event, and one that especially to a European eye appears difficult to understand and interpret.