Dear Prime Minister Bennett,
During your term as Israel’s Education Minister, you spoke at the Bible Tournament in honor of Israel’s 71st Independence Day. You discussed Israel’s economic, technologic, and diplomatic success. Your 12-minute speech focused on different forms of unity that we need to pursue as a people if we want to continue to thrive as a nation and state. You have repeated this sentiment on numerous occasions throughout your political career.
First, you spoke passionately about unity with Jews of the Diaspora. You began by describing how Israel built itself up over the last seventy years with contributions from Jews throughout the world. You continued by saying that this balance has shifted and now it is the Jews of the Diaspora who require Israel’s help. In an article last week in the Jewish Press (https://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/an-open-letter-to-prime-minister-naftali-bennett/2021/07/23/) I analyzed a misstep of your new government on this important issue.
The second form of unity that you spoke about was within the State of Israel. You observed how in all Jewish history no kingdom has lasted more than 70 years. During the first temple, the breakup of the Davidic dynasty, and during the second temple the infighting in the Hasmonaean dynasty which led to its destruction. You spoke about how we are tearing each other apart in modern Israel, and how we must unite as to not relive our destructive past. You praised our nation as being one of discussion and dialogue but voiced your concern of how we are clashing with one another pulling in three different directions; nationalism, liberalism, and religion. You stated that we cannot forsake any of these identities and emphasize another, thus losing one of the pillars which makes us who we are.
You opened your speech on June 13th where you unveiled your new government with the same history lesson on how our people has not had a kingdom that has survived more than 70 years. Pushing through the protest of the unseated right-wing government, you spoke about how the polarization and division in Israel had become unbearable. You noted how for the past several years the Knesset has been paralyzed because of all the hostility and the inability of the different dueling parties to agree on anything. This was your reasoning in forming a government with such unlikely partners. Although I understand your reasoning and appreciate that you are a student of history, I believe you will not achieve your goal.
Prime Minister, we have passed the one and a half-month threshold of your new coalition, and it appears that your vision of unity will not come to be. As much as everyone would like to believe that a unity government which includes Israel’s far right and far left is possible, it is not.
The unity government you formed includes Arab parties and Arab Knesset members who do not recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, do not support Israel’s right to defend itself, and who condone terrorism against Israelis. It also includes left wing parties who want to put Israeli soldiers on trial (yourself included) in the ICC, remove all reminders of traditional Jewish identity from the public space, agree with BDS sanctions, and forget about the original goal of traditional Zionism which established Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
These are also the same people who have hunted the Netanyahu family for years and turned him into a political “untouchable”. This is all without mentioning part of your coalition’s public hatred towards Charedim and Religious Zionists.
Again, Mr. Prime Minister, I understand your intentions in trying to be the glue that holds our young country together, but I do not understand how choosing those who may not have Israel’s best interests in mind, and may not necessarily be looking for unity themselves, will help bring the country together.
Mr. Bennett, I turn to you as someone who made Aliyah and fell in love with Religious Zionist ideals you hold. I am sure that you are familiar with what Rav Kook writes, “It is a fundamental error to forget our birthright as a people, the failure to recognize the announcement of “you were chosen” … If we recognize our greatness then we will know ourselves, and if we forget our greatness, we are setting aside our identity, and a nation that forgets its identity is surely small and pathetic.” Rav Kook wants us to recognize that we have something to give the world no other nation can. It is the ability to introduce Godliness into the world as a functioning people. It’s the ability to balance the three values of religion, nationalism, and liberalism as stated and as Rav Kook himself writes.
I fail to understand how parts of your newly formed coalition will move us closer to unity or balancing these three principles. I am frightened that you have given control to those that see the State of Israel and Zionism as their enemy. As Douglas MacArthur wrote “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
I now humbly call to you my Prime Minister, I think that your intentions for strengthening the unity of the Jewish people are commendable, but I don’t think this is the way.