There is no law of nature here that we need to submit to.
1. The divisions in Israeli society before the Simchat Torah War have been grossly exaggerated. Just by repeating the mantra, it didn’t become true. The disputes were mainly between the government and the people. There is no dichotomy when 300,000 march against, and 30,000 politically ignorant demonstrate for judicial reform. If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it.
2. The news thrives on sensation, exaggeration, and negativity. It’s been their daily bread to report “divisions.” Big, fat lies. Call out the fake news. Ignore those trashing each other or certain groups. Insist that the media should bring examples that break stereotypes, not sustain them.
3. Israelis tend to think in stereotypes (or is that a stereotype?) That makes us vulnerable to old wives’ tales (excuse to old wives) and libel. Yet, there is much intermarriage in Israel between Western and Arab Jews, though it is disputed if the melting-pot idea reflects reality or is more wishful thinking. In any case, many Israelis don’t live by this division. In any case, Mizrachis still remember much hurt about past discrimination, and Ashkenazis only seem to act better once they left their White bubble.
4. Lately, more National-Religious ultra-Orthodox men were signing up for the IDF and, on a smaller scale, also anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox men. The massacre on October 7 seems to have accelerated that. The gap between them and the secular was not total by far but is rapidly vanishing. I presume the mini-Holocaust has clarified it is not “secular” to serve and defend the Jewish state. Interviews with them need to go viral.
5. Rightly so, much has been spoken about Israeli Jews crossing ideological divides since October 7. The unity. The generosity. You can safely ask total strangers on the bus: How do you contribute to the war effort?
6. Spread the realization that when two Jews argue, they’re looking to cement unity between them rather than to find out who’s right.
7. If Jew-haters hate us equally, can’t we deepen our love-built alliance?
8. I wrote an “ultra-left-wing” blogger about her married kids living abroad with no intention to return to Israel, where they now don’t even feel safe: “Isn’t it heartbreaking? You do your best to be as OK as you could be as an Ashkenazic Jew in Israel, but love for the country didn’t transfer to your kids. I feel for you and pray it won’t happen to my offspring. Not saying they’re not fine people, fine Jews, or lack a right to choose for themselves. Enjoy them. Life is so short.” She thanked me. The power of empathy?
9. There are Jews who deeply hate Jews and/or truth. With them, no unity is needed or desirable. Being naïve is a vice, not a virtue here. Let’s not call every opponent an antisemite or con artist, but some of them are. NB: Not everyone who follows them is a liar and/or Jews-hater. Some Jews may just be confused by the propaganda. Let’s just be cautious with them. Don’t let them speak for us. Wake up and smell the coffee. When 80% of the country is united, we have unity. The other 20% are unimportant as long as we can prevent them from holding political power. Part of the 80% might include Israeli Gentiles. Yes, we can.
10. We need to fight tooth and nail against people who want to destroy us but not against fellows who simply disagree with us. Let’s measure how passionate or fanatical we argue. Otherwise, we might miss that we can learn from our opponents and end up as half-enemies.
11. Judging any “lack of unity” in Israel should be seen as relative to what happens worldwide. It might reflect polarization elsewhere. In many communities, Jews only tolerate equal-minded friends. Also information-wise, many people sit in a bubble unable to hear what “others” think.
12. The real division is not between conservatives and progressives. This is only a smoke screen. The real partitions are between the haves and the have-nots (capitalism), and between Jews and Muslims (antisemitism).
13. Once we understand we are and always were one, we no longer need to strive for unity. Healthy people don’t need to unite their left and right sides. All the different types of Jews together are one, the Jewish people. No specific branch has all the copyrights or patents to value. Even birds don’t try to unite their left wing with their right wing to fly.
14. I’ve pointed out that the massacre seems to have woken up Muslim Israelis to realize they belong within democratic Israel, not with the terrorists and their oppression of “Palestinians’”or slaughter of Israelis.
15.Hamas murdered many Israeli Muslims knowingly. Reversely, October 7, many Muslims, like local Bedouins, defended Jews against Hamas or rushed them to safety as if their own children. Often loyal to Jews, lately, some discord emerged in their communities. Oct. 7 clarified their loyalty.
16. Many Jews from all over the world, Israelis abroad and Jews living in the Diaspora for generations, surely not all “salon-Zionists,” understood Israel is the place to be and rushed to return home. ElAl flew plane-loads-full one-way while other companies started avoiding the Jewish state.
17. Naturally, people are united. It takes teaching hatred to divide people.
What Could Be Done to Strengthen Our Unity
A. Make it known that disputes between the government and 80% of the people does not mean we are divided.
B. Complain about the sensationalist press that tries to milk every upset and personal grievance and poison our minds.
C. Get Haaretz English from Israel outlawed. It is responsible for creating much antisemitism and has then no claim to Free Press protection.
D. Encourage Israeli groups to talk to “the others” about their lives. No arguing back. This can be done in person and in the media. This is not divisive. Getting to know each other as different groups builds unity.
E. Make it a foundational story that the Simchat Torah War clarified for many Israeli minorities, from Muslims to anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews to those living in the Diaspora that we all belong here and are unity.
F. Teach that arguing to learn from/with each other is fundamentally different from arguing to win an argument or to defeat the other.
G. Introduce the mantra we have more in common than what divides us.
H. Make it known how our lives are superior to life in the US. Our multi-party system is cumbersome but allows for minorities to be heard. It also acknowledges there can be many alternatives. The world has many grays.
I. Teach empathy. Exchanging ideas not only enables us to get wiser but also to give and receive empathy. It’s easy to do when you think of it.
J. We must clear our democracy from hate-based politics. Just like courts can decide who stole, they can rule who spreads hatred and supremacy.
K. Recognize all unrecognized Muslim and Jewish villages that are not on private land and confiscate all illegal weapons. Discourage polygyny with great sensitivity. Don’t miss the chance to further Muslim inclusion.
L. Fanatics is for fighting real enemies, not just people we disagree with.
M. Any ideas that don’t work toward more money and opportunity for those lacking are part of the problem.
N. Although we are all smart, no one needs to agree or obey our ideas.
O. We need more political parties that are around principles more than traditions or identities so that we meet people from other communities.
P. None of the religious/secular, Jewish/Gentile, Muslim/non-Muslim wants our kids to intermarry, so we must live in our own neighborhoods and send our kids to our own schools, but then we must keep mingling in healthcare, work, the army, public transportation, and higher education.
Q. After Gaza (Hamas), Yemen (Houthis), Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iran (junta), and the West Bank (PA) lost from Israel, make sure especially the Muslims in Israel can join in cementing peace with our neighbors (Egypt and Jordan), and in educating the Muslim population in Gaza, the West Bank, and South Lebanon to live well and integrate into Israeli democracy.
R. Public transportation now separates the working class from the middle class, the latter starting work an hour later, as in most capitalist countries. We need public transportation to be free and all workers starting at the same time, except for grownup-dependent children who can start earlier.
S. More or less secular Jews turned more observant after the massacre. More or less observant Jews should guide them to keep up their gain.
T. Before giving Jews abroad voting rights, we must bring them up-to-date with the consensus in Israel we learned the hard way: no more Land-for-Peace, or Trump, UN, or terrorist reign, or multi-state solutions. They must know Israel is fully democratic and the army for equality with special rules to make the IDF accessible for all minorities (Druze, Bedouin, vegan, etc.). This info must go to the expected tidal wave of new immigrants.
U. Correcting a historically weak point, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to search for, acknowledge, and cooperate with states, leaders of nations and communities, and individuals who stood with us, all of them.
V. Since unity comes naturally to people, the first thing to do is to stop teaching young people hatred. The next thing is to include grownups. Random acts of generosity and empathy further reclaim unity.
Some earlier posts on my blog about Israeli unity are:
Imagine Lennon with Jewish annotations
Not only a deeply spiritual text but also a highly Jewish one
|Imagine there’s no Heaven
|Don’t live for later reward (Avot 1:3)
|It’s easy if you try
|Try and you’ve done it (Deut. 30:14)
|No Hell below us
|Not from fear of punishment later
|Above us only sky
|See the enormity, be meek (Avot 3:1)
|Imagine all the people
|Think beyond your self-interests
|Living for today
|Doing what’s becoming and right, now
|Imagine there’s no countries
|Live for all of humanity (Isaiah 42:6)
|It isn’t hard to do
|Easy does it (Deuteronomy 30:14)
|Nothing to kill or die for
|Nationalism is used to incite wars
|And no religion too
|Many religions have justified wars
|Imagine all the people
|Think beyond your own identities
|Living life in peace
|Shalom holds all blessing (Chulin 57b)
|You may say I’m a dreamer
|Yes, it takes idealism and ensuing deed
|But I’m not the only one
|And it takes a couple of us to succeed
|I hope someday you’ll join us
|No pressure, but know you’re invited
|And the world will be as one
|So, all folks will be united (Prayer HH)
|Imagine no possessions
|No more haves versus have-nots
|I wonder if you can
|Can you go from deserves to needs?
|No need for greed or hunger
|The results will be worth it for all
|A brotherhood of man
|A siblinghood comprising all humans
|Imagine all the people
|Think beyond your favorite people
|Sharing all the world
|Ensuring we all have our needs met