David Breakstone
Reflections on Israel and the Jewish world

To Bibi or not to Bibi, that is the question

Hamlet’s soliloquy, Romeo’s elegy and the Israeli election: A new reading of the Bard

Shakespeare wasn’t revealing his personal preferences or making predictions when he wrote his plays, but it appears he may have had round two of the 2019 Israeli election in mind when he composed them. More than half the text below, that which appears in red, is borrowed word for word from Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. With profound apologies to the Bard…

To Bibi or not to Bibi, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The drones and rockets of outrageous sworn foes,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: secure to sleep
At last; and in life, to have prevailed,
Victorious; the thousand children’s laughter
That flesh desires. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. The end of war,
Perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
Opposed as we are in the dreams we dream
When we have gauged why and wherefore here we be
So let us pause. Where’s the respect
That makes Disagreement for heaven’s sake
And not for personal gain born of greed?
The Oppressor’s wrong, all agree, yet dispute
If that be they or us, and if there be
The insolence of office, and breach of trust,
Or endless merit, years of service rendered
When he himself might his Quietus make,
But yet continues, for thine sake and mine
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
Or be it the dread of something after,
The punishment for crimes contrived or real
That motivates the steadfast composure
And makes him rather bear those ills withstood

For reasons concealed that we know not of.
Thus conscience doth make electors of us all
And thus the reason to cast aside disgust
And though disheartened proudly cast thy vote
For this enterprise of great pitch and moment,
A despised people, dispersed, home return’d.
Hence in the name of Action, do it now;
Let not others choose thine path not taken
Be all my hopes remember’d.

How oft when men and women must twice choose
Have they been drawn to scrap their keepers call!
A vote for no purpose: O, how may I
Call this sovereignty? Oh my love! Zion!
Dread that hath suck’d the spirit of thy soul
Hath had no power yet upon thy vision.
Thou art not conquer’d; dispirited, yet
Forming upon thy lips and in thy heart
Resolve; defeat be not advanced there.
Democracy, liest thou there in thy
Bloody sheet? O, what more favour can I do
To thee, than with this hand hurl my ballot
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear comrades scared,
Why art thou preaching fear? Shall I believe
That unsubstantial charges seed despair,
And that the fictitious monster keeps
Thee here in dark, blind to the prophet’s sight?
For fear of that, I will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of great hope
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With those that are thy loyal watch; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious claims
That tragedy will others’ triumph bring!
Arms, take your hands and forward choose, O you
The envelope, seal with a righteous kiss.
Do not concede to engrossing gloom,
Come, better conduct, to the open polls
Thou desperate voter, now at once run on.
Dare to shape the dream and doth not end it!
Here’s to my love!

About the Author
Dr. David Breakstone is presently engaged in establishing the Yitzhak Navon Center for a Shared Society. He previously served as deputy chair of the Jewish Agency executive and the World Zionist Organization and was the conceptual architect and founding director of the Herzl Museum and Educational center in Jerusalem.
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