How we can transform Israel
There were two important pieces in your December 15 edition: “Aliya stereotypes” (Editorial) and, in the magazine section, Orit Arfa’s “The monopoly of the Jewish State” (Observations).
Coupled with these was the thoughtful letter in the magazine by reader Jack Davis on the need for electoral reform.
These are not random issues and, in fact, are symptomatic of the biggest challenge facing the country today: How does it transform itself from a fledgling and pioneering entity into a modern democracy? Electoral reform is an urgent need. In most western democracies, people are represented by those they directly elect from their constituency who therefore are directly responsible to the people. If they fail in their tasks, they will be voted out at the next opportunity.
Democracy demands such representation. A lack of direct contact with the people leaves the electorate frustrated or apathetic.
People who have immigrated to this country from a sophisticated society are accustomed to some semblance of efficiency in government.
If they cannot obtain a satisfactory result, they can turn to empowered bodies of independent and experienced people endowed with statutory powers to fine, censure and correct wrongdoings. Too often, people here just give up because they hit a mindless blank wall of bureaucracy or obfuscation.
What needs to be done? Divide the country into constituencies and have Knesset members elected by the people in their constituency. Create a system of appeal procedures in key areas – the government, municipalities, banks and other major concerns, eventually spreading to all areas affecting the public and consumers.
Set up a commission looking into cartels and monopolies – too many sectors are in the hands of too few people, which is not only morally wrong, it is a disincentive to free enterprise and a barrier to newcomers. We have been labeled the “Start-up Nation,” but now we need to be a successful nation with opportunities for all. Too often, young people who are extraordinarily well educated with multiple degrees have to accept low-paid work because the commercial system is lopsided.
Freeing the economy from its cartel constraints will help improve everyone’s lot and unleash economic growth.
Take a hard look at what the country can afford and what it cannot, without vested interests claiming their excessive share of the pie. And finally, remove religion from politics: The two are mostly incompatible.
The real issue is who are the people who can carry such a vision through and be prepared to fight for what is in reality just common human respect. And procrastination is not an option; we need to see urgent progress made.
Jerusalem More for the list
Here are a few more stereotypes to add to your list (“Aliya stereotypes,” Editorial, December 15).
First, when discussing “Anglos,” it is only Americans who are described as such. Canadians live here, too, as do numerous other English speakers.
I myself am a Londoner. There are people living here from Ireland, Scotland and Wales (not that anyone in Israel would be able to differentiate between the accents). There are also South Africans, New Zealanders and Australians (which on occasion, Israelis and Americans have thought that I might be). And let’s not forget those who are from Zimbabwe.
We all speak English, but with different accents. The unfortunate stereotype is that if you speak English, you must be American. If you are American, you must be wealthy.
My other personal experience when it comes to stereotypes is because I am black, Israelis more often than not assume I am an American, Ethiopian, Yemenite or, as one taxi driver thought, Sri Lankan. What is the stereotype here: If you are black, you can’t be British? Beyond that, it is the combination of the high cost of living and no real jobs that will force many us to leave Israel.
RUTH YAEL BEN-ADIR
The government must address the major problems of Anglos and other immigrants who are highly qualified and experienced professionals who cannot get a license to practice in Israel. People who are not respected and accepted for their knowledge and expertise will not stay long in a country that forces them to do menial work to make a living.
SafedAn absurdity to be challenged
Regarding “Will Israel ever accept Messianic Jews?” (Frontlines, December 15) by Tamara Zieve, I have some thoughts and questions.
Most Jews think that if you believe in Jesus, you have willingly converted to Christianity and therefore are no longer a Jew. But this is not true. Jewish believers in Yeshua (his original, Hebrew name) in no way intend to stop being Jewish; they celebrate the Jewish feasts, they serve in the IDF, they love Israel, and most are much more connected to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob than they were before they believed.
As the piece points out, there are about 350,000 “Messianic Jews” (Jewish followers of Yeshua) in the world, and about 20,000 in Israel. I am one.
Yeshua was condemned and crucified because he claimed he was the Jewish messiah.
He said he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. The sign above his cross said “Yeshua of Nazareth, king of the Jews.” He was born a Jew and he died a Jew.
He came to his own (the Jews) and was rejected, as foretold in Isaiah 53: “He was despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrows, and we esteemed him not.”
According to Israel’s Law of Return, if one can prove he or she has one Jewish grandparent, he or she is eligible for aliya. What this person believes should be his or her personal business. Certainly he or she would have been sent to the gas chambers – the Nazis did not ask what you believed.
Is a member of Chabad who believes that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the messiah not considered a Jew? If a Jew is a Buddhist, a new-ager or an atheist, is he or she not considered a Jew? Why is it that only if you believe Yeshua is the messiah you are not Jewish? Israel claims to be a democratic country yet has ostracized those who believe in Yeshua, saying they are not Jews. This is an absurdity and it needs to be challenged.
Poriya Illit Bizarre programming
Ironically, Hanukka was still being celebrated when I came upon the details of one of the sessions being presented at the annual British Limmud Conference to be held next week. It reads as follows: “Anti-occupation activism in the West Bank: Hear from three British Jews who took part in peaceful anti-occupation activism in the West Bank this year whilst living in Jerusalem. We will describe what we did, what we saw and how it felt. Learn how you could get involved, including through joining organised programmes and connecting directly with activist organisations.”
That a Jewish educational organization chooses to give a platform to those who reinforce slander and propaganda seeking to destroy the Jewish state is one thing. But what is even more bizarre is that the organization is helping these activists recruit more people to act against the State of Israel and the Jewish people.