Written by Yoram Baron (my brother), translated by me.
Israel has lost its ability to maneuver - like a man with a borderline personality who becomes psychotic every time something unusual happens - she is controlled by her own violent response to radical organizations, who in fact determine her destiny and the future of the entire Middle East.
The Israeli leadership was unable to come to the only possible decision it had to make about the Gaza "peace" flotilla. It simply did what it always does: It decided to mobilize the IDF in order to stop the flotilla without considering any compromise. The instant this decision has been made, it was only a matter of time -- plus the sophistication and determination of the activists -- before people started to get killed or injured on the ship.
Because of its one-dimensional view of the world - Israel has lost its ability to maneuver, and can now be manipulated by any organization or group that is ready to pay the price: whether it is Islamic terror organizations, right-wing Jewish extremists, or international organizations. Anyone prepared to pay the price (in lives) can now stop the peace process, damage Israel's image, and drag the leadership of the "Israeli democratic military" to open fire and lose the last remnants of Israel's quickly disappearing legitimacy.
It can be the kidnapping of a soldier, the launching of a few rockets, a terrorist attack on a sensitive area, a provocation by Jewish right-wing extremists (which will go unpunished), violent demonstrations of Israeli-Arabs near a fence or a freeway, and more...
Any incident defined as a "serious incident" with many injured victims, will cause a violent response which will deteriorate into another cycle of violence and stop any attempt at reconciliation.
Today, there is not one leader in Israel who can decide to withhold a violent response or choose restraint. Everyone in the Israeli leadership thinks exactly the same. Try to imagine any of them giving in to the other side - Ehud (Barack, minister of defense, former prime minister), Bibi (Netanyahu, prime minister), Bogie (former chief-of-staff, gov't minister), Fuad (gov't minister, was minister of defense), Avigdor (minister of foreign affairs), Benny (Begin, son of former prime minister Menachem Begin). They can't allow themselves to be embarrassed by conceding to the other side. They embody the fighting Israeli, ready to attack and pay any price... Will they let a ship pass through a blockade because some people might get injured? Only cowards worry about such things....
When the command group moves in one direction, people start thinking the same, and the way the group thinks becomes more powerful than individual thinking. So even if there is someone who thinks differently, who sees other alternatives, his chances at making himself heard are very small. There was one person who thought differently (cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser), but once his opinion was made pubic, he immediately denied it in order not to lose his place in the group.
Unfortunately, this dynamic exists not only at the top of the leadership pyramid; it is a part of a process that is taking place in Israel today. The issue is not a shift to the right (which is a different demographic issue), but a shift to a one-way thinking and a herd mentality.
On the one hand, the news media provide quick and short one-liners and flood the public with shallow stimulants. Newspaper editors and television news producers need to keep their ratings high, and that means being "acceptable," popular, and staying within the consensus. On the other hand, the high standard of living and the life of comfort dis-incentivize the public from analyzing ideological issues and in depth thinking. These tendencies lead to a limited thinking and keeps everyone in line with the herd.
This shift is not typical to Israel alone; it is a global phenomenon. However, the effect of this behavioral shift on countries who function under normal conditions is barely noticeable. But in Israel - a country who has to manage itself in a very complicated conflict - the effect of this shift is very dramatic. The consensus is simplistic and clear: We are in danger, we live under the threat of Hamas, Muslims, Iran, Palestinians, Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, everyone.... And they are all Arabs, the product of a macho, violent, aggressive culture, therefore we have to be strong, and in every situation we have to use deterrence, and prove our strength, prevent them from becoming stronger and fight them on all fronts. And anyone who supports them or sides with them is our enemy. This is the guiding rule, and from this everything else emerges: the language, the ideas, the positions, the values.
In these circumstances, an Israeli politician needs immense amount of courage, self confidence and an ability to lead in order to agree to concessions, to a positive gesture toward the enemy or to exercise restraint in the face of provocation. There are no such leaders today, and if there is one such person in the cabinet or the government, this person has no influence or voice.
As a result, we are doomed to continue in this way of thinking, to continue our utter dependence on the impulsive reactions of our leaders, and to continue the cycle of errors that will only worsen our situation. Like a man with a borderline personality who refuses to go to therapy in order to modify his behavior, our sick country will continue to react with aggression to every vain provocation no matter how deranged and insignificant the culprit.