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National Resilience and Social Cohesion: Navigating Through the Ceasefire Period

The sharp divisions and polarization prevalent before October 7th were momentarily overshadowed by a collective spirit akin to a 'band of brothers.' This unity brought nearly all of Israeli society together, setting aside differences to confront an existential threat. However, as the conflict prolongs, toxicity and polarization resurface in public discourse.


The conclusion of the current conflict is not expected to coincide with the complete elimination of all threats to Israel. On the contrary, it marks the onset of a new era rife with decentralized threats emanating from extensive regions across the Middle East. Israel stands no chance against these threats without fostering national resilience grounded in social cohesion and a sense of Arvut Hadadit.


Kids smiling

If indeed a hostage agreement is reached, a prolonged period of ceasefire is anticipated. This temporary ceasefire might reignite internal discord. The majority of Israelis, weary of social polarization, dread reverting to the contentious pre October 7th era. Yet, potential government dissolution, election prospects, frustration over October 7th's failures, conscription and equal military burden debates, and disagreement in regards to the ‘day after’ in Gaza are likely to inflame tensions.



While disputes are inevitable, maintaining a "regulated temperature" in discussions is crucial. This requires uprooting identity politics from the discourse, which has fragmented Israeli society into divisive categories of ‘left’ and ‘right based on ethnicity (Ashkenazim vs. Mizrahim), religious beliefs (secularists vs. religious), values (liberals vs. conservatives), and ultimately forced a false dichotomy between Israel's democratic and Jewish identities. The outcome was entrenched tribalism, polarizing society and delegitimizing opposing factions. Eradicating identity politics may restore objectivity and Non-partisan approach to the discourse.


In the short term, it's hoped that the prevailing sense of “band of brothers' ' will foster restraint, openness, and mutual respect. Currently, a significant majority seems committed to preventing a regression to the divisive discourse preceding October 7th. Despite ongoing disagreements, an increasing number of Israelis are likely to reaffirm their civic duty and responsibility to shield society from divisive forces. Optimistically, Israeli society could become more inclusive, committed to Zionism, pluralism, and tolerance.

 

However, societal tribalism won't dissipate overnight. Long-term solutions require an updated narrative supported by structural reforms. It is best to avoid an illusory quick fix of a constitution, which could bring the Israeli society to a moment of truth when there is no ripeness, potentially branding the Israeli project a failure. Instead, the focus should be on fostering informal agreements on an array of issues , particularly between religious Zionism and liberal factions (to be detailed in a subsequent post).

 

Even without a constitution, it's feasible to cultivate "constructive tribalism," seeking a new equilibrium and consensus among diverse groups that revitalizes of “statesmanship / Mamlachtiyut” concept, An approach that recognized the superiority of respecting the decision of state institutions from a pan-Israeli perspective, over a tribal or sectoral approach. Absent legal and educational reforms, segments within the ultra-orthodox and religious Zionist communities may feel marginalized by the justice system, while many in the secular or masorty public education system might perceive they are vulnerable to the influence of politicians that undermining humanistic, liberal, and socially-oriented education as envisaged in the Declaration of Independence.

 

Sustaining social cohesion doesn't necessitate unanimous agreement on every issue; rather, it hinges on recognizing our collective predicament and committing to profound transformative processes

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