Forgetting the Mideast Conflict Is Easy in Israel — and That's a Big Problem

Israelis Are Too Insulated From Danger of Not Making Peace

Life’s a Beach: With the sun and cafes, It can be easy to forget about the occupation and conflict in Israel. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
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Life’s a Beach: With the sun and cafes, It can be easy to forget about the occupation and conflict in Israel. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

By Jay Michaelson

Published August 04, 2013, issue of August 09, 2013.
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Well before then, there will be more Arabs than Jews between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Most of them will not be able to vote, or even move freely around the country in which they live. Israel may not be an apartheid state today, but it certainly will be when it is ruled undemocratically by a minority, which keeps the majority in a state of second-class citizenship (or none at all) at the barrel of a gun.

No amount of hasbara, AIPAC lobbying, or Jewish Experiences in Israel will sugarcoat that reality. And just as the anti-apartheid movement moved from college fringes to the mainstream, so the BDS movement will as well. Inside the bubble of south Jerusalem — which now extends over much of the Jewish institutional world — one can minimize the centrality of the Occupation, and focus on other things: Masada, or Iscar, or whatever. But outside the bubble, Israel is defined by this conflict, and if the conflict drags on forever, eventually it will lose.

Jerusalem is enjoying a surprising renaissance of late. There are new jogging paths, bike paths, luxury malls, luxury hotels. There are hipster restaurants in the shuk and a secular enclave at the old train station. Against all odds, the city is on the rebound. It’s once again a great place to visit.

Of course, from those malls and restaurants, you can’t see the checkpoints a few miles east and south; they’re blocked by hills, and walls of Jerusalem stone. To see clearly, you need to zoom out a bit.

Jay Michaelson is a contributing editor to the Forward.


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