Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German priest executed by the Nazis, once wrote, “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.” Fifteen years ago, the signing of the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) raised hopes that Israel had boarded the “peace train.” Over the years, however, it became clear that the train was not headed for the promised destination. Nevertheless, Israel’s leadership has been pointlessly running along the corridor ever since.
What happens when you run along a corridor inside a train? The train keeps going exactly where it's going, while you put on a good show of opposing it by running as fast as you can, and arrive at the same place anyway. You can't run against a train while you're still on board it. You either have to get off it, or force it to stop.
But what is truly significant about the article is not Yaalon's premise, but his conclusion. Having laid out in detail every mistake that Israel's left wing governments and Netanyahu's brief weak term had made in negotiating with and appeasing terrorists-- Yaalon's solution is more of the same. To demand accountability from the PLO, to centralize their police forces and promote industry and business in order to normalize their society. All solutions that his own article has already demonstrated have failed and will fail.
Yaalon, like most moderate conservatives, can accurately state the problem, but not the solution, because the train has traveled so far in the wrong direction that it cannot be dislodged without taking radical steps. That moderate impotence is exactly what the left is counting on.
Each time a civilized country moves to the left, moderate conservatives move their policy proposals with it. The mainstream conservative views of a generation ago become extremist, and the moderate conservative views become all but indistinguishable from the views of mainstream liberals a generation ago. Even more shockingly in many cases when looking back the moderate conservatives will discover that they have adopted views that few liberals would have even held a generation ago.
And that is the heart of the problem. Regardless of which government is in power, the civilized world is a train whose course has been steered by the left, virtually uninterrupted for decades. Conservatives count coup for their small victories, celebrate leaders whose bold rhetoric provided a strong defense of their values, but rarely look closer to see that even during those periods, the train still kept on heading in the other direction.
On the left, extremists routinely move into the mainstream, becoming leading forces in liberalism. Think of the likes of Ayers, a left wing terrorist, serving a vital role in liberal politics and policy. On the right by contrast, some moderates move into the extreme camp, by force or by choice, but not the other way around.
Ideology aside, in science alone, this kind of particle movement demonstrates which way the wind is blowing. And it's blowing toward the Weathermen and the far left, and away from patriotic and national values.
As conservatives move to the left, and liberals move to the left, nation after nation appoaches the edge of a cliff, without knowing or seeing it. While conservatives remain terrified of being accused of extremism, they allow their national values to be discarded or co-opted and thus soiled by far right groups, which genuinely are extremist, and have no moral or functional value. Rather than learning a lesson from this, the process continues on over and over again.
There are two words to remember, if the train is ever going to be stopped, and they are "Radical Change." Radical change is needed to stop the train and turn it around in the other direction. Not compromise, not moderation, not another round of one step forward and twenty steps backward.
The most foolish part of it all is that conservatives are most moderate in exactly those areas where populism would make them strong. Terrorism, Immigration, Islam, Social Welfare and Immorality, for short. The left knows this, and naturally focuses on attacking populist views in these areas as "extremist". And conservatives fall for it every time, so instead of grabbing an ax, they propose to cut a few programs, deliver a bold speech and turn it into a toothless bill, and constantly offer backhanded apologies for it. And the train rolls on.
After all the Labor and Liberal parties are through, what do Conservatives really have to offer to undo the damage they have done? If they cannot answer this question decisively, then like Yaalon, they are doing nothing more running in the corridor, against the train.