We’re Stuck and Everybody Knows It

We’re Stuck and Everybody Knows It:  6 Reasons This Anglo is Voting for the Zionist Union

  1. A few months before he was murdered I heard Yitzhak Rabin (z”l) say, “We have to take risks for peace.” You might ask yourself—why?  Why do we need to take risks for peace?   We come from a tradition that insists that the pursuit of peace is one of the highest if not THE highest religious obligation.  Here is a sampling of our tradition: Tanchuma Shoftim 18: “All that is written in the Torah was written for the sake of peace.”  Devarim Rabbah 5:15: “God announces to Jerusalem that they [Israel] will be redeemed only through peace.”  Bamidbar Rabbah 12a: “The only reason that the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world was so that there would be peace among humankind” Seeking peace is a commandment, as it says in Psalm 34:15, “Seek peace and pursue it.”  We gave the world the dream of peace—it was our prophet Hoshea (2:20) who quotes the Holy One as saying that someday “I will banish the bow, the sword, and war from the land.” I can’t recall one risk that Netanyahu has taken for peace.
  2. You Need Partners–One of the foundation stones of our tradition is the idea of brit=covenant=partnership. We believe that our partnership with the Holy One, blessed be He, models for the world this idea that working together, with partners, we can  לתקן העולם במלכות שדי—repair the world for the Kingdom of Shadai.  We believe that in order to accomplish great things we need partners.  One of our greatest assets, an asset understood by all previous prime ministers, is our solid and growing relationship with our most important partner in the world–the Chief Executive of the United States.  Our leaders worked hard through all the years of our existence to develop, nurture, and deepen that relationship.  Only this prime minister believes it is okay to throw that relationship away.  He doesn’t seem to understand how important this asset is to us.  God forbid if there is a serious security problem it is not the Congress of the United States that will decide whether or not to help us—it is the President.  You don’t spit into the wind.  You don’t throw your assets away.
  3. Crony Capitalism vs. Capitalism with a Heart–There is a struggle going on in Israel between those who believe in capitalism with a heart and those who could care less. There is a name for the capitalism without a heart—it’s called crony capitalism.  It’s a kind of capitalism where you shut out the sounds of suffering and focus on what the rich and powerful think is good for the economy.  Our ruling party, Likud, has unfortunately become a party that no longer hears the cries of those who are hurting.  This was not the case when Menachem Begin was the Prime Minister.  The Zionist Union is focused clearly on this issue.  The Zionist Union wants to create a country with a Jewish protective shield that will ensure that Jewish values (“You shall not oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger”) have serious influence on the decisions we make that shape our economy.
  4. We’re Stuck—Ask young people between the ages of 18 and 35 if they think this country is stuck and you will get a clear view of what is happening here. We are stuck.  The economy is stuck.  The political and diplomatic sphere is stuck.  There is no sense that things might open up, that there might be new opportunities.  Housing prices are stuck (or getting worse).  Food prices are stuck (or getting worse).  Job opportunities are few and far between.  With the Palestinians everything is stuck—there is no forward movement.  In fact the only movement we can see is backwards.   Where are the creative initiatives?  Where are the think tanks to come up with new ways of thinking, new ways of approaching the conflict?  Where are the experiments?  Why no creativity?  It’s the “same old same old.”  It is time to get unstuck.
  5. The Zionist Union is a good name for a political party. There is a struggle going on in our country over what is Zionism.  The Zionist Union wants to recover the social justice motif of early Zionism.  Here’s A.D. Gordon on this issue:

A.D. Gordon—Nation and Labor, p. 160

Where there is no humane nation, there will be no humane human, no humane individuals either. And who should more insist on this than we, the children of Israel!  We were the first to declare that man was created in the image of God.  We have to go further and say: The nation has to be made in the image of God.  Not because we are better than the others; but because everything [in human experience] that demands it we have experienced and suffered on our own shoulders.

For that to happen a host of Jewish values must be brought to the front of our consciousness—sensitivity to the “other,” a recognition that every human being is a tzelem elokim, a determination to strengthen the democratic character of our country.  The right wing opponents of the Zionist Union are insisting that land trumps Torah, land trumps Jewish values, land trumps the way Palestinians are treated.  This is not the Zionism that founded this country.

  1. Fear vs. Hope—On his deathbed the Baal Shem Tov’s father gave him one piece of advice that he prayed would last the young boy a lifetime. He said, “The main thing is not to be afraid.”  Our Prime Minister evokes fear almost every time he talks to us.  He tells us we have to be afraid of our neighbors.  He tells us we have to be afraid of Hamas.  He tells us we have to be afraid of terrorists taking over the West Bank.  Most of all he tells us we have to be afraid of Iran.  I want to say to our Prime Minister the following: “Stop trying to frighten us.  Israel is here to stay.  You play into Iranian hands when you talk like that.  No power on earth can move us.  We came home after 2,000 years!  We aren’t going anywhere.  Stop talking fear.”


     I think the reason he talks so much about the threats to us is that he is afraid.  He is afraid of h is right wing.  He is afraid of losing power.  Great leaders like Churchill were able to see the threats around them and remain hopeful and confident.  Our Prime Minister has too many doubts and too many insecurities to convey to us whatever shred of hope and confidence he retains.   The Zionist Union insists upon talking about hope.  The Zionist Union realizes that we are strong, and that we do not need to be afraid.  The prophet Isaiah long ago recognized the importance of hope that is itself transformative:   קוי הי יחליפו כח

Those who hope in God shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 4:31)

About the Author
Bill Berk was born in California and graduated college from the University of California, Berkeley. He attended rabbinical school (HUC) and served congregations in Palo Alto and Phoenix. Bill made aliyah in 2006, and worked at the Hartman Institute running their educational programs for rabbis. He has worked at Keshet and Makor in the field of educational travel.