A month ago, America saw a revolution in its elections. As Israel approaches the March 17 elections, much can be learned from the American experience.
With the world facing tremendous turmoil, the Muslim community is expanding rapidly because more people seek a cause and sense of belonging, and that’s where they are finding it. Technological developments over the past years have created decreased communications and relationships, as text messaging replaced conversations and Siri replaced outreach to friends. Amid this backdrop, the individual has gotten lost, but is seeking to be found.
Americans realized this and, on November 4th, joined together to vote for the people, not politics. In a mass demonstration of dissatisfaction, they made their voices heard, coming together to vote for more jobs, a stronger economy, and a better future for themselves and their families. And looking beyond the rhetoric of the leading politicians in Israel, it seems that is what our citizens are looking for too: a focus on the people, not the politics. The upcoming elections should not about the power struggles in the upper echelons of leadership, but about the needs of our families, both short- and long-term.
In Israel, the people have been crying out for fiscal change, driving the economic messages of fair housing costs, reasonable salaries for MKs, better jobs, lower taxes, and affordable prices for food. But in light of recent events, these voices are increasingly focusing on personal security, desiring the confidence to go to the supermarket or synagogue and return to our homes safely. The increased terrorist activities in Israel do not translate widespread into a call for ascending Har HaBayit or nuking Iran; rather, we want to know that the average citizen can walk down the street without being murdered by a terrorist behind a wheel.
On November 4th, Americans were adamant in their ballot-casting, electing Republicans at the local, state and national level with the sweeping message of fiscal responsibility. But at the same time they put into office people who are likely going to be tougher on terror, against a nuclear Iran, anti-ISIS and wanting to strengthen democracy around the world. And as it heads towards the 2016 presidential elections, it will likely continue moving in that direction, giving the world an American leader who will re-instill the priorities of the great democracy while driving more of its own citizens towards living the American Dream of economic prosperity.
This offers Israel a great learning experience. We have the opportunity to offer a two-pronged focus: economic prosperity and personal safety. And in strengthening our own country by doing this, we can prove to be an equal and strong partner to the U.S. in a quest towards reclaiming global respect. While the Palestinians succeed in expanding their world-wide support with concentrated, strong messages, Israel has been floundering. In an attempt to shirk from the small but loud group of radical extremists in Israel, our government subsequently weakened its own position and consistently conveys to the world a divided, uncertain, flexible Israeli leadership. We have thrown away Jewish brotherhood with great disunity, only uniting after terror attacks; and we boast that Israel has flexed its diplomatic muscle every time Netanyahu makes a good speech. That’s not the Israel we once were, nor the Israel we seek to be.
The March election offers Israelis an opportunity to take back our country, to force the creation of a government that will focus on people, not politics. The nation built by pioneers has spent the last few years trying to play a PR game – support Israel for our medical innovations, our agricultural technology, and our humane activities around the world. But it has lost sight of the very benefits Israel offers the world – a strong democratic base in a turmoiled Middle East and a country that brings together smart, innovative people from different countries and cultures with an invigorated pioneering spirit. We have been ignoring Israel’s most valuable resource: our people. Instead, we create global technology but we can’t feed our own elderly; we solve water crises around the world but we can’t provide affordable housing in our own cities; we heal major medical problems but we can’t keep our citizens safe enough in our streets, synagogues and supermarkets.
We have moved away from the basics and we must return to them, restoring the power and pride of Israel, and ending the politics and polarization that has gripped our nation for the last decade, if not more. America is working to restore opportunity and re-offer the American Dream to its citizens. It’s up to us, the people of Israel, to unite together and re-offer the Israel Dream of both economic and physical security – for everyone. Once upon a time, that Israel Dream was a reality. It’s time to bring it back.
This election is a revolutionary opportunity – can people triumph over politics in Israel on March 17? It happened in America, and it is up to us to make it happen here.