Israel’s economy has undergone a meteoric transformation over the past 25 years. Pragmatic and growth-minded leadership guided Israel away from the constrictive socialist ideals of the founding Labor Party and heavy-hand of the Histadrut, dismantled Israel’s dominant, self-dealing monopolies, and encouraged foreign investment that helped launch the StartUp Nation.
The architect of much of this remarkable growth, first in his role as Finance Minister and then as Prime Minister, was Benjamin Netanyahu.
How tragic – and incomprehensible – to now see Bibi at the head of a coalition that seems so blatantly ignorant to the repercussions of the reforms it blindly intends to force upon Israel.
The practical truth is that a country lacking a reputable system of checks and balances makes it a poor and unreliable partner geopolitically, economically, and morally.
An Israel that is even more beholden to representing extremists within a slim-majority ruling coalition emboldened with new unprecedented powers will alarm its historic allies – notably the United States – and make it harder for Israel’s long-standing and staunch supporters to continue to unflappably defend it against ever-escalating criticism.
An Israel with a capricious legal attitude will deter both foreign investors from seeking opportunities within Israel and Israeli entrepreneurs from building their companies at home. Not to mention adding more fodder for BDS to fester.
And an Israel that is okay with its ruling coalition telling global Jews – both Israeli citizens and Jews in the Diaspora – not only that their Judaism is “wrong” but streamlining the codification of laws to enshrine that closed-minded viewpoint, fundamentally abandons the Jewish state’s most basic responsibility as the home for all Jews.
This is not about politics (though, of course, it is.) This is about pragmatism. Just what type of country do Israel’s ultra-nationalists and ultra-Orthodox envision? Perhaps they can enlighten all of us with historical examples when extreme ideologies such as theirs’ have fostered strong and enduring nations.
I have spent most of my time over the past ten years championing Israel’s unique investment potential. I have spent countless hours in debate – both with blatant enemies and finicky-friends of Israel – passionately stating Israel case.
The Zionist in me finds the developments of the past few months saddening. The pragmatist in me finds them just plain stupid.
I pray that Israel’s leadership takes a dose of realism – and soon.