"A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR BIBI"

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

National morale is the precondition of national self-preservation and of national power. Fostering national morale -- by which I mean national pride and resolute national purpose -- is the first object of national strategy. That the people of Israel lack national morale is painfully obvious. Hence it is reasonable to conclude that Prime an extended "time-out" from pursuing any significant national strategy. Of course, this could also be said of his predecessors. But Mr. Netanyahu is of another stamp and gives signs of far greater potential. For example, in opposition to Shimon Peres, Mr. Netanyahu came into office saying, "I am a Jew first and an Israeli second," and further, that "Israel is the State of the Jews and not of its citizens." To be sure, such proud and auspicious statements should have been followed, in due course, by commensurate public policies. Words unsupported by deeds have little impact on the hearts and minds of people, and without the people behind him, Mr. Netanyahu will accomplish nothing great and lasting.

Alas, under his premiership Israel continues to limp from crisis to crisis, harassed by foes and "friends" alike, fearful of taking its future into its own hands. This rudderless ship of state has become an object of contempt and calumny in the capitals and media of the democratic world. Lacking is a national strategy, hence a national goal to energize the Jewish people. Israel lacks a national goal because its Government is preoccupied with peace. Every decent nation desires peace, but peace (like security) is not a goal that distinguishes one nation from another. The attainment of peace depends very much on the good will of others, whereas a national goal (and strategy) depends primarily on our own will (and wisdom).

Consistent with Mr. Netanyahu's above cited statements, Israel can have only one feasible national goal, and that is to become more Jewish! Accordingly, his major pronouncements and policies should be clearly and explicitly related to Jewish wisdom and values on the one hand, and to Jewish history on the other. He should conceive of himself as Israel's most visible educator whose task is to imbue his people with national pride and resolute national purpose. Inasmuch as I have been a critic of Mr. Netanyahu -- and long before he became Israel's Prime Minister -- no one should accuse me of naiveté if I propose for his "consideration" the following incremental national strategy.

First, Mr. Netanyahu should reduce Israel's (perceived) dependence on the United States. He should announce his intention of eliminating (say in two years) the $3 billion aid package Israel has been receiving annually from the U.S. since 1985. It should be borne in mind that Israel's GNP in 1985 was $24.5 billion, whereas today it's $100 billion. Since the U.S. aid package consists of $1.8 billion in military aid, and $1.2 in economic assistance (actually to cover the interest on Israel's debt), these are rather minute percentages of the GNP. Eliminating U.S. aid would reduce Washington's diplomatic influence on Jerusalem. Indeed, Mr. Netanyahu's objective should be to dispense with America's role as the "honest broker" in the Arab-Israel conflict. This would enhance the country's self-confidence as well as its international prestige.

Second, Mr. Netanyahu should announce that his Government will not engage in future negotiations with any Arab state that harbors terrorist organizations committed to Israel's destruction. Also, his Foreign Minister should distribute to Jews at home and abroad, as well as to American Senators and Congressmen, the virulent anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda of Israel's Arab neighbors. (The object here is for Israel to go on the offensive.)

Third, Mr. Netanyahu's Government should (a) clamp down on the notorious tax-evasion of Israel's Arab citizens; (b) enforce the law regarding Democracy and the Jewish State, which, in principle, prohibits Arab political parties that advocate Arab nationalist aims; (c) consistent with the Nationality Law, suspend the citizenship of Arabs who commit political crimes; (d) require a representative number of Arab citizens to perform national service, with appropriate penalties, such as loss of citizenship, for non-compliance or disloyalty; (e) cease subsidizing Arab university students who deny Israel's right to exist as a sovereign state; (f) review the demographic significance of large-family allowances; (g) require all public schools to provided serious courses in Judaism and Jewish history; (h) increase Jewish education in the Israel Defense Forces; (i) submit a bill to the Knesset that would provide for constituency elections with an 8 percent threshold.

The last item is crucial. With constituency elections the voters in Israel, as in all democracies, would at last have their own elected representatives. This would not only enhance the dignity of the Knesset (whose members would no longer be so utterly subservient to party discipline, but it would make the Knesset more sensitive to Jewish public opinion, which is overwhelmingly traditional. Moreover, such a Knesset would serve to restrain the judicial activism of Israel's Supreme Court, which is markedly anti-traditional. Finally, to make the country more Jewish and independent, its Government needs to be institutionally capable of pursuing a coherent national strategy. Mr. Netanyahu's Cabinet consists of seven parties, each more or less pursuing its own agenda. An 8 percent threshold for party seats in the Knesset would reduce the number of parties in the Cabinet to two or three. We see, therefore, that a Jewish national strategy requires not only policy changes, but institutional changes. Of course, whether Mr. Netanyahu is the man to introduce all or any of these changes is another question. Still, if not him perhaps his successor?

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For an elaboration, contact the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy (Prof. Paul Eidelberg, Director), 244 Madison Avenue, Suite 427, New York, NY 10016 or E-mail Constitution@USA.Net. The Freeman Center supports the important work of Prof. Eidelberg and urges you do also.


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