“If our beliefs have any value at all, they have to lead somewhere that has to cost us something, or else we’re left to question their value” – Martin Sheen
Once, it was self-evident that the leaders of Israel were also global representatives of Judaism – of the Jewish People. Without a doubt, this was (and still is) a weighty responsibility. To represent a global and diverse religious and ethnic collection of peoples while also trying to build a Democratic nation-state was no doubt humbling and heady at the same time.
Since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, humility and a sense of greater moral purpose were discarded by the wayside – left forlornly like a once beloved item no longer possessing any obvious and apparent value.
We shifted our focus to the military prowess of our leaders and their ability to keep our “enemies” under control. This presumed affinity for former generals is leading us astray. Threats of escalating violence between Israel and Hamas or Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah just as an election is approaching, prove this point, and reinforce this paradigm. If might makes right, then we will remain trapped in the cycle of military power as key to Democratic leadership. How will we ever elect a leader with a different perspective, one who might in fact have the audacity to try a new approach and bring us out of this seemingly never-ending conflict?
The essence and strength of a Democracy lies in its embrace of opposing opinions and disagreement – based on a shared ultimate goal. Our model of strong, military leadership at the helm of our Democracy drives the suppression of dissent – even from justified sources, even from supposed representatives of our allies.
I don’t know that Israel as a nation-state can continue to exist in the absence of a deeper moral sense of identity that spans the spectrum of leadership and keeps us bound to a shared purpose. In fighting internally about what Jewish religious identity means has cost us our shared religious identity. This loss has resulted in the loss of our moral compass.
Our leadership of late has failed the mandate of the State of Israel. We desperately need to rechart our course and recalibrate our moral compass. We risk becoming a lost cause and abandoned to our self-defense.
If we are left to our own self-defense, then we only have our broken moral compass to guide us. And where would that lead us? Where could that even possibly lead us?
I have yet to see a leader with a fully functioning moral compass and with the courage of his or her convictions to convince the electorate to follow. What price are we willing to pay to follow our current leadership style? Is that the price we should be paying? Or have we bought the wrong item? Is it too late to return it and pick something new?