Thursday, August 17, 2006

Disarming

Following the shaky truce in the Middle East, Israel will try to collect the pieces of reality and return to normalcy. We will slowly climb out of the bomb shelters, wipe the tears from our face and try to continue as if nothing happened – again. Israeli society is a tree that has grown from the roots of a violent war for its establishment. Every war since has contributed another sturdy branch which further entrenches our minds in a macho military condition. Israeli culture is dictated by the mutual experience of graduating years of obligatory military service that almost every Israeli endures.

Our everyday language is a montage of military terminology. Generals attain the status of semi-celebrities in mainstream media and their transition into the highest levels of politics is all but promised. We proudly identify with our army unit until we are discharged from reserve duty at the ripe age of 45 and we never dare question the authority or legitimacy of the omnipresent Defense Forces. Israel is a nation mentally clad in the IDF uniform, intermediately wearing civilian clothes but perennially thinking like the soldiers we were produced to be.

This mentality, which nurtures Israel to perceive the army as our collective mother, inevitably breeds a shoot first, talk later approach to all our conflicts. This mentality, which diminishes the individual's right to reflect his actions, has created an immense wall that purposes the greatest obstacle to breaking the circle of violence. If every Israeli is a social product of the military manufacturing line and the business of the military is to wage war, then the probability of citizen's supporting a resolution that does not rely on military means remains discouraging.

The tragic paradox which embodies Israeli reality is that the subtle indoctrination of the military cannot be broken until general enlistment for the entire populace is not longer required, which will only arrive when peace is established, which in turn requires a mental switch. Israeli society is condemned to this cycle, which has become more impenetrable, as another war enshrines the glory of the army. This war has laid birth to another branch, stained with the blood of soldiers and civilians, to our national tree, which serves to fortify the cycle of conflict in this region.

Just like a tree, it is nearly impossible to uproot the foundations of a society. It is my dream that one day a political leader will be able to unite the people without relying on the symbols and rhetoric of war but of peace. A leader who will be courageous and persistent enough to address our problems in a constructive, and not destructive, manner. Regretfully, the wounds in the Israeli psyche are still fresh and the courageous leader I am hoping for seems to be missing in action.

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