A nightmarish experiment
By Sefi Rachlevsky
Israel gave itself a nice present to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of losing its borders. The raid on the Gaza flotilla in international waters is like the first Lebanon War - as if in a nightmarish experiment, we seem to be examining the question: What happens when a country has no borders?
Israel's maritime attack did not happen by chance. A border is one of the fundamental factors that defines a country. Decades without one have distorted Israel's thinking.
It is self-evident that, just as a person cannot build in an area that he does not own, a country cannot build settlements outside of its borders. And yet Israel has settled hundreds of thousands of its citizens in areas that, according to its laws, are not part of the State of Israel.
It is self-evident that any couple can marry "without regard to religion, race or gender." And yet in Israel a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman cannot legally marry. It's self-evident that there is no arbitrary discrimination, and yet it's enough to use the magic words "I'm a religious woman" or "I'm an ultra-Orthodox man" and the obligation to serve in the military evaporates.
It's self-evident that the education provided to children be based on democracy and equality. And yet in Israel, 52 percent of first-graders defined as Jews study in various religious school systems that teach students things like "You are considered a human being and the other nations of the world are not considered human beings."
They are taught that a non-Jew is not a human being, and that anyone who kills a non-Jew is not supposed to be killed by human hands; that women are inferior, and it is an obligation that males and females be separated; and that secular people, or anyone with secular family members, cannot enter these schools.
It is self-evident that racist education cannot be funded by the government and is illegal. And yet most of the country's first-graders receive such "compulsory education" from their government.
The results of this nightmarish experiment are self-evident. In the most recent elections, 35 percent of voters defined as Jews cast their ballots for avowedly racist parties - Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, National Union and their friends.
Critics in the Israeli media wake up only when mistakes are made. That is why - after initially cheering the declaration that "the flotilla will not pass" - they changed their tune following the imbroglio, turning into advocates of the twisted logic "be smart, not right." But what justice is there in an attack on civilians by soldiers on the open seas?
Like the territories, international waters are not Israel; they are outside its borders. A Turkish ship on the open sea is, in effect, a floating Turkish island. An Israeli attack on such an island is not all that different from sending the Israel Defense Forces to take on demonstrators at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. There, too, unpleasant people who are not friends of Israel can sometimes be found.
Turkey, which is a member of NATO, was not in a state of war with Israel before the attack. Attacking its citizens on territory that is by definition Turkish is another expression of the Israeli lunacy that lacks any kind of boundaries.
An attack beyond the border must be reserved for extreme cases involving a military target that represents an entity fighting against the country and when citizens are in danger. But civilian ships, that are not carrying weapons, but are bringing civilian aid to a population that is denied chocolate, toys and notebooks, are not nuclear reactors in Iraq, Syria or Iran.
A person who grows up without external borders tends to create distorted internal borders. That is the reason for the attack on Arab MK Hanin Zuabi and her colleagues. While there were certain Arab public figures who went too far in their statements, joining a civilian aid flotilla is one of those legitimate acts which are supposed to be self-evident.
And yet, what was self-evident became betrayal. And citizenship, one of the unconditional foundations of existence, has turned into something that can be revoked - in this case on the basis of ethnicity, a tactic used in fascist regimes. The street has returned to the atmosphere that prevailed under "responsible" opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and led to the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin - and the next murder is in the air.
The Israeli deed at sea is liable to reach The Hague. The problem is that Israel has genuine enemies who want to destroy it. A country that does not do everything in its power to accumulate legitimacy, along with turning Iran into an entity that is losing legitimacy and can therefore become a target of activities to undermine it, is a country losing its basic survival instinct. Without borders, it turns out, you lose even that.
Young Israelis who have grown up without borders are now dancing and singing "In blood and fire we will expel Turkey" and "Mohammed is dead." If this keeps up, Israel will not make it to The Hague. The entity gradually replacing the State of Israel is liable not to exist long enough to get there.