Sam Litvin

Jewish People Have One King, And It Isn’t Bibi

Two things happened to me this week that stressed the importance of this moment in Jewish history. One is a lunch meeting with a fellow wrestling coach, who is not Jewish but asked me “What is happening in Israel?”  The other is a fellow Kellogg-Recanati Alum who is running a startup from New York. She posted on LinkedIn that she along with her husband canceled all their meetings for the next two weeks, took her kids out of school so that they as a family could fly to Israel to fight for the democratic future of the one and only Jewish state. These two events are very different but cemented for me what is at stake.

Usually, non-Jews talk about Israel because there is war or violence. The idea that Israel is a stable democracy never crosses their mind. The concept that Jewish people would destroy a stable government of the people just doesn’t compute. So when a non-Jew puts that question to me, it marks just how grave and dangerous this point is. It marks what is at stake as a collapse of democracy in Israel would create an exodus of the very people who do most to keep that country safe and secure, just as it occurred in Russia. The difference is that Russia can survive without those people, whereas without those people in the government, army, and business, Israel is weak and defenseless.

Furthermore, if Israel stops being a democracy in order to pass laws that pursue racist ideologies or keep a corrupt politician in power, it will lose all credibility and trust from the free world that currently supports it. With so many people pushing for BDS, it is incumbent to have as many allies who can withstand the strong public pressure to boycott and divest. That political clout would disappear the moment Israel becomes a de-facto dictatorship, and the financial impact would cripple it, destroying its ability to keep an able army.

This is why my former classmate is getting on a plane to fly home. Netanyahu has taken bombs that make Iranian nuclear weapons weak in comparison and planted them into the Israeli democracy that have the power to destroy the nation just as Agrippa did two thousand years ago.

There is a prominent writer (who happens to be a BDS supporter) who in one of his books said that “Things that happened once, may not happen again. But things that happen twice are sure to repeat.” The Jews have lost Israel more than twice. The possibility that they will lose it again, is there. But it will not happen from a war. As long as Jews are united, they can withstand anything. As long as Jews are free, they can withstand anything. It is only when they are placed under a power that isn’t G-d, it is only when they are split and forced to be against each other, that the Jewish dream of a free and Jewish state of Israel is truly at risk.

Ancient Israel had a distinction from other countries, where the kings were never absolute kings. It was this way for Saul and David and all the kings after them. They were beholden to the same laws as everyone else. Bibi is trying to test that boundary, but there’s only one true king of the Jewish people, and Bibi is not He.

Kelly Breakstone with family on their way to Israel. Courtesy of K. Breakstone.
About the Author
Sam Livin was born in Soviet Union and grew up in San Diego. In 2012, he travelled the world photographing Jewish communities publishing a book called "Your Story Our Sipur." Today he continues to write about Israel and Judaism as he lives and studies business and ecology in Tel Aviv.
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