Can there be more than one Israel?
A new survey published in Israel reveals that about half of the Jewish public in Israel believes that splitting Israeli society into two autonomous states is possible. Ten percent of the respondents in the survey believe that such a division is not only possible, but even likely. In my opinion, dividing the State of Israel into two separate states is possible only in theory, but not in practice. What the survey does show, however, is how divided and splintered Israeli society really is, and this is what we should really worry about.
As a practical idea, two autonomous Jewish states cannot happen because the division would be between secular and orthodox Jews. However, the orthodox Jews cannot sustain a state on their own without the help of the secular part of society, primarily in the economic aspect.
At the same time, the secular part of society will not be able to maintain a separate state because its social cohesion relies on denunciation of the orthodox Jews. If it receives its own state, without orthodox Jews, the fragmented secular society that is currently united against the religious would have nothing to keep it together and would shatter into countless pieces.
Fragmentation and division have plagued Jewish society since our inception as a nation. However, breaking up has never solved anything for us. On the contrary, it only worsened our plights.
Instead of looking to splinter our society even more, we should understand that our only hope of solving our problems is by embracing the differences between us and using them for the common good. Jews will never be similar to one another. On the contrary, the differences and divisions between us will only widen and intensify the feeling of estrangement. And the only way that we can ever deal with our mutual aversion is to accept the differences, embrace them, and then contribute each sector’s unique qualities for the success of Israeli society in its entirety.
Such an approach may sound impossible to carry out, but we really have no choice. Either we embrace it, or we will fall apart altogether.
It is not a new approach. In fact, this was the modus operandi that our ancestors sought to implement. King Solomon encapsulated this method with a single verse (Prov. 10:12): “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes.” In other words, hate causes conflicts, but we cannot solve them through compromise, but rather by cultivating love for one another despite the hatred. It may seem impossible, and certainly undesirable, to love someone when what I feel is hate, but it is nevertheless the only solution that will save the State of Israel from dissolution.
The way to overcome such a formidable hurdle is to focus not on our negative feelings, but on our responsibility to the world. We must remember that our nation emerged from strangers who followed Abraham’s ideology of unity and mercy among all people, which he bequeathed to his progeny and disciples. Therefore, it is precisely when we feel like strangers that we can implement our forefather’s ideology and realize the greatest legacy of the Jewish people to the world: the motto, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is also when we become a light to the nations, as we had been chosen to be, and what the world still expects us to do.
Our entire history, we have been running away from our vocation. Our entire history, we have been persecuted, expelled, and murdered almost to extinction. It is time to stop running from ourselves, from who we are destined to be, a nation of courageous people who face their own hatred of each other and prove to the world that unity among strangers, which is how we feel about each other, is possible, and we are the living proof. Only if we do this, we will find peace, and peace of mind, and the world will find them with us.