Israel is facing one of its most critical moments. The Jewish state is on the verge of civil war; many believe it cannot be averted. The country has never been this divided.
Netanyahu’s coalition comprises the most extreme right political parties and the ultra-Orthodox. His extremist government promotes controversial policies regarding women’s rights and religious affairs, racing toward a judicial reform to change the sensitive balance between authorities.
Millions of secular Jewish Israelis, Modern Orthodox, and others who consider themselves liberal democrats feel threatened by these dramatic changes. Demonstrations are taking place all over the country. For the first time in Israel’s history, thousands of air force pilots, special units, and intelligence officers threaten to resign. Although the judicial reform may be the trigger, the root goes deeper. The protest is about Israel’s future. The current government represents religious and national extremism.
When looking at the demographics, it’s clear that Israeli society will continue to become more religious and extreme. Secular Zionists are fighting the battle of their life. The fact that millions of Israelis do not despair of the demographic situation and go out to fight demonstrates the unique Israeli spirit.
Many Zionists outside of Israel ask what they can do to help Israel. My answer is simple. It’s time to do all we can and push for a broad unity government.
It’s no secret that Israeli members of the Knesset enjoy traveling. Many Israeli MKs visit Jewish communities around the world, hoping to find Jewish supporters abroad. When you interact with them – make it clear that you expect one thing from them and one thing only – a unity government.
Write them emails. Ensure they understand that there is only one thing they should care about – The unity of the Jewish people.
When speaking with Israeli politicians, only one question needs to be asked – are you in favor of a unity government? If the answer is positive, we are with you. This is the only way we can save our beloved homeland.
If there is one thing that comforts me in this difficult time, it is the hope that the sane majority in the people of Israel now understand how critical it is to find a broad common denominator and how critical it is to learn to compromise. All this pain and effort will be worth nothing if we fail to translate the anger and frustration into a broad unity government.
The Lapid-Bennett government did not survive for several reasons. But the main reason was that the alternative didn’t seem too bad, and therefore the common interests were weak. A government based on one common interest, and that’s to prevent Netanyahu from forming a coalition cannot last long. Now that it’s clear that the alternative to a broad unity government is the destruction of Israel as we know it, I hope that it will last longer. I hope that the movement created in the last few months will value the importance of forming a unity government and channel its incredible energy into political power. Religious, traditional, and secular, right-wing, centrist, and left-wing, capitalists and welfare state activists will learn to put aside the differences and focus on the common denominator: the continued existence of the State of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. It seems that those who oppose the current government are starting to understand the need to compromise, although some extremists seem to be thriving off the protest and are not ready for compromise yet.
However, recent polls suggest that the coalition’s supporters are still intoxicated with the victory in the elections and are not ready to let go of their political power. The question is what it would take for both sides to come to terms. Should the social divide go deeper? Should blood be spilled in the streets? Should the dollar exchange rate reach 5 shekels? 10 shekels? Should the threats of senior security officials come true? Who knows if by then it won’t be too late? I want to believe that a unity government will know how to find ways to carry out a legal reform with broad agreement. There is no shortage of worthy people who can lead the country to a safe shore.
And finally, now that it’s so clear how necessary it is, hopefully, a unity government will succeed in drafting a constitution at last.