The Israeli elections are over, thank God for small mercies. In the forty-one years I have lived in Israel, the social divide and fragmentation have gone from bad to worse to downright intolerable. It’s now at a point where the only thing everyone agrees on is that the next elections will probably take place even before the newly elected Knesset (Israeli parliament) reaches mid-term mark.
At a time when the whole world sees Israel as public enemy no. 1, accusing it of such absurdities as being the worst violator of women’s rights, and Western universities boycott Israeli products left and right, Israel is busy with internal bickering instead of doing what any sensible nation would do—come together and face the challenge.
We all experience differences and disputes in our personal lives. I don’t agree with everything my wife says or thinks, and neither does she with me. Sometimes I have disputes with my children, and we get infuriated with each other. But we’re family! No matter what, we will not alienate ourselves from one another.
In post elections Israel, there is a chasm between the sides, as well as anger that is slow to subside, and hard to contain. This is the complete opposite of the way Israel should conduct itself.
We tend to forget, but unity is the heart and soul of our nation. When we condone internal fragmentation, we undermine the very heart of Judaism. There is good reason why Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, concluded his speech at the inauguration of the new Knesset on March 31 saying, “In the name of the Israeli people, I pray that brotherhood and unity will be instilled between you, and you will, with humility, make wise and courageous decisions.” I think it’s time for Israel to give it an honest chance. We need a new kind of politics, something I would call “family-style politics.”
In a family, the basic premise is that everyone loves one another and no one’s interests are deliberately overlooked. And yet, a family must determine its budget, needs, and priorities according to its abilities. In Israel, we’ve come to a state where this approach to governance is vital for the very survival of our society and country.
When each faction tries to grab the largest chunk of taxpayers’ money, no government can last. The only way we will be able to solve our problems is if we establish relations of mutual responsibility and unity in Israel, and work out our challenges just like a family. At the end of the day, we really are connected, and acting otherwise derides us all into a horde of looters.
I’m well aware that this may sound naïve and unrealistic. And yet, I am convinced that no other attitude will work, and Israelis have never tried working together, at least not really.
I’d even go as far as to say that the family model is required not just for Israel. The entire world is working in crisis mode and can’t find a way out. Has there been even one decision in recent years, by the G7, G8, G20, G-whatever that has been implemented successfully? And if there has, how has it helped? Are we better off now? Are we safer or more at peace?
Clearly, the answer to all the above is no. But it is so only because we’re trying to destroy each other instead of working to support each other. The world has plenty of food, and natural resources to last ad infinitum, but every country is doing its best to prevent the abundance from everyone else.
There is a different way and it’s already begun: In Israel, the Arvut (mutual guarantee) movement has been conducting discussion circles and Round Table symposiums throughout the country. These efforts have shown that when people put their differences aside in order to find a union based on mutual endorsement rather than criticism, they build among them a bond that connects orthodox with secular, Jews with Arabs, and leftists with rightists.
However, this is only the beginning. It is a beautiful example, but still far from truly relating to each other as family. We have to keep working toward it because it is the call of the hour in Israel, all over the world, and among all people and nations. This is the kind of human society that we should strive for. And as an Israeli, I suggest we start at home.