Is unity a lost cause?

One of the recurring storylines of 2013 has been the attempts of the government to heal the gaps in Israeli society and create unity. Unfortunately, it seems to be just that. Attempts.

Specifically the government has focused on integrating two sectors into the mainstream; the ultra-Orthodox and the Bedouin Arabs. In both cases the government has been making well-intentioned plans to fix real problems that plague those communities, and effect Israel as a whole. The proposed draft law would end the isolation of the Haredi community, and help integrate them into the workforce. The Begin-Prawer plan would bring basic infrastructure to thousands of Bedouins who live in poor conditions, while allowing the state to develop the Negev according to zoning plans.

But both projects have been greeted with resistance from the groups that are being targeted. Thousands of Haredim have taken to the streets in protest. Haredi MK’s have torn their clothes on the Knesset podium, and rabbis have classified the proposed draft as a “decree of destruction”. The Bedouins have also protested the Begin-Prawer plan vehemently. Many of the demonstrations have included violence, and public figures use buzzwords like “ethnic cleansing”.

So if they don’t want to integrate, the hopes of a unified Israeli society are as dead as Nelson Mandela and Arik Einsten.

No. No. No. We can’t be discouraged. In my opinion there is only one route forward.

Unity cannot be imposed from the top. The government will not integrate a single person through legislation. If you want proof, read the previous two paragraphs again. Both the Haredi and Bedouin communities are very proud, with rich culture and history. Both perceive the recent events as attacks on their way of life.

Laws come from the government, but unity comes from the people. If we want to establish a unified society, we, the people, must take action. Unity will only start on Egged buses, by helping a Haredi woman with her bags. Unity will only start at Osher Ad, smiling and thanking your Arab cashier. We, the people, have the power to genuinely show them that we respect their way of life, and want to make this country a better home for all of us.

About the Author
Yaakov Wolff is a soldier in the IDF. He made Aliyah from Boston to Beit Shemesh in 2007. Before joining the army he studied in Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh. He holds a degree in Middle East Studies from Bar-Ilan University.
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