When War Doesn't End, Peace Doesn't Begin
Israel suffers from a basic inferiority complex. Leaving its Jewish identity behind, it has invented an 'Israeli' identity, which is contingent upon the recognition of our Arab neighbors. This foundational flaw channels us into a zero sum game, precisely expressed by the "Land for Peace" slogan.
Throughout history, the side that wins the war proposes peace in exchange for the opponent's assets. But Israel has deposited its most important asset – the keys to Israeli identity – into the hands of an enemy weaker than it both militarily and economically. This asset is not at all dependent upon the results of the war. On the contrary, if in theory the enemy would be totally destroyed, we would once again find ourselves alone in the world. Alone with our Jewish identity.
For this reason, Israel never strives to truly triumph in war. And in truth, we have never really triumphed. Not one of Israel's wars ever ended with the written, unconditional surrender of the enemy, as is accepted practice when an existential war between nations ends with the total defeat of one of the sides in battle.
Israel's internal identity crisis has brought us to the place where the concept of victory is no longer in our lexicon. Even when the IDF destroys the enemy armies with courage and great skill, we do not ever think of taking the final step and forcing the enemy into explicit diplomatic surrender – because then we would have nobody with whom to make peace and receive recognition.
This is why Israel's wars never finish. Our enemies can always produce new weapons and fresh soldiers and when the concept of 'triumph' is nowhere to be found, the war never really ends and peace cannot ever really begin.
Israel is not truly involved in a peace process. The 'peace process' is nothing more than a continuation of the war, simply being fought with different methods. The result is success for the enemy. We experience loss of land and legitimacy, economic damage and internal demoralization.
Israel's Oslo-process recognition of 'Palestinian' justice and right to the Land of Israel and the territorial surrender that came on its heels did not generate more acceptance of Israel's existence. Just the opposite: Israel's surrender generated its serious loss of legitimacy in the West. We have manifold more fatalities than before the 'peace process', the economic price tag is huge – but worst of all is the lack of legitimacy in the mentality of Israel's young generation.
A young Israeli who came of age after the start of the diplomatic process (30-40 year olds today) no longer sees himself as indigenous to this Land. Instead, he feels like a guest here. In his eyes, the salt of the earth and bedrock of the Land's existence is the Arab. It has become legitimate to expel Jews from their homes, but nobody would ever dream of doing so to Arabs.
We can explicitly say, then, that the enemy defeats us with 'peace', slowly achieving what he wanted and what he failed to gain during war. The Israeli, who understands that he will not be getting peace, hopes that at least by offering 'bribes' of territory that he 'stole' from the Arab in 1967, the Arab will be so kind as to ignore the 'robbery' of 1948.
The loss of legitimacy, however, crossed the 1948 line a long time ago. The 'original sin' in reputable Western universities is no longer the Occupation of 1967, and not even the partition of 1948. The 'original sin' is the Balfour Declaration of 1917. That declaration was the very beginning of the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
"We established a state for you… we dreamed of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written, to redeem the world. For you, after all, are a treasured nation," a group of British intellectuals explained their anger at Israel to Professor Ze'ev Tzachor. "The world had expectations of you, and look what you have done." (Quoted from an interview of Tzachor by Meir Uziel, Makor Rishon).
All the diplomatic plans proposed to the Israeli public by the entire gamut of politicians stem from the Israeli – not Jewish – mentality. Their horizon is not to actualize their Jewish identity in the national dimension, but rather, the opposite. All the plans assume that the conflict is territorial and thus, surrendering territory will bring peace that will allow us to be accepted as a normal nation among its neighbors.
But it is actually the attempted escape from our identity that blocks any hope for peace. If we need peace in order to receive recognition for the new "Israeli-ness" that we invented for ourselves, and if, as a result, the enemy receives an insurance policy and we are incapable of extracting a price from him that he cannot sustain – why should he give us peace? Why not just remain perpetually in a "peace process"?
An alternative plan can succeed only if it serves the absolute opposite strategic goal: Not making the state more Israeli. Instead, we must make it more Jewish.