Yoav Ende
Head of the Hannaton Educational Center

Is our hope not yet lost?

The days of war continue, and the reservists bring a spirit of “togetherness” and a demand for change. However, in the political realm, there is a failure even to hold a discussion about “the day after.” At its core, the story of the Jewish people has always been based on “hope.” It is expressed in the longing to return to the Holy Land after two thousand years and, of course, in the Zionist infrastructure itself. The Jewish people have experienced challenging times, and in all of them, faith prevailed. This includes faith in God, faith in the spirit of humanity, faith in human resilience, and faith in the eternity of the Jewish people.

Hope was there, for without it, we would not have survived or dreamed dreams – as individuals, communities, and a nation. But now, our brave fighters are in Gaza, and our government has failed to formulate a direction or plan that focuses on the goals of the war and supports them. This abandonment cries out to the heavens. Only a society that has lost hope for a “day after” can accept such mismanagement without demanding change and demanding it now.

Our lives have changed beyond recognition and many concepts were shattered on October 7th. Still, one essential concern has not changed, and that is the “inability to envision a better day over the horizon,” “lack of vision,” and “lack of hope for conflict resolution.” When the vision disappears, hope may also disappear.

The horizon we seek for ourselves may disappear. Many would agree with me that Israel cannot return to the reality that perpetuated the approach of “managing the conflict,” and we cannot accept a situation where we cannot talk about tomorrow, a tomorrow that we can believe in. There is no greater failure in our history than the approach of “managing the conflict” which brought in its wake collective blindness to our reality. That concept has been shattered in the terrible massacre.

Perhaps a bit difficult to grasp, but the Prime Minister is trying to continue the charade of “managing” the bloody conflict and is avoiding making decisions. The absence of post-war deliberations and the lack of guidance for the military campaign echo the cry that a military decision without a political plan will compromise our achievements. The Americans are also questioning our direction as the Israeli government struggles to map out the future.

Even amid our struggles and pain, we must cease ignoring the political question that stands before us while our soldiers fight in Gaza and other sectors. To do so is to abandon our fighters on the battlefield – literally, no less than that. A military campaign without a clear end goal, a campaign that lacks a political plan for its ongoing course, is a campaign that is doomed to falter and fail.

On the other hand, the “Transfer Conference” and the “return” to Gush Katif attract more ministers and Knesset members than one can find on an average day in the esteemed Knesset. This likely emphasizes the issue’s importance for those concerned. If this is indeed our course, the government should have the courage to declare it and lay out a clear path for all of us, fostering transparency. In this case, indecision doesn’t denote neutrality, but rather, leans toward failure. Are we ready to put lives at risk?

Like many, I am a parent with a son currently engaged in the conflict in Gaza, and, like others, I am dedicated to educating my children and my students about self-sacrifice in defense of our beloved country. Now, the question arises: What do we demand of ourselves?

Do we not demand everything required to ensure that our country moves in the right direction? Are we not searching for a worthy political leadership that can navigate with vision, a leadership that can shape the future, a leadership that instills hope? Are we only asking for self-sacrifice from our children and not from ourselves?

Without hope, Zionism would not have risen, and Holocaust survivors would not have built their lives anew. Without hope the state would not have been declared, waves of immigrants would not have made aliyah, and we would not have signed peace agreements with our greatest enemies. Genuine hope transcends empty optimism; it rejects arrogance and hollow concepts, embracing responsibility for ”’tomorrow.” Hope finds its roots in substance, drawing on realistic and tangible content to confront the challenges of our daily perception.

This is the minimum commitment we must demand from our leaders: Assume responsibility for tomorrow, and lead us toward a life filled with hope

About the Author
A Masorti rabbi, Rabbi Yoav Ende is the Executive Director of the Hannaton Educational Center, located on Kibbutz Hannaton in the Lower Galilee.
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