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What kind of government will Israel end up with?

Knesset Member Simcha Rotman, head of the Constitution Committee and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich hold a joint press conference on the judicial overhaul at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 21, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

It’s that time of the year, as we approach the Jewish holidays, when we take part in a pre-reflection moment, in order to determine the direction we’d like to go as we look deep into our flawed character, hoping, with God’s help, to arrive at a better place.

So, it’s no great surprise to find a number of articles centering on the great necessity to come together, as one people, unified in the things that connect us to each other, rather than remain divided and fragmented over the differences which pull us apart.

One such article appeared in the paper recently, stating that we all want agreement and a solution. While that may be true, as it relates to most of us who live in Israel, it doesn’t seem to represent many within the present government, nor their constituents, who are dead set on pushing forward their particular viewpoint of the country they would like to see Israel become. 

To illustrate this point, on Tuesday the High Court of Justice is about to consider eight petitions that have been filed against the Reasonableness Standard Law, in order to decide whether or not to strike down the recent Knesset decision to entirely do away with the law. Among government members, only three have agreed to honor the court’s decision, meaning the remaining 61 ministers, unless they publicly come out in support of the court, will refuse to abide by the highest authority in the land. That spells disaster – or in political terms– “anarchy.”

We, consequently, need to take a look at what is driving a nation that, for 75 years, respected our laws, authorities and one another, but now threatens to bring us to the brink of chaos.  

As a rule, when parties cannot find a way to compromise and come together, it usually means that one of them is inflexible, unwilling to bend and obstinately determined to get their way at any price, including a complete dissolution of the relationship. 

Unfortunately, the only conclusion that can be drawn from the last nine months, ever since an ultra-religious coalition has taken charge of Israel’s government, is that this particular group of individuals is driven by a fanatical religious ideology, one that has blinded them to all that they stand to lose and the dangerous precipice to which they have brought the whole House of Israel. 

So fervent and dogmatic are they in their insistence that the Jewish homeland become an Orthodox enclave of extremist devotees, that they are willing to blow up all of the massive efforts and hard work of revered predecessors who sacrificed everything to make it possible for this homeland to exist, against all odds.

To them, all of that is a disposable byproduct and ignores all of the wars fought, all of the gains won and all of the advances made through the blood, sweat and tears of brave and honorable men and women. Among them were, undoubtedly, people of deep faith, virtue and principle. Yet, somehow, they were able to put aside their personal disagreements with others long enough to carve out the necessary elements to build something lasting which is now at risk.

It is exactly this type of contentious strife that is unyielding, self-centered and immovable in its passionate craving to emerge victorious, but, ironically, these are all antithetical traits to the essence of pure faith and the personal sacrifice associated with genuine spiritual connection.  

Whereas the former points to a childish immaturity filled with self-gratification and indifference to others, the latter speaks to the paramount importance of touching others through divine inspiration that first considers everyone else’s needs.

When looking at the stark contrast, there is no other way to put it.  Israel is being held hostage by the mother of all stiff-necked people – a group of inflexible, self-seeking religious zealots whose tantrums resemble an ultimatum: 'We will scream and be bratty until we get what we want!' Of course, none of that inspires anyone to turn over more power to them.

Most of us accept the extremes of others, simply because we have no choice. We know they exist, and to the extent that they don’t seek to lay their particular convictions and beliefs on us, we are happy to let them “do their thing” so long as it’s done within the confines of the law and doesn’t obligate others to follow suit. 

Those are the viewpoints of the non-religious, the moderately religious and even many among the very religious – live and let live, but not so for the ideologically ultra-religious. Theirs is a mission that cannot be hindered or delayed. Their long-awaited agendas are anxiously simmering on the front burner, ready to be dished-out and obeyed. No time to lose!

So here we are, just days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and if there fails to be a real inner reckoning of these unwilling ideologues, at a time when our spiritual accounting becomes payable, then we will have to rise to the responsibility of any good parent who knows that giving in to a tantrum is folly. We must continue to call out those who are doing irreparable harm and damage to God’s nation – the one that He established, keeps and defends.  

Luckily, the Almighty is not relying on this particular flawed bunch to bring about the dawn of His new age where “there will no longer be weeping, and the youth will die at the age of 100, and not bear children for calamity but will be the offspring of those blessed by the Lord. Peace is extended like a river, and we are comforted, made glad of heart as our bones flourish.” (Isaiah 65, 66)

It is only our faithful and merciful God, who has the capacity to crush the evil of our enemies, as well as the evil within our own hearts, who can bring about His eternal government, one that deeply cares about each person. In this government, no one ever has to worry about being forced or coerced into a divisive coalition because the unifying banner of love is so compelling that it’s the genuine article, attracting everyone to its life-giving force. 

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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