Israeli society today appears to be a collection of different "tribes" rather than a singular nation. Newspapers are filled with stories of social prejudice, religious intolerance and racism among Israelis. Reading them, the overwhelming impression one gets is of a society breaking apart. It is little wonder that Israelis are generally more preoccupied with their own internal disputes than they are with their long-running conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel: Old Map, New Realities
For Israel, surrounded by bitter enemies and lukewarm friends, perhaps the only thing more alarming than the regional status quo is the transformation currently sweeping the Middle East. Its own society is a patchwork of ethnic and religious divisions that often appears to be coming apart at the seams. The Arab Spring has swept Islamist governments into power, changing the strategic landscape and giving rise to fears of an Arab Winter to come. And the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be further from fruition and more urgently necessary than ever. How voters weigh all these competing domestic and security concerns will determine the outcome of next month’s parliamentary elections.
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Articles in this feature
The endgame of Israel's recent campaign in Gaza seemed to confirm many Israelis' worst fears about the Arab uprisings. Since the fighting ended, however, a re-evaluation has set in. The region's Islamist governments demonstrated that they share Israel's interest in preserving good relations with the West and maintaining regional stability. Indeed, Operation Pillar of Defense might even have rekindled optimism among some in Israel about the emergence of a pragmatic Islamist trio.
Of all the prospective outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the idea of two independent states living side by side in peace and security is by far the least-bad outcome. And yet at the moment it seems the most unlikely. Still, the two-state solution, though impossible to implement now, is by no means dead and buried. Indeed, its curious fate is to be suspended in a state of limbo, somewhere between too hard to implement and far too important to abandon.
As the Israeli general election of Jan. 22, 2013 draws near, the major question in Israeli politics is whether the campaign will be dominated by foreign policy and security concerns or domestic issues. An emphasis on security issues would help the incumbent government headed by Likud leader and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. On the other hand, a focus on domestic issues would benefit Netanyahu's many adversaries.