Dear Members of Knesset, Ministers and Heads of Political Parties,
I am sure you’ve noticed that over the last six weeks we have experienced something incredibly rare in the State of Israel: a wonderful sense of unity, unity of purpose and moral clarity. The unfortunate part about that unity is that it happened during a kidnapping of three innocent boys and a war. However, I think I speak for the silent 80 percent majority of Israelis when I say that we would all like to continue this experience going forward.
What puts our unity at risk is not the silent 80 percent of the population but rather the politics of extremism and the media’s need to report on it. So before the after-effects of the war wear off and you go back to staking your stark positions on important matters of religion, state, statecraft, budgeting, peace and war, allow me to try to express where I think most Israelis think we are at. I am sure that people will quibble with some of my points but I hope it expresses a reasonably broad consensus.
1. We think the war against Hamas was just and very necessary. We shudder to think what would have happened if Hamas got to use their terror tunnels or were allowed to keep firing rockets on our citizens.
2. We think the Israeli government did a good and measured job in fighting the war against a death cult called Hamas. We think that you should do a detailed analysis of what went right and wrong but do not harangue us with the typical political backstabbing and party positioning. Do not tell us how you would have done better in retrospect.
3. We are upset and saddened about the tragic loss of civilian life in Gaza but believe Hamas was responsible for their deaths. We believe, however, that our moral fabric requires us to mourn and grieve the loss of civilian life wherever it happens.
4. We think the global media treated Israel unfairly and with double standards not applied to Syria, Iraq, ISIS and the United States. Still, we must do a better job conveying our message. We also all believe that the Western world hasn’t got a clue how much it is endangered by Radical Islam, ISIS, Hamas, and even Erdogan’s Turkey. You need to do a better, more creative job in delivering that message as well.
5. We think the Israeli government must do more to empower moderate Palestinians and to rebuild Gaza so the Palestinians have something to lose. We recall that most people did not believe that we could come to peace with Egypt but we did. We were all amazed by the calm reaction of the Palestinians of Bethlehem and Ramallah to what went on in Gaza even though they had family members suffering there. Why? because they have more to lose. None of us are sure what the solution is or if it is a short or long term solution but we need to keep searching…harder. We are all willing to invest time, effort and money to make this work. You need to as well.
6. We think it is imperative to work harder at rooting out corruption, deals with local monopolies, unions that choke our progress and tycoons that keep our cost of living high. Only if you get serious about solving those problems can we build a more just and fair society that is based on time-honored Jewish values of social justice and respect for the other. You have not done a good enough job at that.
7. We think the education system is broken and you have failed us in fixing it. You have all launched multiple educational reforms when what is really needed is a complete overhaul of the education system, the teacher unions and the bureaucracy that runs our education. However, none of you has had the backbone to tackle the really hard problems. Our children and economy will be paying the price for this weakness for many years. So strap on some cojones and do the really hard work; break some glass and deliver some results.
8. For the first time, we saw Haredi society empathize with the majority of Israelis who serve in the army and join the workforce. In fact, there are even early indications that Haredim are starting to move toward joining the army and normative Israeli society. We also should be calmly encouraging Haredim into the workforce and entrepreneurship. By publicly staking a stark, antagonistic position on the issue of Haredi integration in the Army, you, all of you, are distancing them. We must allow the coming together to continue. We also call on the Haredi politicians to stop using class warfare and other radical comments and let us all come together. Do not fear for the security of your Knesset seats. Fear for the unity of the Israeli people.
9. Please resist the urge to flame any sectarian fires over the coming weeks and months. Try to find the voice of moderation and progress. We deserve it.
10. Add your own last item…
This post originally appeared in Michael’s blog, Six Kids and a Full Time Job