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Michael Boyden

Perhaps the Dream is Over

In a recent article Daniel Gordis described the sense of frustration and anger that is felt by each and every section of Israeli society.

The current dispute over the relative powers of the judiciary and the legislature is just the tip of the iceberg, but it has let the genie out of the bottle.

Prof. Dan Ben-David, head of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, who was named ‘Person of the Year’ by the Calcalist newspaper, suggests that the path of the start-up nation is unsustainable.

Many of those Israelis who generated Israel’s wealth and those who stand at the forefront of Israel’s defence forces are now questioning whether the kind of Israel that Simcha Rothman and Yariv Levin want to create is an Israel of which they wish to be a part.

Although living in a Jewish State is a privilege that our ancestors could only have dreamed of, there are those who are beginning to wonder whether it comes with a price tag worth paying.

Israel is expensive. Young couples cannot afford to buy their own homes, and their living standard is considerably lower than that of their counterparts in many other countries.

On the other hand, Israel is a great place to raise children, and the social security benefits and health services that are provided are better than in many other countries, but is the price worth paying when you know that your kids will be conscripted for military service while 50% of the population, including most of the charedim, are draft dodgers?

At one time Benjamin Netanyahu was in a position to unite the nation, but he is now beholden to his coalition partners for his very survival. Our president, unfortunately, does not enjoy the standing or the prestige that might have allowed him to be the peace maker.

So we are left with a nation that is falling apart. Were the ultra-orthodox, who opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, right when they quoted the Talmudic passage (Ketubot 111a) that Jews should not immigrate to Israel en masse?

If there is no serious compromise put forward by Netanyahu’s government on the issue of the balance between the judiciary and the legislature, many may decide that the time has come to leave this country rather than fight a civil war in defence of their values. Israel would be weaker as a consequence and many would question whether it would be able to survive.

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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