When I made aliya from England, I, like the majority of "Anglo-Saxim," had positive reasons for leaving the land where I was born. The situation may have changed in the intervening couple of decades, but I lived in an England where the economy was stable and I could comfortably wear my kippa in the streets of London.
It was a tremendous blessing for which I never cease to thank God that I had nothing to flee from.
I am sure that many readers of these pages have felt the same thrill of transforming the ancient "next year in Jerusalem" from a request to a prayer of gratitude, of seeing biblical place names on the destination boards of bus stations, of hearing TV and radio announcers wishing us a "Shabbat shalom," "Shavua tov" and "Hag sameah."
"When the Lord returned the captives to Zion, we were as dreamers," said the Psalmist. But when we come to build a state, we had to wake up from the dream. We dreamed of a country in which Jews would never again be persecuted for being Jews, a country in which every Jew might find refuge. Yet in the past decade, more Jews have been murdered in Israel than in the rest of the world.
We dreamed of a country whose social conscience would be "a light unto the nations"; and we woke up to a country with a terrible disparity between rich and poor, where politicians are corrupt and where the judiciary frequently resembles a Third World banana republic.
We dreamed of a Jewish state; and awoke to a country where the Arab minority has more than tripled in 50 years, from less than 7 percent in 1957 to almost 22% today. A country in which the Arabs could be the majority in another 50 years.
MY OWN political activism was, quite literally, hurled at me against my will: last summer, in the last days of Gush Katif, I was on the beachfront of Neve Dekalim when I was attacked by some 50 rock-throwing Arabs. With nowhere to go but heaven, hell or the Mediterranean Sea, I fired a few shots in the air to cover my retreat.
Four days later I was arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm, on the claim that one of the rock-throwers was hit in the leg by a bullet. The evidence against me was scant: no bullet, five (Arab) eyewitnesses who could not agree on where or when the event happened or on what the shooter looked like (one "eyewitness" later admitted that he had not been there), and a medical report from the Khan Yunis hospital that recorded an "alleged gunshot injury" (emphasis added).
The judge who pronounced me guilty all but admitted in her verdict that there was no real evidence; she had to decide whether to believe the eyewitnesses or me, and she decided for the former.
It is as a symbol of what is wrong with Israeli society that I am on the Herut party list, running for the Knesset.
We dream of a society in which there will be jury trials, because juries, unlike judges, have neither political nor social agendas nor are they subject to professional pressures.
We dream of a society in which every Jewish child will receive a strong Jewish education. Let them accept or reject, believe or deny - but let them make choices based on knowledge.
We dream of a society based on the five "mems" of Ze'ev Jabotinsky: marpeh (health care), moreh (education), malbush (clothing), mazon (food), ma'on (housing) - the basics of life that the state will supply to all, while encouraging free-market capitalism.
This will build a large and strong middle class, leading to an economically healthy society while ensuring that even the poorest will never be hungry or homeless. Education of a descent standard will provide everyone the opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle.
We will offer an "absorption package" to every Arab who wishes to emigrate. No Arab will be forced to leave, just as no Jew is forced to make aliya; but we will ease their transition. Anyone who still dreams of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state has to face a painful yet crucial question: when the Arabs become the majority, a generation and a half hence, will Israel become an apartheid state, in which the Jewish minority controls the Arab majority? Or will democracy take its course, turning Israel into another Arab dictatorship?
We suggest we all address the issue now and use the most moral and democratic methods possible of ensuring a perpetual Jewish majority, which is the only way that Israel will remain both Jewish and democratic.
With a far smaller hostile Arab population, and less money spent on internal security, Israel could be transformed into a veritable paradise. This is the way to a future without terror or war, to an Israel which will truly be "a light unto the nations."
The writer lives in Kfar Tapuah.
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