Esor Ben-Sorek

Time To Change

I am breathing easier since September 17. It is not because the air is more pure. Rather, it is because much of the filth in our country is about to disappear.

The Israeli nation has spoken. By our votes we have made new demands on the anticipated leadership.

Hopefully the Nation-State law will fade into misguided history. Hopefully the new government will pass a law similar to that in all democratic countries, namely, to separate religion from State.

We have been held as slaves to rabbinic authority since our independence in 1948. It is high time that we gain our independence from a 16th century religious mentality.

Ultra-orthodox Jews can live their religious lives safely in a secular society. The Hassidim in Brooklyn, New York and in other closed areas like Monsey have very few problems living in an American secular world.

The Hassidim in Antwerp, Belgium have no problems with a Belgian monarchy. Most of them also speak fluent Flemish, an absolute necessity for those dealing in the famed city’s diamond shops.

It is necessary to remind the world that Israel’s secular Jews number about 80%. The ultra-orthodox number 20%. But tragically…yes, indeed very tragically, the 20% have the power of life and death over the rest of us. It must be changed. Changed NOW. Higiya zman !

In a very surprising election result, the Joint List comprised of four Arab parties representing the 20% of Israeli-Arab voters gained a victory for the first time since 1992 when Yitzchak Rabin was prime minister.

The Arabs, under the leadership of Ayman Oudeh, have gained 13 seats making them our third largest political party. I see it as a good sign. Past governments, especially under the Netanyahu years, have ignored the needs of the 20% of our Arab population.

While schools, hospitals, cultural centers, libraries grow in Israeli Jewish cities, those which exist in Arab cities are in disrepair and new ones were not permitted to be built. Israeli roads and highways mainly in Jewish cities are excellent and safe, the roads and highways in Arab communities are broken and dangerous.

While crime is mainly controlled in Jewish Israel it is sadly rampant in Arab Israel. In this week alone four Arabs were murdered by other Arabs. The toll until now is 63 murders by Arabs to Arabs with a small police force to apprehend the murderers.

The Arabs in our country have not always received fair and equal treatment. It is time for a change.

Perhaps Benny Gantz, if confirmed as our new prime minister (insh’allah), would appoint a ministry to an Arab law-maker (Minister of Arab Affairs, for example). Such an appointment would do much to increase the Arab goodwill to a Zionist State. Yes. It is time for change.

It is also time for a new government to heed some of Avigdor Lieberman’s demands. He is not wrong when he defies the presence of ultra-orthodox politicians who sit in our Knesset (including some who have been in prison and many who are accused of bribery and sexual assault). He is certainly not wrong when he demands that ultra-orthodox eighteen year old young men be required to report for military service in the IDF. Religious Jews are respected in the army and their spiritual needs are guaranteed.

Those who refuse to report for enlistment should be arrested for violating the law and the yeshivot which support them should be deprived of government funds. Their religious schools, in any case, do not meet the required standards of our Ministry of Education. English and math, essential for living in an economic environment, are not taught.

It is time for change. Time for Bibi and Sara and Yair, unpleasant people, to move out of the Balfour street residence and return to their palatial estate by the sea in Caesarea.

Avner is more than welcome to remain among the people who respect and admire him. I am happy to be one of them.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5780, is fast approaching. May the coming year be one of blessing, peace, security, tolerance, good health and prosperity to all citizens in the State of Israel.

May our new prime minister and his cabinet and assembly of well-intentioned law-makers be blessed with the wisdom to guide us into the bright light and remove us from the darkness of Netanyahu-ism.

Shana tova u’metuka. A good and sweet year to all. A year of happy change. Higiya zman. It is about time !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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