Hear O’ Israel, Our God is… Democracy

Israel achieved two milestones this past week:  She landed a spacecraft on the moon and she continued to demonstrate to the world that, unlike other western democracies, a parliamentary form of government continues to be the success story of this young, tiny nation.

As  with everything in life, the two aforementioned achievements came with hitches.  As with life, nothing is ever perfect.   To use baseball terminology, “life is full of curveballs.”

The key is how does one adjust to these so-called curveballs.  Despite the imperfect landing on the moon, the Israeli mentality was, to use another Brooklyn baseball colloquialism, “wait till next year.”  This beleaguered country is optimistic that the next lunar project will be a total success.  Talk about optimism, that outlook reminds me of America during the space race.

Even more exciting in the long run, last week demonstrated that democracy continues to be a huge success in Israel.  Many may have not been pleased with the electoral results, but the elections have demonstrated that Israelis, and only Israelis, are determining their fate and their government.

Historically, since Israel’s creation, the Shema or the Clarion Call, that attracted American and Diaspora Jews to Israel were the following:  after nearly two millennia, Jews, the true indigenous people of this land have returned home and, in doing so, they shared the same government system as the United States and Great Britain, two of the great victors of the Second World War. They chose freedom over tyranny.  They did not choose to go in the direction of the Soviet Union or other post-war governments that instituted an authoritarian form of government.

After 71 years the State of Israel’s parliamentary democratic system is still vital.  Make no mistake, vigilance is still necessary to continue this form of government.

I never criticize the policies of the State of Israel in public.  It is not my role.  Despite my lifelong desire to make aliya, I am still living in comfort 5,000 miles away. Almost every decision each sitting Israeli government makes may be a policy that can affect Israel’s basic existence.  My American friends and colleagues may be vocal in their criticism, but that is so…American and arrogant.  It is as if to say, “We know better.” They exercise true armchair pontificating.

My only concern about what is currently happening in Israel is neither a political statement nor, god forbid, a criticism. It is a historical observation that politicians who overextend their stay and welcome in office tend to corrupt manners and lose their sense of the country’s direction. The goal of such politicians is to remain and continue to stay in power for power’s sake.  As an American, we see this in our Congress as well as constantly witnessing this phenomenon in other countries. Longevity in office breeds corruption and power lust.

The good news is, unlike Americans, Israelis are very vocal. The founders of Israel had no choice in choosing a parliamentary democracy.  Israelis are not the type of people to be silenced. They heed to the call that democracy is their savior, and as an American, I admire that about them.

Meanwhile, in my country, I wish we emulated the Israeli example.  Many members of Congress and the President of the United States are destroying our hallowed and vaulted institutions, thus threatening our constitutional republic. At this point in history, I have more faith in the future of the parliamentary form of government in Israel than the 200 year plus tradition in the United States. We have a lot to learn from Israelis.

As for me, as long as I remain in America, I can sit back, observe, admire, support (but not always publicly agree), and pray that the Third Commonweal of the Jewish people continue to prosper.  I am optimistic that she will.  We heeded the call to return to our native birthplace, and we, as a people, are better for it.

About the Author
For over twenty-five years, Saul passionately devoted and immersed himself studying Jewish life in interwar Europe. Overnight, not only did this 1000-year-old community vanish, but so did its complex communal infrastructure. What piqued Saul Chapnick’s interest and curiosity was finding out exactly what it is that disappeared. In talking to politicians, survivors, scholars, Jewish communal leaders from Eastern Europe, and making trips there, Saul Chapnick was able to uncover the richness and the tragedy of interwar Jewish life in Europe. At the same time, Mr. Chapnick has discovered a rebirth of Jewish life in his parents’ and ancestors’ native land, Poland. Saul Chapnick has talked in various venues such as Limmud whether Yiddish still has relevance today, and has also spoke about the contemporary themes of the 19th and 20th century Yiddish writers and musicians. He also prepares the adult participants of The March for the Living about modern day Jewish Poland
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