In the eyes of foreign observers, or people with more critical vision, Israel already looks different: perhaps like an impatient and hysterical military man with a skullcap on his head from an army of occupation, who is threatening or threatened, it is not clear which, and is prepared to land a resounding thwack in the face of any gentile or leftist he happens upon, and see himself as the victim of a pogrom. It’s the work of the devil. This unflattering stereotype came out of nowhere recently and took on flesh and blood. The hysterical reactions to the affair of Lt. Col. Eisner – applause and support from broad sectors (which revealed their moral compass ) and from another direction the frantic efforts to dull the incident mainly for purposes of hasbara – “public diplomacy” – actually prove the extent to which this image really is representative. Indeed no hasbara effort can deny what is happening to Israel. It is becoming more and more of an ethnocentric, contrarian religious community with a shortening fuse and no tolerance or patience for any scrap of criticism or independent thought that doesn’t line up with the most extreme marker on the right.
Israel is perceived as a brutal state living in well-fanned hysteria and existential anxiety, which sees any political process as a conspiracy, any move on the ground as a justification for war and any criticism as an anti-Semitic campaign. In the 64th year of its independence, there is a strange contradiction in Israel: on the one hand, the apparent acceptance of the perpetuity of the conflict and of the view that it has no solution, and on the other hand the loss of the skills and sense of strength needed to withstand this conclusion.
Instead of steeling itself in the face of a conflict that will last for generations, it seems Israel is only becoming more fragile and more sensitive to every touch, even the slightest. The shadow of mountains looks like mountains; anything that in some way benefits the Palestinians is perceived as a threat to us. Any act of demonstrative protest is considered an “airlift” by the Luftwaffe or a terrifying “flotilla” in the style of the Spanish armada, and every foreign observer is perceived as an enemy requiring an “operation” and a “confrontation.” How does neurotic sensitivity like this accord with the apparent readiness for eternal war? Perhaps the psychiatrist of “The Big Brother” reality show has answers.