Behind the seemingly intractable Palestinian conflict lie deeper questions about what Israel wants to be: an ‘open’ globalised democracy or a ‘closed’ Jewish state
Perhaps the hardest thing for people not living in Israel to grasp is that for most Israelis, talk about how to deal with the question of Palestine is just foreground. In the background is a contest over what kind of state Israel must be. It is not just thinking about war, with Iranian proxies, say, which makes the situation demoralising. Thinking about peace is also demoralising, though in a different way. For Israel would not come out of a sustained war the same country it was when it went in, but nobody expects it to come out of a peace process the same country, either.
What leaks into nearly every conversation these days is uncertainty about Israel’s future boundaries. I don’t just mean geographic boundaries. I mean legal, institutional and cultural limits. Most people in the country will insist that Israel is and must remain Jewish and democratic. Almost nobody can tell you what this means.