Michael Boyden

Israel – On a Path to Self-Destruction

The country that was built out of the ashes of the Holocaust is now on the path to self-destruction.

I write these words in sadness as someone who made Aliyah with his family as a committed Zionist and whose son, Yonatan z”l, was killed in action in Southern Lebanon in defense of a country that he loved.

The judicial reform that we are witnessing is but one element in a cancer that is destroying Israel. Whatever merits there may be in re-assessing the relationship between the legislature and the judiciary, the ham-fisted manner in which the process has been handled has served to make many Israelis feel that this is no longer the country in which they wish to live and raise their children and for which they are prepared to put their lives on the line.

The shekel, once the world’s strongest currency, has devalued by 10% over the past year and all of us are feeling the effects. Young people can’t afford to buy homes and mortgage rates are on the rise. The governor of the Bank of Israel warned of the dangers of the government’s judicial reform. President Biden said it was a threat to Israel’s democracy. International financial institutions have indicated that our economy is in trouble, but Bibi has simply responded by telling them that their pessimism is unjustified.

The government coalition has just caved in to the demands of the charedim for an extra 165 million shekels for yeshivah students, which will be covered by an across- the-board reduction in funding to all of the government ministries.

Less money for our hospitals. Less money for our schools. Less money for our social services, but more money for yeshivot. It is a disgrace, but the charedim, whose numbers are constantly growing, feel no shame.

If that were not enough, they now want to introduce legislation equating Torah study with military service and thereby squeeze out additional funding from the exchequer!

Many Israelis are already applying for foreign passports. Those in hi-tech are moving their human and financial resources overseas, and doctors are leaving the country.

Israel is a sinking ship. Unless there is a serious change in government policy, and the charedim and religious zealots are stopped from holding the nation to ransom by manipulating a dysfunctional electoral system, Israel has no future.

The charedim, the religious zealots who believe in a Greater Israel, and those who cannot leave or believe it will all turn out alright will remain, while those who built this country, defended it and provided its economic base will have left and sought their fortunes elsewhere.

It is so sad and did not have to end that way. However, Israel’s dysfunctional electoral system has allowed the charedim and religious zealots to destroy our country and politicians from the right and the left have let it happen.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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