Israel’s five distinct political-demographic tribes are locked in a many-sided conflict over the future of its democracy. Is Israel a not-quite-finished Zionist revolution or a not-quite-finished Hebrew democracy?
A few days before the Israeli election a television roundtable featured, among others, Rehavam Ze’evi, the leader of a small, extreme party which is now part of Ariel Sharon’s core of parliamentary support. Ze’evi is a former general notorious for proposing mass transfers of Palestinians from “Judea and Samaria” to Jordan. His friends call him “Gandhi.” He was asked by the moderator how Sharon would deal with the Al-Aqsa intifada. “Sharon knows the Arabs, they care most about their homes,” Ze’evi replied; “One more shot from Ramallah and we’ll take down the first row of houses.” The moderator then turned to a high-school senior, representing about-to-be-drafted youth. Showing remarkable poise, clearly from Israel’s upper crust, the youth appealed for calm. Referring to Sharon’s 1982 comment that the Lebanon war was fought for political aims, not a milhemet ein breira, a war of “no choice,” the young man declared that his