As Israel celebrates its 75th anniversary, the state-building project it cemented into place in 1948 by expelling 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland is showing the first signs of unraveling.
The surprise is that Israel's woes spring not, as generations of its leaders feared, from outside forces – a combined attack from Arab states or pressure from the international community – but from Israel's own internal contradictions.
Israeli leaders created the very problems they all too obviously lack the tools to now solve. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bombardment of Gaza in recent days, killing dozens of Palestinians, should be understood in that light. It is one more indication of Israel's internal crisis.
Once again, the Palestinians are being used in a frantic bid to shore up an increasingly fragile "Jewish" unity.
Israel's long-term problem is underscored by the current, bitter standoff over Netanyahu's plan for a so-called judicial overhaul. The Israeli Jewish population is split down the middle, with neither side willing to back down. Rightly, each sees the confrontation in terms of a zero-sum battle.
And behind this stands a political system in near-constant paralysis, with neither side of the divide able to gain a stable majority in the parliament. Israel is now mired in a permanent, low-level civil war.