Daniel Pipes

*Young Israelis are avoiding the military in record numbers, with 26 percent of enlistment-age Jewish males and 43 percent of females not drafted in 2006. An alarmed Israel Defense Forces has requested legislation to deny state-provided benefits to Jewish Israelis who do not serve.

*Israel's Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has up-ended the work of the Jewish National Fund, one of the pioneer Zionist institutions (founded in 1901) by determining that its role of acquiring land specifically for Jews cannot continue in the future with state assistance.

*Prominent Israeli historians focus on showing how Israel was conceived in sin and has been a force for evil.

*Israel's ministry of education has approved school books for third-grade Arab students that present the creation of Israel in 1948 as a "catastrophe" (Arabic: nakba).

*Avraham Burg, scion of a leading Zionist household and himself a prominent Labor Party figure, has published a book comparing Israel with 1930s Germany. A 2004 poll found only 17 percent of American Jews call themselves "Zionist."

Seen in a larger context, this turn from Zionism echoes trends in other Western countries, where old-style patriotism and national pride have also declined. In Western Europe, citizens tend to see little of special value in their own history, customs, and mores. Last month, for example, the Netherlands' Princess Máxima, wife to the heir to the throne, announced to wide acclaim that "The Dutch identity does not exist." This Western-wide decline of patriotism aggravates Israel's predicament, suggesting that developments there fit into a larger trend, making them the more difficult to resist or reverse.

To top it off, Arabs are moving these days in the opposite direction, reaching a fever pitch of ethnic and religious bellicosity.

As a Zionist myself, I watch these several trends with foreboding about Israel's future.

I console myself by recalling that few of today's problems were evident in 1989. Perhaps in 2025, Zionism's prospects will again brighten, as Westerners generally and Israelis specifically finally awake to the dangers posed by Palestinian irredentists, jihadists, and other extremist Middle Easterners.


Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.