To make change, you have to dream big.
The list for the new political party, “The Jewish Heart,” is made up of dreamers who believe that Israel can be a country with policies that reflect Jewish values, that has a moral compass and a strong conscience that guides its political interests. Our guiding principle is “to abandon our values is to abandon our security,” and this is why we have placed what we consider to be the biggest breach of morality in Israeli policy at the heart of our platform: the lack of oversight on Israeli weapons exports.
For nearly 40 years Israeli governments, on the both the left and the right, have sanctioned weapons exports, spyware, and military training, for countries all over the world. We are not opposed to military sales as a whole, but rather to the lack of regard shown by our government toward how our exports and expertise may be used in their country of destination. Innocent civilians are being killed and dissidents suppressed by our technology. If this is news to you, that is because most of these arrangements are secretive and the courts have repeatedly ruled that the public’s right to know does not take precedence over Israeli security interests around the world.
Our party’s position is that when our country, and by extension, you and I, are complicit in these types of atrocities around the world, we are weakened as a society. If the Jewish nation disregards the most basic tenant of Torah, that the tzelem elokim exists in every person, we are in moral and mortal danger. What kind of society are we creating for ourselves and our generations? Not one that will continue to flourish and stand the test of time. This is the main message of our recent campaign video which you can view on our Facebook page. What happens in Myanmar or Cameroon with Israeli weapons and training doesn’t just happen over there, far away; it darkens our own society right here.
Our party’s central goal is to establish oversight of our security exports through a committee which takes moral as well as political considerations into account. When our country’s weapons are used to murder 382,000 citizens in South Sudan, the moral fiber of my society is affected. We cannot continue on this path of blatant disregard for human life and human suffering. Though there may be short-term political gains in partnering with dictators and despots around the world, in the long-term our society is under threat. We are losing our vision of what it means to be a Jewish country in the deepest and truest sense.
In truth, our party aims to approach many areas of domestic policy through this Jewish moral lens: improving quality of life for the elderly, providing resources for grassroots projects which cultivate peaceful coexistence between Jews and Palestinians, and legislation to ensure that our politicians remain close to the needs of the people, just to name a few. Imagine, for example, how lawmaking would change if all members of Knesset spent one full day per week out of the office, in the field with the people they serve, to witness their day-to-day lives and hear their concerns?
At this point in our history we are a regional power. We are a strong nation with one of the best armies in the world and countless innovations to boast of, many of them for the betterment of humanity. The Jewish Heart is proud of our achievements, and at the same time we see this as the moment for a moral accounting of where our policies need a radical change of direction. I, and the other members of the party, believe that aligning our policies with Jewish values, most critically the belief that all people are created b’tzelem elokim — in G-d’s image — and their life is sacred, will only make us stronger.
Some may say that voting for a small party is a “wasted vote.” I say that a vote for morality in our policies is what we need at this point in our nation’s history. Our inability to form a government might just be an indication that we need a fresh direction and a different type of approach. It is time for more regular, caring citizens to get involved in politics, time to make true change at home and abroad. It is time for the moral choice.
I invite you to our official party launch on Thursday evening in Jerusalem to hear more about our platform and to join us in dreaming big.