The Times of Israel published my new article “Israel: United We Stand, Divided We Are”
What the recent elections revealed about ourselves and our future
We have no nation. Division stands in our midst. Those are the results of an X-ray scan of Israel after its 22nd election.
How can a nation constantly in conflict and under threat let its every sector care only about its own backyard and personal interests?
The dead heat between the two main parties and round-the-clock deal-making expected in the coming weeks to form a governing-capable coalition further stresses the great divide in Israeli society. However, discovering the wretched state we are in opens up the perfect opportunity to realize that we have no alternative but to cast a vote for unity and elect the force that connects us as a nation.
How could our nation unite above its divisions? Could politicians put their egos aside and strive instead to rise above their personal benefit for the sake of a common goal? Clearly, no one is interested in doing so, but the fact is, we have no choice.
We have entered an era where the nation is up against grave threats, the most vivid being Iran. Wealthy and powerful Iran is gaining support from Russia and China, and it is convenient for Iran to tag Israel as its enemy. As Iran holds a strategic position in the heart of the Middle East, its beef with Israel lets it flex its muscles in the global sphere, as well as show its readiness to escalate pressure toward that goal.
After 71 years of statehood, instead of becoming stronger, we suddenly reveal that Israel is in an unfounded state. Our legs are stuck in quicksand, and we cannot pull ourselves out. We are a stubborn, powerful, enduring and unequivocally creative people, but in 2019’s second national election, we are left again with polarization and partisan manipulation instead of choosing our good future together.
Why does Israel’s political spectrum look like rough patchwork, where the loose threads fray in detachment to each other? It is because we have failed “to elect” the one and only force that governs all aspects of nature: the upper force. Once again, we have neglected the only Jewish element that justifies our existence as a people: the value of our connection.
In order to come to terms with the urgent call for unity and put it into practice, Israel needs competent leadership that prioritizes rebuilding the social fabric. It will require a gradual educational process that should be led by a national-unity government made up of Benjamin Netanyahu, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, and Avigdor Liberman, with Netanyahu acting as prime minister until the rest acquire the necessary skills to govern. The job of heading a nation requires learning experience just like any other profession, but we have no academy for governing the nation, and the volatile internal and external pressures we face leave no room for trial and error. Ruling the country demands a completely different mindset than ruling the army.
Although organizing our political leadership is important, we will not return to sanity until we realize that our main goal as a nation should be to eliminate our biggest enemy: our war with each other.
The principle of unity that we inherited from Abraham, the father of the nation, has completely escaped us. It is a principle by which we became a nation in ancient Babylon. In its absence, we have dismantled into a loose collection of peoples and “tribes.” The principle of brotherly love built the Temple—the connection between us—and its absence, unfounded hatred, kicked us into exile and persecution.
Therefore, regardless of who will form the next government, we should certainly not depend on the guidance of a flesh-and-blood leader that will be replaced in four years or less. We need to depend on the power of society, the strength of our connection. This is and always has been the root of our salvation as a nation.
In other words, it is important to cast our votes and choose our leaders as in any democracy, but our real free choice should be made on a daily basis, renewed regularly and not subject to the considerations of any government in office. At any given moment, it is worth stopping for a moment to ask: “What are we living for?” “Why do we exist?” “Who runs our lives?” “Who runs the society we live in?” “Who governs us?” “Who is really in control?”
The upper force in nature drives humanity. It emerges from its hidden state when society functions harmoniously in mutual guarantee (Arvut), showing us how we live in a unified system where all parts are interconnected as a singular and integral unit.
Disagreement is part and parcel of our Jewishness. There is no need to eliminate or obscure our differences and divisions. Nor do we have to flatter and agree with the views of others. But we do have to bridge the abyss between opinions, to spread an umbrella of love over our differences, because “love will cover all transgressions.”
As our ship sails forth into unknown waters, it is time to persistently emphasize the positive qualities of others and create a more harmonious society where mutual care, consideration, understanding and support prevail. By doing so, we will be able to realize how our disunity drills a hole in our ship’s keel, whereas our cohesion strengthens our ability to navigate to a safe port of a bountiful land.
That is the election vote we need to cast regularly for the ultimate positive outcome.