The newspapers are full of analyses of Israel’s newly confirmed government. My “Inbox” is full of articles written by experts whom I greatly respect, warning us how this government will fail and the reasons why. Normally, I am one of those warning of the disasters awaiting us. Why do I not feel that way now?
Listening to my undauntable pro-Netanyahu or further-to-the-right ideologically wonderful friends, why am I not in sync with their feelings of desperation and warnings of a world of impending catastrophe without Bibi at the helm?
Their arguments about the reasons why this new government will be a disaster, do remind me of articles that I have written and concerns I have voiced as far back as the days of Oslo…and in more recent years. When I hear my words applied to our current situation, I find them wanting. Not because I was wrong at the time (heaven forbid…) but because today is not yesterday and our future is not as fragile as it once was. Those of us right-of-center idealogues had very real fears that the naïve optimism of the left — vis a vis the Arab inclination to have a sustainable peace with Israel — could bring disaster. We were correct. The militant Arab world still wants Israel off the face of the map. Gaza is now a very real enemy as we handed it over to Arab control. Now Hezbollah has essentially placed Iran on Israel’s border. The result: a network of tunnels trying to reach into Israeli territory, hiding and storing Hezbollah rockets, and horrible wars with the deaths of innocents along with the enemy. The search for “peace” with the “self- proclaimed” Palestinians was a pipedream. Israelis who want to see the new government succeed have not forgotten the lessons learned.
But while Israel was being re-educated by the terrorists, we also entered a new international reality with the emergence of Iran as the world’s number one supporter of terror and its plans for hegemony over the Middle East. Moderate Arab nations now understand that a future of cooperation with Israel will help them to survive Iran’s despicable goals. We can thank Mr. Netanyahu for opening those doors, but they are a result of mutual benefit…and will continue and flourish.
During recent years Israel has experienced a form of stagnation. In the areas of societal development, many creative ideas were stymied. Areas of domestic importance were left to fester. Promises made went onto the back shelf as threats of bringing down the government were more powerful than the Knesset decisions. It felt as if all of the public energy was directed at removing the Prime Minister from office, and many of his decisions focused on securing his political survival. With the end of this era, we are all breathing fresh air.
The very idea of “hope” is a bit embarrassing. How dare we “hope” that this new government will succeed? Naysayers are laying bets on how long it will be before one side or the other givens an ultimatum which result in elections once again.
We do not know exactly what is written the coalition agreements, but more important than documents, is the spirit behind them. Dare we “hope” that the new partners really will nurture one another? Dare we “hope” that they care more for the country than for their careers? Dare we “hope” that the Arab party will function as a part of the whole rather than as the “enemy within?”
We have been living in a pattern of behavior that smashed all hope. Israel’s relationship with Diaspora Jewry could not improve as long as the Haredi Knesset members rejected all Jews unlike themselves. Young Israelis chose not to marry at all, rather than be ruled by their religious authority. That will change now, and the Haredi leaders are full of expletives towards our new Prime Minister Bennett as to them he is the devil-incarnate. To the rest of world Jewry, Israel may once again become relevant to their lives as inclusiveness becomes the new order of the day.
Israelis have been hungry for a connection with their history, their Torah, their peoplehood. Torah classes flourish in parallel with the same students avoiding “religion” as being dictated by Haredi religious authority. The removal of the Haredim from total power in these spheres, may bring a rebirth for the balance of the Israeli public.
Those who fear Israel’s newly elected government, have their reasons. If old patterns of behavior repeat themselves… they will be proven correct. If the schools deprecate the beauty, need and purpose of our nation state, we will have much to mourn. If pride and respect for our young soldiers is encouraged, we will continue to have a strong core for the future of our state. If not, our armed forces will be demoralized.
Those of us who dare to “hope” are not naïve. We are desperate. Desperate to have leaders who care more for the nation than for themselves. We are praying for human beings who are prepared to work together to accomplish for the common good. We crave leaders who will restore our faith in democracy and who understand that they are in their positions to serve us, not to simply secure their re-elections. The very idea that Israel cannot survive without Netanyahu at its helm is absurd. It is tantamount to saying that Israel will one day not exist at all. For those who fear such a catastrophe, the need for newer creative leaders is more critical than ever.
My father of blessed memory, was not politically sophisticated, but he was able to grow and change as the times required. His measure of which American Party to support was simply based on their commitment to the State of Israel. He was a one issue man. When an extraordinarily wealthy candidate was running for office, his middle class sensibilities told him that a rich man has the luxury of caring for issues other than his own needs. That was the kind of leader that he respected.
Our new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett would have pleased my father’s intuitive inclinations. When I wrote “Courage in the Israeli Voting Booth” published on September 9, 2019 (and still available) on my blog in The Times of Israel, I never imagined Naftali Bennett could be Prime Minister in 18 months’ time. I was expressing my view that new leaders needed to be encouraged, and felt that Bennett had tremendous potential. Only a bizarre political system such as ours could bring such unlikely “bedfellows” together in a ruling coalition. The beauty of this anomaly is that all the major players, have the potential to behave differently than their predecessors. They are new…and yet unspoiled. They have the opportunity to give Israel’s citizens the “hope” — which I allow myself a moment to savor. I do believe that our new leaders truly care about our nation. Now it is their turn to prove it to us all.