A thirst for real unity throughout the campaign trail
Our tradition teaches that redemption will only come when we unify as a people. I have learned that people throughout our country intuitively understand that our only chance for national success will come when we heed that call.
Dov Lipman and Yair Lapid Photo: Facebook
These past two months have been nothing short of remarkable. Starting with the
day I was officially announced as a candidate for Knesset with the Yesh Atid
party, I have been traveling the country. Whether in the north, the south, the
center, in Judea, Samaria, or the Jerusalem region, I have met Israelis from all
walks of life. The one constant theme in every location was the desire for
things to change. Everyone seems to know that our country is not functioning as
it should and they are searching for that candidate or party which will set
things back on the right track.
The more jarring part of this journey has
been seeing how little hope most people have regarding the possibility that
things will actually change for the better. Most voters are jaded. Consistently
failed leadership has driven them to lose hope for improvement and for attaining
a better life in Israel.
Those who have not given up are drawn to new
leadership. They want to see fresh faces with new ideas. They want a leader with
vision who can pull them out of their state of cynicism.
explains the remarkable reception I have received as a candidate of Yesh Atid.
Every single person on the Yesh Atid list is new to national politics, but comes
with a proven track record of working to make things better. All are entering
this arena with a passion to continue to make things better and this ignites
crowds and provides them with the hope they so desperately need.
there is something much deeper about the enthusiasm with which we are met in
shopping malls, schools, synagogues and private homes. There is great excitement
about the makeup of the party’s list for Knesset. Yes, there are voters who do
actually take the time to study the list behind the face of the party and, in
Yesh Atid, they see cause for hope.
The voters I have met are smart
enough to recognize that despite the fact that sectarian parties invite those
from outside their sector to join them, they still remain just that – sectarian
parties who are inviting others to follow their views. True unity, however,
means people from all backgrounds making the difficult decision to put aside
their sectarian interests, to make compromises and to work together with others
who are doing the same. That is the only way we can move things forward to
achieve what is best for the nation at large.
The people we meet see a
Yesh Atid list comprised of candidates with outstanding personal and
professional histories coming from many different backgrounds and ideologies,
who have taken that courageous plunge. This fuels their optimism that change is
on the horizon.
SITTING AROUND the table at meetings of the Yesh Atid
list for Knesset is always a truly remarkable experience. At the head of the
table sit Yair Lapid and his number two, Rabbi Shai Piron. What a revolution for
the State of Israel! A secular icon chose to break down barriers and asked a
religious Zionist rabbi to serve by his side and take part in all major
As I look around the table I see two pillars of Zionism and
symbols of the fight for Israel’s security – Ya’akov Perry, former head of the
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), who served during the first intifada, and
Mickey Levi, former police chief of the Jerusalem region who served through the
second intifada. Perry is secular Ashkenazi and Levi is traditional Sephardi.
Similarly, I see the traditional, Sephardi mayor of Dimona, Meir Cohen,
alongside the secular Ashkenazi mayor of Herzliya, Yael
Continuing around the table I see two proud immigrants from the
former Soviet Union and two remarkable immigrants from Ethiopia – symbols of the
ingathering of the exiles. These are proud Israelis who fought hard to start new
lives in a new land and who have emerged as leaders in their
I see Karin Alharar, a woman who found herself wheelchair
bound at the age of 19 but took it as a challenge. She became an attorney who
champions the rights of the handicapped.
I see a religious woman, Dr.
Aliza Lavie, sitting next to a secular woman, Dr. Ruth Calderon. Both have a
passion for Torah study and spirituality, and have committed themselves to
tackling the third rail of Israeli politics – issues of religion and state. The
list goes on and on.
But I also see myself, an ultra-Orthodox American
immigrant, who is fully embraced as part of the team and who has been invited to
play a significant role in developing and formulating policy – especially in
matters of religion. As Yair Lapid said at the celebration where he unveiled the
list: “Take a look at them. This is how the State of Israel should look. We
agree about 80 percent of the issues and work together and make compromises on
the other 20 percent.”
The lasting lesson from the campaign trail for me
is not that a party with such remarkable unity exists, but that the Israeli
public thirsts for this change. Our tradition teaches that redemption will only
come when we unify as a people. I have learned that people throughout our
country intuitively understand that our only chance for national success will
come when we heed that call. This thirst for unity and working together is the
message which I hope to carry with me and use as my guide throughout my public
and personal life.
The writer is an educator, author, and community
activist who rose to national prominence for combating religious extremism and
fostering unity in his hometown of Beit Shemesh. He is number 17 on the Yesh
Atid list for Knesset.