Today I got choked up as I walked towards the school classroom to vote. And, while I can’t exactly understand why – perhaps it was the last vestige of Zionism left in me – I couldn’t help but reflect on the enormity of what I was doing. I was a Jew, voting in a Jewish democracy, for the next government that will be tasked with solving some of the greatest challenges the Jewish people have faced in its history.
One might say to me, “Marni, what about the Holocaust? Masada? The Spanish Inquisition? The destruction of the first and second Temples?” And I would still say that virtually none of these lives up to the comparison.
Today’s challenges are far greater, because we are governing ourselves, with hundreds of internal fractions and fissures. We hold not only our destiny in our hands, but another people’s destiny – the Palestinians – another people’s future. And in so doing, our humanity is at risk.
This is not a political plea to vote for a specific party or person. This is a plea for us, as a Jewish state, and a Jewish people in a Jewish country, to stand up and take responsibility for who we are, for what we have become, and for what we will be. Internally we are at war with ourselves. We do not stand side by side and see each other simply as Jews – rather than not Jewish enough or too Jewish. We look at each other and wonder who “we” are. We treat one another as an “other,” and not as an “us.”
And, on the other hand we treat the “other” as a nuisance – something we must “deal with” and “contain.” And, because we view them as the other – and they view us in the same way, we will always re-create this paradigm, both in our day-to-day dealings, and in our politics.
This election is virtually bereft of any dialogue on the issues of Israeli/Palestinian coexistence, solutions and/or negotiations. It’s as if we have tired of this issue as a people, and have therefore chosen to ignore it in favor of the price of apartments, cottage cheese, and the haredim in the military. And, while the argument of caring about “us” more than the “other” has some merit, we do not have this luxury in a region and population where our daily reality dictates that we care or ultimately live with the repercussions of NOT caring.
And so, I ask you to care – to truly care – about WHO we are as a people, what we DO, how we treat EACH OTHER and the OTHER.
And then, go vote…and hope and pray that those who serve in tomorrow’s government cares more about the future than they do about themselves.