Israel Can, and Will, Outlive Its Third-Generation Crisis

April 21, 2023 | David Hazony
About the author: David Hazony was editor-in-chief of Azure from 2004-2007. As of 2017 he is editor of The Tower.

As Israel approaches the 75th anniversary of its creation while riven by domestic controversy, David Hazony compares it to other regimes that have suffered crises in what he terms their third generation. The United States fought a civil war 74 years after the ratification of the constitution; the USSR collapsed 74 years after the Bolshevik revolution. And the ancient kingdom of Israel, after its golden age under David and Solomon, was split in two during the reign of Solomon’s son. Yet, despite the deep divisions revealed by the question of judicial reform, Hazony is optimistic about the future of the present Jewish state:

The clash, if we are to be honest, is between two contradictory patriotic Israeli movements. Two different Jewish nationalisms, two forms of Zionism, relying on two different understandings of the word “democracy.” One seeks redress of injustice and counterrevolution, and to create an authentically Jewish state. The other wants to preserve the liberal order and the “light unto nations.” One sees the Jewish state as a “democracy” whose just powers of government derive from the consent of the governed; the other sees “democracy”—as expressed in rights, freedom, and equality—as inherent and non-negotiable elements of any Jewish state.

The Soviet Union crashed and burned because its citizens had long given up on the national dream of a beautiful future of equality through Communism. The United States fought a brutal Civil War that sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and required more than a decade of military occupation of the South, but which ultimately yielded a Second Founding, a national rebirth.

Israel can afford neither, and for this reason I am optimistic. Israel’s leaders, both government and opposition, have for the first time begun negotiating the contours of an “alternative reform”—which may actually be nothing less than a constitution for the Jewish state.

To me it is clear: Israel, the glorious miracle of Jewish rebirth, now celebrating its 75th independence day, is not nearing its end. On the contrary, it is just getting started.

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