In Israel, there are currently two main variations on the theme of conspiracy. Netanyahu’s main story line is that Israel is being delegitimized and that its very existence is called into question. He keeps repeating that the global criticism of Israel has nothing to do with the settlements, nor with the stalled peace process. Since the world doesn’t accept Israel’s existence, it doesn’t matter what Israel does: it will be isolated and under criticism.Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai are focusing on Arabs as a fifth column. Each in his own way keeps arguing that Israel is under threat from the inside and from the outside. Since the outside threat cannot be addressed directly, they focus on Israel’s Arabs, arguing that they are threatening Israel’s existence.
It channels a vague anxiety into hatred focused on a real or imagined enemy.
It creates the temporary semblance of more unity through its mythology: “Our society is in danger, there is an external enemy, and we now need to stick together and fight that enemy.”
In the long run, this type of myth exacerbates the real problems:
escalation from the right leads to implosion before sanity is regained. This was true for Italy and Germany as it was for Serbia. In these cases, the wakeup call to sanity was triggered by a lost war. In the case of South Africa the international community generated ever higher pressure, until the regime understood that it was no longer tenable.
Not long ago it seemed that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imposed from the outside would be a catastrophe. Given the alternative, it is sadly ironic that international pressure toward change is now the lesser of two evils.