[First published in the October 2006 issue of commentarymagazine.com, reprinted with permission].
On August 12, two days before the ceasefire in Lebanon took hold, Ari Shavit, a prominent Israeli journalist and contributor to the New Yorker, published an opinion piece in the liberal Hebrew daily Haaretz, for which he writes regularly. A blistering attack on Israel’s government and army, it held both of them responsible for a “wartime failure” caused by “faulty intelligence,” a “delusional logistical network,” “improper preparedness,” and “scandalous strategic bumbling,” and it pinned the blame for the debacle on the post-Zionist outlook of Israel’s “elites.” These elites, Shavit declared,
with their unending attacks, both direct and indirect, on nationalism, on militarism, and on the Zionist narrative, have eaten away from the inside at the tree trunk of Israel’s existence and sucked away its life force. [They] have become totally divorced from reality. Capital [i.e., business], the media, and the academic world of the 1990’s and the first decade of the 21st century have blinded Israel and deprived it of its spirit. Any national idea was rejected [by these elites] because of the sanctity of the private sphere. Every cooperative ethos was dismantled in favor of the individual. Power was identified with fascism. Masculinity was publicly condemned. The pursuit of absolute justice was mixed with the pursuit of absolute pleasure and turned the reigning discourse from a discourse of commitment and enlistment to one of protest and pampering.
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