Forming a government

As we seem to be forever mired in elections in the Holy Land, what sort of government would you each like to see established as quickly as possible?

By PAM PELED, DANIT SHEMESH, TZIPPI SHA-KED
October 24, 2019 15:54
4 minute read.
INAUGURATION CEREMONY of the new Knesset in Jerusalem, August 30, 1966.  (Wikimedia Commons)

INAUGURATION CEREMONY of the new Knesset in Jerusalem, August 30, 1966. (Wikimedia Commons). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


As we seem to be forever mired in elections in the Holy Land, what sort of government would you each like to see established as quickly as possible?
– Puzzled and perplexed in Jerusalem

Pamela Peled:
Just before round two of elections, Danit forwarded a video clip wondering why some Jews would “prefer” voting for Arabs rather than haredim (ultra-Orthodox); Tzippi endorsed the question.
Leaving aside that Yaakov Litzman chose to be a deputy minister, rather than a head minister in a state he views as not 100% legitimate, that he’s likened gay Jews to sinners and is obstructing the extradition of accused pedophile Malka Leifer – I can’t see that haredim shape any desirable future for my kids. Haredi parties vociferously reject army service for their own children, or secular education that would make their constituents financially self-sufficient. I don’t want my children to support them, like I am forced to do.
I want a government that does not engender hatred of 20% of our citizens, nor one that rails against Reform Jews and anyone who does not love Netanyahu. I want a government that ups the health, education and transportation budgets instead of building more roads in the West Bank. I want my children to be able to get to family Friday nights without having to buy cars.
I want sane, educated leaders who care about the country more than about saving their seats and their skin; leaders who respect every sector of our society and don’t allow any group to impose their way of life on others. I want a secular, liberal, uncorrupt government that will guide our little country to safety and security and into a shining, morally sound future. And may God bless Israel.

Danit Shemesh:
There is a concept in Judaism that is called sinat hinam: unbridled hatred toward brethren. “Brethren” are those to whom loving-kindness is particularly due. An election campaign based on “anything but haredim!” is a campaign of misdirected dissension and doomed to fail. Yes, one can run a few good miles on hatred and fear, but at the end of the day, you’ll run out of steam. After you chop off all haredi heads, then what? What do you stand for? Tzippi, true respect does not mean changing the face of Israel one haredi citizen at a time. You will not teach us to obey your romantic notions. And Pam, you can’t co-exist with us, due to your twisted prejudice.
As observant Jews, we hold Torah as our divine jurisprudence, leading us to create a better future. Trusting in human frailty means allowing competition, anger, and oneupmanship to triumph.
If certain laws seem unfair, they can be changed democratically. Representatives of parties in a coalition create a working government which passes laws. First legislate by a majority in power, and then enforce. Don’t demonize.
 I wonder what the conversations in the Knesset cafeteria look like among individuals, chatting without intrusive cameras. Are they derisive and shaming, or inquisitive and informative? If we can communicate on an individual level, we must find a way to carry that communication into the political discourse. The haredim are sitting at the roundtable whether you like that or not. Let’s talk – then we’ll be truly democratic.
I would like my children to live under a government under which they feel at home, not shunned for holding sacred their Jewish principles. Somebody has to safeguard the sanctity of these principles.

Tzippi Sha-ked:
In the possible run-up to round three of the election roller coaster, we are presenting our respective visions of Israel’s ideal government.
So here goes: I know Muslims (admittedly not many) who believe in a Jewish homeland. I’ve met haredim who rail against the “occupation,” and National-Religious voters who picked Gantz. There are Druze who vote right-wing. Yes, all this happens in our crazy land. So what does this mean for our country?
I’d like to see an overhaul of political parties and a way through the stagnation born of fear, mistrust and hate. I can’t stomach the divisiveness. I propose affirmative action be built into our political system. Parties would either be legislated or incentivized to include haredim, National-Religious, Muslims, Druze and secular Jews on their lists, or create party committees including such individuals who subscribe to the party’s political aspirations. There has to be a way to get our parties to build sensitivity and actually hear one another from within.
Finger-pointing and derision feels like the ugliness of Yankee politics has invaded our Promised Land. To heal our emotionally-battered turf, the government should reward haredim by funding yeshivas in return for young ultra-Orthodox men doing national service in different communities. The government could energize secular youth to get out of their comfort zones by subsidizing college tuition in exchange for volunteering in the haredi sector. The same goes for Muslims, Druze and other minorities. We have to incentivize, as opposed to wielding sticks. Maybe then we can find a way to enjoy coffee and rogelach with fellow interlocutors across all facets of society.

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