Israel’s Clear-Eyed Doves

HAIFA – Now that the official campaign leading up to Israel’s January 22 general election has kicked off, it is perhaps useful to define the heart of the political battle as one between “doves” and “hawks.” I use these terms deliberately, because the two Israeli camps do not correspond to the standard left-right ideological distinctions.

Indeed, the focus of Israel’s ongoing debate is no longer about peace, or even about the willingness to consider comprehensive plans like the 2003 Geneva Accord. Almost everyone in Israel suspects that the Palestinians and their Arab supporters may not be satisfied with what is on offer: a demilitarized state within the 1967 borders, as well as legal status in Jerusalem, without the possibility for refugees to return to Israel.

The doves, represented by the leftist and centrist parties in the upcoming election, are generally not naive visionaries pursuing unrealistic dreams; nor do they believe that hostilities would cease if a peace agreement were signed and Israel withdrew from the West Bank. The doves today, in all their varieties, must fight for one goal: stopping Israel’s slow transformation into a binational state, which would be a disaster for both sides.

This is the heart of the conflict between the two camps. In the face of relentless settlement expansion, failed evacuation of outposts, and the construction of new Jewish neighborhoods in areas that never belonged, either geographically or historically, to the city of Jerusalem, the doves should take an unequivocal stance and say: stop, enough. The hawks have trapped Israel in a demographic quandary, binding together two nations that are utterly different from each other.