I don’t want my Israeli political identity defined by defense. I don’t want ot to solely depend my views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – I care about all political issues in this country, and don’t care to be boxed in by how I view a single issue. Israeli salaries are dismal, taxes are too high, its cost of living abysmal, and its economy in the hands of so few major families and companies. I want to vote based on domestic issues, just like citizens of all democracies around the world tend to do. I want more priority to education and more checks and balances on the judiciary as are fundamental in democracy.
I am a Religious Zionist who actually relates to concern over the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, holy sites on both sides of the Green Line and Jewish access to the entire Land of Israel. I don’t have to relinquish those ideals or mere concern over them in order to demand equal living standards and opportunities for Israeli Arabs, compromise on land issues with Israeli Bedouin or even priority housing for East Jerusalem Arabs. I want a unified Israel that sees its domestic conflicts as threats to the country’s stability.
But to reemphasize, what are more and more defined as the realm of the center are still just as important to my Religious Zionist philosophy as anyone else in this country. Conversely, caring about the cultural heritage and certainly religious sites of Judaism is not the exclusive realm of the right wing by any means.
Back to the Fundamentals
Inefficiency & Corruption
Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of his distress. – Pirkei Avot 2:3
I despise corruption and despite the bureaucratic inefficiency that enables it (or perhaps, the corruption is at fault for the inefficiency). I want transparent government, namely because it is a principle of Jewish governance. I want the State of Israel to shine like a polished diamond, not feed a reputation of nepotism or payoffs.
Yehoshua ben Perachia said: Make yourself a master, buy for yourself a teacher, and judge every person favorably. – Pirkei Avot 1:6
I want to see my country recover from its declining national scores in maths and sciences. I want Israel leading the OECD in education, pioneering new fields and making achievements for its students that other countries will try to emulate of us rather than the other way around. If that means trimming elements of the government – so overstretched and redundant anyway – to make that happen, we have to demand it of ourselves. Deficit spending should happen on schools as much as it does with wars. With education, we know we will get our investments back in due time.
Closing Income Gaps
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it. If you have learned much Torah, you will be greatly rewarded, and your employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward of your labors. – Pirkei Avot 2:16
The cost of living, for the zillionth time, is ridiculous. Work is simply more productive and corruption kept in check when people do not feel the need to stress their time and resources to do more to make ends meet. Incentivize the increase of general salaries and adjust tax brackets accordingly. If people are making more money, their increased salaries will increase tax revenues in any case for the government. Higher salaries simply means more productivity. But we are still hampered by a society where getting ahead seems more based on being out for yourself. Government cannot totally flip some of the faults of Israeli culture’s “don’t be a friar” complex, but it can try to nudge it toward something different. People should not fear for their already lower-than-deserved compensation.
Don’t Be Defined by a Stereotype
We are hardly at the point that Israelis themselves are ready to stop defining their left and right wings solely by their stance on the Palestinians. But I can speak for myself. I am eager for a coalition that approximates these views as much as possible.
Being religious does not make me conservative. Being liberal doesn’t make someone weak on defense. How you view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shouldn’t be the only barometer by which you define yourself.
My Religious Zionism doesn’t place me on the right by any means. I am not defined solely by beliefs about holy sites, the Land of Israel, nor the separate issue of strong defense.
Clean government. Strong education. Expecting to be paid on time for my time. These are traditional Jewish principles that are essential to an efficient, wise and stable country. I want them implemented in the name of Judaism.